Muslim blogosphere: Earth is flat, music is haram, dolls should have their eyes gouged out

Overview of Muslim groups in social networks made by a journalist Aysha-Galina Babich

Muslim blogosphere: Earth is flat, music is haram, dolls should have their eyes gouged out Photo: facebook.com

Rapid development of social networks is accompanied by a growth of various publics on them. Communities on Facebook and Vkontakte, where followers of Islam ''live'', are no exception. A Muslim journalist Aysha-Galina Babich, having examined groups created for believers, gives the overview in the newspaper column written for Realnoe Vremya. The columnist cites curious examples that can often be found online.

Entertaining publics

Where to go for Islam when websites are old-fashioned and books are heavy, coffee houses relax, and friends laugh at you? Of course, to social networks. Turn on iPhone and join a group in Vkontakte or WhatsApp, and age-old wisdom, fragments of thoughts, books, and treatises are already pouring on you. Only rough voice of ''those who know the truth'' disrupts this harmony and beauty.

Modern Muslim communities in social networks can be divided into four categories. Some of them, they are the majority, are entertaining, giving tons of beautiful images daily, often with questionable inscriptions, various hadiths (quotes of the prophet Muhammad — editor's note), some of which may be irrelevant to the hadiths, and sayings of famous people who are also unlikely to be aware what is attributed to them on modern Internet.

Young people love these posts for possibility to repost a beautiful status, and from such statuses, as we know, people today make their online identity and send their simple message in the network space.

Where to go for Islam when websites are old-fashioned and books are heavy? Photo: Maksim Platonov

Flat Earth around which the Sun rotates

A second type of publics — for those who wish to gain knowledge and are not limited to virtual libraries and online courses. This knowledge is always specific, referring to a certain ''manhaj'' (methodology, clarification of certain concepts — editor's note). They publish summaries of books, give lessons, video lectures on a particular topic. All materials of these groups are translations from Arabic, and these translations are usually of poor quality, containing many errors. But it does not bother readers, most of whom never come to mind to compare the translation with the original, since there is no knowledge of the Arabic language, no the original at hand.

Another danger hidden in these publics — publication of inaccurate information, fakes. So, a famous case with ''fatwas'' of famous Muslim scholars Ibn Baz and Uthaymeen that the Earth is flat and the Sun rotates around the Earth. Despite the fact that we already have the refutation of those scientists, there are still Muslims who spread the ''fatwa'' and argue with those who disagree, trying to bring in evidence ayahs from the Koran and insisting that the great scientists can't be wrong, so the Earth is really flat.

In one of such groups there recently have appeared the information that Muslim scientists have determined the maximum term of stay of a child in the womb as the period of 4 years. Dissenters were immediately banned – it is no good to challenge the views of such luminaries of Islam such as Imam Shafiya and Ibn Sina because the pregnancy of 4 years is mentioned in a number of Muslim writings, the names of which no one can translate.

Information in such ''educational publics'' is always given in ultimate way: you won't find references to alternative opinions, background, evidence of a debate on a particular issue in the environment of Muslim scholars from different eras. There will prevail an abstract ''opinion of an absolute majority'' not subject to critical analysis and not giving space for interpretation. The administrators of these groups believe that you have already established in the intention to follow specific scientists, a list of which is attached. If you have doubts — you have no place in this company.

Turn on iPhone and join a group Vkontakte or on WhatsApp — and age-old wisdom, fragments of thoughts, books, and treatises are already pouring on you… Photo: islam-today.ru

Debunkers

A third type of the publics is devoted to denials of everything. Here it is possible to significantly enrich your vocabulary, to learn many offensive epithets and terminology, which are used to address to the dissenter.

Entire coalitions are created, for example, around popular imams. Their statements are a reason to write different kinds of incriminating texts, expressions of outrage and calls for immediate distribution of information about their ''dangerous delusions''. To save the naive Ummah from ''modificators'', ''ignoramuses'' and ''provocateurs'' — it is the meaning and purpose of the existence of such groups. ''Blame blameworthy, even if it's your close friend'' is the main principle of this method of ''call''. These groups do not contain any valuable information, and their typical rhetoric often reveals in the authors lack of decent education and upbringing.

Most of the issues that concern contemporary Muslims and giving at various Muslim groups and websites relate to the practice of Islam and the desire to avoid sin. Photo: islamreview.ru

Enlightenment: people without heads, gouged out eyes of a doll and haram poetry

Finally, a fourth category of publics is the place for communication, where people of different ages and sometimes different views discuss a common theme or just for leisure. It combines all features of the publics: images, quotes from books, someone's misconceptions, questions about Islam, discussion of family problems, desire to adopt Islam… But the main task of this community is to answer the questions based on the Koran, Sunnah and the opinions of scholars. Unfortunately, nobody has been able to cope with these tasks so far.

Most of the issues that concern contemporary Muslims and giving at various Muslim groups and websites relate to the practice of Islam and the desire to avoid sin, to follow the rules to get the maximum benefit from their actions and deeds, to solve the problem, based on the Islamic approach. However, the answers given in these groups to people sometimes even having some enlightenment in the field of fiqh (Islamic law — editor's note) mostly demonstrate an extreme narrow-mindedness and narrow-mindedness of thinking, and the scale of progressive ignorance is truly astounding.

To household and not related to religion questions one can get definite recommendations, rejecting any variation. The hijab is a dark, preferably black, abaya, covering the woman from the top of the head and down below the foot, the rest is a sin. Kindergartens and schools are nurseries of unbelief, to give your children there is a sin. Poetry is haram, literature is haram, songs, music, theatre, circus — all is haram. Any image, from photos and videos to smileys on the Internet, is a sin, draw people without heads, teach your children to tear an animal toy's head off and to gouge dolls' eyes… It's not ''exaggerated'', taken out of context, not far-fetched facts but verbatim quotes of adults, ''receiving knowledge''. These people decided on the authorities in the religion and consider as their duty to educate fellow believers using available methods: by hammering in the head, insults, threats. They appear in groups out of nowhere or, alternatively, settle there on a permanent basis, giving their ''recommendations'' on any issue, incurring any dialogue and 'blaming blameworthy'' in every seen comments.

Search for ''true Islam'' is the search of yourself, and it can take us a lifetime. Photo: Maksim Platonov

These people are a good working machine for desecration of the image of Islam and Muslims, the destruction of common sense. You might think that they are young and full of energy that cannot be pacified and redirected in the direction of creation. That it's hard for them to cope with all the flow of information, which they imbibe in their favourite ''incriminating'' groups. That someone severe and significant stands over them with a demand to spread on the Internet known only to them ''the truth''. That they are just toys in the hands of those who fill the information space with questionable articles, illiterate ''fatwas'' brought to absurd dogmas.

Unfortunately, there are no invented on the Internet such ''filters'' to weed out the intellectual dross. Only our logical thinking acts as a natural filter, our ability to analyze information, objectification, and generalization. Islam is a religion for thinking people. No Muslim group in the social networks cannot decide for us and to ''solve problems'', no matter how much those wants who turn to the Internet in search of a ''magic pill''. Search for ''true Islam'' is the search of yourself, and it can take us a lifetime.

By Aysha-Galina Babich
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