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The Internet According to Shaykh Gilles Shadek

we are living at a time where there are multitude of new inventions and technical advances. We see such new technologies at almost every house, business, and institution. The life of so many people is becoming more reliant on such technologies in different fields. The internet is one of these matters, where it enabled people who are distant from each other to talk (audio, video), or write to each other as if they were in the same room, even though they may be hundreds of miles away from each other. Such technological advancements are still taking place with more discoveries and inventions appearing and invading our lives. 

If we want to draw a simple comparison between our time and the past, we find out that such advanced tools did not exist during the time of the pious salaf, yet the Islamic scholars of the past had far more knowledge, guidance, and experience in life matters, as well as being better managers and taking more care in what is beneficial to other people and to the society. Nowadays, even though we have all these tools, we are, in status, way below the salaf scholars in all the aforementioned matters. We see nowadays many people have neglected or deviated from the proper belief and the noble manners. This shows that advanced tools and inventions by themselves are not sufficient to elevate the person.

We are not calling to disregard such tools. Rather, we are calling for proper use of such tools, thereby benefitting ourselves and the society. We see today people who are active in using such tools are so engaged in these activities that they do not pay due attention to what is proper in the religion. Whether it is Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, or otherwise, you see people are into such social media sites to the extent that it affects their wellbeing and that of their families. We are witnessing nowadays a generation that looks at things in the world only through the lens of the internet. Most of them use it in ways that are at the least not beneficial, or even harmful. Hence, young men and women would fall victims to the devil and his insinuations. 

The examples are numerous, where you see our youngsters imitate others with low characters in their bad habits. Thus, they end up sinking in ignorance and misguidance, and bringing destruction upon themselves and their surroundings. You see some are occupied so much with sitting in front of their phone screens or computer monitors to the extent that they leave out the obligatory prayer or maintaining the obligatory kindness to parents or relationship with the kins. In addition, they meet some bad company over the internet and start a relationship with them that leads to immorality, where one’s concern would be only to visit sites that show explicit immoral images, videos, and chats. Others are tricked through the internet and they end up losing their money because of blackmailing or because of a forged business deal. There are also the extremists who use the internet to serve their false ideologies, where they misguide others under the claim of Jihad, but the reality is that they are far away from the true Jihad.

Some people get involved in blogs and chat rooms and online challenges where they get affected by bad people who follow their own desires instead of following the religion. They get affected by them to the extent that they leave out the obligations and they may even end up committing blasphemy. We have witnessed how some games became widespread on social media that make the player addicted to playing them to the extent that some lose their minds and others commit suicide. It is witnessed that those who get addicted to the internet and social media, how they neglect their families, and their obligations towards their spouses and children, not to mention the harm that is generated to their physical health because of the long hours of sitting and staying up late through the night staring at the screen. 

Another danger we are witnessing is how some people left out learning the religious knowledge they need and neglected going to the mosques to attend the circles of knowledge. Such people became reliant on the internet to the extent that if they wanted to know about a religious judgement, they would ask Google or other search engines. Furthermore, some people who appear in videos on YouTube or other sites claiming to be Islamic scholars (shaykhs) are truly ignorant people who did not study the religion through authentic sources. Some of these self-claimed scholars belie the Quran and belie the Prophet. Hence, one should not listen to them or rely on them for religious information. What was mentioned is just a small part of the danger of the internet and the social media. We need to guide and train our families, including ourselves, to use such resources in the proper way as needed, and not to waste valuable time of our lives engaged in non-beneficial/harmful activities.

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