The pros and cons of social media in the field of Da’wah
It is a duty for Muslims to invite people to Islam, we must do the Da’awah sincerely just for the sake of Allah. In order to be successful and attain Allah’s reward, the Da’awah has to be purely based on the Quran and Sunnah. The reason for this is; we are delivering a divine message that is complete and without any deficiencies, this is known as Islam. It is an all-time guidance to all mankind, in all generations and at any point in time. It teaches us how to do Da’awah with wisdom and fair preaching. As long as our goal is to achieve Allah’s pleasure, then our Da’awah has to be based on the Quran and Sunnah. No two ways about that.
The means (tools) of Dawa’ah vary according to the circumstances present; the caliber of people, their degree of knowledge, exposure and environment.
During the Prophet’s (pbuh) time, Da’awah was held in Mosques, Homes and personal gatherings. Due to technological advancement, the most widely used and effective method of Da’awah nowadays is through the social media.
The most common social media platforms used for Da’awah are Facebook, Twitter and Orkut. Da’awah is done on a continuous basis by different scholars and common Muslims through the creation of official accounts for easy access by the public. This however, has some advantages and disadvantages.
PROS AND CONS OF SOCIAL MEDIA AS A MEANS OF DA’AWAH
Some of the advantages are;
1. Ability to reach a wide audience coverage
Muslims use social media effectively to reveal the understanding of Islam, the Quran and the Prophet (pbuh) through blogs, websites and social networking. Millions of people around the world can access information by a simple button click. People from all walks of life are brought in together. Companies and Islamic projects use this opportunity to create a level playing field between Muslims and non-Muslims. Many scholars deal with Q&A sessions to further understand the religion, clarify doubtful matters and improve communication.
For example; Assim Al-hakim provides Q&A sessions on Facebook on a daily basis. ‘Haitham al Haddad’ has innovated a website called “Islam21C” which establishes the relationship between the West and Islam. There are countless of videos on YouTube ranging from comparative religion of Ahmad Deedat, to Quranic recitation and Islamic lectures accessed by millions around the world. ‘Muslim Matter shave, Productive Muslim and Al Kawthar’ are Da’awah projects that have become successful in promoting our faith. Many eminent Islamic writers created blogs which enable users to post comments hence spreading the understanding of the deen. The wide sharing of information through the net led to spreading of Da’awah to a broader audience, creating Islam awareness, tackling misinterpretations and giving people who are willing to revert to the religion more insight.
2. The ease of spreading Da’awah
The Sahaba used to climb on horses as a means of transportation to convey Da’awah In personal gatherings. These are the traditional means which were so limited. They are not as practical and easy going as the electronic media which can convey the message of Islam within a very short period of time. For example; when there was bomb in Boston, several scholars used the opportunity of this social media to give fatwas so as to clear any misconception on Islam. Social media is the only media that can deliver this message to wide audience of both Muslims and non-Muslims within the shortest possible time and with so much ease.
‘Using new media as a medium of religious preaching has been widely practiced by various religions such as Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam (Bunt 2003)’
3. Hajj and Ramadan
There is a lot of Da’awah taking place during these times. Da’awah is usually at its peak during Ramadan. Muslims are ready to practice the Quran and Sunnah in the form of tweets or status updates. This new trend of social networking has changed the way Islam is propagated. During hajj period pilgrims post pictures, clips and tweets. This promotes the faithfulness and co-religiousness of the Muslim ummah. Dr. Zakir Naik has a website ‘irf.net’, Dr. Israr Ahmed created ‘tanzeem.org’ and Nouman Ali Khan launched a ‘bayyinah.com’ for the sole purpose of Dawah.
4. Protection of Islam from critics
Social media spreads the word of Allah and address critics effectively. It mobilizes Muslims all over the world on a platform in case there is bound to be an attack on the Quran or the Prophet (pbuh). Examples: In 2010 the pastor in America gathered people to burn the Quran. Another example is ‘Innocence of Muslims’ an anti-Islam video. Such things had triggered the gathering Muslims Protestants all over world on social media. Counties like Jordan, Pakistan and Egypt made a request to YouTube to delete those videos.
‘The Grand Mufti of India stated in Dawah Seminar at Bhopal that: Turn modern gadgets into Dawah tools “To engage oneself in the work of “Da’wah” the modern gadgets and tools or any other resources available should be used in the best possible manner to spread their message far and wide. The use of any gadget or tool is not forbidden in Islam but it is the use to which it is put makes it ‘Haram’ or ‘Halal’. (Karamchand 2015)’
5. Increase in learning opportunities
Awareness of Islam has been shifted from a rigid and conservative one to the one that can be easily understood and narrated to others. Some westerners had never met a Muslim in person but had the opportunity to meet several on Facebook and even join some of the Islamic groups. This has provided us with a giant step to deliver the divine message. Keeping opinions to ourselves need to stop. We need to get on social media to speak to the majority. Muslims should create a spotlight on whatever we deal with, build better relationships with the test of the world, speculate in our societies and then we will have more reverts. Building up a superior place for others in Islam is required to ensure the bad impression about Islam vanishes.
‘‘Famous Muslim Scholar Dr Zakir Naik who is head of IRF and running most watched Islamic Dawah TV Channel Peace TV has said that Social media is a very effective tool so Muslims should use this Media for the Dawah of Islam to non-Muslims. (Naik 2015)’’
The disadvantages are as follow;
Some scholars don’t have the full Islamic knowledge leading to presenting Islam differently which gives the non-Muslims wrong image about the religion. Some internet scholars can be a danger to the Da’awah process. The scholars have good intentions with courageous and enthusiastic attitudes which must be appreciated but there’s a possibility that authentic knowledge may not be known by them.
