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Malcolm Xs (al-Hajj, Malik al-Shabazz) letter to his assistants in Harlem during his pilgrimage to Makkah in April of 1964: America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white - but the white attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.
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The Case of Baby P: Is Britain Broken?

"This newspaper has never shared David Cameron's view that Britain is a 'broken society'. But we do believe that this country has broken communities. The story of Baby P provides a glimpse into the colossal failure of community, in which dependency on the State is a way of life" (The Times, Lead article, 13/11/08). [1]

17 month old Baby P died, tragically, in August 2007 following repeated abuse. His mother, her 32 year old boyfriend and a 36 year old man, were convicted of causing or allowing the death of a child under their care and have now been sentenced. The post-mortem revealed extensive injuries.

Prior to his death, the family (including baby P) received more than 60 visits from health and social work professionals and police over eight months. Yet very little was done to protect the child from harm despite numerous signs of abuse and neglect.
Article Contents:
An isolated case? ^

Victoria Climbie was an 8 year old girl who was tortured to death by her aunt and boyfriend in 2000, and who also lived in Haringey. She died of hypothermia, which had arisen due to living in a damp environment with restricted movement. As a result, the government took action and an official inquiry was conducted by Lord Laming in 2001 that concluded systematic failures in communication in social services, health authorities and the police and proposed a raft of recommendations for child protection procedures.

But such reforms have done little to curb the epidemic of child abuse in the UK. Official figures reveal that up to four children die each week in England from abuse or neglect. Ofsted (which regulates children 's services in England) found that '282 vulnerable children - many of them already known to social services - died in the 17 month period to the end of August. A further 136 suffered serious harm or injury. Two thirds of those killed or hurt were babies less than a year old" (Times, Lead article - front page, 20/11/08). [2]

This shows the alarming scale of the problem. These are not just a few 'bad apples', they are the signs of broken communities and societies and raises the question: have liberal values created a society that has gone off the rails and a system that is unable to provide a cure?
The Cause ^
The Muslim world (under imported democracies and non-Islam) is not completely immune from the killing, suffering, and abuse of children . But the aim of this article is to understand the problems in Western societies because these are the 'role model' examples of liberal democracy. Muslims living in the West are often told that they should adopt Western liberal values . Hence, understanding these values and making an effort to avoid their consequent effects is essential.

The real cause is the mentality which drives individuals to discard the sanctity of human life for their own perverse pleasures. The West likes to claim that they are the bastions of 'civilised societies', 'social justice' and 'liberalism' and that Islam is one of 'backwardness' and 'barbarism'. But the child abuse statistics only prove that Western liberalism has been the cause of misery for many. It is a liberal society reinforcing the values of freedom, promiscuity and individualism that has created a morally and ethically bankrupt society. This is a society where a mother can become more concerned for protecting herself and her 'partner' rather than putting the safety and care of her child first. It is a society where a father can sexually abuse his daughter for 24 years (as in the notorious case of Josef Fritzl in Austria), or where children can be abandoned and classified as 'unwanted' or beaten to death.
Welfare system: Signs of Broken Britain? ^
Tim Loughton, the Shadow children 's Minister said: "Despite the avalanche of child protection legislation and reorganisations of social services departments, the underlying problem is no less diminished". [2]

This is an admission that Western thinkers have no real working solution to offer to guarantee the welfare, protection and care of children who are most vulnerable. Just as they are unable of alleviating the problem of child poverty, homelessness, alcoholism, drug abuse, or neglect of the elderly or mentally ill. In 2007 2.9 million children were reported to be living below the poverty line in the UK and the figure has risen since. There are approximately 6,800 children in care homes in England alone and roughly 70,000 homeless children residing in the UK.

These statistics may come as a shock for some, especially when Britain champions the cause of human rights and removing world poverty. It is evident that, whilst the Western nations claim to champion such causes by sending aid, relief, education and occupying forces to the Muslim world, they have forgotten to clean up their own backyard. When decisions in the social services, education and other authorities are measured based on cost-effectiveness more than welfare; when mismanagement of funds and departments is becoming a norm in the West; and more fundamentally, when such ideas as freedom are promoted and rampant individualism must be tolerated by society, then tragedies like Baby P and Victoria Climbie will continue to plague Western societies.
The Islamic System of Welfare ^
So what's different about the Islamic system that can resolve and manage such problems?

Firstly, values and distributed responsibilities in Islam create an environment in society where the welfare of the elderly, children , destitute, orphans and mentally ill are first and foremost cared for by the family unit according to the Shariah, then through the obligatory and recommended actions of the community. Last of all the state's mechanisms of welfare provide a safety net and the legislation to secure such an environment. It is the state's responsibility to ensure that the Shariah rules relating to the basic needs of its citizens are actually implemented and not neglected by its citizens. Whether using the media, education or courts, it must protect the environment by ensuring that the Islamic values are adhered to, and not replaced by individualism.

The Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said "Each one of you is a shepherd responsible for their flock. The leader is a shepherd and is responsible for his subjects; a man is the shepherd of his family and is responsible for his flock; a woman is the shepherd in the house of her husband and children and is responsible for her flock."

Secondly, Islam not only relies on having a set of robust laws to solve such problems when they occur, but primarily it creates a society which upholds particular values to reinforce high ethical, moral, spiritual and humanitarian consideration:

(i) Unlike liberal societies, which view society as a set of individuals who seek individual freedom, prosperity and self gratification for themselves (i.e. look after number one), Islam creates a mindset that views the society as individuals who belong to a collective group, whose actions have an impact on the rest of society.

(ii) Islam builds the understanding of taqwa (God-consciousness) and a sense of accountability rather than irresponsibility. The individual's consciousness creates self policing communities and individuals who will constantly obedience to Allah at the forefront of their minds.

(iii) The Islamic values encourage charitable deeds, compassion, brotherhood, altruism etc. This encourages a mentality in the community for families and neighbours to take care of each other; helping to prevent broken communities and over dependency on the state at the first instance. The result of this mindset is that the family unit and close community become the first port of call for help, support, and charity. The Messenger of Allah said:

"O son of Adam, it is better for you if you spend your surplus (wealth), but if you withhold it, it is bad for you. There is (however) no reproach for you (if you withhold means necessary) for a living. And begin (charity) with your dependants..."

And "Food for two is enough for three and food for three is enough for four"

(iv) Islam encourages compassion and affection towards children . We must value them as the next generation, a blessing not a burden, and take very seriously the welfare and upbringing of children . The Prophet Muhammad said:

"He is not one of us who does not show compassion to our little ones and recognise the rights of the elders".

(v) Lewdness and promiscuity is forbidden in Islam. The outcome of applying many of the rules of the Islamic social system promotes chastity and prevents adultery, fornication, lewdness and irresponsible parenting in society. Having children in wedlock ensures more stable family structures and accountability of the father to fulfil his responsibility of guardianship, maintenance and protecting his wife and children from harm.

"And tell the believing women to lower their gaze, protect their private parts and not to show their (zeenah) places of charm in public beyond what may (decently) be apparent thereof" (Quran chapter 24, verse 31)

"And tell the believing men to lower their gaze, protect their private parts" (Quran chapter 24, verse 32)

"Men are protectors and maintainers of women" (Quran chapter 4, verse 34)

In this manner the Islamic system, when implemented as a whole, is able to take care of its citizens and protect and care for children , the elderly or mentally ill who cannot otherwise be taken care of by the family or community.

[1] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/leading_article/article5141591.ece

[2] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article5193423.ece

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Categories: An Invitation to Think, | Tags: children, values,

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Cached: 21/8/2009 at 11:24