A Muslima’s guide to social media etiquette

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As salaam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

We see that the advent of the internet has in some aspects made the lives of Muslims easy when it comes to connecting with the wider ummah. We can connect with Mufti’s, Imam, Sheikhs and Sheikha’s more easily and from all around the world. There are various apps at our disposal that we can use to increase our ibadat, learn more of our deen and connect with the Quran should we choose to.

The positive aspects of a Muslims exposure to the various elements that comes with the internet and its territories are endless. But, as with anything in this duniya (world), the tests are also endless. For this reason, we must learn to filter and stream the correct content so that we put ourselves in a ritgoues bubble where our gazes are lowered, our hijab is intact and we don’t loose focus on our hayaa (modesty, shyness) within our interactions.

We live in a world where our ideology is the often attacked, non dominant and very unpopular. But in the face of this, we as an ummah can collectively behave and act in a way that shows the world we are proudly different, we will continue to be different and we will never deviate from the teachings of the shariah.

This might prove unpopular to a lot of readers, it might catch you offguard and you may feel constrained in that you can’t live your life freely but remember, we are not here to show off or to please one another. This world is temporary, if you think sharing that one picture, making some snarky comment to get likes or aiming to please the masses so that you get more followers is going to make you happy then sure go ahead and make the duniya your jannah (paradise). And if you have the akhirah (hereafter) in mind, then please for the sake of Allah stop, reflect and make some changes.

So how can we gain from social media, earn rewards and represent the ummah without deviating from the path of Allah (s.w.a) and without committing a sin?

Lower your gaze:

“And never concern thyself with anything of which thou hast no knowledge: verily, thy hearing and sight and heart – all of them – will be called to account for it on Judgment Day!”– Quran (17:36)

Purify your intentions, follow the right people those who can elevate you and bring you close(r) to Allah. Not every person you meet is your “friend” and think about whether those you consider to be friends are worth following.

Once you establish what you want out of your online interactions you may find that it is easy for you to lower your gaze as the content you will be seeing were selected/influenced by you. Most of the social media platforms work through algorithms which monitor your behaviour through your clicks so they target you with specific content that will be of likely interest to you.

Now you must still be vigilant so that you protect your eyes from seeing that which is immodest: in Surah An-Nur, Allah says: “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), …”
But as mentioned above, if your intention was pure, then it should be easy for you to filter your mind and just scroll away from any filth that comes your way without a seconds thought.

Advice

You will find that advice is given a lot on social media, whether it is welcomed or not. You may see that a person had openly sinned by clicking into their profile but the advice you give should be private and with kind words. This is the sunnah way and it is more peaceful, where the person is then more likely to listen and heed the advice. You will be concealing their sin and your intention will be intact – in that you’re not doing it for likes or to create a public drama.

The above scenario is however different to a situation where you are not following the person in question or that you are not friends. In a situation where there a various comments and there is a clear misunderstanding of the teachings of Islam, the comment had many likes and a lot agreed with it, then it is our duty to correct this. This also must be done with kind words, citing the source and making it clear that your intention is only to correct the information given prior which is evidently wrong.

Now please bear in mind that, there is no such thing as “Allah will be the judge leave us alone” or “this is between me/him/her/them and Allah”. No there is no such thing. Every Muslim has a duty to correct the wrong that they see: Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri reported that the prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said, “Whoever amongst you sees an evil, he must change it with his hand. If he is not able to do so, then with his tongue. And if he is not able to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest form of faith”.

[Such believers are] the repentant, the worshippers, the praisers [of Allah ], the travelers [for His cause], those who bow and prostrate [in prayer], those who enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, and those who observe the limits [set by] Allah . And give good tidings to the believers – Quran (9:11).

It is a well-known fact that to enjoin right and forbid wrong, and advise each other to stick to truth and patience are an inseparable part of piety. We must not take offence in this and feel that our character is attacked, just consider the words of the advice given by truly analysing yourself and your actions. Don’t focus on the person giving the advice, as remember that even shaytaan said something beneficial once by revealing the virtues of Ayatul Kursi despite being a lair. So take the good and leave the bad.

But, please follow the above etiquette of giving advice privately to an individual to a group when it becomes necessary and always with kindness and humility.

To be continued…

more to come: the virtual hijab; hayaa; posts

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