The Ill Effects of Fake news and the ways to avoid its Harm

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 The Ill Effects of Fake news and the ways to avoid its Harm

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The circulation of Fake news is a growing problem in the World. Fake news is a type of yellow journalism that spreads misinformation via newspapers, the T.V or online social media. Fake news is written and published with the intent to mislead or sway opinion, and bring chaos and fear to the minds of ordinary people.

The media is no longer in the business of reporting news, but instead they are politically driven for an agenda. The primary target of the news media is the cancer of terrorism connected with the spread of Islam. Allah said: They intend to put out the Light of Allah with their mouths. But Allah will complete His Light even though the disbelievers hate (it).[1]

The topic of terrorism  hasn’t properly been defined other than the fact that whenever someone named Ali, Umar or Ahmed commit a crime it’s deemed an act of terror. This is proven by the acts of those unethical journalists, who refuse to name all the acts of domestic terrorism committed by Christians as terror. There was the Planned Parenthood bombing, Brookline, Massachusetts, 1994 , then the Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church shooting, July 27, 2008, then the Suicide attack on IRS building in Austin, Texas, Feb. 18, 2010.When Joseph Stack flew a plane into the Echelon office complex. Those atrocities were carried out by Christians and the media strategically avoided using the word terrorism in their headlines. Moreover no Christian group and church came out publicly to condemn these crimes. So why is it that Muslims have to strongly condemn and denounce another Muslim’s offenses every time those eye-catching headlines are printed?

If the Muslims followed the rules and guidelines legislated in their religion they could avoid a lot of the media’s hype.

Allah said:

 يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓاْ إِن جَآءَكُمۡ فَاسِقُۢ بِنَبَإٍ۬ فَتَبَيَّنُوٓاْ أَن تُصِيبُواْ قَوۡمَۢا بِجَهَـٰلَةٍ۬ فَتُصۡبِحُواْ عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلۡتُمۡ نَـٰدِمِينَ

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.

This verse lays the foundation for accepting or rejecting news reports. Allah mentioned that when a disobedient evil person comes with news we must verify it before accepting it.

The Arabic word used is “ Fasiq” which means a person who has deviated in his religion ;in either his practice, his belief and his morality.

 “News” This represents all kinds of news, narrations and information circulated and in today’s time the news from all media outlets is included.

Verify it” Allah ordered us to verify it before we convey it to others shows that we don’t outright reject the reports of the wicked and disobedient people, because the possibility lies that maybe what they are reporting is true. A sinner’s integrity is compromised given the fact he’s not fully honest and trustworthy, therefore what he says regarding others remains in question.

Allah said:

أَفَمَن كَانَ مُؤۡمِنً۬ا كَمَن كَانَ فَاسِقً۬ا‌ۚ لَّا يَسۡتَوُۥنَ

Is then he who is a believer like him who is Fasiq (disbeliever and disobedient to Allah)? Not equal are they.[As-Sajid:18]

 

This verse defines that all people aren’t same in their integrity. The Quran informs us that there are 3kinds of narrators;

  1. The sinners’ whose reports are put on hold until we can verify them by other means that what they’re saying is true or not.
  2. The trustworthy people whose narrations are accepted.
  3. The non-believers whose news reports aren’t accepted.

When a sinner says something we have been ordered to verify his speech; and by avoiding this step a tragedy can occur in another’s right, such as in his wealth, his property and his honor. And if an honest righteous person comes to us with news we can accept it without verifying it, unless there is quarreling between him and the person he’s giving reports about, or other details in his story which indicate that what he’s saying isn’t true. In other words, just because an honest trustworthy person is narrating something this doesn’t mean that what he’s saying is always correct. This is similar to hadeeth that is Shath “  شاذ ”.The Shath hadith’s narrator is reliable, but he contradicts others who are either more reliable than him ,or outnumber him in their narrations which contradict his. For those reasons his report is rejected.

Similarly a trustworthy narrator’s report can be rejected or require further investigation if the narrator doesn’t understand the event properly or misunderstands the speaker’s words he’s narrating against.

Ibn Taymiyyah said: Most reporters don’t intend to lie; however to share the actual meaning of the person’s speech by narrating it correctly is difficult for some people. [2] 

Ibn Al-Qayyim said: Among the greatest blessings from Allah on His servant is a sound understanding with a good intention. The sound understanding is a  light  that Allah places in the heart of the servant. Through correct understanding the servant is able to distinguish between what’s right and wrong, between truth and falsehood, between guidance and misguidance and between the correct path and the misguided one.[3]

Furthermore, at other times there’s the possibility that the news being conveyed is politically driven for an agenda.

After Allah instructed us to verify the news of the sinners He mentions the possible consequence of not doing so.

 He said, “lest you harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful to what you have done.”

