In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
A Reality: Social media emerged with a new set of technology tools that allows people to interact, communicate and share their own content with others from all different walks of life. However, this beneficial means of communication has also been exploited by deceitful and manipulative people, especially those who organize and control the narrative on social media in order to destabilize Muslim nations. They spread fake news within few seconds and translate that into many other languages – both internally and externally – in the name of free speech. So, due to the abuse of free speech and freedom of expression via social media networks and platforms, many Muslim authorities have mentioned the need for digital sovereignty regardless of the opposition they face from tech companies, because they have a right to curb the influence of those who seek to destabilize their nations in the name of freedom, liberty and free speech.
It is very clear to many of us that the internet and social media are game-changers in many affairs, because they greatly influence the manner in which many people communicate and interact, as well as the fact that it can be utilise to manipulate human behavior and emotions, destabilize the state and influence public opinion in an Un-Islamic way. Some of those who have mastererd the art of sophistry, concealment, deceit and misrepresentation say, “Do not violate the rights of the people and do not limit their access to information”, so that they can use their media platforms to give a repugnant image to that which is based on clear proof, use attractive slogans and misrepresentation to make people understand concepts in a way contrary to its true reality, divert the unsuspecting readers and listeners away from something that should prompt them to the fact that they are mistaken or bombard them with a lot of ambiguous information and thus leave them in a state of doubt. These deceivers voice their opposition when Muslim authorities pursue digital sovereignty to protect their societies – ranting and raving, spreading propaganda and accusing them of digital dictatorship, because the Muslim authorities block their avenues of manipulation by way of which they divide and rule, incite the gullible, corrupt the manners of the Muslim youth and destabilize the Muslim nations. Both the Khawaarij and some of the deceitful western ideologues have used social media networks and platforms to bring Muslims in the streets and thus the ignorant amongst us destroy our homelands with our own hands.
Despite the clarifications and warnings given by the upright Salafi scholars regarding the evils of the internet due to the plots of those who utilise it to sow the seeds of conflict in Muslim nations, some of the deceitful western ideologues are quick to criticize Muslim governments when they take swift action by shuting down some popular video-sharing and microblogging platforms. Imagine the evil expected when the corrupt ideologues and rabble-rousers have free and immediate access to a Muslim nation where there are about 34 million bandwidth subscribers, 33 million on some social networking sites and 12 million users on a microblogging platform!
Safeguarding the religion, blood, sanity, honour and wealth of the Muslim nation takes precedence over profit making, un-Islamic public opinion, so called right to freedom of expression and so called freedom of peaceful assembly. Do the treacherous Khaarijites and deceitful ideologues expect the Muslim governments to give them easy access to everyone? Indeed, it is pleasing to the hearts when one learns that some telecommunication companies and prominent phone operators in the Muslim lands want domestically developed apps instead of foreign ones, so that the data of the citizens is safeguarded within the country, and so that anyone who violates the law- especially those who call to social unrest- are prosecuted. This is pursued in order to ensure cybersecurity in the digital world, protect the cyber homeland – protection of personal data and digital sovereignty rights, so that data is not used by deceitful external enemies of the state for manipulation.
Many non-Muslim nations see the need to restrict foreign apps and technologies that threaten national security, foreign policy and the economy. They consider this as something absolutely necessary in order to protect the nation’s internet-connected banks, trading systems, oil and water pipelines, dams, hospitals etc. How amazing that the pessimists and saboteurs do not say much when these non-Muslim countries embark upon this task, but you hear them ranting and raving when Muslim nations do so, because they want to utilise social media for rebellion and social unrest. Some Muslim nations and rulers have also clearly stated that complete dependence on foreign technology would leave many of their state systems vulnerable. Complete dependence in this affair would necessitate the operation of very important infrastructure and communications infrastructure that are completely located in foreign data centres and under foreign-applicable laws. Therefore, who in his right mind would attack Muslim rulers for pursuing digital sovereignty by way of which Muslim nations are protected by the will of Allaah.
