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Facebook Foolish or Cyber-Gheebat?

Facebook has a tendency to change a lot of views, shape a lot of opinions, and make apparent what people otherwise do not reveal. But is it Gheebat when you find out something negative about one user through another, either from their photos, wall posts or comments? Or is the onus on each individual user for what they post, publish, or upload?

Is it possible not to do Gheebat and still have an active Facebook presence? Is it that tempting? Scrolling through hundreds of pictures, thousands of wall posts, and – who can forget – the tests, quizzes, and personality profiles.

“Didn’t she used to do Hijab? Is that his girlfriend? So many swear words! Favorite song? Attending dance lessons?”

Facebook has a tendency to change a lot of views, shape a lot of opinions, and make apparent what people otherwise do not reveal. But is it Gheebat when you find out something negative about one user through another, either from their photos, wall posts or comments? Or is the onus on each individual user for what they post, publish, or upload?

“But I have privacy settings, and so does everyone on my friends list, so what is the problem?”

Simply walking around the computer labs in school or around the office can change some opinions. Along with an open Word document, an Excel spreadsheet and a Google search page, is also MSN Messenger, Twitter, and Facebook, the third most visited website in the world, open to all passers-by and curious colleagues.

Apart from the profiles, pictures, and groups, events show off their popularity with photos of all the latest activities and attendees. And applications and the like only add to the amount of unnecessary and sometimes damaging personal information available to viewers. There is much to be wary of.

Users, however, are not the only ones scrutinizing Facebook. Privacy advocates for Washington and the European Commission have also expressed concerns. But they have different reasons. They want to protect personal consumer information from marketers and advertisers, which until recently Facebook had said was its own property.

Privacy issues aside, many users feel Facebook feels a lot like stalking; prying into people’s conversation, skimming though their photos, and ritually reading their status updates that often reveal clandestine thoughts. In this, Facebook succeeds in creating a private environment in a public setting. By giving users great privacy options but also letting them network and socialize with others, Facebook bypasses security concerns.

“I don’t like Facebook, it feels like involuntary Gheebat.”

Why should it? If someone posts pictures or comments that don’t conform to your opinion of them, why should it make a difference and why would it be like Gheebat? Such a person most likely would not be concerned about others’ perceptions; otherwise, they would not do such a thing.

Verse 19 of Sura Noor says, “Surely (as for) those who love that scandal should circulate respecting those who believe, they shall have a grievous chastisement in this world and the hereafter.” Sura Humazah, Hujuraat, and Nisa also reiterate this point.

According to Islamic definition of Gheebat, when one makes something known, it is not a sin to share that information with others; however, it is best to side with caution and conceal others’ faults just as one would expect from others. According to Ayatollah Dastghaib Shirazi’s Greater Sins, “Gheebat is allowed only in the case of a person who has himself announced his sins openly. But if he presents an excuse for this action, his Gheebat is not allowed.” Taking into account that listening to Gheebat is also prohibited, investigating others’ activities with ill intentions could very well be forbidden.

About Zaib Abbas

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  • ~55

    This is a very interesting topic… I think it needs a more in depth study. You have brought up a very good point. Unfortunately the article is open ended. Inshallah there will be a follow up. Good work…

  • khadija

    there should have been a clear end to this topic …but it has infact been left to the readers to decide on their own…but also as said earlier this subject needs deeper study..
    because ive seen a couple of aur Molanas on Facebook…so it can be good if used in the right way and be a responsible user.

  • brother mohamed

    Mashallah, very wonderful topic to talk about . on chat some people fall into it without knowing..;.thx

  • ANON.

    This piece of writing is in response to the article “Facebook Foolish or Cyber-Gheebat?” published on ABNA.ir. (http://abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&id=166238) The author there claims that facebook is propagating the sin of gheebat amongst the people by granting easy access to other people’s friends, pictures, video’s and personal affairs altogether.

    I believe that the writer has undergone a massive generalization by directly linking gheebat and facebooking. Religion broadly, is a belief system, whereby you believe in a school of thought and therefore abide by the teachings of that school of thought. So let’s say if someone is a Shiite than he or she would abide by the teachings of Muhammad (p.b.u.h) and aal-e-Muhammad. Now if aal-e-muhammad taught that people should not indulge in gheebat, then the true followers of aal-e-muhammad “would not” indulge in gheebat, whether they are on facebook or not.

    Having a facebook account and keeping in touch with one’s friends, relatives and co workers doesn’t mean by any chance that the person is indulging in “an involutanary gheebat” as assumed in the ABNA.ir article.

    Cutting off from a mass of nearly 200 million people from across the globe just because we do not have sufficient control on our nafas (in order to abstain from gheebat) is deemed unwise. Islam does not propagate cutting off from the world and sitting alone in the corner so that one may not commit any sins. Instead one should stand shoulder to shoulder with other people around the world and sideline from ‘the forbidden’ on a personal level. We cannot go about unsubscribing ourselves from Facebook, twitter, or any other social media just because being with other people and reading their information will push our need to commit the sin of gheebat and we may not be able to control our desire.

    Hence I would like to propose the idea that it is better to polish your Imaan and strengthen you own nafas and self control, rather than blaming social media, internet, and any other external factor, for that matter.

  • SH

    I agree with the above comment, particularly:

    “Hence I would like to propose the idea that it is better to polish your Imaan and strengthen you own nafas and self control, rather than blaming social media, internet, and any other external factor, for that matter. “

  • fahtme

    That is very true…but in the end this leads to that,….and that leads to this…
    facebook/ wastebook…all the same, ppl spend too much time on it when they could be doing much more efficent things