By Umm Ibrahim
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
Many ladies-only support groups on social media encourage members to ask questions about different problems they are facing in their daily lives. While some members post questions, others respond proactively, suggesting solutions in the light of their own experience. Such groups are definitely a great way to interact with like-minded individuals, obtain handy tips, and be assured that one is not alone in dealing with the trials of life. If you are an active member of such groups and want to ensure that your advice is in line with the Sunnah, do ensure the following:
Correct your intention
What is your intention in joining these support forums? Purify your intention that you are there solely to seek Allah’s pleasure by helping His creation. Your intention should not be to seek fodder for gossip or keep track of those who are in your friends’ lists who have joined the same forums.
Refer to authentic sources
Avoid guesswork. If the query is related to the practice of religion in daily life, refer to an authentic website like Islam Question and Answer to look up the answer. If you are not sure, simply advise the sister to consult a scholar.
If you can answer a query that someone has posted, do so proactively. Give solutions that are practical to implement. Avoid gossiping or posting something on the lines of: “Oh, I know this sister who had the same problem. She is still going through…” By doing this, you divulge details that the concerned sister might not have wanted posted on social media where so many people can read them.
At times, ladies complain about their families, spouse, children, in-laws, and so on. They are not looking for a solution but simply want to vent their feelings. Give positive responses to all such posts. Assure the lady in question that she is not alone. In sha’Allah, she will be rewarded for her patience and perseverance in the face of all the troubles she is experiencing. Word these responses in a heart-warming manner to ensure that anyone reading it will feel hopeful and positive.
Refrain from backbiting
When someone posts about an issue that is close to our hearts, it becomes very easy to fall into the trap and start venting our own feelings (at times even mentioning those who ‘caused’ those issues). Avoid this at all costs. Don’t start a negative chain of complaints. If you were ever in a similar situation, give a passing reference to it only to remind the lady that if Allah (swt) brings you to it, He brings you through it. Never give names or mention anyone by their relationship to you – this does amount to backbiting even if they were wrong and you were right.
At times, based on our life experiences, we can recognize that the lady who has posted her problem is going about things incorrectly. However, she seems emotional and distraught, so should we really point out to her that it is her attitude and/or action that needs to be rectified first? Yes, of course. But do it very gently. Start with empathy. Mention that you are concerned about her and will supplicate for her. Then at the end, you can mention some tips that she can implement. At all times, avoid using phrases like: “How can you expect…when you are doing…?” This puts people off immediately.
Treat the information as an amanah (trust)
At times, we are tempted to discuss certain problems posted on support groups with our friends or family members. Even though the rules of the forums may not explicitly say so, the information shared counts as an amanah with you. Safeguard this amanah and do not make others’ problems a subject of discussion.
Umm Ibrahim is a stay-at-home mom, and a freelance writer and editor.
© IIPH 2015