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January 23rd, 2015

Forwarding e-mails about “Islam in danger”

Frequently we receive an e-mail forwarded by some friend, who was forwarded it by some friend, who in turn was forwarded it by someone else, and so on and on, warning about some latest danger or plan against Islam and Muslims, and we are asked to forward it further to all our contacts and take this or that action. But the Quran says:

"But if any news of security or fear comes to them, they spread it about. And if they had referred it to the Messenger and to those in authority among them, those of them who can search out knowledge of it would have known it. And if it were not for the grace of Allah upon you and His mercy, you would certainly have followed the devil except a few." (4:83)

So the Quran gave us teachings about such situations 1400 years ago: Don't forward it because your friend or the e-mail says so. If you want to do anything, investigate its authenticity.

The Quran says Muslims should "believe and do good". One may say, as a joke, that "belief" to today's Muslims means believing in any e-mail forwarded by a friend. And what is a good deed (amal salih)? It is of course to forward the e-mail to all your contacts!

One Response to “Forwarding e-mails about “Islam in danger””

  1. The principle outlined in the verse above (4:83) is to obligatorily verify the information before it is spread around as a fact. We see this standard at work in the life of the Prophet:

    Once at Medina, there was an alarm during the night that a party of the enemy was going to make a night-time attack. Men woke up and armed themselves in a hurry and rushed towards the danger-spot. Shortly, they saw a lone rider approaching them in the darkness, and they prepared to confront him. However, when the rider came nearer, they found to their surprise that it was the Holy Prophet Muhammad himself. On hearing the alarm, he had jumped on the bare back of a horse and ridden off in the darkness to reconnoitre. He soon reassured his people that there was no cause for alarm and everything was all right. (link)

    This example not only tells us of a fearless leader, but a leader who verified a rumor and expunged it rather than spread it.