Solution of Gang Culture at the Family Level

What are the changes we can make, as Muslim families, to prevent gang culture amongst our youth?

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

A very important step, which most people are not prepared to do is to marry outside of the family, the clan or the tribe. This step is usually very huge for the parents. The youth doesn’t mind, but for the parents it is a big problem. They will find all sorts of excuses about difference in culture, adjustment issues, extended family issues, etc. To breakdown these barriers that create the gang, we have to open up and marry our children according to the principles that Prophet (ﷺ) laid down. Look for nobility, religion, beauty and wealth. [1]This is the rule. This is Islam. When we say that they have to come from this clan, country, family, etc, we are throwing the deen aside and favoring our culture and tradition.

We will also have to eliminate all traces of drug culture from our home and encourage a universal outlook at home. When we watch news, watch the news of the Muslim world. Make the children aware of what is going on in different parts of the Muslim world.

When going on holidays, try to go to different parts of the Muslim worlds. One year, visit your home and the next go to some other place. There is so much education in such trips which can be used as practical knowledge in our deen.

Gang formation also takes place in the masjid. We find in the masjid people from a particular ethnic background gathering in different circles in the masjid and chat amongst themselves. When it’s time for Salah, everyone joins in, and after Salah, they return to their little circles. The young people witness this. They as youth, tend to play and hang out with other children unmindful of these aspects, as a natural thing, but we inadvertently teach them that through our practices. Also, in these circles we speak only in our ethnic languages. And therefore no one is going to join that circle because they don’t know the language. To overcome this, we need to get to know other ethnicities. We need to introduce our families to other backgrounds in the masjid, we need to sit together, get to know each other, meet other people who have been coming to the masjid for 5 years, and yet we don’t know them! We know them physically but we don’t know their family, who they are, nothing. So it is important to bring the families together. We need to establish programs wherein families come together. Masajid should have certain family activities so that the families get to know each other from various ethnicities. Also, what we need to do is to pray in different masajid. Don’t just restrict yourself to a single masjid. On a community level, we find the evolution of ‘ethnic mosques’ - the Afghan mosque, the Boston mosque, the Gambian mosque, the Pakistani mosque, everyone has a mosque. No one feels happy unless they have their own mosque. But do we really need all this? What we need are gatherings where Muslims come together on the basis of Islam and not on the basis of origin. In the gatherings of Nikah, Valima, ‘Aqeeqah, only people from our ethnic background are invited. What we find is that people will drive across town, past 5-10 masajid to go to pray in their ethnic masjid. This is where it becomes very sad. They will pass a Pakistani, Indian, Bengali masjid, just to get to that one Somali masjid! What is happening here? This is not right! We need to change our approach in terms of our various social functions. We should invite people from the masjid. If you are going to have a Valimah, the first one on your list are the people who normally pray in the front line of the masjid; who when eat your food, your food will be blessed. Prophet (ﷺ) said "Do not keep company with anyone but a believer and do not let anyone eat your food but one who is pious.".[2] Bring those people. Make sure you invite them, then you can also invite people from the ‘gang’, but your first choice should be people from the masjid. In order to overcome these ethnic feelings, we should encourage interactions between the masajid. Where the realities of the ethnic masjid exist, we should develop shared activities between the masajid so that these communities can come together, even though they are initially divided based on these ethnic lines.

We as parents have a big job to do in terms of opening up our community and having a real Islamic universal view. Our children growing up with that kind of view, InshaAllaah, would be protected from at least those elements of gangsterism. We should not be the foundations, the fertile grounds for that type of behavior, those types of organizations to emerge in our community.

We have to tackle the problem of the gangs from both levels - of knowing our children, our youth, knowing what is happening to them, why is it happening, getting help when needed and making sure that we have provided them with sufficient Islamic input from the homes so that the gangs would not become attractive to them. Develop for them wholesome heroes from the time that they are young. Instead of the average kid who knows everything about Spiderman, Batman and their enemies, why don't our children know about Dajjal? Basic information, but our children don’t know it. We allow them to know all this other foolishness, but what is real and also exciting, the truth, is not known to them. Who can we blame but ourselves? We have to tackle the gang mentality within ourselves as Allah says,

“Verily! Allah will not change the good condition of a people as long as they do not change their state of goodness themselves (by committing sins and by being ungrateful and disobedient to Allah).” [3]

References:

[1] Sunan an-Nasa'i 3230 : Book 26, Hadith 35

[2] Abu Dawud (41:4832)

[3] Surah Ar Ra'd, 13:11

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