Ramadan: Time for social media fasting

16 Mar 2024 09:00am
Photo for illustration purposes only. - 123RF
Photo for illustration purposes only. - 123RF

KUALA LUMPUR - The Islamic holy month of Ramadan, commemorating the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad, has arrived.

It is the third pillar of Islam and the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, during which Muslims across the world observe a strict fast from dawn until sunset each day.

There is more to this holy month for the Muslims than just the act of keeping and breaking the fast. They should abstain from acts that nullify the fast, such as inappropriate use of the social media, experts said.

Commenting on the issue, a lecturer at the Department of Quran and Hadith Studies, International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM), Mohamad Haeqal Ishak said basically, Muslims are urged to not cause harm to others in any manner, as such actions are deemed sinful, especially when directed towards fellow Muslims who are regarded as brothers and sisters within the faith.

"As stated by Prophet Muhammad SAW, ‘A Muslim is the one who avoids harming Muslims with his tongue and hands. And a Muhajir (emigrant) is the one who gives up (abandons) all what Allah has forbidden’,” he told Bernama.

According to him, these include cyber bullying or posting offensive comments on the social media toward fellow Muslims. "What’s worse if such actions or behaviours are taking place during Ramadan, a month full with barakah (blessings),” he added.

Committing a sin during Ramadan, he said, shows that the individual does not respect the holy month when other Muslims are striving to obtain the most barakah (blessings) from the holy month, with the hope of attaining great rewards as promised by Allah SWT.

"Unfortunately, the holy month is marred by offensive and harmful acts by certain quarters. As such, Muslims should observe Ramadan in accordance with Islam’s spiritual objectives and teachings. By avoiding the prohibitions and focus more on their faith, Muslims can experience a truly transformative and spiritually uplifting Ramadan.

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"It would be a waste for those who experienced hunger and thirst daily during Ramadan end up as ‘bankrupt’ in Allah’s eyes due to the sins they committed such as gossiping, mocking and defaming others.

"It was narrated from Abu Hurairah RA, the Prophet said: "Many people who fast get nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst, and many people who pray at night get nothing from it except wakefulness.” (Ibnu Majah 1690). As such, don’t be a Muslim who wasted their fasting through their actions and behaviours that nullify their fast,” he added.


As such, it is incumbent upon all Muslims, who are still hooked on the social media, to ensure they only share positive content as a mark of respect during the holy month of Ramadan.

Mohamad Haeqal said the concept of ‘ihsan’ (excellency in deeds and charity) is a matter of taking one’s inner faith and showing it in both deeds and actions, a sense of social responsibility borne from religious convictions.

"Muslims who are ‘ihsan’ will always be aware that Allah is Ever-Watchful and knows Allah is watching everything under every circumstance. This should make us more aware of Allah’s rights over us and of our duty towards Him.

"They are always aware that two angels (malaikat), on the right and the left, record their deeds. Hence it is important to be careful with what we do in our daily lives. Besides that, being fair and just, we will be able to reflect on what we have done to others, it’s as though we can feel their pain and sufferings, to the extent that we can no longer bear to do injustice to others in the future.

"Such acts include typing and writing words that could hurt other people’s feelings,” he said.

According to the lecturer, if Muslims understand ‘jalal’ (majesty), one of Allah’ attributes (greatness), they would definitely realise that every bad deed will be judged and punished by Allah in the hereafter.

"Are we prepared to be tormented in the blazing and horrifying fire in hell while even a slight fever, we become lethargic. Is it worth it when with just several words (posted online), we will be tormented in hell for thousands of years? If we reflect on this issue, we wouldn’t dare to do it or for that matter hurt others from any aspect and form,” he said.

As such, he said, the best practices that will reap ‘pahala’ (rewards) from Allah are from good deeds, namely through ethical words and writing.

"Those who promote good ethics through words and writing will be rewarded (by Allah) based on their dakwah outreach activities.

