Combating Crime is the Duty and Right of Muslims

All the Divine Laws agree on combating crime because it destroys the very foundation of any community which these Laws try to keep solid.

Foremost among these Laws is the Islamic Law. As it was the last of institutional messages, it attached great importance to crime and to fighting it. According to Islam, it is the duty of all the believers to combat -crime. Not only people in authority, the discretionary jurists, who are required to combat crime, but all the Muslims as a whole are also required to do so.

To fight delinquency and to protect any community, precautionary and protective measures must be taken to forestall crime before it is committed, and to discover it and punish the offender after it is committed.

To have cognizance of the public's, or the true believers' role in fighting crime, whether before or after it is committed, the people who are religiously entrusted with combating crime in Muslim lands have first to be identified.

As a matter of fact, the whole nation of the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him, is required to combat crime, everyone according to his potentials. It is also the duty of the ruler to do so because, firstly, he is one of the Muslims, and, secondly, because he represents the entire nation. Such a ruler has assumed power only after he received allegiance from all the Muslims. This system is identical to the referendum followed in our present time. In combating crime, all the believers, without exception, are fully, and equally, responsible.

Not on even one occasion has any positive law considered fighting of crime a legal obligation on the masses. But, despite this, certain man-made laws had given the people the right to combat crime. Sometimes, this right is exercised by people, and some other times is not.

As for the Islamic Law, it made it obligatory on all Muslims to combat crime, because it is the entire community that has a real interest in safeguarding its own security.

According to Islam, all the authority is vested with the people. This principle had not been recognised by any positive law except in the eighteen century. It is the same principle which stipulates that the nation is the source of all authorities." It was followed by Europe after a long and continuous struggle made by a few number of liberal philosophers like Montesquieu (1689-1775), who dealt with this principle in his book "Esprit des Lois" (Spirit of Laws), and Voltaire (1714-1778). The efforts of these philosophers were crowned with the "Contrat Social" (Social Contract) which was compiled by Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). Rousseau opined that all people were born free and equal in rights and that to guarantee freedom and equality, the individuals had joined each other and entered into a social contract whereby each one of them had accepted to forgo a part of his freedom to the community which has appointed representatives as rulers who would discharge their duties on its behalf. These rulers were to protect the other rights left to the people to exercise. The author of the Social Contract tried, through his imaginery perspective, to make the nation the source of all the authorities, and to prove that the government derived its power from the community, the rights of its members it had to safe guard. If the government failed to give such protection and misused the administration of its power, it has to be sacked and a new government was to replace it.

At that time, in most countries of Europe, a ten dency for emancipation from the slavery of rulers prevailed. Among the philosophers who championed this cause, in addition to those already mentioned, were Ques Nay (1694-1774), in France; Emmanuel Kant (1774-1809) in Germany; and Adam Smith (1723-1790) in England. As a result of this new revolution in political thought, the French Revolution was staged in 1789, and in Article 2 of the Human Rights Manifesto, which was issued by the Revolution ,it was stated that "the objective of political groups to safeguard the innate human rights to freedom, ownership, safety and resistance of oppression. This article confirmed that the government was the servant of the people whose rights it had to protect. The people, moreover, were the course of all powers.

The revolutionary ideas of these philosophers crystalised after great efforts, toil and reasoning. It is my belief that had the Islamic notions of the Andalusian Arabs not reached these parts of Europe, these European philosophers would not have been able to set forth their philosophies. The Arabs had provided them good material for their theories.[In 1085, when Alfonso VI captured Toledo, the city became the centre from which Arabic culture spread everywhere. During the reign of Alfonso VIl, a number of Jews sought refuge in the city, coming from various parts of Muslim Andalusia. These Jews were those who escaped oppression by Abdul Monim bin Ali, the first Caliph of the Almohades (Al-Muwahideen). Credit for spreading the Islamic works in Europe goes to the Toledan translators of Toledo, among whom were Bishop Raymondo, Dominox Jund Yasalvi, John, son of Dard, a Spanish Jew who converted to Christianity and settled in Toledo, Gerardo, Raymond, Martin and Lall. A number of British and Italian scholars had also gone to Toledo and later returned home carrying with them the Muslims' works and legacy.]

