Islamic Ethics of Using Facebook
By: Mohammad Sirajuddin
Islam is a moderate and balanced religion. It strives to create harmony and peace between the creator and the creation. Anything that is discovered by the laws of nature it is neither absolute good nor evil. It takes its rulings based on its usage and weighing its benefits and harmful effects. As our civilization is progressed we are introduced with new innovations and scientific discoveries. People are faced with its blessings and challenges. Computers, cell phones and internet are the powerful tools that are invented in the 21th century. They changed the life style of hundreds of millions of people in the world for good or bad. In the recent years the brain child of internet is the product of Facebook. Today Facebook has more than 500 million active members. Half of the members are active at any given day. Average user has 130 friends. Facebook fans use 700 billion minutes every month online. Nobody could deny the benefits of FB and other social media net works. Especially after what Muslim world has recently witnessed the unthinkable realities, the toppling of two long held dictators and many in line through these powerful tools.
For a Muslim nothing is absolutely Halal or Haram except the things that are specified in the Quran and in the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad (sas). It all depends how you use it, what you use it for and what is your goal and intention in using your time, talents and resources at your disposal.
As a Muslim every one of us should ask ourselves what it is that makes us use Facebook? Do we just want to kill our time, get rid of our boredom? Do we want to connect with our family and friends which we are required to do? Do we want to vent ourselves, our feelings and frustration to others? Do we want to show ourselves who we are and how important you are? Are you hungry to be praised and get complements from other people? Do have any greater goals to reach out to the people and invite them for good? Everyone of you should and must ask these questions from yourself. You get what you make of it. Your intentions determines your actions.
Being Truthful: Treat people on FB as if you treat them in the real world.
Of course there are other etiquettes and manners that we observe in any of our interactions with other people. I know the FB is a public space. It is hard to keep the privacy for anybody on FB. But try to use the messaging instead. Don’t say anything that you would not say that in front of that person/other people. Treat people on FB as you would treat them in real world. Never use foal language or insult others. Don’t misuse the other people pictures. Don’t put your own wrongs/sins on FC. The prophet (sas) said: all the people of my Ummah are safe except those who openly speak out load of their ills. They don’t feel shame neither from Allah not from people. Don’t spread unsubstantiated rumors. Consider FB as Public Street. If you want to sit on it you have to fulfill its rights. First of them is to lower your gazes not only from images but everything that does not concern you.
Remember when some people insisted on sitting on the streets the prophet allowed them with the condition that they fulfill the rights of the road by lowering the gazes, responding to the greetings and talking with good manner. Also the prophet (sas) said: it is enough of a lie for a person to speak whatever he hears.
Be conscious of Your time:
In Islam the time is a trust from Allah. Every moment of our life that goes by is part of our life. An Arabic poet said the time is like a sword if you don’t cut it, it will cut you off. Somebody said it truly “If time is life, then Facebook is many people’s favorite weapon of suicide”. But it is a slow suicide. Allah (sw) instructed us how we utilize our time by swearing the time in a brief and beautiful chapter called Al-asr 103:
“By (the Token of) Time (through the ages), Verily Man is in loss, except such as have Faith,
and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.” (Qur’an, Chapter 103)
In this chapter Allah gave us the blue print for lives. Have faith, do good deeds and join together to remind people of the truth, patience and sacrifices. Facebook gives us the good opportunity to do that individually and collectively.
“The World is three days:
As for yesterday, it has vanished, along with all that was in it.
As for tomorrow, you may never see it. As for today, it is yours, so work in it.” – Hasan al-Basri
Today we are living in an age of I, Me, My. All these devices start with I. I phone, I pad, I pod all calling you to be consumed and we are exactly doing that. We are not leaving them anywhere. We are sleeping with our I phones and I pads so that we don’t miss anything.
Every one of us has “Nafs” ego. Many times we want to nurture that ego through other people’s praise and complements to feel ourselves powerful and strong. Facebook provides a platform to feed that ego excessively. Facebook users are constantly looking to be praised and liked by other people about their comments, feelings and achievements. What is wrong about this ego is that once the ego is fed, it gets stronger and when it becomes powerful it starts ruling over us. As a result we are no more remain God’s servants, instead we become the servants of our own “Nafs” or self or ego and become the victim of hidden shirk, the showing off. You do things for people not for Allah.