I came across the following beneficial reminder by Muftî Zubair Bayat whilst surfing the world wide web, may we be of those who benefit from it, bi-idhnillâh:
Is it sheer coincidence that the Internet and WWW [World Wide Web] contain the words ‘NET’ and ‘WEB’? Read on and work it out for yourself. Now picture a person trapped in a net, battling to get out. Also try to imagine a fly caught in a web, struggling to escape. Since the crisis is visible and tangible in the above cases, sympathy is felt and help may be rendered if required. But there is another NET, a WEB, much stronger and highly invisible, which traps its hapless ‘victim’ in such an enchanting way, the poor ‘victim’, far from wanting to escape, actually begins to enjoy and relish this ‘captivity’. Yes, this sticky WEB, this unseen NET is none other than what is called the INTERNET, its WWW and its ‘chat rooms’.
What is the Cure for this ‘Addiction Virus’?
Such is the terrible addiction and attraction to the NET and the WEB; it is difficult to say whether the ‘surfer’ has been bit by a ‘bug’ or is just on some kind of heavy ‘drug’. Many are concerned about ‘viruses’ infecting their beloved PC’s but what cure is there for the user who maybe infected by the ‘addiction virus’? Once ‘on-line’ and ‘into cyber space’ the user seems to have forgotten everything in the real world and enters into a kind of trance that is described as being in a state of ‘virtual reality’ where everything is really unreal but appears to be so real! For many, once they enter this ‘cyber world’ it is as if they are on another planet. Then gone is the concern for salâh, good deeds, work, studies and other important chores in life. Now it is the sheer thrill of being ‘connected’ and ‘on line’. A Muslim must be concerned that being ‘connected’ to the Net must not ‘disconnect’ him from Allâh and being ‘on-line’ should not take him ‘off-track’ from the ‘Straight Path’.
Sharî’ah Principles Governing the use of the Internet
Unlike medieval Christianity, Islâm has never been opposed to technology and modern inventions – in fact it has encouraged the study of ‘natural’ phenomena for the purposes of subjugating the forces of the universe for the benefit of mankind. Such inventions and technology are deemed beneficial so long as they enhance the purpose of man’s creation on earth. If however, they obstruct and distract from this purpose, then Islâm does not take a favourable view of such inventions.
The Internet and its use may be evaluated on the basis of the above principle. If it proves to be beneficial to its user, its use is permissible and in some instances, meritorious, especially for da’wah and educational uses. But if it provides the opposite affect, that of distracting its user from the purpose of his creation, then not only is its use frowned upon but may even be deemed unlawful in certain instances. As with every matter in life, the Internet comes with its collection of plusses and minuses. In the case of some users, the plusses weigh heavily. In the case of others, there are only minuses. For such people, the Internet is a bane and a curse. And unfortunately the majority of users fall in this category.
Parents Blissfully Ignorant of Inherent Dangers
With the quantum leaps the IT industry has recently been witnessing, many parents and guardians of children and youth, the prime users of Internet, are in a total ‘time-warp’. They are groping in the dark with regard to the reality and nature of the Internet and what it is all about. They appear quite pleased and proud that their dear off-spring are such ‘wizards of the web’, little realising the potential dangers that the Internet holds within itself. It is with a view to enlighten parents and elders about this dark aspect of the Internet that this article is being presented.
Which decent Muslim parent would allow his child, especially a pretty, young daughter out in the streets, into dubious dimly-lit smoke-filled billiards’ rooms to meet and chat to complete strangers for hours on end, with a possibility of such unknown entities even being considered as prospective marriage partners by their innocent daughters? Any respectable Muslim parent would recoil in horror and shrink at the very thought. My daughter in such a horrible place? IMPOSSIBLE!
