Oleh: Dr. Ista Maharsi——
Internet has been owned by many people living on earth. It is a public domain where people are free to post, see, comment, copy, paste, and download in one way or another. Social media, as one form of social platform to connect with people around the world, can be used for good and bad acts. Therefore, we have the power to use them in whatever ways we want. However, we need to be fully aware of the consequences such as addiction, suspicion, envy, defamation, and social discord. When we use it incorrectly and inappropriately, massive destructive problems may emerge.
In Islam, this issue related to extensive impacts on people is regarded as a muamalah, which is the social interaction among people or groups related to production, distribution, and access or consumption activities. As Islam is a religion containing complete guidance of life, we can always find references and solutions to all problems in the teachings of Al Qur’an and As-Sunnah. Allah SWT says in Surah An-Nahl, verse 89:
وَيَوْمَ نَبْعَثُ فِى كُلِّ أُمَّةٍۢ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْهِم مِّنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ ۖ وَجِئْنَا بِكَ شَهِيدًا عَلَىٰ هَـٰٓؤُلَآءِ ۚ وَنَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْكَ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ تِبْيَـٰنًۭا لِّكُلِّ شَىْءٍۢ وَهُدًۭى وَرَحْمَةًۭ وَبُشْرَىٰ لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ ٨٩
“Consider, O Prophet,˺ the Day We will call against every faith community a witness of their own. And We will call you to be a witness against this ˹people of yours˺. We have revealed to you the Book as an explanation of all things, a guide, mercy, and good news for those who ˹fully˺ submit” (An-Nahl: 89)
In addition, The Prophet Muhammad SAW also reminded us through the narration of Bilal ibn Harith:
“Indeed a man says a word from that which pleases Allah, and he never thinks anything of it, but Allah will record His pleasure for him until the Day of Judgement. And indeed a man will utter a word from that which angers Allah, and he never thinks anything of it, but Allah will record for him His anger due to it until the Day of Judgement.”
It is mentioned that Al-Qur’an has been revealed as the Book to explain everything, as a guide, mercy, and good news for all Muslims. It means that Al-Quran contains all issues related to human beings, guides them on how to do things, and provides rewards for good Muslims in the afterlife. Therefore, rules, guidance, and solutions to all human-related issues and problems be it worldly or religious, from the past to the future, explicitly and implicitly, have been provided in the Qur’an. Those rules and guidelines apply to both spoken and written contexts.
In response to the contemporary issues on the extensive use of social media interfacing human lives, besides Al-Quran and As-Sunnah as the primary references, the fatwa of ulama is also considered the reference for Muslims to make decisions to act. The massive and borderless range of social media access has urged the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI) to issue a fatwa (MUI Number 24 the Year 2017) on the guidelines to interact using social media based on Islamic rules to avoid harmful and dangerous acts. The content of the fatwa involves faith-and godly-based Interactions, muamalah etiquette, zero defamation principles, Islamic rule obedience and law compliance, content filtering, double checking, and truth sharing. Social interaction should be based on faith in Allah SWT with high regard for the principles of goodness, brotherhood, truth, and encouraging good and forbidding evil.
As Allah SWT has addressed in the Qur’an Surah Ali Imraan verse 100.
كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ ٱلْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ ۗ وَلَوْ ءَامَنَ أَهْلُ ٱلْكِتَـٰبِ لَكَانَ خَيْرًۭا لَّهُم ۚ مِّنْهُمُ ٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَأَكْثَرُهُمُ ٱلْفَـٰسِقُونَ ١١٠
“You are the best community ever raised for humanity—you encourage good, forbid evil, and believe in Allah. Had the People of the Book believed, it would have been better for them. Some of them are faithful, but most are rebellious” (Ali Imran: 110)
When doing interactions through social media, Moslems are required to keep the muamalah etiquette principles such as being polite and respectful and that the interaction should be aimed at strengthening the brotherhood (ukhuwah Islamiyah) and humanity which refers to all people regardless of their religions, races, nations, ethnics, and groups.
إِنَّمَا ٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌۭ فَأَصْلِحُوا۟ بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ ۚ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ ١٠
“The believers are but one brotherhood, so make peace between your brothers. And be mindful of Allah so you may be shown mercy” (Al Hujurat: 10)
Besides, it is unacceptable to deceive others, both Moslems, and non-Moslems, in the name of goodness and humanity. Social media should not be used to deceive other people to get profits. Allah SWT has warned us in Surah An-Nahl verse 92.
