LETTERS: NOT only has the coronavirus spread like wildfire, so too has misinformation about it, especially online.
Numerous conspiracy theories dubious health advice abound as well as unofficial figures of death and infected people.
One unproven tip allegedly from the Health Department in the Philippines, which it later confirmed to be untrue, claimed to be able to prevent the disease. It was shared over 16,000 times on Facebook.
In ascertaining and verifying information, Islam, being the complete way of life, is very
particular — if not the most stringent — in demanding that every information received must first be checked and verified for its authenticity as stipulated in the Quran, Surah Al-Hujurat, verse 6.
In spreading fake news, lies, false information, gossip or rumour-mongering, our netizens are ahead of many nations.
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, a scholar from Zaytuna College in the US, once said: “…during those days, you need to look for a partner to gossip or slander, but now with the advent of the Internet and social media platforms, you can easily do it alone from your own room.”
Indeed, Islam prohibits gossiping, praising those who talk less and only do so out of necessity.
A Prophetic tradition from Abu Hurayrah states: “God’s Messenger, may the Mercy and Blessings of God be upon him, said: “Whoever believes in God and the Last Day should speak a good word or remain silent.
And whoever believes in God and the Last Day should show hospitality to his neighbour. And whoever believes in God and the Last Day should show hospitality to his guest.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim).
In another narration, also from Abu Hurayrah, the Prophet warned not to simply narrate (or in the current social media context is equivalent to “forward” or “share”) whatever one hears without first verifying its truth and validity.
He said: “It is enough for a man to prove himself a liar when he goes on narrating whatever he hears” (Sahih Muslim).
The repercussions of forwarding fake news may not be necessarily felt in this world alone — though one risks being caught by the relevant authorities and subsequently charged — but also in the Hereafter, be put in the Hellfire.
Indeed, Muslims should always have in their mind the consequences of their “worldly” acts in the Hereafter before acting on anything in this temporal world.
DR NIK ROSKIMAN ABDUL SAMAD
Senior fellow, Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times