This brief lexicon which seems to be out of my subject was necessary. I intended to draw comparison between the open and frank Islamic thinking and the Western thinking which was sometimes based on imagination and some other times on plagiary. Since a very early time, the Islamic jurisprudence had known the principle of people's sovereignty and also recognised the other principle that the people were the source of all powers. These principles were contained in text in the Holy Quran and given more elucidation in some of the Prophetic sayings, all of which were applied to the letter by the great Muslim Caliphs. Usually it was the Muslims as a whole who were addressed when the exercise of power was mentioned. In the "Retaliation Verse", addressing the Muslims, God says "O, you who believe, retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the slain." [Surat Al-Baqarah : 178] In another Surat (Chapter), referring to aggression, the Quran also asks the believers that "if two parties of the believers quarrel, (you) make peace between them. Then if one of them does wrong to the other, fight that which does wrong till it returns to Allah's. Then if it returns, make peace between them with justice, and act equitably, Surely Allah loves the equitable." [Surat Al-Hajurat (The Apartments) : 9.]

In the verse dealing with war, the Quran says: "The only punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is that they should be murdered, or crucified, or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides, or they should be imprisoned. This shall be a disgrace for them in this world, and in the Hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement. Except those who repent before you overpower them; so know that Allah is Forgiving, Merciful." [Surat Al-Maida (The Food) : 33 -34.]

Referring to "theft", God also addresses the whole Muslims when He says : "And as for the man and the woman addicted to theft, cut off their hands as a punishment for what they have earned, an examplary punishment from Allah. And Allah is Mighty, Wise." [Surat Al-Maida (The Food) : 33 - 34.]

The Muslims, as a whole, are again ordered, in context of adultery, that "The adulteress and the adulterer, (you have to) flog each of them with a hundred stripes, and let not pity for them detain you from obedience to Allah if yon believe in Allah and the Last Day, and let a party of believers witness their chastisement" [Surat Al-Nur (The Light): 2.]

In the verse concerning "slander", God commands all the Muslims that ".. Those who accuse chaste women and bring not four witnesses, (you have to) flog them with eighty stripes and never accept their evidence, and these or' the transgressors." [Surat Al-Nur (The Light): 4.]

Commanding the Muslims to do good and refrain from doing wrong, God says : "And from among you there should be a party who invite to good and enjoin the right and forbid the wrong. And these are they who are successful." [Surat Al-Imran (The Family of Amran) 104.]

Also addressing the Muslims as a whole, God informs them, "You are the best nation; . raised up for men; you enjoin good and forbid evil and you believe in Allah." [Surat Al-Imran (The Family of Amran) 109]

In the Surat Al-Tauba (Repentence), God says "Surely Allah has bought from the believers their persons and their property-theirs (in return) is the Garden. They fight in Allah's way, so they slay and are slain. It is a promise which is binding on Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Quran. And who is more faithful to his promise than Allah ? Rejoice therefore in your bargain which you hare made. And that is the mighty achievement. They who turn to Allah, who serve Him, who praise him, who fast, who bow down, who prostrate themselves, who enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, and who keep the limits of Allah and give good news to the believers." [Verses 112 -113]

These were some of the Quranic verses which vested power in the Muslim community and not only with the ruler. But there are other verses which also address the Mslims as individuals, commanding them to perform various kinds of worship. These verses deal with the true belief (Iman), the prayers, the payment of the poor- rate, and the performance of pilgrimage to Mecca, These verses teach the indivildual Muslim the principles of his religion and his moral duties, They are different from those vesting power in the community.

The sense of the Quranic verses vesting power in the community was upheld by the Prophet Muhammad, Ordering the Muslims to teach their sons how to say their prayers, the Prophet Muhammad commanded : "Repeat ordering them to pray at the age of seven and beat them, at the age of ten". He also ordered : "Whoever sees an evil should remove it by hand, and if he fails, then by his tongue, and if he still fails, then by his heart. And that is the weakest of true belief ".

In his maiden speech after assuming power as the Caliph of the Muslims, Hadrat Abou Bakr, the Truthful, the First of the Wise Caliphs, said : "I have been elected your ruler though I am not the best of you. If I carry out my duties properly, you must assist me ; and if I do not, you have to correct me. Obey me as long as I abide by God's orders concerning the treatment meted to you. If I break God's rules, you are not required to obey me."

