A Five-Point Plan of
Self-Protection against Crime
(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time!
Taking the Qur’an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It --
And which One Does Not?)
Your race does not matter. Your religion does not matter. Your gender and age do not matter. Your wealth or poverty does not matter. Your education and social status does not matter. Your politics and party affiliation does not matter. Your looks do not matter. Where you live may matter, but not all that much.
That means regardless of who or what you are, and regardless of what you do and how and where you do it, or for what purpose, the curse of crime is upon us. It hangs over our heads like the proverbial sword of Democles. It may strike you and your loved ones anytime, anywhere and without notice.
Whether it is a deranged mind that causes crime, or it is the maldistribution of wealth, family breakdown, social disorganization, moral turpitude, spiritual bankruptcy, alcohol and drug abuse, lack of political will, or some other undefined set of factors that produce a high crime rate in a society, for you and me, and for anyone else, it simply is no way to live.
Being at the receiving end of crime is not an option for us. Being a victim is not option for us. Becoming a sad statistic in the endless annals of tragedy is not something we must be content with. It is not an option for anyone of us, regardless of who we are or what we do.
In the same way, despair and helplessness are also not options we want to consider. That means sitting around and griping about crime is not something we want to continue doing for the rest of our lives – even though it is a pastime a lot of us pursue with a passion.
The real choice before us, therefore, is to act or not to act. For, inaction atrophies life and action energizes and empowers it.
But the question is how? How do we act and what do we do?
The answer is we must do something – whatever it may be – to protect ourselves; to protect those of us we love; to protect our possessions and property; and to protect our land and society – from the curse of crime.
And, of course, whatever we do, we must do it within the bounds of the law of the land and in keeping with the norms of decency and civilized behavior.
But do what? The answer to that question is open ended. That means your answer is as good as mine.
The fact is most of us have been trained and conditioned – like Pavlov’s dogs – into not being able to think for ourselves and into not being able to come up with solutions to our problems. As a result, most of us almost instinctively look to others to solve our problems for us. All too many of us have developed a morbid addiction to social charity and handouts. Social dependency and inertia have become the signature attitude to life for all too many of us.
So, let us start a collective process of rethinking and analysis and let us see if we can, at the end of the day, emerge with a solution to this most egregious social problem – the curse of crime in our society – that is staring us in the face and enveloping us from every side.
So here it goes!
Question: How to work to avoid becoming a victim of crime and how to escape the fate of being reduced to a sad statistic?
Answer: Let us make a start. But start where, at what point? How about at the beginning? But what is the beginning? Well, for me, and I suspect for a lot of other people in this world, the beginning is God – always God. God Almighty is the beginning. No matter what it is that you want to begin.
The Bible says at the beginning there was God. And the earth was without form, and void. And there was darkness. And God said let there be light and there was light. That was God’s amazing grace and boundless mercy moving to create an environment that will be fit for us frail humans to live.
What a merciful and compassionate God he is – just like the Qur’an says: Ar-Rahmaan and Ar-Raheem – most merciful and most compassionate and full of grace and love.
So let us begin in the name of Almighty God, the most merciful and the most beneficent and compassionate. And then let us consider a wide set of options that are open to us.
Here is a set of golden rules for success: Before you do anything, make sure it is entirely in keeping with the law of the land; that it is peaceful; and that as for as possible, it is in keeping with the culture, values and social and moral sensitivities of the communities in which we live.
I offer a multi-tiered or a multi-pronged approach to curbing crime in our societies and communities and reducing the chance of our becoming its victims and statistics. Mine is a five-point plan of self-protection and self-empowerment that consists of God, government, media, neighborhoods and individuals.
The simple fact is we all need God in our life. With him on our side, and with clear lines of communication open between us and him, we have nothing to fear or worry about. But if we are on the wrong side in this equation, there is nothing and no one that can really and truly offer us any help or protection.
In fact, much of the mess we are in today, as individuals and as communities, is because we have individually and collectively turned away from God and turned our back on him. The result is obvious.
Here is how the Qur’an puts it – so succinct, simple, direct and forceful:
They forgot God; he forgot them (9:67).
