The antidote to violence

“Evil (mischief, corruption) has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned.”  Holy Quran

A few weeks ago, I wrote on the violence plaguing the Caribbean. The murder rates are staggering for small developing states. I mentioned that in Islamic eschatology, there is a saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) which states: “By the one in whose hand is my soul, a time will surely come to people in which the killer does not know why he has killed and the one killed does not know why he was killed.”

Sadly in Barbados, we continue to witness increasing incidences of such violence and murder. Innocent bystanders are being caught up in the melee. It is recognized that such occurrences are not widespread and can be attributed to a few who are bent on causing death and destruction. But that is no comfort to the vast majority of Barbadians who feel unsafe and anxious over the situation.

Our peaceful, beautiful island is being held hostage by a minority of persons who exact their “justice” in a manner that brings fear to the entire population. I put “justice” in inverted commas because the Prime Minister, in responding to the tragic events that occurred on Kadooment Day, spoke to two forms of justices existing in Barbados. One, the legal form of justice, as extended by our law enforcement officers and our justice system and the other, the one used by gangs.

I disagree that gangs use a justice system. The very nature and definition of the word “justice” means something positive. Search the word and one finds: “the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, ormoral rightness.” Even the legal definition of justice states: “The proper administration of the law; the fair and equitable treatment of all individuals under the law.”

What gangs use is a system of punishment, revenge and retribution. There is absolutely no ‘justice’ in what they do. To equate their illicit actions to ‘justice’ is to give them a certain degree of civility. We cannot ignore the presence of gangs in our society. They are part and parcel of what Barbados is. The question is how do we deal with them. Arguably, Barbados has had a gang presence before but over the years sought to diminish their power and influence over young minds. There seems to be a resurgence of the gang culture. Many experts will explain the reasons behind the rise in gangs and gang affiliation. Poverty, I am sure, will rank high among those reasons, alongside the feeling of empowerment and belonging, love and acceptance.

Over and over again, I have written on the failure of materialism to provide that satisfaction which so many human beings crave. The worst affected is our younger generation. Through no fault of their own, a legacy is left to them of insufficient resources to have the very basic comforts of life. That situation coexists with a very crass materialistic culture that promotes a sense that human beings need to accumulate as many comforts of life as quick as possible and with as little effort as possible.

The situation also exists with the view that spirituality is an outmoded form of behaviour. We remove the spiritual well-being from consideration and expect the mental and physical well-being to survive or be at its optimum. Disintegrating family structures further compound the situation. The family, the nuclear and the extended, is the gang every human being should belong to. The true family setting must provide the love, the warmth, the compassion and the strength every human being requires.

We destroy the family and we destroy the fabric of our nation. So, if we have to start somewhere in this fight against gangs and violence, let us start with rebuilding our spiritual well-being and rebuilding our families. In this regard, I would like to share some aspects of an article entitled 6 tips to Raising Emotionally Strong Children by Zaynub Zafar, a graduate in sociology.

She writes:“Parenting is not one huge thing; parenting is a million little things. Parenting your children is ONE huge RESPONSIBILITY, ONE huge TASK, which comprises of hundreds of aspects. Some of these aspects are more important and more deserving of attention when compared to others. For example, a child’s physical well-being is more important than his grades. In my view, a child’s emotional well-being and emotional stability, or call it personality building, is the most important aspect when it comes to parenting.”

She went on: “Why, you may ask? Parenting focused on emotional stability helps foster honesty, kindness, cooperation, and cheerfulness. It helps protect children from developing anxiety, depression, eating disorders, antisocial behavior, alcohol and drug abuse. Spirituality is directly connected with emotional stability.”

Zafar’s tips on raising emotionally strong children include:

1.Treat your child with respect. Speak to him politely. Respect his opinion. Pay attention when he is speaking to you. Treat him kindly. Children treat others the way their parents treat them. Your relationship with your child is the foundation for his relationships with others. If you treat him harshly, don’t blame him when he will treat the world the same way.

2.The single most important thing you can do for your children is to let them know you love them. The more you make them feel adored and appreciated at home, the better they can handle the adversities of life.  If you want your children to never give up in life, the trick is simple – love them, boost their confidence. Instead of criticizing them for their faults and using negative remarks, say something more positive like, “I know that’s not your best effort. I’m sure you can do better.”

3.Give them big targets to achieve in life. Don’t limit them to small aims.

4.Always be kind to them, but know where to be kind and where to be firm. Misusing kindness can spoil them. If you want your child to have good manners, then raise your bar and improve yourself first. Children love to imitate their parents. Give them something wonderful to imitate. Make a conscious effort and plan it out with your spouse to use soft speech at home. Cut out all sort of vulgar slangs. There should be no lying, no immodest clothing, etc.

5.Make them strong by teaching them to trust God. You can even begin this with preschoolers.

According to Zafar, if a parent mostly makes positive actions, the child will perceive the parent as loving. She says the ideal positive-to-negative ratio is 80 to 20 which means that every four positive actions a parent does towards his child, he can afford to make one negative one. For example, three hugs and a kiss, earns you one light scolding. If you make more negative actions and less positive ones, your child starts to look at you as an unloving parent.”


Source: (Suleiman Bulbulia is a Justice of the Peace, secretary of the Barbados Muslim Association and Muslim Chaplain at the Cave Hill Campus, UWI.  Email:

2 Responses to The antidote to violence

  1. jrsmith August 16, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    We can have justice simple, bible whackers pray harder getting the low lifes to turn the guns on themselves………simple……..

  2. Robert August 16, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    Unfortunately: One can not provide a formula to bringing up children . The best way is to provide an example. However there are no guarantees. Each child is different , regardless as a parent how hard you may try, some children will not turn out well.


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