When some of the foreign ideologues, demagogues and rabble-rousers are exposed, they claim that the robust criticisms direct at them is only uttered by those who abhor freedom of speech. However, when one carefully examines the views of these people, he or she realizes what they write under “Opinion Columns” can only be written by the hidden proponents of embedded journalism, which is facilitated in the interest of a global liberalism status quo through which they constantly seek to discredit Muslim rulers, especially those Muslim rulers who firmly resist interference in the internal affairs of their countries. The agenda of many of these people who disguised as journalists is nothing but ideology and there is ample evidence to show the manner in which disinformation is disseminated and people being fed false information about Muslim rulers, which is then used to fight on behalf of political ideology and destabilize Muslim countries. The people who shoulder this blameworthy task – sometimes- have standing columns which clearly show that they are ideologues disguised as journalists, but they are quick to accuse people of bigotry and dictatorship when exposed for what they are. So, they hide behind “Opinion Pieces” under the guise of freedom of expression, even though it is absolutely manifest that as soon as they voice an opinion regarding such and such Muslim ruler or that he should be removed, or incite the rabble to come to the streets, then indeed this voice of theirs is clearly a political viewpoint. So, why do these people not expect to be criticized and exposed?! They hide behind “Opinion Pieces” to voice political agendas and policies, so why should others not expose them, even though they seek to portray themselves as unbiased and independent. They are not simply writers who voice opinions that people merely consider to be that of someone who wants to be heard, rather many of these people are editors- people who decide on the narrative, the shape, the size, the content and the time in which their articles are released. And the most dangerous affair regarding these people is that they can influence the way people see reality, distort the way in which full comprehension can be attained, make them understand something in a way contrary to its true reality, perceive something in a way despite the presence of something that should make them realize that they are incorrect, understand something in a way, yet being unaware that there is something contrary to what they think has the same possibility of being the truth or comprehend something in a way despite the presence of something which is contrary to it, but is less likely to be true.
One constantly hears or reads that some official – either within a Muslim or non-Muslim government – spoke about such and such affair on condition of anonymity, and thus it becomes a reason for gossip and speculation amongst the rabble in the name of acquainting oneself with Fiqhul Waaqi [Knowledge of Current Affairs]!!! Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “Some people say, ‘The one who does not understand the knowledge of current affairs is not a scholar’ and they forget that indeed the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, ‘Whoever Allaah wishes good for, He grants him understanding of the religion’. Then they become heedless of an existing reality, which is that busying oneself with the knowledge of current affairs diverts a person from (seeking) understanding of the religion; rather it may preoccupy (and divert) him from correct worship, and that is to worship Allaah alone, devoting one’s heart to Allaah, pondering upon Allaah’s universal signs [i.e. the things He has created] and Allaah’s divine revelation. In reality, preoccupying the youth with the Knowledge of current affairs prevents them from (seeking) understanding of Allaah’s Religion, because the heart is a vessel and it does not take another thing when it is filled with something else; therefore, it is not possible to fill it with this and that. Busying oneself with the understanding of the Religion, fulfilling acts of worship and pure Islamic Monotheism and sincerity is better for him [i.e. a person] than looking into the knowledge of current affairs and regarding what such and such person is about. It maybe that one acquires knowledge of current affairs through weak and fabricated narrations via the media, or he bases knowledge of current affairs on the analysis and speculations of a person. The person who is engaged in the subject matter of current affairs may seek to establish an analysis that is far from what the current affairs (shows in reality), or he looks into affairs that have been concocted for him by the enemies (regarding) a particular (expected) event; but then this event happens to be something else and does not exist at all, so all those plans come to nothing. Therefore, what is of importance is that one acquires understanding of what Islam requires of a person. The understanding related to ones self (necessitates) rectification of heart by way of sound belief and to wish good for the Muslims, and this is (also) related to understanding of halaal, haraam and other affairs of a similar nature. A person must acquaint himself with knowledge of current affairs if he is in need of it; but as for giving it complete importance in relation to affairs (or events) that have not occurred in reality, such as lies, deception, analysis and speculation, this has no (sound) basis”. (1)
