The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) put before his eyes the goal of perfecting morals as the main objective of his mission and message, which reflects the value of morals in his call where he said: "I was only sent to perfect good manners."
Allah (Glory be to Him) granted Muslims a role model in whom the perfect manners are embodied. That role model is the Prophet (peace be upon him) whom Allah praised in His Saying: "And Verily, you (O Muhammad peace be upon him) are on an exalted (standard of) character." [Surat Al Qalam: 4]. Allah (Glory be to Him) says: "Indeed, in the Messenger of Allâh (Muhammad peace be upon him) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes for (the Meeting with) Allâh and the Last Day, and remembers Allâh much." [Surat Al Ahzab: 21].
`A'ishah, the mother of the believers (may Allah be pleased with her) was asked about the Prophet's manners, and she replied: "His manners were embodiment of the Qur'an." [Reported by Muslim, Ahmad, and Abu Dawud].
Good treatment and kind relationship are included in good-manners to which the Sunnah called, such as the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him): "The believers who show the most perfect Faith are those who have the best behavior." [Reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Ibn Hibban, and Al Hakim].
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "A believer will attain by his good behaviour the rank of one who prays during the night and observes fasting during the day.'' [Reported by Abu Dawud].
Hence, it is not enough that a Muslim would be knowledgeable about the fundamentals of his religion and what he should do toward his Lord and nation, and what may save him in this world as well as in the Hereafter. However, this knowledge should turn into action and behavior and if a Muslim does not act according to his knowledge, his knowledge shall be turn against him. The ethical side in Islam is very important and it is enough to pause with the Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in which he gathered all kinds of good-manners in one word when he said: "Al Birr is good manners." [Reported by Muslim]. Moreover, the Messenger (peace be upon him) made good-manners the standard of loving him. He said: "The best amongst you is the one who pays the rights of others generously." [Reported by Al Bukhari]. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was asked about the most thing which admit people into Paradise, he said: "Piety and good manners." [Reported by At-Tirmidhy].
Manners consist of knowledge and actions:
Islam is the religion of actions and behavior. Some people command people of good, but they do not act accordingly, such people are described by Allah as "Enjoin you Al-Birr (piety and righteousness and each and every act of obedience to Allâh) on the people and you forget (to practise it) yourselves, while you recite the Scripture [the Taurât (Torah)]! Have you then no sense?" [Surat Al Baqarah: 44]. Allah warned Muslims against this behavior, when He says: "Most hateful it is with Allâh that you say that which you do not do." [Surat As-Saf: 3].
Therefore, we have to interpret our knowledge of Allah into actions and behavior. How many good manners affected people positively more than thousands of books and sermons!
Allah (Glory be to Him) says: "And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels: "Verily, I am going to place (mankind) generations after generations on earth."" [Surat Al Baqarah: 30]. He also says: "He brought you forth from the earth and settled you therein." [Surat Hud: 61]. Man has a message that he should deliver which is to worship Allah. "And I (Allâh) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone)." [Surat Adh-Dhariyat: 56]. Man has a natural disposition on which he was created which is Islam. "Allâh's Fitrah (i.e. Allâh's Islâmic Monotheism) with which He has created mankind. No change let there be in Khalq-illâh (i.e. the religion of Allâh - Islâmic Monotheism)." [Surat Ar-Rum: 30].
Ethical need in the time of Information:
If morals are needed in every time, we need it more and more in this time of information. That is because of the changes which took place in our societies due to information and communications technology (ICT) which affected the morals of our Muslim societies whether positively or negatively. No one can overlook the great possibilities which the information and communications technology offer, especially after merging between computers and communications via the Internet and other communication means. We cannot ignore the negative effects resulting from the flow of information and technological possibilities, although those who own these technologies differ with us in faith and thoughts. The things which they find permissible and normal we find disciplines and limits for them in our religion. Moreover, we do not have enough awareness to receive information and filter what is harmful and take what is beneficial.
Hence, this affected badly the Muslim society at all levels: Individual and family.
Because the foreign culture affected the manners of our Muslim community either positively or negatively, it is incumbent on us to monitor this phenomenon and promote our morals in order to cope with, benefit from, and not to be negatively affected by.
Therefore, we must clarify the ethics and morals which a Muslim should abide by in regard to the Internet and other means. E-world is not a separate world that has its own ethics and morals, but it should have the same morals and ethics of the traditional life; in addition to some new morals gained by the nature of this new e-world.
As Muslims, we should abide by the high morals drawn from our faith and Arab culture and should keep to the polite humanitarian behavior, so it is not hard to apply our own manners and morals on Internet and other means of communication.
