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  • Writer's pictureAnees Bhayat

What Should I Be Posting on My Social Media Feeds?

I once had a discussion with a fellow social media user, in which he/she objected to a few topics I posted about.

In a nutshell, the objection they had was that they felt I should not be posting about ‘worldly’ issues, while at the same time post on Islām-related matters. They raised the question as to whether this amounted to laghw (futility), and that it defied the protocols of an ‘ālim (scholar) to be posting on such issues.

I’d like to share with you the conclusions I drew from the discussion.

Firstly, according to them, an ‘Ālim on social media should only be posting ‘Islamic’ posts. They see social media as a classroom, where only ‘ilm should be discussed. Those who expect the ‘Ulamā to tweet only Islāmic stuff, should ponder upon the following incident:

Abū Wā’il رحمه الله narrates that ‘Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd رضي الله عنه would advise the people every Thursday. A man said to him, “O Abū ‘Abdir-Rahmān! I wish you would advise us every day!” He replied, “What stops me from doing so is that I dislike that I put you off; I support you with advice just as the Prophet ﷺ would support us with it, fearing boredom upon us.” (Al-Bukhārī and Muslim)[1]

See how the Prophet ﷺ and the Sahābah رضي الله عنهم after him would pick days in which to advise the people? They would not advise them daily, fearing that they would become bored and put off. Obviously, the times they lived in were far better in terms of purity of environment and mentality than the ones we live in today, but the fact that they would consider the boredom factor even then, brings us to the natural disposition of humans: give them too much of something and they will tire of it. The same can be said about preaching also. There has to be a balance in everything.

Secondly, the problem they see with an ‘Ālim posting ‘worldly’ stuff is that it is unbefitting of the morals and protocols ‘Ulamā should live by. Does a scholar or a student of Islāmic knowledge need to live by certain morals and protocols? This is debatable. Who sets these morals and principles? Who even decides who a scholar is? Yes, being that a scholar is more aware of Islamic teachings, his conduct and mannerisms should reflect his knowledge. That’s a given. But doesn’t that just mean he is expected to be more religious/practicing? And people’s understanding of religiosity nowadays is twisted anyway.

Many people are mistaken in that they consider scholars and students of knowledge to be superhuman. Their notion is that a student of Dīn and scholar should not be talking about worldly issues; they should be constantly worried and engrossed in the teaching and propagation of Dīn. We are humans, and being humans, we have been sent into this world to use it to strive for success in the Hereafter. Scholars and students of knowledge are humans too. Therefore, it is imperative that even scholars and students of knowledge do talk about worldly issues.

The notion that ‘Ulamā are ‘superhumans’ or shouldn’t do what normal people do is similar to the notion held by the idolaters of Makkah when they said:

مَالِ هَذَا الرَّسُولِ يَأْكُلُ الطَّعَامَ وَيَمْشِي فِي الْأَسْوَاقِ

‘What sort of messenger is this who eats food and walks in the markets?’ (25:7)

The idolaters thought it unbefitting of a Prophet that he act in the way ordinary humans do. They drew analogies of Prophets with kings, who would lead completely different lifestyles to commoners, out of arrogance and a superiority complex.[2]

Aswad رحمه الله once asked ‘Ā’ishah رضي الله عنها, “What would the Prophet ﷺ do when he was at home?” She replied, “He would help the members of his household.” (Al-Bukhārī)[3]

Hāfiz Ibn Hajar رحمه الله quotes that the word used to relate the meaning of ‘helping’ here carries more than just that. It actually gives the meaning of ‘professional’ help; helping whilst being skilled at the task.[4] He then quotes a narration of Imām At-Tirmidhī رحمه الله from his Shamā’il, on the authority of ‘Ā’ishah رضي الله عنها which details what type of things the Prophet ﷺ would do around the house:

‘He was a human like other humans; he would delouse his clothes, milk his goat and help himself in general.’[5]

The point I hope to make is that one should not look down upon scholars and students of knowledge when witnessing them going about their normal worldly affairs, for they are ordinary humans. The Prophet ﷺ practically demonstrated to us that these things need to be done; he ﷺ did them himself. Had it been unbefitting of his status as a Prophet of Allāh, he would not have done them; so how can such things be unbefitting to the status’ of scholars, who are the inheritors of the prophets?

Some people find it amazing and strange when they see a scholar, Imām or student of knowledge shopping, picking up his/her children from school, playing football or any other sport, etc. This is uncalled for. The lifestyle of the Prophet ﷺ was closer to that of a commoner, because commoners make up the majority of the population of humans, and so that they could relate better to him, and it would be easier to spread the Dīn among them. The same can be said of scholars too: the more human they appear the more relatable they are, as opposed to a utopian fantasy of religiosity that the layman only dreams of emulating.

May Allāh grant us all a sound understanding.