Al-Allaamah Rabee Bin Haadi Al-Mad’khali [may Allaah preserve him] stated, “I myself believe that it is a benefit – rather it is of necessity – that we know what the enemies are planning for us, and that it is necessary for us to prepare (ourselves in strength) to destroy their plans. However, I do not exaggerate in this matter, rather my view is the view of our Ulamaa and they have all agreed upon this – that amongst the obligatory matters there are some that are Fard Ain and others that are Fard Kifaayah – and even if knowing the state of the enemies is harmful – it is still necessary for us to know it – but it is treated as Fard Kifaayah. When some attend to it, then the harm is removed from the rest” up until he said: “So I consider that there is no criticism for the Ulamaa and the students of knowledge who take great concern for preserving the Sharee’ah of Allaah – in terms of the Book, the Sunnah and its understanding – for this is one of the duties of the Kifaayah actions. And I believe that these people are more superior, noble, truthful and of more benefit to Islaam than those who are weak in their knowledge of the religion of Allaah or those who have no share in acquainting themselves with it”. (2)
As for the official speaking on condition of anonymity, the Muslim who adheres to a sound methodology is not deceived by him or her, because there is a principle to apply when dealing with this important affair. “The narration of the anonymous (Mubham) is unaccepted if a name is not mentioned, because the prerequisite for the acceptance of a narration is the credibility of the narrator, and if the name of anyone is anonymous his identity is unknown; therefore, how could this be credibility?!” (3) ” “If a person says that a trustworthy person narrated to him, or something similar (to this statement), it will not suffice to establish credibility until he puts a name to him, because even if he considers the narrator to be trustworthy, however it may be that when a name is put to him, he would be amongst those who are disparaged by others; rather refraining from mentioning the narrator’s name is an affair that leaves a question mark in the heart”. (4)
Allaah [The Most High] said:
وَإِذَا جَاءَهُمْ أَمْرٌ مِّنَ الْأَمْنِ أَوِ الْخَوْفِ أَذَاعُوا بِهِ ۖ وَلَوْ رَدُّوهُ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ وَإِلَىٰ أُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْهُمْ لَعَلِمَهُ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَنبِطُونَهُ مِنْهُمْ ۗ وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ لَاتَّبَعْتُمُ الشَّيْطَانَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا
When there comes to them some matter touching (public) safety or fear, they make it known (among the people), if only they had referred it to the Messenger or to those charged with authority among them, the proper investigators would have understood it from them (directly). Had it not been for the Grace and Mercy of Allaah upon you, you would have followed Shaitaan (Satan), save a few of you.'[4:83]
Imaam Ibn Katheer [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: “In this ayah (there) is a rebuke against the one who rushes towards affairs and then gives news about it before verifying it – circulates and spreads it -and perhaps there is no credibility in it”.
Therefore, this ayah obligates verification and clarification when (news) is heard, as Ibn katheer (rahimahullaah) mentioned. It rebukes the one who hastens in transmitting and spreading (news) before verifying its credibility. This Aayah (also) guides to another affair and that is (important news touching public safety and fear) is to be relayed to those in authority from amongst the Scholars and the Rulers and not to the common people, for there is no benefit in transmitting it to the common people; rather what is of benefit is that it is transmitted to the people in authority because they are those with a sound understanding of the affairs and the benefits that are extracted from them. They are the ones with the ability to avert the harmful affairs.
Ibn Katheer then mentioned a number of narrations about being careful about hastiness and lack of verifying news- and from them is a narration by Abu Hurairah [may Allaah be pleased with him] that the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said: ‘’It is enough for a man to prove himself a liar when he goes on narrating whatever he hears’’. And Mugheerah Bin Shubah [may Allaah be pleased with him] said, “Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] forbade Qeel Wal Qaal (i.e. so and so said)’’. Ibn Katheer said, ‘’It is the one who narrates a great deal of that which the people say without verification, contemplation and clarification’’.
Then Ibn Katheer stated: The hadith of Umar [may Allaah be pleased with him] collected by Bukhaari and Muslim should be mentioned here; when Umar was told Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] divorced his wives, he left his house and entered the mosque, where he found the people talking about it; so he could not endure waiting and ask for the permission of the Prophet to speak to him; then Umar asked the Prophet, saying, ‘‘Have you divorced your women?’’ The Prophet said, ‘No’. So Umar said, I said ‘Allaahu Akbar……’
And in the narration collected by Imaam Muslim, Umar said, I asked, ‘Have you divorced them?’ The Prophet (sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam) said, ‘No’. So I stood by the door of the mosque and shouted with a loud voice, saying, ‘The Messenger of Allaah did not divorce his wives’. Then the ayah (i.e. Ayah 83, Surah Nisaa) was revealed. Umar said, ‘I investigated this affair properly’ (i.e. whether the Prophet did divorce his wives).
