Deception and Daily Interaction
Today, there is no respect for trust of passing information, and we have lost the Muslim etiquette of communication when we interact. Observe many social media and chatrooms. They tear each other apart, by posting vicious comments, spreading backbiting articles, or openly insulting other people, even if the breach the sanctity of another person's privacy in order to do so. The dignity of a Muslim is no longer respected by his fellow Muslims.
Abdulla bin Umar said – I saw the Prophet doing tawwaf around the Ka’aba saying “How sweet/ good are you and how sweet is your scent. How great are you and how great is your sanctity. But By the One who the soul of Mohammad is in His Hand the sanctity of a believer is greater with Allah than your sanctity.”
There are many similar narrations about the sanctity of the Muslim, the blood of the Muslim, the heart of the Muslim and the right to privacy. All these emphasise how much Allah hates it when a Muslim attacks another, whether on his reputation, person, life or private life.
Today, we are doing the complete opposite. Massive killings between Muslims and non-Muslims, between Muslims themselves, division, deceit, slander, rumours and backbiting are all commonplace. This leads to the majority only understanding half-truths with a hundred embedded lies, exaggerations or omissions. When someone tries to produce the truth, others will oppose and discredit him.
This applies individually, to the family unit, society, work arena, economy, business, politics and even religion and Islamic knowledge. Because the foundation of truth is so shaky, there is a lack of respect for each other, and instead people engage in finger pointing and spreading links which have no basis on facts. We attack prominent figures or establishments, and in the social media, are even bolder because we can hide behind our online identities, and feel as if we have immunity to say whatever we want.
In Islam, we are governed by the truth:
O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful. (Al Qur'an 49:6)
When you received it with your tongues and said with your mouths that of which you had no knowledge and thought it was insignificant while it was, in the sight of Allah, tremendous. And why, when you heard it, did you not say, "It is not for us to speak of this. Exalted are You, [O Allah]; this is a great slander"? Allah warns you against returning to the likes of this [conduct], ever, if you should be believers.) And Allah makes clear to you the verses, and Allah is Knowing and Wise. Indeed, those who like that immorality should be spread [or publicized] among those who have believed will have a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you do not know. And if it had not been for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy... and because Allah is Kind and Merciful. (Al Qur'an 24:15 – 24:20)
Please read the preceding and subsequent four verses from the above verses in Surah Al Noor, and study the story behind it. The main lesson in here is that there is a big difference between hearing and listing to any information or news, and passing it on without verifying the truth (which requires initiating your own investigation to make sure that whatever you're hearing and spreading is true) of whatever you are spreading.
What's the benefit and what is your niyyah ? Are you spreading authentic knowledge which can benefit yourself and others, or are you spreading backbiting, slander, falsehood or fake news? It is irrelevant if your information comes from the media or personal sources. You still have to query its authenticity unless you are absolutely sure that the source is a person or organisation with integrity.
Today, we are devoid of the basic mu'min quality of taqwa (consciousness and fear of God) and wisdom to feel responsible for what we hear or spread, its purpose, value or consequences, to make sure that we will not open the door of fitnah or cause confusion, division, hate or misunderstanding. We cannot recklessly and irresponsibly pass on information and then claim that we were not aware of its consequences. Ignorance and behaving thoughtlessly does not let us off the hook. We should still seek the knowledge and verify until we come to the bottom line. If you cannot find its authenticity, don't transmit it.
Say we come across a recipe on the social media. Did we try out that recipe first before spreading it to others? What if the recipe doesn't work because there was a mistake in the measurements, then who will be responsible for the wastage of time and ingredients? Similarly with medical advice that people tend to pass on freely nowadays. What if it makes the patient even worse?
We have seen articles talking about the qualities, vitamin contents and information of Vegetable X, and a few weeks later, the identical data but in relation to Fruit Y, was circulating on the net. The only change was the substitution of the fruit and the vegetable. Now which one is the authentic one?
What if it's a more serious matter, which then impacts your deen, or have consequences on society? A single lie, doctored photo or false news can result in wide reaching implications. It can break down friendships, cause rifts in marriages, and even have political consequences.
If everyone respects the first principle, we would not be in this condition today. Otherwise, you are trapped in the "inter net" of the internet. The content internet is almost infinite but you will have to filter between trashy information, lies, misinformation and authentic knowledge. Do we know how to distinguish between the good and bad?
It is now common for toddlers to be given tablets and other devices. A side effect is that they will be playing games, being entertained by apps, or watching videos all day, from the time they are two to three years old. By the time they are six, they will be addicted. We now have a generation of adults addicted to online gaming. Despite parental filters, it is easy for any child to access inappropriate online content, depicting things such as pornography, homosexuality and other graphic, violent or unsuitable sites.
What about the internet addiction by adults? Gaming addictions are common. Some women spend hours daily posting theiroutfits of the day, make up of the day, selfie of the day, food of the day. Men follow a similar pattern but on different topics, wasting their times with meaningless comments and posts that benefit no one. Both men and women are continuously showing off their career or other achievements. Parents are busy boasting about their children's academic and other material achievements online. What is the point of all this activity? Where is the time for Islam?
We are in the high speed cyclone, unstoppable with a high rate of addiction to the internet, causing the person to lose his time, his thoughts, his morals and even ethics. To the point today, some are addicted to online pornography or worse, have easy access to sites on pedophilia and other dark crimes never committed by mankind before in history.
All these distractions and deceptions erode and corrode our ethics or moral values, leading us to the dark cave of heedlessness, without ending, to the mirage, to the spiritually lost until we are like the living dead with no values, purpose, direction or ethics, but we think we are fine.
We hear about death, volcanoes, earthquakes, the power and might of the Creator, and are so desensitized. We only find a few souls who are seeking the truth, want to hear the truth, talk about the truth and believe in the truth.
This is why we started this series with the Hadith of Rasulullah SAW about the deception year, because in these times of tribulation, everything will be upside down. The state of blindness will intensify and the majority will not be able to see the truth. The truth becomes the false and the false becomes the truth, and no one can tell the difference anymore. Where do we go from here?