By Linta Mustafa
Today, social media has become a common mode of communication and some widely used social media apps are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snap chat. Depending on how people use it, social media can have positive or negative effects. Generally, people tend to follow what they see on these apps without questioning their validity or veracity. Because of its tremendous use, social media has become a level field for both entertainers and religious scholars.
A new phenomenon, called the influencers, have created a wide impact in the social media world. By posting continuously, they build a reputation for knowing a specific topic well and so gain a large number of followers who keep an eye on every move they make. However, everyone is human and influencers tend to err often and even indulge in the unlawful. Unfortunately, some of them justify their behaviour and consider it acceptable.
The Quran says: “Then is one to whom the evil of his deed has been made attractive so he considers it good [like one rightly guided]? For indeed, Allah (swt) sends astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. So do not let yourself perish over them in regret. Indeed, Allah is Knowing of what they do.” (Fatir 35:8)
While the phrase “majority is authority” is accepted in terms of this Duniya, in terms of the Deen, the majority has never been the authority. There are many instances in the Quran that prove that few people are rightly guided, “…little are you grateful.” (Al Muminoon 23:78), or “…little do you believe.” (Al Haqqah 69:41)
Most influencers we see sadly carry, nothing more than a brilliant façade that is untrue and driven by materialistic aspirations. Despite this, it is astounding how people blindly mimic them and value their tastes and opinions. The relationship between influencers and their followers is one of interdependency- the influencers shape the behaviour of their followers while the followers validate their content.
Islam is a carefully chosen deliberate and clear choice. It has eradicated blind following in the following words from the Quran:
And when it is said to them: “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say, “Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing.” Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided? (Al Baqaarah:170)
Contrary to this, there are few religious scholars who actively engage through the social media platforms. They constantly need to attractively present their content to engage and influence people. This is fruitful as many youngsters are now digging deeper to learn about Islam out of curiosity. While it is good to learn from scholars, one should verify the qualification and experience of the presenter so as to prevent being misled. Also treat Quran and the Sunnah as the constant filter and not be decieved by extreme or innovative ideas introduced in Islam.
Hudhayfah reported that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Do not be blind followers, saying that if our people are good we will be good, and if they are unjust we will be unjust. Rather, decide for yourselves. If the people are good, be good. If they are evil, do not be unjust.” (Tirmidhī)
In a nutshell, it can be said that while social media has made lives easy through instant global access to information, it is easy to be distracted by wastage of time and misled by their fake news.
We must ask ourselves three questions:
Who are we influenced by on the social media?
What is his/her job at the end of the day?
How would he/she be rated in the sight of Allah (swt) as per the principles of the Quran?
A pertinent Dua to ask is: “My Lord! Grant me wisdom and join me with the righteous.” (Ash Shuara 26:83)