Spiritual Pitfalls for the Muslim Blogger


Islam and the Internet Series: IntroPart I | Part IIPart IIIPart IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IV

Blogs are gateways, that grant us access into the interior worlds of other people. They offer us glimpses into people’s experiences, thoughts and feelings, revealing their strongly held opinions and their innermost dreams. The relative ease of blogging, especially with free hosting and user-friendly services, has made it an extremely popular way for many of us to share pieces of our lives and personalities with others on a global scale. Blogs have given a voice to many whose realities would otherwise be unknown to the general public, and we now find an ocean of Muslim writers contributing to the online blogosphere.

While there are many beautiful, beneficial, and positive things we can share with others through our blogs, which can make blogging a spiritually uplifting experience, there are also certain types of writing that can actually be harmful to our spiritual state. Here are six blogging tendencies that may be spiritually detrimental for us, and that we should seek to avoid when we write and post.

1. Cathartic Sharing

We should be wary of using our blogs as outlets for venting negative feelings and frustrations in our lives.  Instead of channeling such feelings into positive avenues, that would bring about benefit for ourselves and others, we may instead feel a false sense of relief or satisfaction in simply ‘letting it all out’. It would be far better for us to make constructive changes in our lives and seek out the proper support, guidance, and advice needed to help address the difficulties we may be experiencing.

Another harm of this type of blogging – especially when writing about situations in which we feels that we have been wronged – is the ease of falling into certain prohibited types of speech, such as speaking ill of others, making accusations, and exposing people’s faults to others’ scrutiny. One may feel that they are simply telling their side or letting the truth be known, however, when one is emotional and feels that they have been oppressed it is difficult to be cautious in one’s speech and it is easy to trample on others’ rights.

Lastly, in lamenting on the personal difficulties we may be going though via blog post, we may be missing out on the opportunity to show a beautiful level of etiquette with Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is he), in not complaining about the Creator to others in creation. Instead of openly venting our negative feelings to others, we can instead turn to Allah (swt) and beseech Him for His help, showing a level of patience, composure and dignity in the face of tribulation, and withholding ourselves from emotional rants or complaints.

2. Arm-Chair Critiquing

Blogs are a means by which we can openly share our opinions on an array of issues, and it is common to find Muslim bloggers discussing their communities, masjids, Islamic organizations and institutions, and other Islamic projects they come into contact with. While it is easy to complain about the wrongs and negatives that one may see in different settings, it is much harder to actually become involved and invested, and work to make things better. We should be cautious of letting our blogs make us into arm-chair critics, who, while other are rolling up their sleeves and doing actual work, sit back as spectators, concerned more with commenting than constructing. We should be wary of becoming isolated from the community, relegating ourselves to the role of observer and pundit rather than actual participant.

3. Using Words as Weapons

We should also be wary of attacking others, individually or as groups, and using words as a way to humiliate and punish. There is nothing wrong with feeling passionate about an issue, and respectfully disagreeing with others; however a passionate expression of ideas is very different from simple emotional ranting. We can find many examples of blog posts in which entire groups of people are targeted and charged with the actions of a few – “Muslim men these days are all irresponsible and immature” – or where complex ideas of Islamic law are emotionally debated and labels are tossed down on whoever disagrees – “That idea/scholar/group is Wahabi/Sufi/etc.” We should use our words to inspire, enlighten and educate, and not to insult or denigrate.  In engaging in this type of rhetoric, we may feel a sense of satisfaction in one-upping the other party. However, the evident harms of such speech – in hurting and discouraging others, and engendering resentment and hatred between people’s hearts – makes it something extremely dangerous. Passion and strong feelings can exist, but must be reigned in by composure, level-headedness, and fear of Allah in the words we write and share.

4. Loving One’s Own Opinion

Another issue we should be cognizant of is a feeling of self-importance that may come from constantly sharing our opinions with others, and latent feelings of arrogance, over-confidence and condescension that may arise from this.  One may begin to write desiring or expecting the admiration of others, seeking to gain their approval, or to be talked about and discussed. This is very harmful to the sincerity of one’s intention, and leads one to a disproportionate perception of the importance of one’s opinions and writings.