Similarly, Hadrat Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, the Ruler of the Believers, on assuming the Caliphate, had repeated the same statement. Listening to the Caliph's reaffirmation, an Arab commented "By God, if you misuse power, we will set you right with our swords." Umar replied : "Praise be to God Who enabled one of Muhammad's nation to set right the wrongs of Umar by sword". The Caliph was not a despot, but a ruler who received the mandate of authority from his people by voting and swearing allegiance. Allegiance was given because the ruler feared God and abode by God's and the Prophet's commands.

The whole nation of Muhammad is vested not only with one authority, but with the three authorities, the legislative, the judiciary and the executive.

The Holy Quran has assigned to the whole nation the legislative authority through the unanimity of their views and consultation. Describing these people to His Prophet, God said : "And those respond to their Lord and keep up prayer, and whose affairs are decided by counsel among themselves, and who spend out of what we have given them." [Surat Al-Shura (The Counsel): 38] God also says : `Thus it is by Allah's mercy that thou art gentle to them. And hadst thou been rough, hard-hearted, they would certainly had dispersed from around thee. So pardon them and ask protection for them, and consult them in important matters". [Surat Al-Imran : .158]

In "A'lam Al-Muwaqieen" by Ibn Al-Qayyim, Maymoun Ibn Mahran was quoted as having reported that whenever a case was brought before Abou Bakr the Truthful, he used to seek decision from God's Book. If he could find such a decision on the ease, he would pass the judgement, and if not, he would ask the Muslims whether they were aware of a judgment which was passed by the Prophet Muhammad on a similar case. If there was such, the people would tell him of the Prophet's decision. But if the Caliph could not find

A relevant Prophetic saying or tradition, he would collect the Muslim leaders for consultation. Only when they unanimously agree on a judgment would he pass his verdict. Hadrat Umar, may God be pleased with him, found no fault in inviting, on certain occasions, some young men rather than the old-aged, for consultation. In so doing, he wanted to benefit from their virile intelligence. In "Concise Study of Learning and its Benefits", by Ibn Abdul Barr, Yusuf, son of Jacob, quoted Al-Magshon as having reported that when Ibn Shehab was interrogated by young people, he used to warn them not to look down upon themselves due to their tender age. " when Umar Ibn Al-Khattab was confronted with a difficult issue, he used to consult the young among his people, seeking good ideas out of their wit. [See Chapter headed History of Judgement and of Leaders of Thought and its Opposition", in the book "Judgement in Islamic Jurisprudence" by Dr. Mokhtar Al-Qadi First edition , 1949.]

God willed that from among the Muslims there should be a group which must be well versed in know ledge and learning. In Surat Tauba, God says : "And the believers should not go forth all together. Why, then, does not company from every party from among them go forth that they may apply themselves to obtain under standing in religion, and that they may warn their people cautious". [Surat Tauba :122] Any perceptive jurisprudent was entitled to make decisions. According to the Islamic Law, such a jurisprudent stood on the same footing with any legislator But this principle is no more applicable in our present times. The jurisprudent's duty is now confined only to the interpretation of legal texts. This interpretation is not binding, but facultative and consultative.

As regards the judiciary, God commands the whole Muslim nation “ to make over trusts to those to Those worthy of them, and that when you judge between people, you judge with justice. Surely Allah admonishes you with what is excellent. Surely Allah is ever-Hearing, Seeing.” [Surat Al-Nisaa (The Women):58] But the executive authority must be vested in the ruler, who is to reign on behalf of the nation and under its supervision. This was exactly the principle which the Caliph Abou Bakr had included in his above-mentioned address to the Muslims after he had assumed power.

This shows that according to Islam, the nation is the source of the three authorities Taking this into consideration, we discuss now the people's role in combating crime, because it was they, as true believers, who shared responsibility with the ruler for fighting crime.

The role of the people in fighting crime, as stipulated in Islamic Jurisprudence, is very important not only from the religious point of view, but because of the service such a role renders to the community as a whole. Crime however, is a detested phenomenon which all member of any community must fight. Crime is deep rooted in history and is still being committed every day. And because crime is still being committed amidst us, and since it is unanimously agreed that it should be combated the combat must be intense and firm.

