In the name of Allāh, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy.
Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and WhatsApp. Social media is today one of the easiest ways to earn huge rewards – and much punishment. A single message reaches thousands, sometimes millions of people, in an instant. It’s easy not to pay a moment of thought to the ‘tweet’, ‘post’ or ‘snap’ you share, and yet the consequences can be terrible.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “a person makes a statement which pleases Allāh; he does not give it much consideration, but it reaches as far as it reaches, and his rank in Paradise is raised due to it. A person makes a statement which angers Allāh; he does not give it much consideration, but it reaches as far as it reaches, and he is thrown into the Fire due to it.”
Our “posts”, “tweets”, “pins”, “snaps” can either guide many people to something good or indeed misguide them. In order to ensure such avenues earn us reward from Allāh, we should keep the following 9 social media guidelines in mind:
1. Make it worship
Any worldly action can be transformed into ‘Ibādah (worship) based on your intention. If you post via your account because you want followers or seek fame, your action is restricted to worldly gain. But if you utilise your accounts to please Allāh and guide others, you will be rewarded in the Hereafter. Of course, one’s intention is not sufficient, rather the action itself must also be within the limits of Islāam.
And who is better in speech than he who calls to Allāh: “My Lord is Allāh, does righteous deeds, and says: “I am one of the Muslims. [41:33]
2. Be a key to goodness not a key to evil.
Use your account to encourage others to do good, inspire people to believe, and use it as a means of guiding others and spreading beneficial knowledge. Do not use your account to spread wrongdoing and encourage disobedience. It is saddening to see how many young Muslim men and women are misguiding others, intentionally or unintentionally. The hijāb has been changed from one of modesty and covering, to fashion and attracting attention. Music is “Islamised”, thereby justifying it in the minds of many naïve Muslims. Do the creators of such accounts forget that after their fame dies, they will leave this world and their reckoning will be with Allāh? Then they will be questioned about the people they led to disobedience.
The Prophet ﷺ said, some people open the doors to good and close the doors to evil; other people open the doors to evil and close the doors to good. Glad tidings to those in whose hands Allāh places the keys to good, and woe to those in whose hands Allāh places the keys to evil.
3. You cannot be anonymous from Allāh.
One of the traps of social media is that it allows any person to become whoever he or she wants. A person can assume the identity of another or remain anonymous, posting according to one’s desires but without facing any repercussions.
Remember your Lord knows even your inner thoughts and there will be no anonymity on the Day of Reckoning. So anything which you would not post using your real identity, do not post it anonymously.
Warn them of the Day that is drawing near, when the hearts will be choking the throats, and they can neither return their [hearts] to their chests nor can they throw them out. There will be no friend, nor an intercessor for the oppressor who could be given heed to. Allāh knows the fraud of the eyes, and all that the chest conceal [40:18-19]
4. Make sure it is authentic and verified.
Being careless in checking the authenticity of a Ḥadīth or the validity of an Islamic ruling is not only dangerous for one’s own self, but it can also misguide many others. Look to what trusted scholars have said regarding the Hadeeth or the ruling you are about the broadcast.
The Prophet ﷺ said, “whoever lies upon me intentionally, let him prepare his place in the Fire.”
A person who does not ensure his information is authentic and accurate may indeed enter into the above Ḥadīth.
Verify before you make a judgment or spread news about others. The Prophet ﷺ said, “It is sufficient for a person to be considered a liar, that he conveys everything he hears.”
Even if you trust the one who sent you the news, you must check and verify its accuracy before sharing it with others. How much damage has been done through sharing wrong information that is easily verifiable?
O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful [49:06]
5. Slow down, do not be hasty.
Before you press that button, think, and then think once again. Once you send it, post it, tweet it, you have lost control of it. It is published. Before you get the chance to press delete, it may have already reached thousands of people and perhaps screenshots have already been taken, so do not be hasty.
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Patience and deliberation is from Allāh; hastiness is from Shaytān.”
6. What legacy will you leave behind?
You may die within an instance, and suddenly you have left behind several social media accounts to your name. Your posts, tweets, and photos may remain for years after you have died. You can either leave behind sound knowledge which is of benefit to others, or you leave behind immorality, indecency, and disobedience. Either way, it will be the legacy that defines you, and you will continue being rewarded or punished on the basis of what you left behind.
Verily, We give life to the dead, and We record that which they send before (them), and their traces [behind them] [36:12]
8. It is the content that counts, not clickbait.
Using a catchy title to bait viewers and increase numbers is only important to a person who is calling to himself and not to Islam. In Islam, numbers and followers do not matter, only that you speak the truth and speak it in an appropriate manner. Of course, we want the Da’wah to reach as many people as possible, and we are happy when we see more people guided, but this is not the objective in itself.
Be careful of using clickbait strategies with Islam such that you use shocking titles and un-Islamic slogans and hashtags to gain followers. Do not make the mistake of “use any means, as long as the objective is Islamic”. Instead, ensure that both the objective and the means are Islamically correct.
Say, “This is my way; I invite to Allah with insight, I and those who follow me. And exalted is Allāh; and I am not of those who associate others with Him [12:208]
8. Don’t lose sight of the real world.
Islam is a holistic way of life. Do not lose focus of your priorities in the real world while you concentrate on the ‘fake’ world of social media. Your social media should not delay your Ṣalāh, or distract you from your family. The successful person is the one who remains balanced and fulfills all his responsibilities and prioritises. We should not shy away from using social media and technology to further Islām and benefit others. Where there is falsehood, it must be countered with the truth; we should not leave any domain devoid of the Da’wah, but at the same time we should not let this distract us from other responsibilities.
I ask Allāh, the Exalted, to show our Muslim youth the path to guidance, and give them the ability to traverse it. May peace, blessings, and salutations be upon the best of creation.