Why do people commit crime?

Muslims believe that life is a test and that Iblis, or the Devil, tries to tempt people away from God. Some people commit crimes because they have misused their free will and made the wrong choices in life.

There are, however, many complex reasons why people commit different crimes, and it is a question which may not be answered just from a religious perspective.

Question

Why do Muslims think people commit crime?

Muslims believe people commit crime, in part, because they are tempted to do the wrong thing. The Devil, or Iblis, wants to tempt people away from God, and criminals often break the laws and moral codes of Islam. Muslims understand the reasons for criminal behaviour are complex but the actions of criminals undermine a just society.

Police recorded crimes in England and Wales for year ending March 2017, listed by category of offence.Police recorded crimes in England and Wales for year ending March 2017

There are many theories to explain why people commit crime, but there is general agreement on how people become criminals. Criminal behaviour fits into one, or more than one, of these categories:

  • criminal behaviour can be caused by a person's free choice
  • criminal behaviour can be caused by a person's environment, eg a broken home or failure at school could be a catalyst for the change to becoming a criminal
  • criminal behaviour can seem like the only option for a person if they are unable to conform to society
  • criminal behaviour can develop through being associated with other criminals