In addition, we may begin to feel that we should have a fixed and strong opinion on everything, even those matters about which we are ill informed or unqualified to discuss. The grave seriousness of discussing religious issues may be disregarded in our constant desire to philosophize, debate, and have our opinions be heard. This is in complete contradiction to the tradition of our scholars, who were extremely hesitant to state their opinions on religious issues unless they were confident about their understanding of them. The great 14th century scholar Ibn Rajab al Hanbali1 describes them in the following way:

“The early imams were cautious about speaking about [the lawful and unlawful] because one who speaks about such matters is relating information from Allah, enunciating His commandments and prohibitions, and passing on His sacred law. It was said about Ibn Sirin, ‘If he was asked about something regarding the lawful or the unlawful, his color would change.  He would be transformed until he no longer seemed the same person.’ Ata’ ibn al-Saib said, ‘I met people who, when asked for a religious verdict, would tremble as they spoke.’ It is related that when Imam Malik was asked about a legal matter, it was as if he were suspended between Heaven and Hell. Imam Ahmad was extremely hesitant to speak on the lawful and unlawful, to claim that something was abrogated, or related matters which others would too readily expound. He frequently prefaced his answers with phrases such as, ‘I hope that…’ ‘I fear…’, or ‘It is more beloved to me…’ Imam Malik and others would frequently say, ‘I do not know.’  Imam Ahmad would often say on an issue with which righteous forbears had various opinions, ‘The most likely answer is, ‘I do not know.’’”

5. Excessiveness in Speech

A wise person once said that the more one speaks, the more one is likely to fall into mistakes. Bloggers are often prolific writers, sharing their thoughts on a daily or weekly basis and producing volumes worth of material for others to read. We should make sure that we are not writing simply to fill the page, but with the intention of bringing about some type of benefit. This is a very practical manifestation of the Prophetic tradition which says, “Speak khayr – that which is good and beneficial, or remain silent.”2 In the same vein, we should blog well, or instead keep our thoughts and writings to ourselves.

Another point to consider is that in constantly sharing and writing about religious experiences and knowledge, we may not be giving ourselves enough time to sufficiently absorb and digest what we have learned. While it is commendable to share beneficial knowledge with others, our first consideration when learning should be to understand and implement that knowledge in ourselves and our own lives. We may need time to reflect deeply, ruminate and ‘feel’ what we have learned, moving it from intellectual data to something felt and understood with the heart, and acted upon with our limbs. This is not something that can be easily done if we are constantly in the mode of ‘transferring’ knowledge to others.

6. Sharing that which has No Benefit

The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) would pray for Allah’s refuge from “knowledge that does not benefit.” There are many types of knowledge that exist, the most noble being knowledge of God Most High. There are also types of knowledge or information that bring about harm, or are meaningless and actually do nothing but waste one’s time. Becoming immersed in discussions about these types of knowledge is spiritually harmful, distracting one from more important matters and taking up important spiritual and psychological ‘space’ that should be filled with other, better things. We should avoid trivial or meaningless discussions and debates. We should also be wary of sharing personal matters, that should be kept within the sanctity of one’s family and loved ones, or in some cases, solely between a person and their Lord.  

Conclusion

An Arabic expression states that there are three things that cannot return; a spent arrow, a missed opportunity, and a spoken word. May Allah Most High make us conscious of every word we speak, write, or blog. May He make our words something that we are rewarded for, that draw us closer to Paradise and to His pleasure, and that once expressed, do not become a source of regret. I ask Allah Most High to make our writing and blogging a means of elevating our spiritual state, and to protect us from falling into the prohibited, disliked and detrimental. Ameen.

Conclusion to the Islam & the Internet Series

This series was not intended to be comprehensive, but to explore and highlight some of the major trends and issues related to Muslims and their use of the internet. We pray that it has been a means of encouraging deep-thinking and discussion on these issues, and the start of a higher level discourse about ways we can use the internet in positive ways. May Allah bless you for reading and contributing, and our authors and editors for their contributions. We would like to give special thanks to our guest writers in the series, Sr. Jannah (Da’wah in the Age of iPhones) and Ustadh Sohaib Saeed (The Fiqh of Facebook).


  1. The Heirs of the Prophet by Ibn Rajab al Hanbali, translated by Imam Zaid Shakir
  2. In Riyad as Saliheen and Agreed upon
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21 Comments

  1. Noor says:

    Salam. Would anyone like to share their thoughts on muslimah fashion blogs? I live in a community where our dear sisters are very much involved in fashion industry. And by this I mean they are trying to bring forward muslimah fashion which sometimes do not seem to look very Islamic. I am here to address this question which has been on my mind for quite a while. I have a weekly muslimah gathering with a few friends over the weekend but I do not dare ask this kind of sensitive topics as I am afraid that I would hurt some of us. Kindly share your opinions if you have a suggestion or thoughts regarding this. Thank you. May all of us benefit from these wonderful series.