"Besides making it a practice to multiply reciting the Quran in the blessed Ramadan, the Muslim community can perform their acts of worship together. Stop wasting time on activities that will not bring benefits in terms of gaining rewards during Ramadan, such as idle chat or writing negative stuff,” he said.


Ibadah (acts of worship), which encompasses the notion of devotion and submission to Allah, said Mohamad Haeqal, has many benefits that can be gained individually or collectively.

Individually, he said, fasting is a form of physical training and can strengthen a Muslim’s spiritual connection with Allah.

According to him, fasting imparts sympathy to the poor for whom hunger is a common experience, adding that fasting also provides the body with an opportunity to detoxify and cleanse itself.

"From the spiritual aspect, Muslims are not only trained to exercise self-restraint from all actions that invalidate the fast but also towards other matters that could reduce their rewards from fasting.

"Qanaaah’, an attitude of being grateful for what Allah has given and feeling content with it all, is developed through Muraqabah al-Nafs’ (mindful of our ego),” he added.

Collectively, he said Muslims should realise that fasting is a way of appreciating the concept of being grateful and ihsan as fasting trains an individual to empathise the sufferings of our impoverished fellow Muslims, especially Palestinians in Gaza, who are currently faced with food insecurity as well as security and health threats.

"Muslims who truly appreciate this will be more grateful and practise the ihsan concept as well as not waste their time; instead, they will be at the forefront in helping the needy,” he said.


Meanwhile, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Media and Communication Studies, Universiti Malaya, Dr Mohamad Saleeh Rahamad said ethical language does not merely apply during Ramadan, but it should be observed by every individual in their daily lives and that society should be on guard against the use of abusive or foul language.

"In the Malay culture, the phrase ‘budi bahasa’ (virtues) is uttered as one word, which means a noble person who protects his language as a mark of high integrity,” he said.

He said that today, the social media serves as a platform for expressing opinions and allowing news to be shared freely given the absence of a gatekeeper, and as such users are free to showcase their "expertise” on any issues as part of their psyche or to reflect their state of mind.

"They should think before writing as it can affect other people’s feelings. If there is obscenity, defamation or provocation that can result in animosity, this is not just considered a sin but can also have an adverse impact on the community,” he explained.

Asked on the attitude of keyboard warriors who express aggressive or controversial opinions online while hiding behind anonymity during Ramadan, Mohamad Saleeh said, the desire to air their opinions become uncontrolled when an individual regards fasting as routine or ritual.

For example, writers, who specialise in whatever field or genre, must realise that as long as their actions have negative impact on others, they will continue to be burdened with sins.

"Those who don’t appreciate the true meaning of fasting will find it difficult to exercise self-restraint without being controlled by a visible authority,” he added.

"Writers for example, if they leave their writing that can have a bad influence on readers, their sins will multiply. As such, leave positive writing for readers as that will be their harvest in the afterlife what they sow in this world,” he added.


According to Mohamad Saleeh, the restraint and devotion felt during Ramadan will make them better Muslims as they are expected to strive to make those feelings and attitudes stay and carry over during their ‘normal lives.’

"During fasting, there are prohibitions and without questions asked, they must obey.

"This means that the servants of Allah must obey Him without questioning His intention or reasons why He placed the commands for us to follow. If there’s a secret or blessing from health or other aspects, that’s a bonus.

"What’s important is fasting trains Muslims to obey Allah’s command without any human control. For example, while we can eat at a place that is hidden from the public, we won’t eat as obedience to the command of Allah is an obligatory duty,” he said.

While resisting the urge to convey thoughts with negative vibes during Ramadan, he said, the people should embrace empathy.

"What if we are being condemned and defamed through other people’s writing, how do we feel? Obviously we will be hurt, angry and want to retaliate. Similarly, others who bear the brunt of our actions will also retaliate. Think 10 times before writing something negative as its effects will not stop and in fact, the consequences will be prolonged,” he added. - BERNAMA

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