Drugs, gangs and social media. Be vigilant of child exploitation
June 18, 2021
Allah Almighty entrusted us with His amanah (trusts). In Surat al Ahzab, He described the amanah, which He offered to the heavens, earth and mountains to carry, but the only being which agreed to carry it was mankind.
﴿٧٢﴾ إِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الْأَمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأَبَيْنَ أَنْ يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا وَحَمَلَهَا الْإِنْسَانُ ۖ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُومًا جَهُولًا
We offered the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains. But they refused to undertake it, and were apprehensive of it. Yet the human being undertook it. He has always been unfair and ignorant. (33:72)
Different types of amanah
Our amanah are varied, they include our deen, our family, our health and our children. We have to look after all the amanah that we have been given.
Unfortunately today’s topic is extremely disturbing. An investigation by LBC has found children as young as 8 are being exploited, groomed and manipulated by gangs to deal drugs, move weapons and hide cash and they are using rape as a form of control. Drug gangs have been operating for decades but the pandemic has forced them to change their tactics.
Traditionally these organised crime groups (OCGs) will recruit vulnerable young people by offering them free drugs or things like bikes and clothes, then tell them they have a debt which has to be paid.
Gangs are turning to social media to identify young people, coerce them into sending explicit images and then blackmailing them into dealing.
LBS reported that Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) are infiltrating Snapchat and WhatsApp groups to try and find young people in those areas. Once they have got one young person it is then easy to find their friends.
They will find a young girl with a make-up page, and they will get another young girl to start liking that make-up page, go through their friend list and see who else they can use in that area.
There has been a real increase in self-harm and suicide of young males, particularly between the ages of 17 and 19. The reason for that has been attributed to an increase in online grooming and online harm with young males and females being coerced into taking explicit images of themselves.
Once it is in the hands of these perpetrators it’s being used as something to hold over their head to say if you don’t engage in drug supply someone’s going to see this image.
Young children involved are feeling so trapped they are thinking the only way out is self-harm or suicide. We spoke to one youth worker in A&E who had spoken to someone who had drunk a litre of bleach.
He had been forced to engage in a rape of another young person but could not carry it out and ran home. Because he couldn’t carry that rape out they were threatening to kill him.
The responsibility of parents, the community and the government is to look after our children. Allah Almighty made it incumbent on all of us to look after the trust He bestowed on us.
Ma’qil bin Yasaar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:
قال مَعْقِلُ بْنُ يَسَارٍ سَمِعْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ “ مَا مِنْ عَبْدٍ اسْتَرْعَاهُ اللَّهُ رَعِيَّةً، فَلَمْ يَحُطْهَا بِنَصِيحَةٍ، إِلاَّ لَمْ يَجِدْ رَائِحَةَ الْجَنَّةِ ”. البخاري.
I heard the Prophet (peace be on him) saying, “Any man whom Allah has given the authority of ruling some people and he does not look after them in an honest manner, will never feel even the smell of Paradise.” (Bukhari[i])
عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ “ أَلاَ كُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ فَالأَمِيرُ الَّذِي عَلَى النَّاسِ رَاعٍ وَمَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ وَالرَّجُلُ رَاعٍ عَلَى أَهْلِ بَيْتِهِ وَهُوَ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْهُمْ وَالْمَرْأَةُ رَاعِيَةٌ عَلَى بَيْتِ بَعْلِهَا وَهِيَ مَسْئُولَةٌ عَنْهُ وَالْعَبْدُ رَاعٍ عَلَى مَالِ سَيِّدِهِ وَهُوَ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْهُ أَلاَ فَكُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ ” .الترمذي.
Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace be on him) said:
“Indeed each of you is a shepherd and all of you will be questioned regarding your flock. The commander who is in authority over the Muslims is responsible and he will be questioned regarding his responsibility. The man is responsible over the inhabitants of his house and he is the one who will be questioned about them. The wife is responsible in her husband’s house and she will be questioned about it. The slave is responsible regarding his master’s property, and he will be questioned about it. Indeed each of you is a shepherd and each of you will be questioned about his flock.” [Tirmidhi]
We are accountable
Allah will hold us accountable for how we fulfilled our responsibility. Whether we are in a position of leadership in our family, community or school or as governors or in the government, it is our duty to protect innocent children. It is reprehensible that children as young as 8 years, or even aged 10 or 15 are being coerced in this way. It is not acceptable.
It is the duty of the government to ensure the safety of its subjects. And it is our duty as parents to be responsible for their safety, well-being, understanding, and their moral, social and emotional development.
This is our amanah.
وقال صلى الله عليه وسلم : “إن الله سائل كل راع عما استرعاه ، أحفظ ذلك أم ضيع ؟ حتى يسأل الرجل عن أهل بيته ” رواه ابن حبان
On the authority of Qatadah on the authority of Al-Hasan Al-Basri that the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
Allah will ask every shepherd of what he entrusted, has he looked after them or neglected them, until the man is asked about the people of his household). [Ibn Hibban in his Sahih]
As parents we sometimes have a tendency to overprotect our children, to try and wrap them up in cottonwool. Others can be neglectful, claiming that life will mould them, bad experiences will toughen them up. Neither of these approaches is good.
We have to be wise and protect them from danger without overparenting them. We need to look after them without being too guarded and overbearing or too relaxed and permissive.
Children need mental, physical, spiritual and financial protection. We have to be very careful about what they are being exposed to, as the dangers are now no longer outside the home, but on our devices. Innocent children are hunted over social media. Be aware what your children do on social media. Though it may be beyond your imagination that your child could be involved in anything untoward, in the virtual world it is easy for situations to spiral out of control. Keep your eyes open.
We need to be aware what is going on the lives of our children, and in their minds. We need to have honest relationships with our children, and keep communication channels open. And we need to make dua for them.
Watch out for these websites and apps
Omegle – The service randomly pairs users in one-on-one chat sessions where they chat anonymously using the names “You” and “Stranger” meaning you have no control over who you can talk to.
Whisper – The Whisper app allows users to connect in groups based upon their interests and location in order to confess secrets.
Blendr – This online dating app that allows users to message, exchange photos and videos, and rate the “hotness” of other users, based upon the user’s GPS location.
Chatous – This app is specifically designed to put users in contact with strangers and allows them to send disappearing messages meaning that parents would have no way of overseeing use of this app.
﴿٧٤﴾ وَالَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا
And those who say, “Our Lord! Give us comfort in our spouses and offspring. And make us a good example for the righteous.” [25:74]
Rabbana hab lana min azwajina wa dhuriyyatina qurrata A’yun waj’alna lil-muttaqina imama.
We ask Allah to protect us and our children and enable us to deliver the trust Allah gave us, look after our children to the best of our ability. Ameen.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – thought for the week 18th June 2021
[i] Tabarani and Ibn Hajar al Asqalani in Fath al Bari mentioned that though the fragrance can be smelt from 70 years away, they will be far from Jannah because of the betrayal of their trust.
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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.
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