    • Assalamu Alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu dear sister, I am not any scholar or anything, this is just my thought.
      I personally don’t think the words fashion and Islam go so well together. This is according to the type of fashion I have seen these days. First of all, Islam teaches that women are like pearls, and just how pearls are preserved safely in shells women also should be preserved under the shar’iee hijab, their beauty is only for their husbands, the whole purpose of the hijab is to preserve a woman’s beauty, and keep oneself from attracting other men, and if she started to follow any form of fashion that purpose cannot be fulfilled, for example a new way for hijab these days is to take a very nice decorated hijab and tie it on in such a way that the ear lobes are showing, and this is done especially to show the earrings, also it has become very difficult these days to find a simple delicate abaya, abayas these days have been soooo decorated with so much color, glimmer, and designs, they look more like dresses than abayas. That’s totally not what we are taught, so if some one follows these kinds of fashions, I really don’t think what their doing is appropriate according to Islam. May ALLAH ta’ala give me the tawfeeq to act upon this as well as other sisters in islam. aameen

      • Fatima says:

        Asalaamu alaikum
        I agree with this post about how blogging can have its pitfalls.
        In respect of Islam and fashion, i think it is totally do-able. Attracting attention is subjective. In some communities where Islamic dress is rare, simply wearing a plain hijab will attract lots of attention.
        AS long as dress covers body adequately, is loose-fitting and hijab does not show earlobes or neck, Islamic fashion is inspiring to Muslimahs seeking to cover properly in a way that appeals to them. Yes, there are some “islamic” fashion which does not cover properly but it doesn;t mean it cannot work.
        And fashion does not mean sticking to todays trends. Fashion is an art, and even the plain black abaya is a style and part of fashion.

  2. Quick Question says:

    You mentioned in the beginning of one of the paragraphs:

    “A wise person once said that the more one speaks, the more one is likely to fall into mistakes.”

    Was that wise person Umar (R)? I’m not sure where but i’ve heard that he said that. And also, does it go on to say “the hell fire takes precedence over such people” or something to that effect? Just curious.

    • Shazia says:

      as salaamu alaykum,

      Actually I heard this stated by Sh. Mokhtar Maghraoui, but it very well may have been originally from Umar (radiAllahu anh).

      If anyone knows anything more about this statement, please do share.

      salaam,
      shazia

      • Jawad says:

        Wa `alaykum as-salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

        Excellent series, maa shaa’ Allah.

        As for the statement, perhaps the Shaykh (حفظه الله وإياكِ) got it from an athar of `Umar (رضي الله عنه)

        من كثر كلامه، كثر سقطه، ومن كثر سقطه، كثرت ذنوبه، ومن كثرت ذنوبه كانت النار أولى به

        This was reported by ibn Hibban in “Rawdat al-`Uqalaa” and at-Tabarani in “Al-Awsat”. May Allah have mercy upon them.

        This, I believe, is what the brother/sister was referring to.

        Some have reported this as a hadeeth of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) narrated by ibn `Umar (رضي الله عنهما), but it seems what is most correct is that it is a statement of `Umar (رضي الله عنه)

        And Allah knows best..

  3. Zaufishan says:

    A spiritual connection online. Who’da thought our Islam would become electrical? MashaAllah.

    May we learn to understand more and control our “me-ness”.

    Excellent piece sister Shazia, excellent.

  4. Dawud Israel says:

    I liken it to a fruit. The peel is the angsty, emotional cathartic and useless distracting type of writing, but once the blogger has exhausted that and looked at all he has written and realized it was crap and worthless, then they dig deeper until they reach the juicy stuff, the “lubb” and really develop their writing. Some people have a thicker outside peel and some will never have good writing, but they still try, may Allah bless em. The best writers read the most so that is a great way of polishing your writing.

  5. samk says:

    Alhamdulilah a very good article and very informative…Jazakallah

  6. Amad says:

    Salam
    Mashallah, well done.

  7. Muslema says:

    This was an awesome series– and Jzk Sis. Shazia for such a relevant piece to end with. May Allah allow us to benefit from the gems shared with us and forgive our shortcomings!

  8. Ummu 'Aisyah says:

    A very good reminder for us Muslim bloggers. Thank you very much, may Allah bless your effort. I am sharing this in my blog, don’t worry I’ll credit you.

