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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hoax Emails and SMSes

In recent months Muslims have been confronted with a flood of misinformation through email and smses. Three issues in particular have caught the attention of Muslims. First, there was the incident of a girl who was purpotedly transformed into a lizard because she disrespected the Noble Qur'an. Then the young man in Middle East whose body was exhumed and supposedly found to have brutal signs of Azaab Qabr (punishment in the grave), and more recently the SMS about a girl in UK who it claimed had been turned to a fish for disrespecting the Noble Qur'an.

The Jamiat is deeply concerned about how Muslims are pursuing these types of dubious symbols and events to 'strengthen' their faith and to 'prove' the validity of Islam. There seems to be a sense of desperation to clutch onto any 'miracle' or story that would 'prove' the Power and Might of Allah Ta'ala, and that would be a sign of faith, regardless of the genuineness of it's authenticity and veracity.

Indeed, miracles are a reality, and form part of our belief as Muslims. Miracles occur with the permission of Allah Ta'ala and emphasise His Power and Majesty. However, it is not required from Muslims to search for such events and direct their energies and time in disseminating information that has no concrete evidence or proper source. The Qur'an and Sunnah encourage us to ponder and reflect within our own creation and other phenomenal creation and signs of Almighty, to strengthen faith and recognise our Creator. Allah Ta’ala says:

“Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for people of intelligence” (Surah 3 Ayat 190)

By promoting dubious emails and information we create an atmosphere of uncertainty to 'prove' the validity of our faith, no matter what it takes. By this, we risk depending on information (possibly digitally manipulated or otherwise) to prove that Islam is legitimate, only to discover later that it was all a hoax as has been the case in the 'lizard' story, etc.

As Muslims we are required to be cautious about the information we disseminate. We learn from hadith that the person who indicates towards misguidance is like the one who has perpetrated it. Similarly a person who initiates misguidance will bear the burden of all those who are mislead by it. It is therefore imperative that one verifies the information received before accepting and acting upon it. Caution should be exercised in transmitting it to others. It is also incumbent that before sending the information or news to anyone else the information is thoroughly checked and verified by a reputable authority. It is always safer to trace the initial source of the information and communicate with the original sender before disseminating the information.

Similarly, there are sightings of Allah's name on the insides of fish, fruits or vegetables; tree formations and so on that have been recorded in the past. These maybe taken as signs of Allah's presence and existence and serve to strengthen those with weak faith.

It is therefore our appeal for Muslims to be thoughtful about what they believe and propagate. It is much more sensible to hold fast upon that which is pure, dependable and proven from the Qur’an, hadith, lives of the Sahaba (RA) and our akaabir (pious pre decessors).

Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said, “It is sufficient for a man to prove himself a liar when he continues narrating everything he hears.” (Sahih Muslim)

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