The Elements of Gangsterism in Families

Do elements similar to gangsterism exist in Muslim families?

Gang busting has to be worked on the parental level because the basic element for gangsterism exists amongst the adults. They may not call themselves gangsters; however they display all of the traditional features of gang membership and gang administration that the smaller versions among the youth display.

If we look on the family level, we can find elements of the drug problems, especially in the communities where pot maybe popular. For instance, the Yemeni, Somalian, Kenyan communities, where people have leaves which they chew, which have been identified by Muslim scholars as intoxicants, as haraam. But it has become a widespread practice and in certain parts of the Muslim world has become a norm. In parts of Yemen, Somalia, Kenya, it is a norm; people don’t even question it. It is openly sold and utilized. This is a drug; if in the family, then what are we going to expect amongst the youth? This is the breeding ground.

Also, we have Muslim families consuming alcohol, usually fathers. If that is a practise in the family, what do you expect from the youth? And, of course cigarettes; people say that it is only makrooh (disliked), not haraam, that is, if you do not do it, it is preferable but if you do it, then no sin. NO! Smoking cigarettes is haraam! It is a sin, without a shadow of a doubt. 500 years ago, scholars in the Ottoman Empire, when looking at the effects of tobacco on those who used it concluded that it was makrooh. Because the only bad effect they could see from it was bad breath! Today we have tablets, sprays, gum, etc, but in those days there were no such things. According to the Shari’ah, based on what Prophet (ﷺ) said,

"He who has eaten garlic or onion should keep away from us or our mosques.'' [1]

meaning that the 25-27 times additional benefits that is obtained from praying in the masjid, will be lost. So this must be makrooh, because it would prevent you from getting additional rewards. They made this a basis for concluding that it was makrooh.

But in the 70’s, after 15 years of struggle with the cigarette companies (evidence was already produced from back in the 60’s, that smoking was connected to cancer, but the cigarette companies had bought scientists and doctors who waived off these evidences saying that they were not conclusive), no scientist who had any kind of honour dared to deny the connection between cigarette smoking and cancer. The Sergeant General of the US declared that smoking causes cancer and all cigarette companies were forced to put warnings on their cigarette boxes, to educate the people that this thing causes cancer.

For us we know cancer causes death. When this became a fact, scholars whose fiqh was ‘living’ fiqh and not ‘fossilized’ fiqh, relooked at the evidences and drew from the Qur’an, statements of Allah,

"...And do not kill yourselves (nor kill one another or destroy yourselves)..." [2]

These evidences, combined with the statement of the Prophet (ﷺ) that,

"He who commits suicide by throttling shall keep on throttling himself in the Hell Fire (forever) and he who commits suicide by stabbing himself shall keep on stabbing himself in the Hell-Fire."[3]

Which means that he will face repeated death in Hell Fire in the same manner he killed himself; all of this put together led the scholars to conclude that smoking was haraam without a shadow of a doubt.

Some try to defend this by saying that not everybody who smokes gets cancer. They support their claim by the fact in Ripley’s Believe it or Not, wherein a Chinese woman lived the longest in the world (130 years) by smoking a cigar everyday! The point in this is just Allahu Akbar! Something that is normally killing everyone else, is the reason for this woman to survive for so long. This is just to show that Allah is greater, he is the one who determines when people die.

But in the Shari’ah, we do not make rulings according to the exception. We make rulings according to the general rule. So if you go back to Ripley’s Believe it or Not, they also have an individual who jumped out of an airplane at 40,000ft, no parachute, hit the ground and still lived to talk about it! He may have broken almost every bone in his body, but he survived it! So now, are you ready to jump out the airplane without a parachute? Of course, no one is going to do that, because we realize that he was an exception and we don’t make a rule about him. We just say, AllahuAkbar. Therefore, smoking causes cancer, cancer causes death, so smoking is haraam.

If you, being a parent, smoke in the house, you are providing a foundation for your children. They see you smoking; they will smoke cigarettes and eventually make it to marijuana.

Also, in the family, we find the roots of gangsterism in the cultural teachings, where the family gives precedence to the culture over Islam. Islam says one thing but the culture says something else. Even though the kids have come across knowledge of what is haraam, when they inform their parents of the same, they say, “No it’s alright, back home we do it this way. This is our way.” This is the practice of the gang. The gang has it’s own set of rules; it does not abide by the general rules, making this the foundation for gang thinking.

Also, you find in the families that are creating this gang mentality, their sole concern when they want to listen to the news, is the news for their country. You don’t realize what you are doing. Any time you turn on the TV, you only tune it to your country, you don’t want to hear any other news; it doesn’t concern you. What are we teaching our children? This is a mistake; we are teaching them that being an Egyptian, a Pakistani, an Indian, is more important than anything else. This is the thought process of a gang!


[1] [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

[2] [Surah An Nisa. 4:29]

[3] [Sahih Bukhari, Book 23, Hadith 118]

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