Saturday, May 9, 2009

Why is secular society failing children?

Issues Explained
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
As news of the brutal attack and torture of two schoolboys in Edlington unfolded last weekend (4th April), the nation reeled in horror that the perpetrators were two brothers aged just ten and eleven years old.

That such young children could be capable of carrying out such an attack, recalls the grisly details of Jamie Bulger, the two year old who was horrifically attacked, tortured and then murdered sixteen years ago by two ten year old boys. The same questions that were asked then have arisen again, of how and why could two young boys commit such a vile act of child torture and who or what is to blame.

Three weeks previous to the attack, the two brothers were placed in the care of foster parents in the village of Edlington, South Yorkshire. Since their arrival, there have been numerous complaints to the police and social services of two boys terrorising and robbing young children, blindfolding them before assaulting them, brandishing knives, throwing bricks at parked cars, trying to snatch bicycles, attempting to break into business premises and swearing at adults. An eleven year-old choirboy, Callum Reynolds had a lucky escape seven days previous to the recent attack when the brothers lured him to an isolated spot and proceeded to assault him. “I was terrified,” said Callum, “they were shouting they were going to kill me”, as they punched, kicked and stamped on him. Fortunately for Callum, a man arrived and he was able to run away.

The attacks of April 4th were even more violent. Two boys aged nine and eleven had taken their bicycles to go fishing when they were intercepted by the brothers. They were told to hand over their mobile phones, pocket money and trainers. When the two boys refused, they were slashed from head to toe with a knife, hit with bricks and sticks, and burned with cigarettes. The nine year-old was later found walking barefoot and dazed down a street in the town, soaked in blood. The eleven year-old was found unconscious at the bottom of a ravine a mile away, wearing only his boxer shorts and socks, his legs in the pond. His scalp had been slashed and he had gashes to his throat. The blade of a Stanley knife was found nearby. He was airlifted to hospital.
The attacks have reduced the local residents to a collective state of shock. A retired miner, Jim Mourning, 70, remarked, “Its frightening, this world we live in”. Elsewhere, Denise Fergus, Jamie Bulger’s mother said, “It is sickening that children today are capable of carrying out these horrible attacks. We need to do something about it”.

So, what needs to be done? According to the BBC (6th April, 2009), a Downing Street spokesman said that the Prime Minister Gordon Brown had cautioned against drawing any wider conclusions about the state of society. "In his view, the overwhelming majority are well-behaved and have good upbringings, and therefore he would be cautious about reaching any general conclusion about what is a disturbing but singular event," the spokesman added. On 7th April 2009, The Times reported that Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, described it as a “very serious and tragic case”, and Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, said that the attacks were barbaric. “We were all deeply shocked by what we read.” he said. “It’s really very important that we don’t jump on a bandwagon and allow all groups of children to be demonised. The vast majority of young people should not be smeared by politicians trying to peddle rhetoric about a broken society.”

However, these cases are descriptive of the society we are now living in. Chris Grayling, shadow Home Secretary, speaking on Law and Order at the House of Commons on 24th Febuary 2009, said: “We have to tackle youth antisocial behaviour…. In 2007-08, more than 93,000 youngsters aged between 10 and 17 received their first caution or conviction, which is up from 78,000 just five years ago—a big jump in the wrong direction.

“ASBOs have become a badge of honour for some…We have disaffected young men growing up in broken homes, in an environment where there is little structure in their lives and little sense of responsibility in their upbringing. We have endemic educational failure, with these young men often playing truant as they grow up. We have generational worklessness in their families. There is often the growing problem of addiction to drugs or alcohol, which destroys family life …in the lives of many young people: nobody really says no to them, so the misdemeanours of youth go unpunished, and they get away with it and do it again and again...Too many people just do not care and cannot tell the difference between good and bad, and the Government do not know what to do about it.”

The two brothers were charged with attempted murder on Wednesday and their parents were nowhere to be seen. When a reporter knocked at the mothers’s door, she opened the letterbox and yelled back: “It’s got nowt to do with me.” When parents absolve themselves of all responsibility for their children, who picks up the pieces? Doncaster social services is rarely out of the news as it is unable to cope with the numerous problems of poor parenting and child abuse in the area.

As a result of a UNICEF report two years ago which found that young people in the UK were the unhappiest in any of the world's rich nations, The Children’s Society commissioned The Good Childhood Inquiry, which was published on 5th Febuary 2009. It found that selfish parents damaged the lives of children, and that ‘excessive individualism’ was to blame for many of the problems children faced. In fact, many parents view child rearing as an obstacle in their pursuit of a pleasurable lifestyle.

The Children's Commissioner for England, Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green, said: "We are turning out a generation of young people who are unhappy, unhealthy, engaging in risky behaviour, who have poor relationships with their family and their peers, who have low expectations and don't feel safe." Professor Jonathan Bradshaw, from York University (one of the authors of the UNICEF report) called it a “dog-eat-dog” society.

These problems have devastating effects on whole communities. Though there has been much debate and finger pointing, the intellectual basis forming the common ground for so much of this destructive behaviour is never put under the spotlight. Western secular liberal states, fiercely defend the freedom of individuals in society. They maintain that individuals are autonomous and should aim primarily to please themselves, and that the state only has the right to interfere in this lifestyle when the freedom of others is harmed. Therefore, people may act as they like, however they desire, as long as they see happiness or benefit in that action. These attitudes however, do not create a mindset of responsibility or a sense of accountability. The society it creates is a dangerous one, where the pursuit of personal happiness supersedes respect for others and ones responsibility as a parent for a child.

Unwilling to reflect on the true nature of the decline of society, Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, launched its latest anti-terror strategy, Contest 2 this March 2009. The focus is on coercing the Muslim community to reject the Islamic Shariah and adopt ‘shared values’ such as freedom of the individual – the same freedom that drove these two children to perform acts of torture and abuse of other children. Not satisfied with the level of anti-social behaviour and crime amongst the youth in British society, the government seems intent to make the problem worse by forcing these corrupt values onto the Muslim community. These government initiatives to bring Western values to the Muslim community when they have failed their own people can only bring about more corruption.

The Islamic viewpoint is entirely different. Man as lawmaker or possessing the freedom to act and say as he wishes is not permitted in Islam. Allah is Lawmaker and Muslims are ‘slaves of Allah’. Allah says:

"I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve Me" (Surah ad-Dhariyyat:56)
This life is a test from Allah (SWT). All our actions are governed by the Sharia. Allah says:

"We have prescribed a law (Shariah) and a clear way" (Surah 5:48)
And we will be accounted for every action on the Day of Judgement.

"Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it." (Surah Az-Zilzalah:7-8)

Being accountable to Allah the All-Knowing and All-Seeing motivates us to carry out our duties responsibly adhering closely to the Shariah. It is by abiding by the Shariah that we have respect for people’s lives and property, for elders, care and concern for our families and neighbours, and responsibility for our actions. As parents, we have the responsibility of raising our children correctly, so their intellectual, moral and physical needs are met.

Allah(swt) says:

"O you who believe! Protect yourselves and your families against a fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones" (Surah 66:6)

Therefore, the way forward for Muslims is to recognise that the societal problems we are witnessing in the West are due to their hopeless belief system based upon secular liberal values and that we cannot be dragged into the mayhem and corruption by adopting their values, either here in Britain or abroad.

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