He ordered us to verify the news in order to avoid harming others out of ignorance. When a person is hasty and runs with the news and information without verifying it from untrustworthy people then this can result in him oppressing another. Additionally if a person narrates everything he hears about others without verifying it then this can affect his credibility. The Prophet [ﷺ] said:

كَفَى بِالْمَرْءِ إِثْمًا أَنْ يُحَدِّثَ بِكُلِّ مَا سَمِعَ

It is  sufficient that it’s a sin for a man  to relate everything he hears.[4]

And in another narration the Prophet[ﷺ] said:

كَفَى بِالْمَرْءِ كَذِباً أَنْ يُحَدِّثَ بِكُلِّ مَا سَمِعَ

It’s enough of a lie for the one who narrates everything he hears.[5]

These two admonitions from the Prophet [ﷺ] are included in the regret of the one that goes around saying and sharing everything that reaches him from either sinners, or disbelievers and sometimes from reliable people who base and share their speech built on bigotry and desires. Perhaps something reaches you about an individual and you are unable to accept it since you know the person behind the story isn’t straightforward, or you have some doubt. In this case  you MUST check it out. This will help you determine if what’s being said is true. Use your intellect in this situation and avoid being speedy to pass a judgment or take a side, because later on you might regret what you said.[6]

The Dangers of Fake News

With the help of Social media the spread of fake news moves exponentially around the globe. There’s the T.V, the internet, Twitter, Facebook, and Whats app, all which we use. Look at how easy it is when something happens in one region for its news to reach another. The problem with this is the fact that most people just pass everything along without verifying if what really happened, did. In some cases the honor of another person is damaged. People have stooped as low as to share Photoshop images with yellow journalistic titles.  

In order to combat the spread of fake news Muslims need to remember the verse from Al-Hujjarat and avoid giving their ear to everything said. The intelligent person investigates what’s said, he asks for proof, and he asks questions. Whenever we follow this path we close the channels of fake news.

The Ways to combat Fake News

Some of the ways to handle to spread of fake news;

  • Verify the report. To verify the report we have to begin by looking at the reporter to check the source. Following this check the date and read beyond the title, and then look for supporting sources and references.

 

  • Return to scholars and those well-grounded in the spread of news that causes fitnah. Allah said: 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 Allah upon you, you would have followedShaitan (Satan), save a few of you.[7]

 

 

Shiekh As-Sa’di said: Allah is showing His servants the proper manners. He is showing them that when a current event takes place or something about the general public of the people that involves the happiness or sadness of the Muslims then they must verify it and avoid acting rash. They must return it to the Sunnah and to those in charge with authority over them. These are the people of scholarship and intellect that are able to recognize if what’s occurred is in the best interest of the people or not.

  • Consider the content of the story. There’s a saying, “The people are quick to believe the bad things they hear, but are reluctant to accept the good things.” When news reaches you pause and think about what’s being conveyed. Is it possible that the news and the things being said aren’t true? Allah said:  And why did you not, when you heard it, say? “It is not right for us to speak of this.[An-Nur:13]

The intelligent person knows that everything heard shouldn’t be said and everything known shouldn’t be spread and made public.

 

  • Weigh the possible outcome of spreading the news. Is there any benefit in sharing the news that’s reached you or does the harm weigh greater? This is an important step that most people neglect to take into consideration, except those whom Allah has showed His Mercy to.

 

  • Have the best thoughts of your Muslim brother. Allah said: Why then, did not the believers, men and women, when you heard it (the slander) think good of their own people and say: “This (charge) is an obvious lie?”[An-Nur:12]

 

  • Request proof when news and narrations reach you. Allah said: Why did they not produce four witnesses? Since they (the slanderers) have not produced witnesses! Then with Allah they are the liars.[An-Nur:13]. This step needs to be taken especially when the rights of another Muslim are at stake.

 

  • Remain aware that everything you say and do is being recorded and will come back to haunt you. Allah said: When you were propagating it with your tongues, and uttering with your mouths that whereof you had no knowledge, you counted it a little thing, while with Allah it was very great.[An-Nur:15]

 

From these principles decreed by Allah we are able to deal with news and stories that come to us from trustworthy people and sinners and reject those that come from atheists and nonbelievers. Allah said: It is only those who believe not in the Ayat of Allah, who fabricate falsehood, and it is they who are liars.[8] The speech of liar or those accused of lying is rejected. As conveyors of information it’s time we become proactive and responsible for the information we pass on to others in our social networks. Don’t be so hasty to jump on the bandwagon with your opinion or try and defend Islam by speaking out about story that certain facts have been manipulated. We’ve seen Muslims run with the San Berndino shootings story, which was full of holes from the beginning, and the London attacker, Khalid Masood story. The media fed people in the beginning that these guys were ISIS supporters while unknown witnesses claim they shouted Allahu Akbar before their actions, and then later on stories were published they were drug addicts. Following this was the release of their criminal background history. All in all, the threat of terrorism is real and isn’t something only done by Muslims or those with Arabic names. As Facebook and Google take steps to curb the circulation of fake news on their sites, we as Muslims have the Quran and the Sunnah which already illustrated the methods to stop it. And Allah knows best.

Prepared by Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Lamont Battle Sr.

Doha,Qatar 1438,

[1] As-Saff:8

[2] منهاج السنة6-3030

[3] انظر: أعلام الموقعين1-87.).

[4] Sunan Abi Dawud 4992 /Sahih (Al-Albani)

[5] Introdcution Sahih Muslim.

[6]read the story of two Muhammad on the Abu Aaliyah Gazette

[7] Surah An-Nisa’:83

[8] An-Nahl:105

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