Islamic Ethics on Dealing with Elders in the Cyberspace

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Alhamdulillah… All thanks and praises are due to the Almighty Allah. May His Peace and Blessings be upon Habibi Muhammad, his household, his companions and all those who follow his guided path.

Islam has emphasized on the importance of having good bonding among the individuals of any society, within the Ummah.

To achieve that, Allah, subhanahu wata’aalaa, tells what to do, in Surah Aali Imran, 3:103:

وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّـهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا

It means, “Hold fast to the cord of Allah and let nothing divide you.”

Holding fast to the cord of Allah, and ensuring nothing divides us, requires that we acknowledge our differences, at individual level, in our respective societies, communities, countries and in the Ummah, at large. Realizing these differences helps us to create mutual respect for one another, even when agree to disagree.

The Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wasallam, said in a Hadeeth narrated by Sayyidina Abi Hurairah, radhiya Allahu ‘anhu, that:

المُسْلِمُ أَخُو المُسْلِمِ. لا يَخُونُهُ وَلا يَكْذِبُهُ وَلا يَخْذُلُهُ. كُلُّ المُسْلِمِ عَلَى المُسْلِمِ حَرَامٌ؛ عِرْضُهُ وَمَالُهُ وَدَمُهُ

It means, “A Muslim is the brother of another Muslim. He should not alarm him nor lie to him, nor disappoint him. The honour, property and blood of every Muslim is unlawful to another Muslim.”

For that to happen, morals and values are of high importance and must be observed when interacting with any individual in any society. This individual member of the society may be a Muslim or non-Muslim. He may also be young or an elder. However, when the individual happen to be an elder; be it by age, knowledge, wisdom or piety, we have to uphold for him, due respect and love where applicable.

The Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wasallam, said in a Hadeeth, narrated by Sayyidina Ubadah Ibn Al-Samit, and authenticated by Shaikh Al-Albani, that:

لَيْسَ مِنَّا مَنْ لَمْ يُجِلَّ كبيرَنا وَيَرْحَمْ صَغِيرَنَا،وَيَعْرِفْ لِعَالِمِنَا حقَّهُ

It means, “He is not one of us (in our morals and values), he who does not respect our elders, have ruth for our young ones, and realize for our knowledgeable their rights.”

This is to say, in Islam, the young is obliged to be respectful, towards any elderly. This is even when the elder is at fault, or fails to realize his mistakes. Being respectful towards an elder, who is at fault doesn’t make him right. It rather reflects on the good akhaq of the former, over the latter.

Achieving this value in physical interactions requires a high level of humbleness, but it’s easier achieved physically than in virtual interactions (online). This means one needs to have higher consciousness of Allah, and constant reminder for himself, on the importance of abstaining from rudeness towards anyone regardless, or else he ends up losing the remainder of his good akhlaq.

Possible Problem of Online Interaction

Sometimes, we assume the person on the other side of our screen to be the same age as us, or even younger, especially when we are clueless of who they are. As a result, we tend to use a very informal language, or be disrespectful sometimes. Unfortunately, many of us forget, that we don’t have to know someone, or see him before we behave as Muslims. Our good behaviour is solely for Allah’s Sake, but the beneficiaries of it, are fellow human beings, and the environment around us.

As much as the young are expected to uphold their Islamic morals and values, both online and offline, the elders, in return, are expected to interact with the young with hearts, full of mercy and compassion. The minimum is that they realize they are elders.

Every Muslim, the young and the elder, is responsible for observing his moral and ethical responsibility, both online and offline. This means you don’t have to mistreat the other because he mistreated you. We don’t scream at the other because he has done so. You don’t insult someone because he couldn’t control his tongue on you. Instead, you should be kind to him, whether or not he’s kind to you.

Al-Imam Hasan Al-Banna once said,

“Be like the trees, people throw it with stones, and it throws them back with the best of fruits.”

Possible Solutions

What would you do, when you are tested with an elder, who forgets the privilege of their silver hair? I know, sometimes, you can be tempted to fight for your ego. But that’s not the wise for the wise.

Your presence of being online must be with an objective. That objective should be righteous, above all evil deeds and thoughts.

So, if you come across anyone, male or female, young or elder, whose may spoil the quality of your righteous objective, which you are online to serve, what you can do, is to avoid him as possible. That way, you maintain your integrity, and your relationship with the person.

If you angrily bark back at him, you lose your integrity. You lose him. And certainly, you fail to achieve your righteous objective, for which you are online. You end up equal with each other.

Remember, responding to anger with anger does never lead to a positive solution. It’s rather likely to lead to separation.

The Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wasallam, said to the companion, who sought his advice:

لا تَغْضَبْ

“Do not be angry.”

The companion emphasized his request. The Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wasallam, calmly repeated to him:

لا تَغْضَبْ

“Do not be angry.”

When online, avoid what will anger you. If you choose to stay, observe your Islamic ethics.

Have you ever experienced any bad encounters online? Do you mind sharing? Please comment below.

Allah knows best.
Allahu Hafiz 🙂