As we enter the fourth month of 2018, with Ramadan approaching, it is with a heavy heart that I read of another murder on the streets of our capital. With over 7 murders in the past week, totalling 56 in 2018, we continue to witness London’s unprecedented rise in the senseless loss of life.
This year, for the first time in recent history, London’s murder rate has surpassed that of New York’s. As both cities share similar demographics and sizeable populations, these findings have rocked British media, society and politics.
Many have called upon the government to increase public spending on police, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Shadow home secretary Dianne Abbot and MP David Lammy all highlight rising crime rates since 2014, following government cuts. Lammy goes further in arguing the prosperous drug market plays a pivotal role in organised crime and violence.
Without delving into the political, we must ask ourselves, as Muslims, as British citizens, and on the most instinctive level – as humans – why? Why do we, a nation revered as a beacon of democracy, tolerance and peace, a nation with some of the toughest gun laws globally, suffer from such horrific homicide rates.
As active members of our communities, as upholders of peace, tolerance and justice, as champions of civil rights, we must ask ourselves, what can WE do to thwart this alarming phenomenon?
Before another family receives that fateful knock on their door, before another mother organises her teenager’s funeral, before overworked undertakers lay another body to rest, we must ask ourselves, how can WE help to ensure the safety of our neighbours, friends and family?
We must acknowledge the economic, social and psycho-social catalysts to crime and violence. We must recognise the increase of Muslim prisoners for drug-related offenses, as their non-Muslim counterparts rapidly reduce. We must step up our role within our communities to support, safeguard and offer alternatives to lives engulfed in desperation, crime and violence.
Lest we walk past another group of youths with only our disapproving or judgemental looks. Rather, let us invite them in to local mosques, community centres or cafes to show them real support, appreciation and belief. Let us exude care for our youth, our prosperity and our futures.
Lest we continue to sit idle and remain passive upon hearing the news of yet another senseless murder. Let us give precedence to all life.
We are obliged, first as Humans and then as Muslims, to stop trying to find a cure for the symptoms of this disease, rather, we must unite to prevent this disease from taking hold.
By Imam Qari Asim,
Leeds Makkah Mosque.