  9. Um e abdullah says:

    Assalam alaikum and Jazakillah khair sister, I have just started blogging and found this really helpful alhamdulillah, i thought i wud save it and read it once in a while as a reminder as we tend to forget, may we all have the ability to act upon it too, ameen. You can find my blog at
    http://thewritebrew.blogspot.com

  10. Asma says:

    Asalaam o alaikum,
    Very nicely written but if one looks at the total outcome, it is:
    Dont write till you have experienced or practiced the ilm to perfection.
    Dont critique the mosque going people’s behavior
    Dont express your feelings about an event or happening or idea
    Taken one by one in isolation these are all commendable ideas, but taken collectively they mean that no muslim should blog because no one fits the perfection that is needed.
    Thus the blogs will be left to the atheists, virulent evangelists and naysayers to Islam who will quote Quran and Sunnah on the internet and give their voluminous and distorted opinions while all of Islamic ilm will stay wrapped in Arabic, never to be taken out and aired for those who dont know Arabic.
    Does that sound appealing or will it fulfill the last message of Our Prophet pbuh who said, and I paraphrase: “no prophet will come after me and you and the future muslims will have to spread the word”
    How does one spread the word if one sits on it forever?
    Respectfully,
    A

    • Shazia Ahmad says:

      as salaamu alaykum Sr. Asma,

      Jazaki Allahu khayran for your excellent question and your honesty in commenting. I understand your point – however, please note that nowhere in the article did I say that one would have to practice what they learned perfectly before conveying it to others, or that they should never under any circumstances comment on events, organizations and so on. My point was cautioning against doing this commenting or blogging *at the expense* of other things — for example, conveying knowledge without really seeking to absorb it oneself, or critiquing groups and institutions without actually getting involved with them or seeking to improve them in real life, or discussing ideas when one has no training or background to do so in a qualified way. It is this imbalance, which can leads to extremes, that is not healthy for us and what I was trying to highlight in this piece.

      I definitely think that people should contribute positively through their writings and blogs (I have one myself, and posted this article itself on Imam Suhaib’s blog!), especially if doing so would help counter those who speak against Islam. However, in the same ways we should be cautious about what we say when we speak to others in person, especially in a public setting, so too should we be cautious about what we write, post and blog online, and make sure that what we are writing is beneficial for ourselves and for others. Seeing as there is an ocean of voices on the net now, speaking on behalf of Muslims and Islam, I think we need to work on quality and bringing excellence to our writing, rather than worry about quantity.

      Allah knows best. Jazaki Allahu khayran for sharing your thoughts and I hope that I answered your query.

      salaam,
      Shazia

  11. shiney says:

    JZK for writing this! I actually had to take down one of my posts because it violated one of the above-mentioned points lol! Thank you for teaching me how to blog islamified!

  12. Salaam sister, I understand where you’re coming from but I have to say I respectfully disagree with what you consider to be “harmful” or a “spiritual pitfall” when it comes to blogging.

    Blogging is not the same as having a personal conversation, making a speech, giving a lecture, or writing an article in a newspaper/newsletter. For example, you are allowed a degree of anonymity which can have its advantages.

    It can be very empowering and spiritually uplifting to know that other people have gone through some of your personal experiences that you wouldn’t be able to share with even close family/friends, such as painful or pride-insulting moments in life. It gives you the opportunity to learn from someone else’s mistake or be able to reflect on the experience in a way that you weren’t able to when you yourself were going through it. There were times in my life when I really needed someone to tell me “this doesn’t mean you’re going to hell” or “it’s never too late to repent”, but how could that be if I couldn’t even talk to anyone?

    I think one of the problems facing our younger generation is that there are a lot of life experiences we can’t talk about and so we’re forced to deal with them on our own. Blogging can serve as the happy medium.

  13. JazakAllah khair for the reminder, the advice, and most importantly, reality check.

  14. Naseema says:

    Thank you for this article. Can I say that a year on Facebook made me meet a friend who showed her knowledge on the Quran. But on meeting her in person I realised she is not what she portrayed to be. She does not believe in the Sunnah and indirectly I sinned many sins as a result and have seeked Allah (swt)’s forgiveness. It has made me realise that the devil was the third person even between friends on Facebook. As much as I have asked for Allah’s forgiveness I have asked Allah to pardon this friend as well and show her the right path…for loving and believing in Allah means believing in the Quran; the messengers and Prophet Muhammed (p.b.u.h) and his Sunnah. Allah guide us all when using these virtual media.

  15. hamidah says:

    May Allah guide us all

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