Every day there are multiple headlines describing a new depth of social ills affecting society, whether that is homelessness, crime, bullying, racism, drugs, family breakdown, abuse, mental illness, gender confusion, inequality, etc. For decades the centre-left have contended deprivation as being the root cause, while for those on the centre-right it is the lack of individual responsibility. Consequently, the former will throw more money at the problem while the latter drive more individual accountability.
Britain has long pumped money into so-called ‘troubled areas’ of deprivation, all the while there is an ever-increasing prison shortage – which suggests the policing was not that lax to start with. And since the economic crash of 2008, there is no money to fund these ‘solutions’.
It is the height of stupidity when a system continues to offer the same ‘solutions’ to problems they have previously failed to address.
The reason for this intransigence is the superficial assessments of the problem – from the outright racist and false rhetoric around immigration, focusing on the poorest in society by questioning the ‘generous’ benefits system, to honing in on grooming gangs that are the preserve of Pakistanis!
A slightly deeper assessment would look to evaluate why so many are homeless, why the spectrum of crimes continues to widen, why there are so many households with absent fathers, why mental health issues affect an increasingly younger population, why the rich continue to get richer and the poor poorer? It begs the question – if the causes were deprivation or individual responsibility, then why is there such a high propensity for social ills which cut across racial, income and social class structures?
Indeed, even the breakdown in the family unit doesn’t get to the root of this problem, as most relationships are temporary in origin – thanks to individualism. Hence there isn’t a wholesome family structure to start with, and when there is, it often ends in divorce, mostly due to extra-marital relations. Meanwhile, the constant push of materialism – which teaches obsession with the haves and have-nots, ensures an individual’s identity is defined by his/her possessions.
An honest appraisal would isolate the underlying values of individualism and materialism – values inherent to secular liberal societies – as being the root cause of social ills.
However, the political and capitalist elites are more interested in winning the next election and continuing to secure their obscene wealth, than thinking about the welfare of society and the human cost of their actions.
Islam, as well as building fundamental ideas that not only prevent social ills at the source, also provides detailed solutions to bind a cohesive, functioning and prosperous society. Islam’s fundamental idea of accountability for one’s actions in this life and in the Hereafter, not only governs the individual but the individual’s actions impacting others too. This in itself builds a reflective and duty-bound mentality to one’s family, friends, colleagues, neighbours and community. Islam’s fundamental idea of happiness is not defined by material possessions, but rather seeking the pleasure of Allah ﷻ; not only is this achievable for everyone, but it is a true source of contentment.
Take home message:
Social ills don’t stem from deprivation nor a lack of individual accountability, rather from pushing values of individualism and self-benefit. Instilling within society man’s accountability to his Creator and happiness coming from seeking His ﷻ pleasure, will prevent social ills.