The world today is witnessing the rapid development of social media. Islam does not at all deter any form of progress or modernization, however, it is not outrageous to say that social media today has reared its ugly face in generating a very worrying predicament.
In addition to the positive outcomes, there are also elements of munkar (evil) arising, growing, multiplying, and spreading within our society through social media. Not just the uncovering of the awrah, but exposing and shaming others is no longer uncommon. Hurling accusations, slandering others, blaming one another, and spreading unverified information, have all become the cause for disputes and divorce between spouses.
Some Muslims today would waste most of their time browsing through social media compared with the time spent in reciting the Holy Qur’an or reading Islamic and spiritual materials that could develop noble akhlaq. Even though Allah has honoured us with the intellect, bestowed upon us countless favours, the internet and the virtual world at times would succeed in transforming us into a creature with a foul tongue and despicable writings, deceitful and transgressing, hasty, reckless soul, always rushing, weak, and clouded by the cluttered mind, َmay Allah forbid us from those.
It is due to the bounty of the intellect that mankind has been successful with various inventions and innovations whether to be used on land, in the air, or in the water. Look at the capability of the human intellect that can turn today‟s world into a small borderless village. With proper utilization of the ni„mah (bounty) of the mind that is firmly based on Islamic guidance, the use of modern technology invented by humans will drive towards righteousness and wellbeing within human‟s lives. Al-Imam al-Ghazali stated (which mean):
“A task is rendered as something good if it fulfills the criteria required by the religion and aql (intellect), while a task is deemed as evil if it violates the requirements of the intellect and religion.”
All these prove that in dealing with the social media phenomenon, religious teachings and the aql (intellect) must go hand in hand. Any news or story that appears on the social media will be harmonious if it is scrutinized by the sound aql that is based upon authentic religious teachings. The wisdom in processing the news or story received truly necessitates bashfulness and taqwa. Are we not afraid that our righteous deeds may just wither away just like that because we heedlessly clicked “share” or shared matters that are inaccurate and non-beneficial, only causing confusion and anxiety among Muslims such as spreading the juristic rulings stated by certain scholars which were never true, to begin with. Or spreading certain fatawa which were never officially released as such. Are we not afraid of the severe warnings from Allah such as the ones mentioned in verse 22 of surah al-Anfaal (which mean):
“Indeed, the worst of living creatures in the sight of Allah are the deaf and dumb who do not use reason.” [Al-Quran, surah al-Anfal, verse 22]
Day after day, this worrying phenomenon is becoming increasingly disturbing when more people are becoming addicted to browsing through social media regardless of time and place, including inside the mosque. Surfing through social media, where one is no longer concentrating on the sermon being delivered will only render such action as laghaw or in vain, and nullifies the deeds of listening to the khutbah, as well as reducing the rewards of performing the Friday prayer. This can be understood from the meaning of the hadith collected by Imam Muslim where the Messenger stated that one who distracts himself with pebbles during the khutbah will not get the (Jumu’ah) reward. The meaning from this hadeeth indicates that if just playing with pebbles is deemed as laghaw, what more with being preoccupied with social media causing one to lose concentration from listening and comprehending the khutbah being delivered by the khatib.
This is the reality that must be changed and improved so that the iman nurtured for so many years will not be easily hoodwinked by the fitnah of social media. When faced with stockpiles of stories and news that are mushrooming all over the social media and its like, let us remain vigilant and remind our selves, our children, and our colleagues upon the reminder from Allah mentioned in verse 36 of surah al-Israa’ (which mean):
“And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned.” [Al-Quran, surah al-Israa’, verse 36].
In another hadith, it was reported from Abu Hurayrah that Rasulullah said (which mean):
“A slave of Allah may utter a word without thinking whether it is right or wrong, he may slip down in the Fire far away than the distance between the east and the west.” [Agreed Upon].
Both of these guidelines call upon us to utilize the social media in the best manner possible, according to the Shari’ah and to always remain knowledgeable or well informed in the matter being discussed, and to be extra cautious with our words especially in the social media. Let us utilize the social media as an avenue in attaining nearness to Allah, strengthening the brotherhood, fostering unity, and spreading beneficial knowledge, which in turn will increase in benefit, attaining the mercy of Allah.