London Knife Crime and The Teenage Lives Cut Short
By M Haji
Hardly a month goes by before a mother in a corner of London, receives the sad news of her son or a relative stabbed by another teenager in London’s high streets. Just under 40,000 knife crime cases have been reported in the UK in the last 12 months. At least 8 Somali boys have died of a stabbing in February alone with no sight of a reprieve. Some of Britain’s high street supermakets are beginning to restrict the sell of knives to their customers. The London Mayor said his administration has done everything it could to stop knife crime and the Home Secretary called it a disease. If the UK government, The London Mayor and every parent were given a magic wand to wave they would probably wave it to stop knife crime in London.
Ayub, a 17-year-old boy with an ambition of becoming a barrister is the latest Somali teenage victim. This has been the unfortunate lot of many mothers, mainly migrants from Somalia and other African countries in search of a better life. Mothers, many who are single parents have borne the brunt of this growing brutality in the streets of London. School exclusion is said to play a big part in teenagers engaging in drugs and resorting to iron out their difference using a knife. Many of them falling by the roadsides, victims of gun shots or stabbing. Prisons are filled to the brim by what is alleged to be teenagers, some of them Somali teenage gang members. This its reported has a lot to do with drug wars where the Somali boys are said to be reluctant purveyors of illegal drugs. On a vacation attending a Friday prayer in one of the local mosques, the theme was Knife Crime: Its causes and possible cures. The imam has dedicated a whole hour of the sermon to what is ailing the Somali boys in London suburbs. The boys have both been the villains and victims of what authorities in the UK have called the worst crime wave in decades and the police seem unable to unravel the causes or cure the problem. The Imam says the blame squarely lies on the shoulders of parents who are the first and most potent role models of their children. He said the parents have failed in their roles as models of modesty and good behavior, lying and cheating and indulging in moral and material corruption. Parenting skills have fallen by the wayside and immorality has become the lot of many parents whose kids have no option but to follow in their footsteps. The Imam decried the dearth of role models for the teenagers, mainly boys, who are finding companion and comradeship amongst gangs. The divorce decadence that is shooting over the roofs is one among the many reasons teenagers are going astray the Imam adds. The rate of divorce in the UK particularly in the Somali community is among the highest in the world, a strange phenomenon that is not only knew among this demography but unusual. He shares studies that mention the grim realities of children who grow up in broken families where 7 out of 10 teenagers get involved in crime and 9 out of 10 end up in prison. This is extremely shocking revelation of the correlation between growing in a broken family and teenage crime. Divorce in Islam is discouraged and always seen as only a solution and the very last resort to a very protracted and extremely difficult cases to resolve. The above is a clear testimony as to the reason why Islam almost prohibits divorce.
The Imam castigated the miniscule role mosques play in reigning teenage crimes negatively correlating the proliferation of mosques in the UK and rate of teenage crime. He decried the lack of concern by mosque authorities in the training of teenagers and accuses them of forsaking their role as training centers where good manners are learned. In the UK, mosque numbers are growing exponentially and more than a 1000 churches have been turned into mosques over the last few years. This growth however does not reflect in the lives of most teenagers, reason the Imam decries the negative correlation. Unfortunately, many mosques are not what they were meant to be, learning centers of the Deen and training grounds of good manners. They are increasingly becoming commercial centers managed by people who are ill-trained to manage Islamic centers. People who are ill-educated to run a mosque are left to run the affairs of what otherwise used to be the central nerve of the Ummah’s affairs. This is where the rain began beating us. This is the weakest link in the involvement of our teenagers in crimes. Mosques were meant to be rehabilitation centers, where the wayward, the lost, the downtrodden and those going astray found solace; centers of free learning of the Deen and intellectual discourse of the Ulama.
In the midst of the very unpleasant financial climate, the fans fanning the flames of divorce and family breakdowns are the new liberal and feministic, often misplaced bravado our womenfolk have acquired. Culture is not only the bond that binds societies but an important aspect of life that is dangerous when adulterated. Every culture has a set of rules that is positive and aids progress when learned or copied. During the Sahaba, the best of all human generations, the prophet asked the Arabs to leave the bad before Islam and keep the good that existed in their cultures before the advent of Islam. When the Somali immigrants arrived in the shores of the UK, colonial history, media propaganda and centuries of social deconstruction that distorted perceptions that were far from reality, informed their settlements into new communities. In the main, they believed that the white man is not only richer but better in every way, shape and form. They never in the figment of their imagination imagined that the white man, just like themselves, comes in every shape; the bad and the good, the mad, the foul, the poor, the incapacitate and all. They therefore, particularly the young, swallowed the habits and cultures of the white man hook, line and sinker. One of this habits was the liberal tendency of free desires towards the opposite sex. The come-we-stay, the unmarried cohabitation and the freer perspective to easy divorces. All this was happening without so much as caution and the believe in the back of the minds of the black man that ‘if the better human’, the white man, is doing it why is it not ok for me to do it! In this craze was born the high rate of divorce because we lived in a society with liberal sexual permissiveness. The children born out of wedlock increased and the husband-at-whim became the norm. This is the second time the rains began beating us.
Now, as the boys continue falling under the crazed knives of the addict and the drug dealers, our society is left worrying and depressed and waiting for answers from they-know-not who.
The first unequivocal solutions to better days is to see the light and go back to the true teachings of Islam. It is only by retracing our roots that solace can be found. By and large, our pristine culture had a lot of say in how we lived our lives in peace and relative prosperity and chasing after a wild goose called the white man’s progress was just that. The high divorce rates, the teenage gang crimes and the proliferation of Prozac medications are but symptoms of a larger cause; the going astray of a society from the true path of salvation.