And here is the correlation according to the Qur’an between forgetting
God and becoming oblivious of and desensitized to your own self, situation and predicament in life:
They forgot God, and he made them forget themselves (59:19).
Nasullaha Fa-Ansaahum Anfusahum!
We need to approach God at a number of levels.
The first thing we need to do therefore is to believe in God. That means we must seriously and sincerely accept him as one – pure and unblemished by human frailties, follies or likenesses; as the one who made us and made the world in which we live; and therefore as the one who truly owns us and owns everything he has given us.
The second thing we must do is to turn to him in serious and sincere repentance from all that we have done in the past, or do at present, that may be sinful in his eyes or injurious and harmful to his creation.
When I say this, I am not asking you to run off to the next “holy” person and ask if the thing you contemplate doing or what you have already done is or is not a “sin.” The fact is you know when you sin. That means you know yourself – and you know what you do and why – better than almost anyone else, except God. So, it is a matter entirely between you and your God.
Nor does it mean you should run off to ask the best lawyer in town whether what you are planning to do is or is not a crime. Much of the time, you know, better than practically everyone else, when you have harmed or hurt someone, or when you have broken the law, what exactly it is that you have done.
So, what I am saying is this: take responsibility for your omissions and commissions against God Almighty as well as his creation – and repent. And then cease and desist from future misbehavior under either one of these two categories.
You may wonder if God will accept you and your repentance. Here is the good news. Our God is a God of mercy. He is a God that loves to forgive sinners and loves to accept their repentance, provided they are sincere and true. So, all you have to do is to turn to him and not let anyone put a wedge between you and him.
Worship God. And do so both formally and informally.
The formal way is to worship him five times a day as taught by the Qur’an and shown by the blessed Prophet Muhammad. The informal way is to remember God at all times and in all sorts of ways you can. It is to begin everything in his name; to do everything for his sake; to be constantly mindful of his presence and company; and to consider yourself to be accountable to him in everything you do.
Be clean. Keep your person and premises clean. Keep your body, clothes and mind clean. Live a clean life. Cleanliness brings you closer to God and makes it difficult for the Devil to get to you.
e. Chants and Prayers.
Always think of God and repeat his glorious name. Use some of the prayers and chants that are in the Qur’an – God’s revealed word on earth. Use some of the special recitations that the blessed Prophet Muhammad taught us. Attend Dr. Pasha’s International Qur’an Program, whenever it is offered, to learn some of them.
Attend our National Day of Prayer and Qur’an, when that comes along.
Join and support the Read-the-Qur’an Campaign.
Learn to recite the following prayers and chants as often as you can:
La Ilaha Illa Allah.
Bear in mind that prayers often go only as far as the purity and strength of your own beliefs and intentions go. So, continually work to make your faith strong and your intentions pure.
Never forget prayers are not substitutes for deeds, but only aids and incentives to them. Don’t turn to prayer as an escape from the realities and requirements of daily life, but embrace them as the divine tools that God Almighty has placed in your hands to equip and empower you to deal with life and its many challenges.
Here are some more prayers and chants for you to say as often as you can:
Allahummah-Faznee, Ya Hafeezu!
Allahumma A-jirnee, Ya Mujeeru!
Allahumma A-ghithnee, Ya Mugheethu!
Allahumma A-‘innee wa La Tu-‘in ‘Alaiyya!
Allahumman-Surnee wa La Tansur ‘Alaiyya!
Wasi-‘a Kursiyyuhus-Samaawaati wal-Ard,
Wa Laa Ya-ooduhoo Hifzuhumaa,
Wa Huwal ‘Aliyyul ‘Azeem!
Waj-‘al Lana Mil-Ladunaka Waliyyan,
Waj-‘al Lana Mil-Ladunka Naseeraa!
Waj-‘al-Lee Mil-Ladunka Sultaanan Naseeraa!
Allahumma Innee As-alukal ‘Aafiyata
Fi Deenee, wa Dunyaaya, wa Ahlee, wa Maalee!
Wa Sallallahu Alan-Nabiyyi,
Wa Ala Aalihi, wa Sahbihi, wa Azwaajihi,Wa Dhurriyyaatihi, wa Sallam Tasleema!
