بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
By Ruhaifa Adil
In the wired world of today, human beings inhabit the planet Earth and the cyber world simultaneously. We shift between reality and virtual reality several times during the day, and now with smart phones, the World Wide Web is at our fingertips.
A Muslim, however, is a Muslim whether online or offline! Here are some things we cyber-Muslims must not forget:
1. Allah is the “Lord of the Worlds” – and that includes the cyberspace!
All of us who venture into the virtual world know that it is a universe in itself. We affirm that Allah is Rabb-ul-A’alameen, the Lord of the Worlds (Surah al-Fatiha: 2), and this means that He is the Lord of the cyber world as well. We should be conscious that Allah is watching us wherever we are, and that nothing is beyond His knowledge. Cyberspace gives us the false sense of being alone, and we sometimes pretend to be someone we are not. Remember, the Prophet (sa) said: “The one who pretends that he has been given what he has not been given is just like the (false) one who wears two garments of falsehood.” (Bukhari)
2. Just because it is our fingers that are moving, doesn’t mean it isn’t “talking”
Whether we are instant-messaging, chatting, tweeting, WhatsApping, updating our Facebook status, emailing or leaving comments, we are communicating, and so we need to be mindful of what we “say”. A Muslim is one from whose tongue and hands other Muslims are safe (Muslim), and hence, we must make sure we do not say anything that can be classified under major sins such as backbiting, lying, or slander. Be extra careful of what you say online, since writing does not carry the intonation that a voice does. It may not be clear that you are joking, and your words may come across as hurtful.
3. When a man and a woman are alone online, the third one with them is Shaytaan!
Sitting behind a screen and being physically removed from the person you are talking to can give you a false sense of security. We all know that when a non-mahram man or woman are alone, the third with them is Shaytaan (at-Tirmidhi). It is a good idea to CC a mahram in your conversation with any other male or female so that Shaytaan isn’t the third one BCC-ed in your exchange.
4. Private lives should be exactly that – private!
Islam is very serious about respecting other people’s privacy. So much so, that as soon as a child is old enough to understand, he is taught to knock before entering his parents’ room. Muslims are taught the etiquettes to ring someone’s bell or knock three times, and then leave instead of insisting to be let in. Cyberspace has the same rules for Muslims. Respect people’s privacy online as you would offline. Do not peek into their private lives. The argument that they have put their lives on display holds as strong as the argument that they may have added you as a friend online because they trust you not to abuse their friendship. Do not put up pictures of other people without taking their permission. And definitely do not indulge in or condone hacking.
5. Keep your level of virtual Haya high!
The culture of updating one’s status has led to the demise of Haya (modesty). People update the events of their lives on social media sites constantly, revealing to others the day-to-day events, feelings, and happenings of their lives, and blurring the boundaries of personal space.
Be very conscious of your personal space, and keep your level of Haya high. Refrain from putting up pictures of yourself that are not modest, do not share every detail of your private life for the world to see, and make sure you do not make a brag-fest out of your profiles. Showing-off and arrogance are not the characteristics of true believers.
6. Say NO to plagiarism
Copy-pasting, and the even less time consuming Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V, has made life, studies, and work easy. But remember, a Muslim does not indulge in plagiarism which is akin to stealing. Islam does not tolerate stealing, and this sin is punishable by having the person’s hand cut off. Read and research from articles, blogs, and excerpts but then put in the hard work to write it yourself. Be original! Muslims have given the world countless inventions because they were thinkers, not plagiarizers. Be proud of this heritage, and carry on the legacy.
7. Shaykh Google is not reliable!
And as much as it seems that Google has the answers for everything, remember, it is in actuality a set of algorithms that checks your query against keywords to “find” for you the answer to what you are looking for. It is your job to verify the authenticity of the information it presents to you. Many websites are spreading incorrect information about Islam, and you must lend a wary eye before accepting what you find. This is true for all other subjects as well.
8. Real people – and real pets – are more fun!
Life has been reduced to the size of a small screen, disconnecting us from the real world. Virtual reality has taken over the three-dimensional realities that surround us, and we “connect” more with people online rather than in real life. Treat the internet as a tool, not your life. Resist the urge to log in every little while. Disconnect as much as possible from your online family to have some fun with your parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends. And while you’re at it, get a real pet too!
© IIPH 2014
(No copyright infringement intended, image taken from www.flickr.com)