2. Misplaced priorities
It has become so addictive that people use this medium to post pictures of ka’abah or fake miracle babies to get ‘likes’ from their followers instead of doing the real Da’awah. Some even post their personal pictures eating at a restaurant. It can lead to excessive time wasting.
3. Adopting shift from the traditional to modern times
There are so many inventions that never existed during the prophet’s (pbuh) time which poses a challenge to the Muslim world. Because everyone wants to be more like the prophet (pbuh). The rapid development of technology particularly the social networks makes patterning our lives according to his own more difficult.
Even if you have a Da’awah page, it is almost impossible to scroll down a social network site without seeing some aspects of nudity. This is unavoidable. There are websites dedicated to disobey Allah.
‘12 percent of all sites are porn-oriented, 35 percent of all downloads are pornographic, kids first see porn online, on average, at age 11 and 20 percent of men watch it at work.’(Hashim 2016).
When the eye sees evil, it affects the soul. Eyes that wander about without lowering gaze makes the soul of man uneasy. This further makes one prone to shaytan due to lack of focus. ‘Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is acquainted with what they do. (Q 24: 30, 31)’.
5. Increase in fabricated hadith
It has become the centre of gossip and spreading false information. Examples; Bill gates is the sponsor of Al-Qaeda, Pastor Adeboye said do not wear red today, today in Mecca around 10am, the moon is coming close to the sun so let us all do nawafil or the messenger of Allah said tomorrow is Ramadan and whoever spreads the message to his friends is promised paradise. This becomes easy target of creation of displeasure to Allah by promoting slander and engaging in gossip.
6. ‘Blog’s content credibility’:
People are supposed to be sure that information passed are authentic based on reference to known books passed through mutawatir. But nowadays ability to verify the validity and authenticity of religious information through the blogs have become increasingly difficult.
‘The usage of blogs as a medium of delivering Islamic knowledge has neglected the process of mutawatir in verifying contents validity and bloggers credibility (Zulkiple 2010).’
It is very vital to preserve a credible content to avoid bringing harm to the religious community. Some people might use those references on the blogs as a valid religious reference which will cause damage if not authentic. Another problem is there might be an influx of religious quotations which can bring about confusion when trying to identify to correct information. Sometimes the blog sheikhs are mistaken to be credible just because they respond to questions efficiently. Delivering content is not as important as reliability of the blog sheikhs.
‘Some important aspects of communication from the religious perspective are honesty, sincerity, intention of the communicator, message validity, authentication of source and investigation to verify justice (Adalah) and the reliability of the communicator ( Khaldun 1969).’
Our blog sheikhs are yet to fully comply with these factors relating to credibility.
7. Misconceptions about Islam
Social media has created breeding grounds for misconceptions of portraying Islam as a religion of terror. There was a campaign titled ‘radical Islamist’ target at Muslim clerics.
‘Abu Darda reported that the prophet SAW said “nothing will be heavier on the scale of the believers on the day of resurrection than good manners; Allah hates one who utters foul or coarse language At-Tirmidhi’.
Islam is a religion that welcomes all forms of technological advancements as long as it does not contradict sharia. It is our duty as Muslims to learn the etiquettes concerning these inventions in order to remain in the true path of Allah. Personally, I think using social media for da’awah is highly recommended because I wouldn’t have known all the scholars I know now including Dr.Bilal Philips.
We just have to regulate the usage and target it to Da’awah purposely for the sake of Allah and according to the Quran and Sunnah. Therefore careful analysis of the authenticity of material is required as well as credibility and reliability of the Muslim speaker.
1. Adam, F., Anuar, M and Ali, A.H. (2014). The use of blog as a medium of Islamic da’awah in Malaysia. International journal of sustainable human development, 2(2), 74-80.
2. Ahmed, J. (2015). Let’s turn modern gadgets into dawah tools. Islamic Online Magazine, 5(55), 24-27.
3. Campbell, H. (2006). Religion and the internet. A quarterly review of communication research, 25 (1), 1-43.
4. Chu, S., & Kamal, S. (2008). The effect of perceived blogger credibility and argument quality on message elaboration and brand attitudes: An exploratory study. Journal of Interactive advertising, 8(2), 26-37.
5. Dawud, I. (2013). The Impact of Social Media on Islam. Islamic creed, 3(4), 9-10.
6. Mababaya, D. (2013). Handbook on da’awah according to the Quran and Sunnah. Dar-us-salam publication.
7. Moldir, M.E. (2017). Relation between Social Network and Da'wah to Islam A case study on Jordanian students. Academia. 3(7), 2-3.
8. Nurdin, N. (2017). Spiritualising New Media: The Use of Social Media for Da'wah Purposes within Indonesian Muslim Scholars. Academia, 2(15), 6-7.
9. Salman, J. (2011). Impact of Media and Social Media on Islam and Muslims. The Message International Magazine, 2(12), 1-3.
10. Shuaib, R. (2013). Using Social Media to Spread Dawah. Abujyhad magazine, 4(2), 2-3.
11. Siddiqi, S. (2002). Dawah ilallah - Its concept, needs, priorities & strategies. International Islamic Publishing House.
12. Jameel, K. (2017). Islamic Etiquette of using Social Media. Darul Ihsan Islamic services centre. 3(6), 6-9.
13. Qayyim, A., Mahmud, Z. (2015). Role of social media in the light of Islamic teachings. Al-Riyadh publishing.