Psychological Underpinnings of a Crime

By Dr. Ashraf Amin

OUR times witness the most heinous crimes.  And the graph of crimes surges each day. The fear of law is fast vanishing from the hearts of criminals and antisocial elements. One really wonders that despite harsh condemnations, uproar and protests from responsible social citizens, the rise in the ranks of criminals soars high. It could be due to laxity in carrying out punishments by the law enforcing agencies, but that is not the sole reason for the pace and barbarity of crimes.  Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) is reported to have said to his followers: “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (pbuh)! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet (pbuh) said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.” This Hadith would have shocked us equally by its apparent meaning, however Rasul Allah (pbuh) was teaching us the psychological underpinnings of the crimes and the criminal.

The first thing is that an oppressor or criminal who commits a crime is compulsive to do so in many cases. His poor upbringing, a negative social environment, and inadequate training, all play a role in sharpening his criminal instincts. Most of the time bad company, a dangerous indoctrination, and poor supervision gives birth to a ferocious and insensitive human being. The personality and character of a person is shaped from his/her childhood. One has to see if the youth is not nourished from the fountains of negativity!

There is no denying of the fact that our young generation is exposed to hazardous worldviews and lifestyles. They have poor training in morals and character. The major share of their time is spent on those pastimes that have least to do with growth in character and ethics. Rasul Allah (pbuh) was teaching more than a millennium ago that the upbringing of a child/ or the citizen of a nation/society is a big challenge and one must undertake all measures to build up a healthy and crime free society through refined individuals. On the other hand, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) was equally prepared to reform a criminal through instruction and psychological counseling. The Prophet (pbuh) was optimistic in reforming men who had fallen to unlawful activities. He (pbuh) believed in subduing the criminal thoughts before they take on a concrete shape. Thoughts have a tremendous power. There is a famous maxim, “You are what your thoughts make you”. The Prophet (pbuh) was teaching us that the climax of the crime is committing the crime physically, but how apt it would have been if the idea would be nipped in the bud i.e. but not allowing it to dominate one’s feelings, thoughts, and emotions!

Tail-piece: The grim scenario of global human society where not a single day passes without hearing and witnessing crimes of gruesome murders, rapes, acid attacks, abductions, human trafficking, molestations, etc. summons us to wake up for the repair and renovation of our societies. Our existence is threatened by our own people and by the same measure by our own negligence. We can’t leave our generation at the mercy of circumstances. We can’t afford to expose our youth to unfiltered ideas, ideologies, life-styles and to a selfish worldview devoid of human sacredness.


  • The author is Assistant Professor, Central University of Kashmir

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