One action that we often engage our tongue with is to slander. This is the act of making false and damaging statement about an individual. With the New media and technology, slandering has gone beyond the use of the tongue. It’s now been gratified through keyboards and amplified with the power of the internet. The advent of social media has enabled humans to communicate and express their thoughts freely over varying issues. It has also enabled the mass spread of false and unverified information. Any individual can come online and type whatever they feel, just to get reaction and attention from people.
The yearning for social media validation has turned people into liars. They say untrue things about others. We now take joy in the sorrow and misfortune of our brothers. We no longer do physical lynching; the battle is won with keyboards and fingers. This evil has become so rampant ranging from status updates, tweets and unverified broadcast. The resultant effect is that it has created a lot of problems in the society. These include increase in suicide rate, job loss, broken relationships as well as lack of faith.
Allah The Most High exclusively warned us about this ugly act in some verses of Suratul Hujurat:
O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become over what you have done, regretful. – Qur’an 49:6
Also, Allah then went further to describe how despicable this act is – so as we all eschew it.
O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful. – Qur’an 49:12
We can find further evidence from the hadith on the evil of backbiting and slander thus;
Abdullah ibn Amr reported: They mentioned a man in front of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and they said, “He only eats if he is fed! He only moves if he is made to move!” The Prophet said, “You have backbitten him.” They said, “We only said what is true about him.” The Prophet said, “It is enough sin to mention bad things about your brother.”
In another narration, the Prophet said, “If what you said about him were not true, you would have slandered him.” – Musnad ‘AbdAllāh ibn al-Mubārak
As Muslims, we must understand the effects of this act and strive to desist from it. We should not put the quest to amass plenty likes and comments on social media over our deen. Islam teaches us to be our brother’s keeper and not expose the weaknesses of each other. It is incumbent upon us to speak well of our brothers and sisters. Let’s endeavor to filter information before passing it across. Ask yourselves if you’d be proud of the posts in a few years. Would you feel safe and secured if such is said about you? As servants of Allah, we must hold ourselves accountable before He (SWT) summons us to account. We should ensure that we filter information before we post or share it. As well, don’t make yourself a tool for your brethren’s misfortune.
It’s sad we live in an era where we have access to knowledge, yet ignorance is widespread. Let’s work towards harnessing Social media positively to earn rewards. We can as well promote dawah activities and our personal businesses. Socially interact with people of sound minds within limits and share meaningful information that brings benefit to the people. We can make great use of this willing tool than earn iniquitous shares through it. As a reminder, do not get too addicted to social media. Occasionally, unplug from it and connect with real people around you. May be your smile or kind word is what will heal a failing heart.
On a final note, as Muslims we should always apply the THINK rule before speaking. Ask yourself:
Is it true?
Is it helpful?
Is it inspiring?
Is it necessary?
Is it kind?
If your answer is No to any of these questions, then the speech deserves a rethink.
May our social media accounts not be a witness against us on the day of Qiyamah. Aameen!