وَلَا تَكُونُوا۟ كَٱلَّتِى نَقَضَتْ غَزْلَهَا مِنۢ بَعْدِ قُوَّةٍ أَنكَـٰثًۭا تَتَّخِذُونَ أَيْمَـٰنَكُمْ دَخَلًۢا بَيْنَكُمْ أَن تَكُونَ أُمَّةٌ هِىَ أَرْبَىٰ مِنْ أُمَّةٍ ۚ إِنَّمَا يَبْلُوكُمُ ٱللَّهُ بِهِۦ ۚ وَلَيُبَيِّنَنَّ لَكُمْ يَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَـٰمَةِ مَا كُنتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ ٩٢
“Do not be like the woman who ˹foolishly˺ unravels her yarn after it is firmly spun by taking your oaths to deceive one another in favor of a more substantial group. Surely Allah tests you through this. And on the Day of Judgment, He will undoubtedly make your differences clear to you” (An-Nahl: 92)
Besides the MUI fatwa, there are also some easy tips for safe interactions through social media. First, “What is your intention?” (muslimhands.org). Intention (niat) is the most essential and the core of all deeds. Therefore, it defines the goals people want to achieve and the actions that follow to achieve those goals. Something can be a good deed with the intention, and there is a reward from Allah. Conversely, something can be wrong and cause Allah’s anger and punishment. There is a hadith containing the importance of intention/niat (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidzi, Ibnu Majah, Ahmad):
عَنْ أَمِيرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَبِي حَفْصٍ عُمَرَ بْنِ الْخَطَّابِ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ
سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ: ” إنَّمَا الْأَعْمَالُ بِالنِّيَّاتِ، وَإِنَّمَا لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ مَا نَوَى، فَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ إلَى اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ فَهِجْرَتُهُ إلَى اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ، وَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ لِدُنْيَا يُصِيبُهَا أَوْ امْرَأَةٍ يَنْكِحُهَا فَهِجْرَتُهُ إلَى مَا هَاجَرَ إلَيْهِ”.
رَوَاهُ إِمَامَا الْمُحَدِّثِينَ أَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِ مُحَمَّدُ بنُ إِسْمَاعِيل بن إِبْرَاهِيم بن الْمُغِيرَة بن بَرْدِزبَه الْبُخَارِيُّ الْجُعْفِيُّ [رقم:1]، وَأَبُو الْحُسَيْنِ مُسْلِمٌ بنُ الْحَجَّاج بن مُسْلِم الْقُشَيْرِيُّ النَّيْسَابُورِيُّ [رقم:1907] رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُمَا فِي “صَحِيحَيْهِمَا” اللذَينِ هُمَا أَصَحُّ الْكُتُبِ الْمُصَنَّفَةِ.
It is narrated on the authority of Amir al-Mu’minin (Leader of the Believers), Abu Hafs ‘Umar bin al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), say
“Actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended. Whoever migrates with an intention for Allah and His messenger, the migration will be for the sake of Allah and his Messenger. And whoever migrates for worldly gain or to marry a woman, then his migration will be for the sake of whatever he migrated for.”
This hadith highlights the importance of intention in our actions. In a social media interaction, there could be many intentions to inform, educate, persuade, cause anger, draw attention, trigger conflicts, or show off. As Muslims, we need to ensure that our intention is good, such as to inform, educate, motivate, and inspire. Muslims should avoid actions aimed at causing anger, triggering conflicts, and showing off because these intentions are harmful and can bring more significant and massive impacts not only to the person who posts it but also to the broader social contexts.
Second, “Is your post a truth and Islamically sound?”. Another consideration before posting something on social media is to consider if the materials we will post are accurate and comply with the Islamic rules. Muslims are not allowed to post lies and anything against Islamic laws.
There is a hadith in Shahih al-Bukhâri (number 6475) and Shahih Muslim (number 47) from Abu Hurairah; the Prophet Muhammad SAW mentions:
مَنْ كَانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ فَلْيَقُلْ خَيْرًا أَوْ لِيَصْمُتْ
“Whoever believes in God and the Last Day should speak a good word or remain silent.”
