بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
By Unaiza Ahsan
What is the first thing you think of when you read something inspiring and it touches you? “I have got to share this!” The thought flashes through your mind, your fingers busily point and click, and within a few seconds, you have ‘shared’ it. Done. It has been broadcast to hundreds of others (and potentially thousands!).
Social media usage nowadays is prolific, to the extent that the latest Facebook stats give a whopping figure of nearly 1.4 billion active monthly users . Given this usage, it is not very surprising that throughout the day during any spare moment, people are found checking status updates, latest tweets, their responses, and the list goes on. It never ends. There are so many users updating at the same time that it is highly likely that if you have even a 100 friends on Facebook, your newsfeed will be cluttered every hour with new information. This information consumption is highly addictive. One can’t help but browse through everything and in the process, one can share many things with their friends or followers. Here are some reminders for sharing content on social media the Islamic way:
- Don’t share something simply for the heck of it. The Prophet (sa) said: “He who believes in Allah and the Last Day must either speak good or remain silent.” (Muslim) We all know how useless (and hilarious) memes  spread on the social media through countless people sharing it. If there is absolutely no benefit in sharing something, avoid it. It will not be easy (at first), but avoiding it is far better than spending time spreading useless information that will waste other people’s time too. The Prophet (sa) said: “The excellence of a person’s Islam includes leaving what does not concern him.” (at-Tirmidhi; reliable)
- Don’t publicize other people’s shortcomings. It has become a norm these days to make fun of people (especially celebrities) and highlight their shortcomings on social networks. One can create many different types of curated content (memes/remixes, etc.) where somebody famous is made fun of due to any trait (such as their accent/how smart they are, etc.). This content is shared by people ‘just for laughs’. This sharing habit must be curtailed if one wants to follow Islamic guidelines in this matter. The Prophet (sa) said: “On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will conceal the faults of any servant who conceals the faults of others in this world.” (Muslim)
- Be courteous. It is far too easy to blast out a scathing reply, replete with the choicest words, of what you think about a certain opinion/news story/article. It is better to respond to it calmly or if it doesn’t really matter, not respond at all. The Prophet (sa) said: “A person utters a word thoughtlessly (i.e., without thinking about it being good or not) and, as a result of this, he will fall down into the fire of Hell deeper than the distance between the east and the west.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
- Do not share videos of people pranking each other/parents/kids. It is super hilarious to watch that little kid being told that “I ate all your candy”, and watching his/her reaction (and recording it and uploading it on YouTube), but when you share this stuff, you are implicitly approving it. This is severely warned against in Islam. The Prophet (sa) said:” Woe to him who lies to make people laugh. Woe to him! Woe to him!” (Abu Dawood; reliable)
- Always check whether a source is authentic or not before sharing it online. This is a chronic problem where the earlier you post something related to a breaking news story, the better chances you have of getting more likes, retweets, or comments. In a hurry to comment or analyze breaking news stories, many people forget to check for authentic sources of information thoroughly when sharing analyses/statements by others. The recent Peshawar school attack in Pakistan is a good example. People started sharing an offensive statement attributed to a well-known individual. This caused massive outrage before it was discovered that the news was completely false. The Prophet (sa) said: “Beware of suspicion for suspicion is the falsest of speech.” (at-Tirmidhi; sound)
It is hoped that with the above guidelines, you will be able to restrain yourself from mindlessly posting and sharing content on social media. It is a rewarding deed to share good and spread information that causes benefit to society in general. But this sharing should not include useless information, lying, backbiting, and slander. May Allah protect us from this fitnah (tribulation), and enable us to get the good out of it. Ameen.
 An internet information generator, especially of random or contentless information (Urban dictionary)
Unaiza Ahsan is a graduate student at Georgia Tech
© IIPH 2015