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Crime and Deviance

Posted on Sep 10, 2014 by in Articles, Society | 0 comments


Crime is a reaction to the relationship between the members of society and those vested with power. Max Weber, one of the founders of modern sociology, claims that there are three main types of power. The first type is traditional authority. This authority is legitimised through traditions, such as the Church. The second type is rational-legal authority which is legitimised by man-made rules and regulations, such as present governments. The final type is charismatic authority which is legitimised through an extraordinary personal authority.

Comparing these types of authorities to the Islamic system, one might conclude that Islamic leadership is a combination of traditional authority and charismatic authority. During the presence of an infallible charismatic authority stemming from Allah would be in place, while in the absence of an infallible traditional authority, in the sense that whatever laws are legislated must be supported by scripture, would be in place.

When the authority of a society is at odds with the members of the society problems will arise. This goes both ways. If the authority is positive while members of the society are negative revolutions will occur. An example of this is when Imam Ali (a) was caliph and Talhah and Zubayr, Mu’awiyah, and the Khawarij all rose up against his divinely appointed position.

Similarly, when a corrupt person is vested with power, the society will eventually revolt and change the system of authority. During this process crime also takes place. Crime is defined as the intentional breaking of a social norm punishable in the society.

While the government is still intact, they must deal with crime and those who commit crime. In the modern era, governments have been increasing their involvement of regulating crime and deviance. One clear example of this is the increase in surveillance that has saturated the society. There are some reports that put 80 percent of London under the eye of the CCTV.

Another method of combating crime employed by those vested in power is the differentiation and classification of criminals. Criminals are exclude from a number of social benefits that are free for other members of society. For instance, in some states within the United States, a felon does not have the right to vote, obtain various professional licenses, purchase firearms, serve on the jury, or collect welfare.

Finally, an increasingly common method of fighting crime is segregating the criminal from the society, e.g. prison. The prison industry has become one of the most lucrative industries in the western world. In scarcely populated Australia there are over 110 functioning prisons. The prison population of the world is climbing. The following statistics are prison inmates per 100,000 population: United States: 756; Australia: 133; Iran: 284; Japan: 51; Lebanon: 108; Columbia: 244; and the Netherlands: 82.

Islam is a system that favours physical punishment over psychological punishment. Therefore, one would not find lengthly prison sentences in Islamic law, thus the numbers of inmates would be much lower.

By: Shaykh Hamid Waqar

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