Governments are instituted to serve and protect the people who put them in place. They derive their legitimacy and their authority over the lives, liberty and property of people based on that premise. That means the first and the most important part of any government’s role and responsibility anywhere is to ensure collective peace and individual safety for the people who elected it.
But there may be times when, for whatever reason, it may not be easy or possible for a certain government to do its duty to the fullest extent in this most important respect of its mandate. Or do it properly, effectively and to the people’s satisfaction.
In that case, it is the right as well as the duty of the citizens of a free and civilized society to do everything lawful, legitimate and peaceful to remind and persuade their respective governments to rise to the demands of their duty with utmost dispatch and efficiency.
It is clear that we should avoid politicizing the question of crime. In my view, safety from crime comes under the broad rubric of being a basic human right – like food, water, healthcare, education and such. Therefore, we should all treat it as such and work together to protect our people and reduce the incidence of crime in our society regardless of race, religion, social status or politics.
In civilized and free democracies of the world there are a number of ways of accomplishing this goal, and they include the following:
a. Letters and petitions to the government at different levels from the ministers on down;
b. Special letters and petitions to specific officials in the government;
c. Letters and comments in newspapers and over radio and television addressing these issues;
d. Personal representations to ministers and officials by individuals as well by delegations and groups;
e. Paid advertisements in newspapers, radio and television;
f. Organizing community education programs on raising awareness and providing information on how to approach the government on the question of crime;
g. Other similar peaceful, legal and civilized options and alternatives that are allowed a free citizenry everywhere;
h. The final instrument of persuasion the citizens of a free society have available to them when asking their governments to stop crime is the ballot box. If nothing else works, we must make crime an election issue.
We must put governments of the day everywhere on notice that come election day, our votes belong to those who can ensure the safety of our lives, loved ones, property, streets, homes and workplaces – and that we have no intention of becoming a crime statistic.
Human beings have a basic need to know. Information, therefore, is a key component, resource and requirement of human life. And the quality of human life is often correlated with the quality and quantity of information people have available to them in a society or community.
Therefore, in a very important sense, as human beings, we are what we know. And what we know is often a function of the information that is made available to us by the various institutions and agencies in society or what we are able to research and dig out using our own resources and skills.
In today’s world, the media of mass communication, with the information and images they provide, have a powerful role in influencing our mind and shaping the way we live. From that point of view, they also have an obligation to pull their weight in making our communities, neighborhoods and societies safe places for us to live, raise families and work and play.
Besides, crime is news, which means there is money in it for the media. But the way to make money out of crime in a community should not be limited to its mere coverage, but also should include analyzing and attacking its causes and consequences for individuals, communities and the entire society. It should include using the journalistic and professional tools available to the media to put pressure on the governments of the day to make crime control a top political and government priority.
The media in free societies, in the tradition of some of the best organizations of the past, must make crime fighting in their own respective communities and societies a top journalistic and professional preoccupation, and not be content with just reporting crime news.
And here is some of what the consumers of the media – members of the public – can do to persuade the producers of the media – newspapers, radio, television, magazines – to fulfill their duties to stem the tide of crime in our societies and communities:
a. Writing letters to the editor for publication;
b. Writing comments and opinions to the media;
c. Writing letters, emailing and telephoning the media to voice citizen concerns about the worsening crime situation in society;
d. Persuading the media to make crime a priority item in their commentary, opinion pieces, columns and editorials;
e. Persuading the media to make free space and time available for public service announcements (PSAs) for crime fighting efforts, activities and messages;
f. And other similar things.
(4) Communities & Neighborhoods.
Humans are social beings. We don’t live alone in jungles and caves but rather in social groups in villages, towns, cities and societies. As a result, crime is often a social phenomenon that must be dealt with at the social level.
While the larger and deeper social issues of politics, jobs, opportunity, social justice and wealth redistribution must always remain at the top of our agendas, we need to descend from the Olympian heights of these complex issues to a more immediate, urgent, mundane and practical level of stopping crime, right here and now, at the level of our communities and neighborhoods.