The hadith reminds us that we should only speak about the truth; if we cannot do that, we’d better remain silent. Muslims should not lie, mock, underestimate, say rudely or use coarse language and should not do backbiting. We are not allowed to post something against the Islamic laws, such as supporting bad deeds and promoting Islamic law violations. For example, when someone does bad behavior, we should not re-post the issue and let the issue stop in our hands. We are not allowed to post improper pictures, photos, videos, and texts that contain impolite visuals, racism, or hatred. We should post and campaign inspiring, loving, and emphatical actions instead.
Third, verify before judging and posting. The next consideration before posting on social media is that we need to verify the content before we repost something carefully. Why is it so? In Islam, Muslims should talk only about the truth. It is a sin to lie, cheat, and do backbiting. We are not allowed to trigger conflicts by sharing false information, which can cause severe societal problems. We are required to double-check all news we receive, ensuring that the news is accurate and valid. Allah SWT has said in the Qur’an surah Al-Hujurat verse 6:
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ إِن جَآءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌۢ بِنَبَإٍۢ فَتَبَيَّنُوٓا۟ أَن تُصِيبُوا۟ قَوْمًۢا بِجَهَـٰلَةٍۢ فَتُصْبِحُوا۟ عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَـٰدِمِينَ ٦
“O believers, if an evildoer brings you any news, verify ˹it˺ so you do not harm people unknowingly, becoming regretful for what you have done” (Al-Hujuraat: 6)
In addition, The Prophet Muhammad SAW also says through the narration of Abdullah Ibn ’Amr Ibn Al-Aas:
“It is sufficient for a person to be considered a liar, that he conveys everything he hears.” (Abu Dawud)
Fourth, be part of the solutions, not the problem. As discussed previously, Al-Quran and As-Sunnah provide solutions to all issues in our lives; we must position ourselves as parts of the solutions, not become the problems. In the same way, we should not solve one problem but create more problems. When there is trending news, hot debates, and disputes on social media, we should not make them even more complicated by adding invalid information or complicating our comments’ problems. Instead, we should provide valid information, calm the situation, and propose innovative and wise solutions when possible.
Fifth, the legacy of goodness should be our savings for our future life after death. Death is inevitable, and all living beings will undoubtedly die. Before passing away, we can leave goodness or badness. We can leave tracks of sound knowledge or disrespect and indecency. It is our choice of what to go on our social media, and this legacy does define who we are (Abbaas & Ayaaz, 2018). However, it is essential to note that we need to be aware of what we post because all we leave when we are alive will be recorded and kept until Judgement Day. This is contained in the Qur’an Surah Yaa-Sin verse 12.
إِنَّا نَحْنُ نُحْىِ ٱلْمَوْتَىٰ وَنَكْتُبُ مَا قَدَّمُوا۟ وَءَاثَـٰرَهُمْ ۚ وَكُلَّ شَىْءٍ أَحْصَيْنَـٰهُ فِىٓ إِمَامٍۢ مُّبِينٍۢ ١٢
“It is certainly We Who resurrect the dead, and write what they send forth and what they leave behind. Everything is listed by Us in a perfect Record” (Yaa-Sin: 12)
It can then be highlighted that social media have become part of human lives. We can use them for goodness and badness; the choice is in our hands. Although there is no prohibition on social media, as Muslims, we need to use them following the Islamic teachings. We decide whether to use the legacy for continuous rewards from now on to Judgement Day or for endless punishment that Allah has indicated through His words in the teachings of Al-Qur’an.
Abbaas.A., and Ayaaz, N. (2018). Islamic guidelines for using social media. Retrieved from Islamic guidelines for using social media – Madeenah.com
Dewi, M.S.R. (2019). Islam dan Etika bermedia (Kajian Etika komunikasi netizen di media sosial Instagram salam perspektif Islam). Research Fair Unisri. 3 (1), 139-142)
7 Pedoman Islami dalam Bermedia Sosial yang Penting Diamalkan, Retrieved on May 16, 2022. https://mui.or.id/7 Pedoman Islami dalam Bermedia Sosial yang Penting Diamalkan – Majelis Ulama Indonesia (mui.or.id)
Agabani, A. (2020). To post or not to post: The Muslim Hands guide to using social media. Retrieved on May 16, 2022. To post or not to post: The Muslim Hands guide to using social media | Muslim Hands UK