O you have true faith! If a mischief maker brings you any news (concerning another person) then ascertain its truthfulness carefully (before you spread it) lest you harm people through (your own) ignorance and afterwards regret what you have done. (Qur’an 49:6)
The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) observes with dismay the spate of recklessness in fabrication and circulation of falsehood through the social media. These days a lot of unconfirmed messages, too numerous to mention, are being circulated around the unsuspecting citizens of Nigeria. One of such messages is recently targeted at the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC). The message tends to incite the Muslims against an alleged move by some staff of the Commission to blow the population of Christians out of proportion by replacing Islam with Christianity in the registration platform.
NSCIA has received several agitations across the country based on the allegation. People did not care to ask how such organized shortchanging would be possible where there are fair numbers of Muslims in the Commission, including the Director General, Engr. AliyuAzeez. In accordance with the Qur’anic injunction on the confirmation of the veracity of information before acting upon it, we at NSCIA embarked upon a holistic investigation exercise to establish the truism of the allegation. The first teaser is that every effort to trace the source of this claim proved abortive.
A visit to NIMC reveals several facts indicating the malicious intents of the false allegation. There is no single truth in the allegation, and therefore, NSCIA wishes to inform the general public, and Nigeria Muslims in particular, to not only disregard the circulating message, but also desist from believing any unconfirmed message of the sort, or from indulging in circulating such messages in the future.
With the advent of the technology of social media, access to, and dissemination of information is at the finger tips, by the press of the buttons. Social media, like other various technologies, is not forbidden (haram) in itself. What portends its prohibition or otherwise in Islam is the nature and effect of its use (misuse). While there are some good uses of social media to the benefits of humanity and effective human living including propagation and Islamic public education, majority of the people have resulted to the negative uses of social media in one way or the other.
Muslims should realize that it is not the end alone that justifies the means. In Islam, both the end and the means are to be justified. This fabrication is capable of creating mutual mistrust, religious intolerance and vicious cycle of unnecessary conspiracy between Muslims and Non-Muslims of Nigeria.
Rumour making and rumour mongering are considered major sins in Islam, yet many Muslims indulge in them with some level of recklessness and impunity without reflections on the implications of such acts. While rumour makers usually sit in the comfort of their rooms to fabricate any form of claims or information damming whatever consequences they portend, the rumour mongers peddle them by forwarding them to all their contacts without any efforts to verify their veracity. “It is enough for a man to prove himself a liar by reporting everything that he comes across…” (Sahih Muslim).
Ustaz Isa Christian Okonkwo,
Director of Administration,