Insulting people who are in the public eye

Social Media
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The increasing popularity of social media platforms has brought rise to social media influencers being victimised and openly insulted for the way they choose to live their lives. Of course, there is no doubt that putting themselves on a social media platform does inevitably make them role models, as whether they like it or not, people are influenced by them. However, this does not at all mean that people are therefore allowed to insult them openly on their platforms with hurtful words.

This is not what our religion teaches us. We read in the Holy Qur’an that we should be kind and sincere when advising people. We read:

“Call [people] to the path of your Lord with wisdom and good teaching.” (Qur’an 16:125)

The hateful words of others may push social media influencers who are Muslim away from their faith. This does happen and it is very unfortunate. Yes, we may say that influencers should not listen to others and that anything they decide to do with regards to their faith should only be for Allah, but this does not mean that they do not have feelings or get affected by what is said to them – especially when this happens in public for everyone to see. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:

“[For] whoever pursues the shortcomings of people, Allah will pursue theirs.” (Tirmidhi)

Muslim female social media influencers who wear a head-covering have been subjected to comments that criticise the precise way in which they have chosen to wear the scarf. People who follow a certain way of wearing the head-covering take it upon themselves to criticise those who wear it a different way.

Influencers have expressed that as they are in the public eye and more likely to be judged, deciding not to wear a head-covering is the easier option, in order to avoid insults and criticism. They have been told by anonymous viewers that they may as well not wear any kind of head-covering at all if they are not going to wear it ‘properly’. We must remind ourselves of the seriousness of these kinds of comments.

Consider the case of someone who has openly expressed, for whatever reason, that they struggle to wake up to pray Fajr so they often miss that prayer, but they pray the other four prayers. Can we imagine how detrimental it would be if someone then told them that if they don’t pray Fajr, they may as well not pray at all? We must remember the etiquettes of advice in Islam. We must be very cautious and remember that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) told us to be kind and gentle. He said in hadith:

“Kindness is not to be found in anything but that it adds to its beauty, and it is not withdrawn from anything but it makes it defective.” (Muslim)

Everyone does not sin in the same way – we all make mistakes. Even if we do believe that someone is following Islam in a different way to us, why do we not remember that ultimately Allah is the only One who is knowing of all things? Why are we preoccupied with the actions of others, forgetting about our own sins and repentance? We must remember what we read in the Holy Qur’an:

“Do you order righteousness of the people and forget yourselves while you recite the Scripture? Then will you not reason?” (Qur’an 2:44)