Etiquettes of Sharing on Social Media
We have arrived at the age of Social Media at the turn of the century. Increasingly, our lives are being intertwined through social media, people from distant corners of the globe are being connected to each other in many ways; ideas and culture are being shared, our livelihoods and economies are being shared and we are becoming dependant on each other as the world is drawing ever closer. With the advent of the internet this has become possible, the Prophet ﷺ asked, according to the companion Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn Aas, “How will you (act) and the time draws near when people will be sifted; the covenants of people will be corrupted and the people will differ; then they will be like this,” and he intertwined his fingers. They said, “How should we (act), O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “Take what you know to be good and leave what you repudiate; betake yourselves to your own private affairs and leave off the affairs of the general public.” (Abu Dawood)
Now, in the current times people are sharing so much of their personal business including what they ate for breakfast, what they have done to throughout the day to what they are eating; their thoughts, aspirations, feelings and wishes.
Some are living a dual life online, dreaming up a false identity known as an online profile, maintaining it with a religious fervour and have the need to keep it updated for their followers and friends by constantly posting.
Children, from birth to all ages are constantly swallowing the feed of media; it entertains them, keeps them occupied with constant stimulation and prevents them from getting bored. Parents find it useful to keep them occupied – if the child is throwing a tantrum or refusing to eat then their favourite programme or cartoon is an essential tool in managing their behaviour. Social Media is a platform used by everyone – businesses, entertainment industries, politicians, health professionals and preachers to convey their messages. This information is then digested, discussed and shared by the audience over and over again. The object of some people is to get the information to go viral, being viral in itself is the aim regardless of what it conveys or the impact it has. Others are in the business analysing audience behaviour, how to use this information in captivating and manipulating the audience for various people and their purposes.
Let us have a look at the statistics of social media usages. According to Ofcom, the average Briton checked the phoned every 12 minutes and spent 24 hours online each week. Similar statistics is reported for the people in the US spending time online. This interaction is impacting on us and shaping and re-shaping our thoughts, understanding and behaviour.
So what are etiquettes of social media? Islam advises us on our social conduct both online and in person.
Verification of news and its consequences
“O you who believe! If a Faasiq (evil person) comes to you with any news, verify it, lest you should harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful for what you have done” [al-Hujuraat 49:6]
We are asked to check and verify our information before we act or share in case it is false and we harm ourselves and others. The emphasis is on the possible consequences of receiving this news and sharing it.
Backbiting and Slander
“Waylun likulli humazatin lumazatin” – al-Qur’an 104:1
“And from his narration on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas that he said about the interpretation of Allah’s saying (Woe): ‘(Woe) severe punishment; and it is also said that this refers to a valley in Gehenna which is full of blood and puss; and it is also said that it refers to a well in the Fire (unto every slandering) who backbites people (traducer) and slanders and abuses them in their face. This verses was revealed about Akhnas Ibn Shurayq, or al-Walid Ibn al-Mughirah al-Makhzumi, who used to backbite the Prophet (pbuh) and also abuse him when in his presence.” – Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas, trans. Mokrane Guezzou
“Woe to every backbiter (humaza), [who is] a slanderer (lumaza),Humaza means a ‘backbiter’ (mughtāb), [a word which is used] when a person maligns someone in their absence; lumaza means a person who defames (ṭāʿin), [that is] he defames someone when he sees them.” – Tafsīr al-Tustarī, trans. Annabel Keeler and Ali Keeler
What is backbiting? The definition of Gheeba as mentioned by the Prophet ﷺ is “Mentioning your brother in a way that he would not like” and also “Saying something that you cannot say to your brother’s face behind his back is backbiting.”
Allah ﷻ has mention that He has honoured the children of Adam ﷸ ﷷ, (Qur’an 17:70), this includes all people regardless of their race or religion. So all humans are by default honourable and should be seen and respected as such. Therefore, the prohibition of slander, as the Prophet ﷺ clarified, “If what you said about that person was true, you committed backbiting; if it was not true, you slandered.”
Furthermore, the Qur’an states: “…Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it…” (49:12)
Be careful that the social media does not become a platform where we are ridiculing, backbiting and slandering people.
Showing off and Pride
Some of us are boasting and showing off online to our family, friends and followers. What we are given of this world is to be grateful of, not to cause distress and envy to our fellows. Teenagers and young women are feeling inadequate about themselves due to the photoshoped images displayed by their peers online. Men are feeling inadequate due to what is being portrayed of others. It is causing resentment, envy and insecurity. Islam is the opposite of this. Peace and security, happiness and gratefulness. So have so much material wealth compared to previous generations of bygone people in the past, yet so much unhappiness and resentment.
Shaiytan’s promise to Allah ﷻ, “Because thou hast thrown me out of the way, lo! I will lie in wait for them on thy straight way. “Then will I assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left: Nor wilt thou find, in most of them, gratitude.” His aim is to keep us busy and distracted from the remembrance of Allah ﷻ. May Allah ﷻ grant us tawfiq to manage our time and lives and busy our selves in His worship. Ameen