[1] رواه البخاري ومسلم، وهذا لفظ البخاري: حَدَّثَنَا عُثْمَانُ بْنُ أَبِي شَيْبَةَ، قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا جَرِيرٌ، عَنْ مَنْصُورٍ، عَنْ أَبِي وَائِلٍ، قَالَ: كَانَ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ يُذَكِّرُ النَّاسَ فِي كُلِّ خَمِيسٍ فَقَالَ لَهُ رَجُلٌ: يَا أَبَا عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ لَوَدِدْتُ أَنَّكَ ذَكَّرْتَنَا كُلَّ يَوْمٍ؟ قَالَ: أَمَا إِنَّهُ يَمْنَعُنِي مِنْ ذَلِكَ أَنِّي أَكْرَهُ أَنْ أُمِلَّكُمْ، وَإِنِّي أَتَخَوَّلُكُمْ بِالْمَوْعِظَةِ، كَمَا كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَتَخَوَّلُنَا بِهَا، مَخَافَةَ السَّآمَةِ عَلَيْنَا "

أما لفظ مسلم: (2821) حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرِ بْنُ أَبِي شَيْبَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا وَكِيعٌ، وَأَبُو مُعَاوِيَةَ، ح وَحَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ نُمَيْرٍ - وَاللَّفْظُ لَهُ - حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو مُعَاوِيَةَ، عَنِ الْأَعْمَشِ، عَنْ شَقِيقٍ، قَالَ: كُنَّا جُلُوسًا عِنْدَ بَابِ عَبْدِ اللهِ نَنْتَظِرُهُ، فَمَرَّ بِنَا يَزِيدُ بْنُ مُعَاوِيَةَ النَّخَعِيُّ، فَقُلْنَا: أَعْلِمْهُ بِمَكَانِنَا، فَدَخَلَ عَلَيْهِ فَلَمْ يَلْبَثْ أَنْ خَرَجَ عَلَيْنَا عَبْدُ اللهِ، فَقَالَ: إِنِّي أُخْبَرُ بِمَكَانِكُمْ، فَمَا يَمْنَعُنِي أَنْ أَخْرُجَ إِلَيْكُمْ إِلَّا كَرَاهِيَةُ أَنْ أُمِلَّكُمْ، «إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَانَ يَتَخَوَّلُنَا بِالْمَوْعِظَةِ فِي الْأَيَّامِ، مَخَافَةَ السَّآمَةِ عَلَيْنَا»

[2] قال القاري في المرقاة: قَالَ الطِّيبِيُّ، قَوْلُهَا: كَانَ بَشَرًا تَمْهِيدًا لِمَا بَعْدَهُ، لِأَنَّهُ لَمَّا رَأَتْ مِنِ اعْتِقَادِ الْكَفَّارِ أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ - صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ - لَا يَلِيقُ بِمَنْصِبِهِ أَنْ يَفْعَلَ مَا يَفْعَلُ غَيْرُهُ مِنْ عَامَّةِ النَّاسِ وَجَعَلُوهُ كَالْمُلُوكِ؟ فَإِنَّهُمْ يَتَرَفَّعُونَ عَنِ الْأَفْعَالِ الْعَادِيَّةِ الدَّنِيَّةِ تَكَبُّرًا، كَمَا حَكَى اللَّهُ تَعَالَى عَنْهُمْ فِي قَوْلِهِ: {مَالِ هَذَا الرَّسُولِ يَأْكُلُ الطَّعَامَ وَيَمْشِي فِي الْأَسْوَاقِ} [الفرقان: 7] فَقَالَتْ: إِنَّهُ - صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ - كَانَ خَلْقًا مِنْ خَلْقِ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى، وَوَاحِدًا مِنْ أَوْلَادِ آدَمَ، شَرَّفَهُ اللَّهُ بِالنُّبُوَّةِ، وَكَرَّمَهُ بِالرِّسَالَةِ، وَكَانَ يَعِيشُ مَعَ الْخَلْقِ بِالْخُلُقِ، وَمَعَ الْحَقِّ بِالصِّدْقِ، فَيَفْعَلُ مِثْلَ مَا فَعَلُوا، وَيُعِينُهُمْ فِي أَفْعَالِهِمْ تَوَاضُعًا وَإِرْشَادًا لَهُمْ إِلَى التَّوَاضُعِ، وَرَفْعِ التَّرَفُّعِ، وَتَبْلِيغِ الرِّسَالَةِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ إِلَى الْخَلْقِ، كَمَا أَمَرَ

[3] روى البخاري في صحيحه قال: حَدَّثَنَا حَفْصُ بْنُ عُمَرَ، حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ، عَنِ الحَكَمِ، عَنْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ، عَنِ الأَسْوَدِ، قَالَ: سَأَلْتُ عَائِشَةَ، مَا كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَصْنَعُ فِي أَهْلِهِ؟ قَالَتْ: «كَانَ فِي مِهْنَةِ أَهْلِهِ، فَإِذَا حَضَرَتِ الصَّلاَةُ قَامَ إِلَى الصَّلاَةِ»

[4] قال ابن حجر في الفتح: وَفِي الصِّحَاحِ الْمَهْنَةُ بِالْفَتْحِ الْخِدْمَةُ وَهَذَا مُوَافِقٌ لِمَا قَالَهُ لَكِنْ فَسَّرَهَا صَاحِبُ الْمُحْكَمِ بِأَخَصَّ مِنْ ذَلِكَ فَقَالَ الْمَهْنَةُ الْحِذْقُ بِالْخِدْمَةِ وَالْعَمَلُ

[5] وقال ابن حجر أيضاً: وَالْمُرَادُ بِالْأَهْلِ نَفْسُهُ أَوْ مَا هُوَ أَعَمُّ مِنْ ذَلِكَ وَقَدْ وَقَعَ مُفَسَّرًا فِي الشَّمَائِلِ لِلتِّرْمِذِيِّ مِنْ طَرِيقِ عَمْرَةَ عَنْ عَائِشَةَ بِلَفْظِ مَا كَانَ إِلَّا بَشَرًا مِنَ الْبَشَرِ يُفَلِّي ثَوْبَهُ وَيَحْلُبُ شَاتَهُ وَيَخْدُمُ نَفْسَهُ

#scholars #ulama #socialmedia #posts #facebook #twitter

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