‘Cyber Friends’ Meet Each Other in ‘Chat Rooms’
No, in fact it is very well possible. The decent and respectable Muslim parents of our time may well be in for a pretty rude shock! That innocent little girl [or boy], locked away safely in her bedroom for nights and weekends on end, may ‘virtually’ be ‘MEETING’, ‘TALKING’ to and ‘BEFRIENDING’ all kinds of weird strangers for hours on end, under the very noses of their parents, without them ever suspecting a thing! How is this possible? Well the answer is clear and straight; thanks to Internet, this is not only possible but a REALITY in thousands of good Muslim homes all over the world! So when you find that teenager, uncannily quiet and seemingly busy don’t be fooled and deceived. They could possibly be in intimate conversation with some stranger in one of thousands of ‘chat rooms’ available on the ‘Net!
Forget the days of ‘pen pals’. That was rather innocent stuff. Nowadays boys [and girls] are known to have travelled [physically] around the globe, just to meet their cyber ‘boy/girl-friends’. Many ‘cyber-friends’, known to each other only by their ‘nicks’, arrange to meet each other in shopping malls, cinemas, rave clubs, bhangra bashes and so on. The Net has made possible the meeting of strangers on a scale that was unimaginable in the past. It may surprise people to learn that many prospective Muslim couples have had their first ‘meeting’ and intimate ‘chat’ on the Net. This could have lead to physical meetings in ‘real time’ and after a short romance on [and off] the Net, ‘the knot was tied’. Alas! The possibility of that ‘knot’ being untied before long, is not just a matter of ‘virtual reality’. It is reality itself as proven by real-life cases.
Victims of Shaytân’s ‘Web’
But the young and innocent are not the only victims as age is of no consequence on the Net. If this is how easy and ‘cool’ it is to hop onto the cyber-highway and ‘disappear’ into ‘virtual reality’, it is not too surprising to hear of many married men who enjoy a very friendly ‘chat’ with some exciting female [supposedly; it is difficult to make out male from female on the Net], without the poor wife suspecting a thing. The reverse of this could also be true. Well, Shaytân is known to have many NETS and WEBS in his possession, and if this is one, then the final outcome of these ‘chats’ is not difficult to imagine.
Even if the ‘chat’ itself is clean and straight, this kind of ‘chat’ with a strange person is forbidden in Islâm, whether it be by phone, mobile, CB, pen or electronic, it is simply not allowed. Then consider the filthy and rude language used by most persons in ‘chat rooms’ – this cannot be evaded and one is bound to be affected by this rude language sooner or later.
Gross Wastage of Allâh’s Favours
Hours and hours of good, useful and constructive time – the most valuable entity on earth – is squandered uselessly on the Net and in chat rooms. If only that time – and Almighty Allâh swears an oath on the value of Time – was used to do some virtuous deeds, how beneficial and profitable it would have been! If only the hundreds of wasted pounds in connection fees and phone bills could have been used to feed a hungry family in Ethiopia or elsewhere; if only it could have been contributed towards a needy and deserving masjid or madrasah project, how useful it would have proved? This is yet another serious drawback of the Internet for a good practising Muslim.
Dangers to Aqîdah and Morality
Then there is the deluge of kufr sites, masquerading as good and informative Muslim sites and a plethora of sites by the myriads of deviated sects, all crouching like hungry lions at the water hole, hoping to pounce upon, savage and devour the unwary ‘prey’ that may come out their way. How can one whose knowledge of Islâm is nominal hope to come out unscathed in his îmân after such ‘encounters’? Then the uncensored flood of the filthiest pornography and sleaze imaginable, that permeates every area of the Net, is yet another total ‘no-go zone’ for any Muslim. The temptations to just ‘take a peek’ are very compelling and once this slippery path is walked upon, it is very difficult for most people to turn back.
So before you or your innocent little ones connect [or reconnect] to the Net, think, think carefully! Is it for a pious or worthy purpose or is it just for fun and entertainment, to pass time! If this is so, you may have easily ‘connected’ to the Net but you could end up, Allâh forbid, ‘disconnecting’ your îmân, your Islâm and your morality in the process! Is it worth it?