Confronting Rumors


Tanveer Zahaque

With the advent of the powerful social media tools there has been a surge in rumor-mongering. Rumor-mongering has become a serious business. Irresponsible media have added fuel to the fire in spreading rumors.

Communal riots of Muzzaffarnagar in India in the year-2013 which displaced 40,000 Muslims as refugees was blamed on a WhatsApp video which enticed the majority community to carry out the riots.

Continuous efforts are carried out to create chaos and division in the Muslim lands. The flames of false news and vile propaganda have engulfed clean and unbiased minds.

Even a mature and wise individual finds it challenging to distinguish between the truth and the falsehood. In fact, Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) foretold the sequel of trials and that will befall the Muslim community after his departure.

Rumor-mongers did exist in his time. Islamic texts and the lessons from the life of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) speak volumes of how to tackle ungrounded rumors.

Knowledge: Knowledge of authentic Islamic texts protects an individual from all sorts of chaos, be it in his personal life or societal life.

In fact, Allah praised those who possess knowledge.

“Only those fear Allah, from among His servants, who have knowledge.” (Qur’an 35:28)

“Allâh will raise those of you who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees. And Allah is aware of what you do.” (Qur’an 58:11)

“Say: ‘Are those who know equal to those who do not know?’ Only they will remember [who are] people of understanding.” (Qur’an 39:9)

A scholar gauges a calamity before it commences and a person of little knowledge realizes it later.

Ignorance is impetus to calamities and knowledge is the elixir.

Verify the news that reaches you and return it to the experts:

Among our worst habits is to forward every news that reaches us. Most of us hardly verify it or even try to authenticate it.

If we were to follow the following the instructions in the following verse of the Holy Qur’an, a lot of troubles would be ceased.

“And when there comes to them information about [public] security or fear, they spread it around. But if they had referred it back to the Messenger or to those of authority among them, then the ones who [can] draw correct conclusions from it would have known about it. And if not for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy, you would have followed Satan, except for a few.” (Qur’an 4:83).

It is as clear as day from the Qur’an that every rumor or news that reaches us should be referred back to those who have knowledge and the experts who draw proper conclusions, in order to protect yourself from slipping into the rumor-mongering.

In the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the rumor that the Prophet (peace be upon him) divorced all his wives spread like wild fire in Madinah. The Prophet’s companions assembled in the Prophet’s Mosque; they were worried and were talking about this drastic step. Many people took part in this talk, but Omar ibn Al-Khattab did not. Omar ibn Al-Khattab laid a great example for us to follow, by insisting to directly question Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) about the news and to clarify the issue and publicly refute the rumors.

People have caused a great mayhem due to their attitude of spreading and sharing all news that reaches them.

Beware of being overly enthusiastic. Act judiciously and patiently:

Thousands of youth fall prey to radical organizations and their ideologies due to their overly enthusiastic attitude, and some of them eventually joined terrorist organizations.

Had they taken care with wisdom, patience, forbearance, they would have remained a great asset to the community, and many lives would have been spared.

‘Better to be safe than sorry’ comes vivid in reacting calmly to rumors.

Sahih Muslim mentions an incident of a delegation that visited Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) from Bahrain. Moved by their over-enthusiasm and anticipation to meet the Prophet all the visitors jumped off their horses and rushed to the Prophet.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) observed their leader who acted calmly by tying up all the camels and arranging their luggage. Later, he showered, changed his clothes, wore perfume, came to the Masjid, prayed in the Masjid, and eventually greeted the Prophet.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to the leader, “You have two qualities which Allah loves and His Messenger loves; forbearance and patience.”

Being judicious and patient are the traits loved by Allah and He bestows them upon whom He wishes.

The lack of patience and an overly zealous nature have caused us to react to every single piece of news and rumor.

Staying in touch with moderate scholars:

The scholars who teach the Islamic texts, narrate to you the traditions and sayings of the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) and interpret the religion as interpreted by the righteous companions are upon moderation. Those who speak out their own personal opinions and provoke youth and spread radical views are not to be followed.

Righteous scholars are like stars. The way stars guide the travelers to the correct destination, so do the scholars. The way stars beautify the sky, so do the existence of scholars among us. The way shooting stars strike the devils, scholars strike the devils who spread corruption and promote anarchy and terrorism.

In conclusion, I say, as a Muslim we have to equip ourselves with divine knowledge, rightful behavior, truth and moderation, patience and forbearance; and to nurture the nature of verification, authentication, and analyzing. One must avoid being susceptible to fall prey to any kind of propaganda, rumor-mongering, and chaos.

With this we can set up a just, moderate, and balanced society where rumor-mongers cannot harm the peace and wellbeing of our communities.