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Opinion 16-Jan-2020

The Internet for Modern Muslim

Hussein Al-Bahir

Sometimes when observing the landscape around, one could compare himself to a near-lying mountain and marvel at how insignificant he really is in comparison – and stand in awe at its  enormous power, shaped beautifully by the picturesque outline.

Some time later, the he may look at the same mountain and notice nothing but a lifeless rock, holding to him little meaning or value, obstructing only the path for roads and preventing passage to the other side where a neighbouring city lies. Thus such a view is a question of perspective of the same person, who, affected perhaps by the troubles of a hard day at work, doesn’t see anymore the majestic mountain, but only a nettlesome obstacle to his travel.

In the same way, from a perspective of a devoted Muslim, one could begin to view the internet. Not in the sense of it occurring to be subjectively better on some days than others, but rather in the sense of the perspective one could undertake when engaging with such an impressive source of power.

The internet happens to be the largest agglomeration of worldwide knowledge and information which moreover, is in continuous expansion. A larger library has hitherto never existed and it is hard to imagine that something in the domain will ever be able to surpass such an omnipresent, ever-growing force.

On the other hand, one could also assimilate, to a certain extent, the internet to a variant of the observable world. Nowadays, more than half of the population has access to the internet, meaning that it is nearly a 4,5 billion people forum where every individual can freely express their ideas, post their research and share information in any other manner.

With such a large amount of users, one can say with certainty that there exists a proportion of every type of person, and each may bring forth their subjectively positive or negative contribution.

Back when we were young, our parents would tell us not to talk to nor follow strangers. Once we grew up, we understood that the reason for this is that you can never know the intentions of such people and consequently, if you are not able to consciously deal with and adapt to the situation, it is safest not to involve yourself. Likewise with the Internet, there are many people who’s intentions might be questionable.

Nevertheless, this is not the main issue as over time, we have grown to be able to distinguish those who we want to avoid and those who we might want to communicate with. The problem arises in the following.

When browsing the web, we seemingly choose what we search for, however we don’t always chose what we might find.

The different types of companies, associations or individuals found online might not directly communicate to us, but the information that they have put up can potentially crawl its way into our search engine and tarnish the minds of individuals, young and old, straying them from the righteous path.

Of this, one might think: ‘well, I am an adult, and I know what is good for me, and what Allah thinks is right’.

This might indeed be the case, however when you browser, a certain amount of information is gathered from you, depending on the browser, the media platform etc. and as an outcome, some of the information that is shown can be adapted to each and every individual.

Therefore an opportunity presents itself for the propagation of hidden and various propaganda such as ads, or its other forms, which can prove to be malicious on the long term as certain ideas that are promoted by similar sources can subconsciously become our own without us even realising it.

To answer the question on whether the internet is a friend for the modern Muslim, indeed, it can be the greatest of companions in all the necessary activities for an individual of the XXI century, notably education, spiritual path, work and eventually leisure.

What remains of utmost importance to consider are the tools we use when engaging with worldwide knowledge, namely the choice of our browser, the media involved and the underlying ideologies. If we can actively consider all of this and apply it to our online experience, undoubtedly we can thrive and benefit from an all-knowing companion to assist us in the magnificent journey of life.

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