Social networking applications (apps) like WhatsApp may be creating more anxiety, confusion and divisions, rather than love, brotherhood, and peace within the Muslim community.
THE internet has helped us all think beyond boundaries and connect without limitations through social media. Muslims all around the world can now connect with one another to share ideas and knowledge. A person in one corner of the world can listen to a Mufti or Islamic scholar from a different corner of the world, Islamic lectures can be downloaded from online resources, videos can be viewed online, shared or even uploaded. In some instances, live Islamic public talks can be streamed across national boundaries,
Smart phone apps like WhatsApp, Viber and Snapchat are also playing a crucial role in connecting people world around. However, such apps may contribute to misunderstandings, confusion and even arguments among Muslims. Among all the smart phone apps, WhatsApp stands out to be a winner, and has become the most popular app used by people, ranging from executive of a multi-national corporation to an auto-wala. Apps like WhatsApp may be creating hostile environment within Muslim community. Sharing information on religious riots, hate speech, or images highlighting atrocities perceived to be done against Muslims has a psychological impact on the message recipient that might lead to depression, pessimism or even hatred towards another religion. Those who follow news media would know that social media played a role in spreading rumors, resulting in escalating atrocities during recent riots.
Upon receiving an Islamic message, users do not verify the text authenticity before forwarding it to others. Almost every Islamic message one comes across on WhatsApp is claimed to be words spoken by the Prophet Mohammed (PUBH), Hazrath Ali (RA), or Abu Bakr (RA). However, if one is willing to follow or share a message he/she should first do primary research by reading the Quran or Hadith so as to determine its authenticity, or if needed get it verified by nearest Islamic Scholar.
Arguments may occur between friends or family members who share videos, audios or writings of a particular scholar, and then try to persuade others to follow the stated ideology. People tend to go to the extent of abusing, or even breaking relations, on the pretext of being a true follower of certain Islamic scholar. They do not realize that the scholar they follow is not available locally to solve their disputes and guide them to peace and love with others.
Some users circulate Islamic messages on WhatsApp, or keep an Islamic profile picture to demonstrate to others their religiosity. However, only Allah (swt) can judge a person for how true a Muslim that person really is. We Muslims should avoid relying on someones social networking activity to judge his/her character. Unless we know a person from his or her day-to-day deeds, we cannot decide who he/she really is.
Asaduddin Owaisi, MP from Hyderabad rightly quoted in one of his speeches that youngsters today argue, fight or even hate each other on the basis of following a new Islamic scholar, and the scholar whom they follow is Mufti Google. It is time we understand the drawbacks of apps like WhatsApp. It will not take a minute or two for us to educate our siblings, friends or even an auto-wala with whom you are traveling about responsibly using social networking.
No one would deny the internet can play an important role in bringing everyone together. Social networking apps like WhatsApp can be used for encouraging love, peace, respect for other religions, and even giving of sadaqa and zakath. Let us not allow apps like WhatsApp to decide our identity. Let us enlighten ourselves with Quraan and Sunnah of our Beloved Prophet PBUH, and be responsible users of social media.
Qutub Ahmed Siddiqui works as a Human Resources Officer in Doha, Qatar.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.