To ruler's power alone cannot prevent crime, and, therefore the masses are asked, and according to certain laws ordered, to take part in combating crime.

In regard, we have to distinguish between two first is the moral duty of the people to combat cirme, and the second, the religious duty which makes it obligatory for every individual to combat crime by all possible means. But this distinction does not mean that the two duties are contradictory; they, on the contrary, take two parallel lines which at the end would lead to one goal, fighting crime.

When the masses feel that they are carrying out a religious duty in fighting crime, they have to feel that they are also doing a moral duty. But before morality, the religion had come to the force demanding that ever one should do his utmost to combat crime. As one is not forced by law to fight crime, giving him only the right to do so, a person may be reluctant in exercising his legal right. Here, morality must play its part. With morality, the right is sustained, becoming an ethical duty which is tantamount to a legal obligation. The poor-rate (Zakat), for example, is one of the cardinal doctrines of Islam which must annually be paid at a fixed rate. Charity, on the other hand, which is also an alms-giving, is given voluntarily. Apart from the poor- rate, a true believer, who should wish goodness for every one else as he wishes it to his own self, must be kind to the poor and the needy, and on every occasion, he is required to help the helpless.

It is not wrong to state that the legal obligation and the legal right in combating crime is something and the discharge and exercise of such rights is something else. A number of duties are still unobserved, and they do not appear except in text books. Similarly, there are other well-established duties, which after having been acknowledged after a long struggle, go later into oblivion.

The implementation and the exercise of any duty depend on the extent of the awareness of the people of any country. The greater awareness might be, the firmer crime is combatted To be aware and in the know of every thing, one must first know his duties as well as his rights. Learning and reorientation can be made by several means, such as education and the sermons made in mosques especially on Fridays and seasonal feasts. Awareness can also be accomplished through various information media, such as the radio, the television, the Press an public cultural centres, and the like. In this sphere, the family plays a significant part. The more the people become educated, the more effectively is crime fought. To the educated person, crime is a violation of all natural laws and moral ethical principles.

Though people's awareness is very effective in fighting crime and in making the discharge of legal responsibilities obligatory, it will not be discussed here for several reasons. First, awareness is a question whose importance and effectiveness in any community cannot be disputed, especially in combatting crime. Secondly, awareness is need for execution, and not in prescribing a duty and a right. Lastly, awareness is not a subject which comes under the jurisdiction of law, but under education. It is duty of educationalists and instructors to teach the people and make them distinguish between virtue and evil.

Therefore, our study here will be made only of the religious side of the subject, namely, the part which the people must play, from the religious point of view, in combating crime. It is the right and duty of people to do so, because the people, in any country, are the principal component of the community.

Social defence against crime requires objective mea sures. Every community must be protected against crime.

Not only would the general authorities of the state combat crime; the people must join hands and play their part in informing of crimes and in bringing criminal charges against offenders. In this way, the whole situation would come under control, and is exactly what was ordained by the Islamic Law.

when Islam started to re-organise the conditions of the Muslim community, it attached great importance to people's rights to live together in affaction, compassion and fraternity. By this, Islam aimed at creating a sound unity which would cooperatively forestall dacoity. To achieve this goal, Islam held the Muslim responsible for staving off delinquency and for protecting their community against its dangers. By so doing, Islam did not put the burden on a particular person, or on the elite of muslim scholars, "the discretionary jurists" or the people in authority", but on all the Muslims, each one according to his power and ability. By imposing this duty, the sovereignty and kingdom were given to the whole Muslim nation. This doctrine, as has already been mentioned, had not been known by any modern laws except in the eighteenth century. With this principle, the role of the masses in thwarting delinquency becomes in evitable and primary.

Though the Islamic Law had preceded all other laws in handling this subject, its rules were precursors, and not uncommon. It was the preciseness and the comprehensiveness of the Islamic rules, which had been laid down after labour and great effort, that inspired other laws to adopt the Islamic principles. The English law is an example in view. It comprises a system for combating crime by the people after it has already been committed. Any individual can make direct accusation against any offender who had committed an actionable offence and also ask for punishment.