Assalamu’ alaykum wa rahmatu allahi wa barakatuh…
I feel compelled to ask this question: What does a “perfect” forum consist of?
To me, a “perfect” forum is undeniably an Islamically operated one. I don’t mean a forum that enriches its image with the implication of being Islamic -not at all - but I truly mean a forum that regulates, enforces, and most importantly teaches the values of the Quran and Sunnah. Now, you might ask me, how is this possible?
First of all, it’s a two way street, which demands a broad understanding and compassion from the people in charge as well as the registered members of a forum. On the other hand, most members join forums either because they find their friends mingling in a particular chat arena or because they want to escape the reality of accomplishment by indulging in insignificant chat, which allows them to fill any missing insecurities they have in their personalities. It is sad to say that we find minimal amount of members espousing the agenda to make forums an interactively educational and faithful experience. An Islamic promoted forum could provide a foreground in beneficial reminderss to the many youth that spend long hours surfing the net after landing upon illicit sites. Islamic forums should advertise the Islamic arena and situate itself amongst others so that the youth could be directly linked to safe grounds. Inside, they can be reminded and enlightened with the authentic teaching of Islam. Allah says, “And continue to remind, for surely the reminder profits the believers” (51:55) It is well worth it to say that one could read a verse, a hadith, or a thread and then undergoes a spiritual transformation by the will of Allah, and his/her embraces the signs of Allah. Yet, we are unaware of this. We continue with our idle chats and argue with utter disregard to first-time visitors or new members, who by the way will act upon first impression. Little do we know that many of the guests and members escape the scope of the Internet forums since their first insight into them are a horrific one. They soon are convinced to the vulgarity of some Muslims, and are repulsed by immature acts. This very incident, which happens regularly, detracts from the purpose of establishing forums.
Can we deny that we sometimes go to forums in hopes of relaxing? No, we cannot. This is a natural and innate feeling that a person wishes to comfort her/himself in a warm and accepting environment. What if we were to say that a person can find a forum that is based upon Islamic values and offers this comfort space they've been seeking, can we not believe that more Muslims will become frequent visitors and soon wish to participate in Islamic discussions and knowledge? Will it not be a great way to spread the dawah of Islam? I am sure every sincere Muslims would love to see this happen. However, the dilemma settles itself in the actions of few members who come to “ruin the fun” as many people like to say. They like to depose their true identity in a symbolic nick, and then hide behind it while causing confusion, hatred, and enmity between the members. Actually, the latest fashion calls to bashing the head admin of a forum if not criticizing him personally. This is undoubtedly the acts of the ignorant and unmannered individuals who by no chance can accept peaceful relations or yield to their mission of disrupting the tranquil/beneficial flow of a forum. This behavior and outlook must change or our measure of time on the Internet will become valueless and for the post part, a time misused. The question we should now ask ourselves is: What is the solution?
First: Sincerity in actions. Look around you brothers and sisters. Islam is deteriorating outside, knowledge is being abused, and people are lost. Some have taken their homes as bunkers and even more, have committed themselves to shielding their faith with knowledge and spreading authentic dawah. They’ve found forum the perfect place to gain that reward. Before we enter a forum, we should think “ISLAM”, we should think “IMAN”, we should think about these issues and know that nothing brings us here except that we wish to either bring victory to Islam, Increase our faith, or both.
Secondly: The moment you enter a forum, you are a representative of Islam. Your threads, posts, and words are read by tens, hundreds, and thousands of people. Many people have caused fitnah through these means and allowed others to follow on this path. The sad thing is, threads and posts usually become archives and follow the members where they might go. This concludes us to say that members must remain in the best behavior at all times (Allah is watching at all times), if this is not possible then one must at least opt to silence. This way, you don’t harm a member nor will you be harmed Inshaa Allah.
Thirdly: Taking advantage of your time. Let the forum be a place you can learn in or help others learn. Post beneficial threads in the appropriate sections and read the ones that can better help in your pursuit of knowledge. Never let the members be your goal or the reputation points but let the goal end with the pleasure of Allah. Keep in mind that Allah might bless the 5 memebers/guests that view your post and He might allow them to benefit from it while he deprives others members who get 1000 views. The objective lies in posting and spreading the knowledge and not how many people read it. Post what you have and don’t look back; just picture your reward in paradise. Forums are by no chance a place of popularity and should not be either. We, as Muslims, worry that Allah hastens our reward in this world and forbids us from having it in the hereafter. Whenever in doubt, remember Allah.
Fourthly: Stay away from gender relations. Any place we find men and women, we will also find the shaytan in his best disguise. Beware and be smart. What will a member truly gain if he is involved in false impressions and pleasing the other members except a spoilt intention and loss of reward? Be nice to everyone, advise your brothers and sisters, and speak kindly. However, don’t let the heart get tangled in the deceitful impressions of the shaytan especially with the opposite sex.
Fifthly: Find your role in a forum and stick to it. Every member should find his/her role in the forum they regularly or occasionaly visit. If a member comes to learn then let him/her commit to learning and stay away from all distractions, which means if you see a thread that shows no importance to your agenda then don't open the thread at all. The one posting about subjects of knowledge should not involve him/herself in pointless debates and arguements, which ruins the primary motivation to continue posting. The one who is quick to find good websites/audio/video should be sharing their files and documents with people. If another person is good at advising then he/she should take notice and advise the admins/members/guest and so one especially the ones that look for it. Basically, everyone should reside in their roles in a forum atmosphere rather than bounce around from one to another. I say this because the shaytan comes between a man and his heart and convinces him/her that he/she is being mistreated, misunderstood, or generally an ineffective contributor. You must Ignore these thoughts and remember your purpose and remember your role. If everyone contributes a little to their role the we have a great and strong team of Muslims!
Sixthly: Finished from the forum? Once you have finished browsing the net for information, checking your emails, and talking to your friends online then it's time to turn off your pc. Try to get back to "real" life and remembering Allah. The computer is only a mean to gain reward and not a goal. It is a way just like other great ways to fulfill diffferent aspects of Islam but honoring parents, keeping ties of kinship, supporting one’s wife, memorizing Quran, helping friends, etc. are usually acts that must be fulfilled from the outskirts of the computer's boundary. It is always best to manage your time and make a list of priorities.
Most importantly: Duaa! Supplication!
A forum, in particular the Islamic ones, should acknowledge this system and truly rest their desires and find it in themselves the spirit to work together with fellow members in order to create the best Islamic forums possible. We are well informed that that term perfect is impossible yet that does not stop us from trying. Brothers and sisters, there has to come a time where we take things seriously and place the benefit of this ummah before ours. Islam is our life and Islam must be found everywhere.
If we cannot follow this practical Islamic system then forums should not be up in the first place. If the harm outweighs the good then we avoid it all together. There comes a time when every Muslim must make his/her own decision and the time is now.
Let's work to make our time on the net...ISLAMIC.
Allah Knows Best.