We should always remember that the Internet is a means of communication where you can send messages, have dialogues with others, present your thoughts and views, and see others' views and thoughts because it is an effective means for interaction and dealing with people, institutions, and different bodies. When using any means of communication, we should follow a set of general manners, and from this emerged the concept of Internet etiquette.
We should try to understand the dimensions and effects of this tool that has become available to us and became widely used. It has become the last refuge for some people, hence it is incumbent on us to learn "the ethics and the jurisprudence of the Internet" in the broader sense of knowledge, not only in terms of Shari`ah. It seems that chat rooms will remain a tempting and attractive factor that consumes much time unless a person knows his target and set a time for that.
The absence of knowledge or wide culture makes chatting in most rooms nonsense, flirting, or exchanging of insults. The exchange of words is not useful unless both parties have enough amount of knowledge so that the debate would be useful. I think there is a long way to achieve that because most of us does not have culture or knowledge, so these matters are not available in the curricula of formal education and it is not available in most public information programs, moreover reading is no longer a considerable source of information to many youth.
It is really disturbing the presence of some sites that contain poisonous ideas that cast doubts in the matters of faith or distort history. I feel pity for the one who has access to these issues without having a background about them, so how would we deal with these changes and challenges?!
Unfortunately, we have not touched upon these issues, and we are still dealing with the Internet as a network of communication and entertainment more than a medium of information and dialogue with all its present difficulties. This requires us to do the following:
1- Draw the attention to the information revolution that took place and the changes which affected the Muslim community.
2- Try to cope with this flow of information and what we morally need to do?
3- Highlight the implications of this informational flow.
4- Clarify the Muslim's behavior toward the means of communication.
Negative effects of ICT on ethics:
1- The effects of ICT on the morals of young people:
The impact of information and communications technology on young people witnessed a remarkable growth, where statistics indicate that the parents of 63% of teenagers who surf porno sites do not know the content of the sites they surf. Studies say that the ages of most users of porno sites range between 12 and 17. Unfortunately, porno sites represent most requested sites on the web, where young people are inflicted by schizophrenia in terms of their perception of values because what they consider prohibited and wrong is permissible on the web.
The effects of ICT in spreading nudity and grooming:
There are things that may harm morals, values, security, and cohesion of society: such as porno films, photos, and books that affect Islamic ethics. Unfortunately, this matter is available on the Internet, which is one of the global tools that transfer knowledge and cultures along with satellite channels, TV, and video...etc.
The effects of ICT on the coldness of sexual relationship:
Addiction of pornographic means offered by ITC has bad consequences on families such as untying the bonds of marriage, the weakness of man's sexual power, and spreading of adultery. The offered porno materials caused men to abstain from marriage and get used to the addiction of forbidden acts; how many men abandoned their wives and watched these pornographic sites?!
The effects of ICT on high rates of crime:
The common feature for the perpetrators of mass murder is that they begin their crimes with sexual reasons then their crimes develop from sex to torture, killing, having sex with dead bodies, and other horrible crimes.
Those who circulate pornographic means are often connected with organized crime, as they call to outbreak of other crimes.
Exploitation of ICT to promote sex trade:
The advocates of debauchery and traders of prostitution have thought of methods and means to deliver their goods to the people directly but in a hidden way, hence they exploited online broadcasting, phone, and the Internet in this task. The Internet is the best way to deliver these goods, unfortunately the pages of prostitution are —without a competitor— the most popular pages on the web all over the world.
Exploitation of women in advertising, and how companies used them as bait to lure their customers:
The Arab television ads address the lusts and emotions of audiences by 100% in some TV channels, and may be less than this percentage in some other channels. That means: Each channel has its own standards and foundations even if they all agreed to the pursuit advertising emotionally because it is the first source of income for them. However, the problem of Arab audiences is they are a means for reception only without having an effective role in the nature of ads that the mass media broadcast, especially TV. This negativity of the Arab audiences may be a strong motive to offer more ads which do not live up to the viewers' minds and do not respect their customs and traditions, but the Arab viewer is helpless. Therefore, he tries to choose the materials to watch inside his home to preserve the traditions and customs of the family.
Television ads, especially in satellite channels, address emotions and lusts more than minds, and here lies the problem because the majority of broadcasted ads are not consistent with customs, traditions, and values prevailing in the society. Ads which address and respect human minds have decreased and the only important is increasing the volume of sales regardless the content of ads. Therefore, it has become difficult to man to find the informational material which is in harmony with him. So, the head of the family should select the materials which suit customs, traditions, and the religious and social values of the society, otherwise it will be a strong reason for spreading bad materials by imitating these ads.
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