Imaam As-Sadi [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said about this Aayah [i.e. An-Nisaa 83]: This is a moral conduct [commanded by Allaah] to His slaves – that they do not do this [i.e. hasten to spread news]. And it is obligated on them that when there comes to them an affair from the important affairs – matters related to a universal benefit for the people, public safety and those affairs on which depends the sorrow or happiness of the believers, or an affair of public fear which may bring about calamity upon them- that they should verify the [news of that affair] and not to be hasty in spreading it; rather they should refer it back to the Messenger [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] and to those in authority- the people of sound opinions, the people of knowledge; those who can give sound advice, the people of intelligence and those who approach affairs with calmness, and they are those who know what is of overriding benefit and that which is in opposition to it [i.e. the scholars]. So, if they see that disseminating such news will bring about an overriding benefit for the Muslims, strengthen them, bring about happiness and make them vigilant over their enemies, then they would disseminate such news; but if they see that there is no overriding benefit in disseminating such news, or that there is benefit in it, but there is more harm in doing so; then they would not circulate such news. That is why Allaah stated: [ وَلَوْ رَدُّوهُ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ وَإِلَىٰ أُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْهُمْ لَعَلِمَهُ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَنبِطُونَهُ مِنْهُمْ – If only they had referred it to the Messenger or to those charged with authority among them, the proper investigators would have understood it from them (directly)]- Meaning: They would have derived from it [the proper cause of action] through contemplation and through their correct opinions and rightly guided sciences.
Therefore, in this there is proof regarding a principle related to a moral conduct, that when an [important affair] from the [important affairs] suddenly appears, it is obligatory to refer it to those who are competent in the affair and one should not put himself forward before them, for that is closer to correctness and [safer] in preventing mistakes. And in this, there is a prohibition against being hasty in circulating news [that is related important affairs of public safety or fear] and a command to contemplate before speaking- to look into the affair, as to whether it is an affair of overriding benefit to be dealt with, or whether it should be avoided if it does not carry an [overriding benefit].
[وَلَوۡلَا فَضۡلُ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيۡڪُمۡ وَرَحۡمَتُهُ – Had it not been for the Grace and Mercy of Allah upon you]- Meaning: by way granting you the ability to act upon righteousness, instructed you with moral conducts and taught you that which you never knew, then [لَٱتَّبَعۡتُمُ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنَ إِلَّا قَلِيلاً۬ – you would have followed Shaitan (Satan), save a few of you]. (5)
Allaah [The Exalted] said:
[ يٰأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُوۤاْ إِن جَآءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوۤاْ أَن تُصِيبُواْ قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُواْ عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ – O you who believe! If a rebellious evil person comes to you with a news, verify it, lest you harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful to what you have done]. [Surah Al-Hujuraat. Aayah 6]
Imaam As-Sadi said: This is also one of the moral etiquettes that are obligated on the people of [sound] understanding to adorn themselves with and put into practice. And that is if a rebellious sinful person informs them of some news, they should verify his news and not to merely accept it, because indeed there is great danger [in doing so] and [possibility] of falling into sin. That is because if his news is placed at the same level with the news given by truthful reliable person, one might pass a judgement based on that news and what it necessitates, so loss of life and wealth occurs without right due to that news and thus brings about regret; rather, what is obligated with regards to the news given by a rebellious sinful person is that it is verified and clarified. So, if the proofs and clear indications demonstrates his truthfulness, then it [i.e. the news] is acted upon and declared to be true; but if they demonstrate that he is lying, then it is declared to be lies and not acted upon. Therefore, in this [Aayah] there is a proof that news [given] by a truthful person is accepted, the news [given] by a liar is rejected and the news [given] by a rebellious sinful person is suspended as we have stated. (6)
And Allaah knows best
[Ref 1: An Excerpt from ‘Sharh Hilyati Taalibil Ilm’ pages 194-195. slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 2 An excerpt from an article at http://www.salafipublications.com titled: The Salafis and Looking into the Affairs of the Ummah]
[Ref 3: An-Nukhbatul Fikr page 135. Slightly Paraphrased]
[Ref 4: Tadreeb Ar-Raawee 1/365 By As-Suyootee. Slightly Paraphrased]
[Ref 5: An Excerpt from ‘Al-Fitnah Wa Mawqiful Muslim Minhaa’ pages 78-83]
[Ref 6: An Excerpt from ‘Tayseer Al-Kareem Ar-Rahmaan Fee Tafseer Kalaam Al-Mannaan]