Islamic Etiquette in the Internet World

islamThere might be a lot of interesting things going on in this world and they’re ought to keep the crowd occupied, but we have to keep our eyes fixed on what concerns us, i.e., seeking Allah’s pleasure. This topic demands me to divide this article in two headings due to the complexity of its nature and usage:

Necessity of Moderation is required increasingly in the 21st century with the excess bombardment of information and ease of accessing it. The information entering our brains and hearts in the form of words, images, videos and audios occur through a prime medium: the internet. Therefore, this usage of internet needs to be controlled to keep our minds and hearts clean and focused.

Adverse effects can occur with little or no regulation of excess information. It’s not surprising to find regular internet users being diagnosed with chronic disorders like anxieties, sexual addictions, depressions, panic attacks, bipolar disorders and antisocial personality disorders among others.

It’s a shame when we as Muslims, impose shariah in all aspects of our lives and forget/overlook how to moderate the laws of shariah in our personal lives. Some of us may be victims to not following Islam properly and exposing ourselves to such adverse psychological effects.

Let’s see how we can apply Islamic rules in our virtual lives as well:

Prophet  said: Be moderate in seeking worldly things, for everyone will be facilitated for which he was created.” (Saheeh, Sunnah ibn-Majah)

We as humans need some time for ourselves to help us focus but the world of internet has made us slaves to constant socializing, preventing us from disconnecting even for short periods of time. We have instead gained a habit of multitasking [remember those 10’s of browser tabs that are always open?], which permanently reduces our performances and quality of accomplishments. It’s worth noting here that multitasking is also against the sunnah of uni-tasking, which improves focus and performance.

Internet has taken up so much space in our daily lives (home, work, hobbies, knowledge, games, etc.) that its important to assess the effects it has, not only on our future but also on the future generations that are going to come.

There is no escape from internet; and who wants to escape the luxury of being connected to loved ones, gaining knowledge from experts and knowing what’s going on in the whole world, just by sitting at home? It’s the bad content that we want to escape from; and this can only be done by applying the Islamic guidelines in the virtual world as well.

Nowadays, if a device is not connected, it’s not “smart”. Any electronic device that is not connected to internet is like a “dead” device.

This somehow reminds me  when Prophet   said how humans can be “dead”:

“The similitude of one who remembers his Rabb and one who does not remember Him, is like that of the living and the dead.” (Al-Bukharee and Muslim)

Not that I am comparing electronic gadgets to humans; but, the analogy infers (to me) how without connecting (devices to internet and, humans to Allah ), we both are dead. Apart from the analogy, a quick question: Do you think we would have remembered Allah  better, if we were not so connected to our social lives?

Role

Role defines how we participate in anything. On internet, we are either uploaders or downloaders. They are three forms of uploading or downloading through which we use the internet: words, images and videos (or audio-visuals). Hence we can say we are, at a time, a downloader of images, audio-visuals or even words/docs (also online reading); and sometimes, we are uploaders of the same, like me uploading words on this blog. No action in Islam can be performed irresponsibly. We must be responsible about what we:

  1. Read and write
  2. See and show
  3. Say and listen

Another irresponsible act growing common is arguments. We are taught to stay calm and avoid argumentation even if we are right by our Prophet  when he said:

“I guarantee a house in Jannah for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right…..” [Abu Dawud]

But we are mostly seen doing online “dawah” through arguments. Why is it that we feel so carefree on the internet without considering our etiquette of being a proper Muslim? Blatant and shameful examples can be seen in comments section on Facebook and YouTube posts. Many would disagree with my point because of their love towards Islam and hatred towards anti-Islamic elements. I would ask them, what is the sunnah to reply to those who hate Islam? Can anybody show a single incident of argument done by our Prophet ? Then why do we portray something that is not there in the religion? I guess, it is the freedom we have assumed over the internet that typing words does not come under the sins of tongue and presentation of bad character. Or maybe, we feel more confident to hide behind a computer screen. We end up uttering words or show a certain type of behavior which we wouldn’t dare to show face-to-face with that person.

This is a reminder to me first, and then to my brothers and sisters who have active internet connectivity and online presence, to treat this technology responsibly and selectively. There are many good deeds done online by people who are wise and can differentiate between using time and wasting time. I ask Allah  to help them stay focused and help them promote Islam through sunnah. A lot more can be said as a brotherly advise, but I would like to end here by sharing a profound hadith:

“Part of the perfection of one’s Islam is his leaving that which does not concern him.” [Hasan, 40 Hadith Nawawi]

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