See How Islam Deals with Juvenile Delinquency

By Irfan Nugroho
A report of www.islaminet.net on Wednesday April 28th, 2010 revealed a student of a senior high school in Bekasi, West Java, had uploaded a number of photographs on the internet, showing a himself put the Holy Quran above a closet and made a provocative writing calling for ‘war’ against Islam by describing Islam, Allah, Muhammad, and the Quran in extremely blasphemous words. Former on Sunday April 18th, 2010, www.islaminet.net reported three British youths aged about 21 to 24 were arrested by the police official of Crawley District as found guilty of committing in a racist action by throwing a pig’s head at a Masjid in the neighbourhood.

The latter case, which happened in the United Kingdom, is, perhaps, a common ground amongst the Western people to see such an act of vandalism against Islam because they do uphold a culture wherein Islamic culture is a mere minority there. Worse, the West’s mainstream media propaganda does often put the images of Islam and Muslims in negative perspective that can incite the public readers’ hatred to Islam. However, the first case of a student in West Java was felt to be very strange because it occurred in a country where Muslim is the dominant population. Hence, questions appear in response to the above two cases: “What makes those teenagers committed in such delinquent acts?” and “How do parents cope with the phenomenon?”

In common, such acts of breaking the law by children or young people is then called – by Wikipedia - “juvenile delinquency,” that also refers to “youth crime” as well as “criminal/ delinquent behaviour amongst the young people” (World Youth Report 2003). More often than not, people also call those young people committed in juvenile delinquency as either “juvenile delinquent” or “youth criminals.” So here, the use of “juvenile delinquent” is interchangeable with “youth criminal.” In many developed countries, there has been a specific legal system for dealing with juvenile delinquency, such as crime prevention programme and juvenile detention center. However, World Youth Report 2003 had come up to conclusion that “current efforts to fight juvenile delinquency are characterized by the lack of systemic action and the absence of task-oriented and effective social work.” For that reason, this article is about to investigate the onsets of juvenile delinquency from the perspective of Islamic education, and further how Islam tackles juvenile delinquency.

Onsets of Juvenile Delinquency
Juvenile delinquency begins with the lack – and even absence – of parents’ sense of responsibility for monitoring and taking care of their children directly. Consequently, some parents do not even know which kind of early education to be prioritized. Soon as children fail to get proper education at their first environment – direct education from parents, they go outside attending for a bigger environment called society where multifarious sources of norms, value, and knowledge are available without filters, and therefore the next cause to juvenile delinquency is the society itself. In society, children find themselves the object of any “acceptance source” thus all provided to children – whether they are good or bad – will be accepted and further implied.

The first and the greatest cause to juvenile delinquency is the lack of sense of responsibility amongst parents for monitoring and taking care of their children by their hands. This assertion comes up as the recent phenomenon amongst the modern parents reveals that some might bemoan, “My son’s committed to delinquent acts at home frequently as he spends many times on street with those criminals,” but unfortunately, those parents never tried to spend more time at home educating their children directly, guiding them to the true path. Instead, they keep working out of home, leaving their children alone, hoping their children would no longer commit to juvenile delinquency when a bunch of money are available, but spiritual education to them is neglected. Don’t they remember what Allah says:
“O ye who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire...” (At-Tahrim [66]: 6)

Indeed, this then contributes to the second cause to juvenile delinquency; that is some parents do not even know what values to be given first to their children at their early ages. It is unfortunate to see how the Western people (and it is possible that some of Indonesian Muslims too) neglect totally spiritual values to be given to children at their early ages and at the same time, they take greater priority of stocking their children with only worldly affairs. Consequently, children will be blind about acceptable values to be implied in society, and therefore commit in breaking the existing norms, values, or law.

Worse, the same imbalance between the worldly affairs education and spiritual affairs education can also be found in many public schools where all values – neither good nor bad – pour down into it. Then, this contributes to the next cause to juvenile delinquency; that is influence from society. At this phase, children find themselves amongst a number of multifarious values mixed into a society that is natured to be heterogeneous. As children are not provided with basic spiritual values at home, they might possibly absorb all the mixed values existing in society. There are some hopes that children will find the ‘true path’ in society, but more often than not, sources of acceptance in society tend to be bad.

