“You Down with OMC?”


"Most people will lose out on two blessings, free time and health."

One finds a number of qualities in Online Muslim Culture (OMC) that need address and reform.  Such qualities are not only disturbing due to their lack of agreement with Islamic norms and values,  but also contribute to the creation of a destructive and unhealthy online culture. It is not odd to encounter in popular Online Muslim Culture (OMC) attitudes and forms of communication which not only take on the air of authority, they also destroy the possibility of dialogue.  Therefore, we find the opportunity of healthy brotherly and intellectual interaction on the internet to be rare among differing parties.

The cause of this state of affairs in virtual reality is attitudes which preclude real communication from taking root online.  It is these very attitudes which stand as obstacles to unity and reform in the “real world.”

Arrogance and intolerance are dominate in Muslim discourse online and few seem to want to eliminate these bad characteristics of the “evil commanding self”. These two qualities evade submitting to the ethics of disagreement nor do they allow for a space in which to differ, given that he who is labeled as enemy is never recognized as worthy to be given a chance to clarify himself in the world of on line statements taken out of context and sound bytes. In fact, one finds that when an opposing position is taken on a matter, an army of bloggers come not to converse and understand, but they charge forward to destroy the one who opposes the status quo. Never are reasons requested for a differing position, never is clarification asked for on an obscure point that may have more than one version and never is charity, the virtue that guides relating to the other, the dominant quality except for rare occasions.

Rather intolerance and arrogance are the two qualities which dominate interaction. We also find the tendency in OMC for individuals to destroy others by neglecting the content of what is said and the substance of a position. This indicates an attitude that refuses to understand, a position which is not charitable and is content with being petty rather than scholarly.

Online Muslim Culture (OMC) is infected by arrogance and intolerance. For all the talks on Islam and quotes online we have failed to embody the reality of Islam online and have demonstrated to the world instead the reality of our souls. This reality alone is proof enough of just how widespread illiteracy and ignorance are in our community;  how they dominate the behavior of the Ummah and have come to be as semi-permanent qualities of our social interaction if not selves. An important question must be asked at this juncture, “what is the exit strategy from this dark world of corrosion” of Islam online where Islam is mentioned so much but practiced so rarely and which in little reasonable discussion is to be found?

Abul-Hussein

AstagfirUllah Li Dhanbi

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11 Comments

  1. K says:

    Salama Alaikum

    poignant description of OMC. I would add that it is the anonymity of the online atmosphere that gives people an elusive boldness to be more crass in their online persona, than offline.

    Astagfirullah

  2. Mari says:

    Jazak! I could not agree more. One thing related to this that I experienced with the OMC is that as Muslims (more so sisters) we do not know how to agree to disagree. Often times petty immature things are taken out of context on these social networking sites like FB and Myspace.Now that I have taken myself off of them I truly feel that they are a big source of fitna in trying to form sisterhood…
    as always thanks for the great post

  3. This is a phenomenon that is not just limited to the Muslim community.

    We find in blogs and forums all over the internet people who post comments and make discussions that they would never dream of doing in person.

    Cursing, arrogance, open displays of hatred (including down right racism), some of the negative aspects that we have come to face with the dawn of the internet age, all have come about as a result of this barrier that stops people from having to face any physical repercussions.

    There was an instance at my university where a student was anonymously making stupid and incessant comments on a university discussion site. Then somebody posted a photo of him online, when people recognised him he was chased around and almost beaten. Suffice to say, after that he stopped posting on the site. I don't agree with police forces that 'promote virtue and prevent vice', but maybe we should have one for the internet?

  4. SaqibSaab says:

    JAK for recognizing this. One example can be how often Muslims backbite about others online. Even if they try to hide behind the fact that it's public, before the person (usually a scholar) reads it, it's already backbiting. And even if the person reads it, it's still not benefiting of a Muslim to run their mouths like that.

    May Allah protect us.

  5. Zakir says:

    Salam,

    You are so right Imam Yusuf. We are presenting Islam through OMC in such a way- that it will distance non-muslims even more.

  6. Abdulmalik says:

    Aslaamu alaykum
    Is Imam Yusuf Rios al-Maliki and Abul-Hussein the same person?

  7. ebarek says:

    Salam Alikum Brother Abul-Hussein,

    Maybe it would be nice to get all interesting, intellectual Islamic Online Website to gather under a common umbrella as to build up a strong Muslim Community and allow the users to easily identitythose websites.

    Salam Alikum WR WB

    Mb

  8. ebarek says:

    Salam Alikum Brother Abul-Hussein,

    Maybe it would be nice to get all interesting, intellectual Islamic Online Website to gather under a common umbrella as to build up a strong Muslim Community and allow the users to easily identitythose websites.

    Salam Alikum WR WB

    Mb

  9. Nadeem Gulam says:

    yes, it confused me too.

  10. student says:

    I think most of the problems arise in the comments (and probably in the emails that are sent to bloggers), so some exit-strategy ideas:

    - Eliminate comments entirely, or on some posts. This seems drastic, yes. But comments are not fard.
    - Force commenters to subscribe (I thought that was being implemented with Disqus?) and eliminate the rabble-rousers and repeat offenders.
    - Set stricter parameters on the content of comments and weed out repeat offenders.

    There must be more, but understandably it is difficult. Especially because the Muslim e-Ummah is as diverse as the real Ummah, and so inevitably people will be offended by each other's views. There should be room for conversation and challenging opinions, but it must be done in a civil manner.

    Maybe someone should write a brief manual on the Islamic etiquette of blogging? :D

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