And here is some of what we can do in that regard:
a. In each and every community and neighborhood, organize community forums to educate the residents in the positive and negative aspects of how to avoid being mugged, raped, assaulted, robbed, burgled or otherwise becoming a prey to crime;
b. Use community forums to educate the residents to spot and recognize potential criminal elements, situations and activities and avoid them;
c. Use community forums to educate the residents to spot and recognize potential criminal elements, situations and activities and report them to the community crime watch groups;
d. Given a situation of rising crime and pervasive threat to our safety and security, and without becoming too paranoid or paralyzed, it is morally all right for us to be wary of strangers in our neighborhood, and to keep an eye on them till we know who they are and what they may be up to.
e. A background of blatant racial discrimination, exploitation, oppression and police brutality may make this a serious human and civil rights issue in certain societies, but in most other places, this should be taken as an acceptable means of coping with a worsening crime situation.
f. In each and every community and neighborhood, organize crime watch groups and activities that will identify and alert the residents about any potential criminal activity or situation or individuals;
g. In each and every community and neighborhood, organize mobile community patrols that will watch and monitor the neighborhood night and day;
h. In each and every community and neighborhood, set up telephone hotlines to closest police stations, detectives and other government officials;
i. In each and every community and neighborhood, set up rapid response teams (RRTs) of residents that will rush to a crime scene and scare the criminals away and provide help to the victim;
j. Provide RRT telephone numbers to the residents;
k. Prepare and post signs and posters in prominent places that alert and warn everyone that yours is a neighborhood crime watch community;
l. Continually review steps taken on this front and discuss ways to improve them;
m. Continually review steps taken to persuade the government to come to the aid of the citizens and prevent crime and discuss ways to improve government effectiveness in this regard;
n. Review steps taken to mobilize the media in your community-based crime fighting efforts and discuss ways to improve them.
Ultimately, and in more ways than you recognize, you are the one responsible for your life – and safety. So, instead of being a helpless victim, always looking to someone else to protect you, assume personal responsibility for your own safety and well being. Here are some ideas on how to do it:
a. Without being too paranoid or paralyzed, know that you are at risk from criminals, at all times and in most places;
b. Train yourself to be aware of your surroundings at all times and in all places;
c. Carefully look around for suspicious and unfamiliar individuals, activities or situations when you leave home for work; to take kids to school; when you return home; go to the mosque; and just about at any other time and occasion;
d. Do so whenever you get into your car, whether at home or in public places and parking lots;
e. Tell your children not to accept anything from strangers or go near them;
f. Tell your children to scream if a stranger approaches them and says or does something that makes them feel fearful or uncomfortable.
g. Tell the school not to release your children to anyone other than you without a written and signed note from you, and if possible, never;
h. Tell your children never to let themselves be approached by strangers and never to go anywhere with them;
i. To the extent you can, avoid going anywhere alone and always be with someone;
j. Don’t get into a taxi in which you are the only passenger, especially in rural areas and especially late at night;
k. Don’t offer rides to strangers;
l. Don’t unlock or open the door of your house unless you know the person who may be knocking;
m. Don’t accept a ride from anyone you do not know very well and do not fully trust;
n. Always have handy a cell phone that works and make sure it is fully charged;
o. If you can afford it, have a backup phone – also making sure that it is fully charged at all times.
p. Have someone always call you and check up on you at regular intervals;
q. When you leave for some place, call someone before you leave and also call them after you arrive;
r. Learn to use your peripheral vision to quickly scan the situation around you and spot trouble before it hits you;
s. The list goes on, but the basic idea is this: Be always on guard. And be always aware of where you are, what you are doing, and where everyone else is in the radius of a 100 feet from you and what they are doing;
t. Use something called commonsense and be smart. It is the divine spark in your heart. It is the internal radar that
God Almighty has placed in every one of us for our guidance and protection. Activate it and make sure it works for you. That is what it is there for.
May God Almighty shower his blessings upon us and protect our persons, properties, loved ones, workplaces, homes, businesses, streets, play areas, neighborhoods, communities and societies from all harm that may come to us from any source, human or otherwise! Aameen!
© 2005 Syed Husain Pasha
Dr. Pasha is an educator and scholar of exceptional
talent, training and experience. He can be reached at DrSyedPasha [at]
AOL [dot] com or www.IslamicSolutions.com.