Children have less direct control from their parents, and likewise they plunge themselves into a society with insufficient spiritual value as a means of filtering all the sources of acceptance. Sources of acceptance here can be in the forms of misleading information and entertainment from the media, such as television, magazine, and the internet. In Indonesia, it is common to see some children died accidentally when they tried to perform certain TV shows that displayed cruel fighting or such kind of heroic movies. In the West, children who do not get satisfactory spiritual value can be easily driven to perform juvenile delinquency as the incident at a Masjid in Crawley, England. One pure and simple reason to such an act of racism in Crawley is the mainstream media’s overexposure on Islam that tends to view Islam from the wrong point of view. subsequently, children and many Western people are now suffering from acute “Islamophobia,” and perpetrating delinquent behaviour towards Islam and Muslims there.

Islam is the Solution
What first to do in terms of preventing juvenile delinquency is how to raise awareness amongst parents of being responsible to their children. In Islam – and followers of other religions might also apply this, children are viewed a mandate bestowed upon parents by Allah, the only worshipped God. Muslim parents, in the afterlife, will be asked about their treatment to their children whether or not the children’s rights of getting both spiritual and material needs are fulfilled by parents. Truly, it is true that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
“Everyone of you is a guardian and everyone of you is responsible (for his wards). A ruler is a guardian and is responsible (for his subjects); a man (Husband) is a guardian of his family and responsible (for them); a wife is a guardian of her husband’s house and she is responsible (for it); a slave is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible (for that). Beware! All of you are guardians and are responsible (for your wards)” (Narrated by Bukhari in Wedlock, Marriage [nikaah] Chapter, Hadith number 116).

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has showed a great exemplary behaviour in balancing the spiritual and material education given to his children.
“The best of you are those who treat their family the best. And I am the best amongst you in treating my family,” (Narrated by Al-Hakim).

The above hadith also reflects a message that if one carries out good deeds; hence, he/she must show (read: educate) them to his/her family first, then other people. This, likewise, implicates that Muslim parents must first struggle to establish an a small-scale “Islamic State” at their home, at their family.

What next to do after raising awareness of responsibility amongst parents in order to prevent juvenile delinquency is giving priority in the teaching of Islamic good deeds to children since their very early ages. People, not only the Muslims, are possibly in agreement that the Prophet Muhammad, and the first generation of the Muslim ummah, is the best figure in the discussion of how to upbringing a child properly. They did not merely emphasize on the teaching of worldly affairs, but also – and most importantly – the spiritual education. At the early ages of his children, the Prophet Muhammad did not provide them with mathematics, science, or linguistics, but Islamic tawheed (the oneness of Allah). What makes the Prophet Muhammad’s teaching approach better and endure even up to now is that he taught worldly knowledge like mathematics, science, or linguistics, by teaching Islamic tawheed to them. This fact then inspires modern educators in the West to formulate teaching approaches like “communicative language teaching,” “contextual language teaching,” and “teaching science by Quran.”

The priority of teaching Islamic tawheed first to children at their very early ages is also based on the Allah’s saying below:

“Behold, Luqman said to his son by way of instruction: ‘O my son! Join not in worship (other) with Allah: for false worship is indeed the highest wrong-doing” (Luqman [31]: 13).

Soon as Muslim parents feel enough of ‘installing’ their children with Islamic tawheed, then they start teaching them Islamic good deeds, and finally worldly affairs. It is hopefully that children are now capable of recognizing and further differentiating good deeds from evil deeds – the one that leads to juvenile delinquency. The society and public school are two places where children spend most of their time, and therefore they will encounter with a great number of values, norms, and knowledge. Muslim parents who have fully enough given their children ‘filter’ are no longer afraid of releasing their children in society, but on the contrary, those who do not provide their children with such a filter would someday find their children commit in juvenile delinquency.

Concluding Remarks
Juvenile delinquency or criminal / delinquent behaviour amongst young people and children is most possible caused by the lack of sense of responsibility amongst parents for taking care and monitoring their children directly. Though they often worry about their children’s growth, but more often than not, they still spend most of their time working out of home with hope that their children would grow into what they want by providing them merely with money. It, therefore, leads some parents to give merely worldly affairs education, and neglects the spiritual affairs education (Islamic tawheed). Thus, children find it hard to differentiate good deeds from evil deeds mixed in heterogeneous society because of the absence of such a ‘religious’ filter.

Islam, brought first by the Prophet Muhammad in the 5th Century, has taught all people, either Muslims or non-Muslims, that first urgent thing to be taught to children at their early ages is providing them with spiritual affairs education then worldly affairs education. The two here must be balanced as what have been performed by the Prophet Muhammad in upbringing his children. Above all, parents should now pay more attention to take care of their children because children – in Islam – are mandate bestowed upon parents by Allah – the only worshiped God. “Everyone of you is a guardian and everyone of you is responsible for his wards” (Hadith).

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