Broadcasting: Islamic attitude to Propaganda & News
In times of Fitnah – tribulations, Muslims must be extra vigilant of the information received from unknown sources and/or unreliable sources. Global Issues states:
Probably every conflict is fought on at least two grounds: the battlefield and the minds of the people via propaganda. The “good guys” and the “bad guys” can often both be guilty of misleading their people with distortions, exaggerations, subjectivity, inaccuracy and even fabrications, in order to receive support and a sense of legitimacy.
Propaganda can serve to rally people behind a cause, but often at the cost of exaggerating, misrepresenting, or even lying about the issues in order to gain that support.
While the issue of propaganda often is discussed in the context of militarism, war and war-mongering, it is around us in all aspects of life.
Common tactics in propaganda often used by either side include:
•Using selective stories that come over as wide-covering and objective.
•Partial facts, or historical context
•Reinforcing reasons and motivations to act due to threats on the security of the individual.
•Narrow sources of “experts” to provide insights in to the situation. (For example, the mainstream media typically interview retired military personnel for many conflict-related issues, or treat official government sources as fact, rather than just one perspective that needs to be verified and researched).
•Demonizing the “enemy” who does not fit the picture of what is “right”.
•Using a narrow range of discourse, whereby judgments are often made while the boundary of discourse itself, or the framework within which the opinions are formed, are often not discussed. The narrow focus then helps to serve the interests of the propagandists. http://www.globalissues.org/article/157/war-propaganda-and-the-media
Allah orders: Do not follow that of which you have no knowledge (whether it is good or bad), and refrain from groundless assertions and conjectures. Surely the hearing, the sight, and the heart – each of these is subject to questioning about it (you are answerable, and will be called to account, for each of these on the Day of Judgment). (Quran 17:36). So, a Muslim cannot judge anything without confirmed or true knowledge about it. Especially in matters requiring responsibility concerning social-political affairs. Muslims must be very careful that they are acting on certain knowledge. This knowledge must be based either on eye-witness reports, or on true, verified reports and not from conjecture, individual opinions, or false reports. In origin a Muslim cannot have an ill opinion of another Muslim without due cause.
Allah says: Why, when you heard it, did not the believing men and believing women think good of one another and say, "This is an obvious falsehood"? (Quran 24:12)
Furthermore, Allah says: O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful. (Quran 49:12)
Muslims are instructed not to disseminate hearsay statements about a person without proof, Allah says:
When you received it with your tongues and said with your mouths that of which you had no knowledge and thought it was insignificant while it was, in the sight of Allah, tremendous. (Quran 24:15)
Reportedly Ibn Mas`ûd relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Should I tell you what is a blatant lie? It is a (nameema) rumour circulating among the people." [Saheeh Muslim (2606)]
Here the Prophet (peace be upon him) is explaining how evil it is to spread rumours. The Arabic word for rumour here is nameemah. It is a kind of rumour that is meant to foster animosity between people. Reportedly Hudhayfah heard about a man who was spreading rumours and he said: "I heard Allah's Messenger say: 'A rumour-monger will not enter Paradise'." [Saheeh al-Bukhârî (6056) and Saheeh Muslim (105)]
Islamic attitude in regards to such news and information is as follows:
1. Do not accept news as fact from Politicians, mainstream media and even information from social-network unconditionally. This is because a rumour-monger is an open sinner whose testimony is unacceptable. Reportedly Hafs ibn `Aasim said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "It is enough lying for a man to speak of everything that he hears." Narrated by Muslim in al-Muqaddimah, 6; Saheeh al-Jaami, 4482.
2. Petition the irresponsible journalists, media outlets & social-media to abstain from broadcasting such information, propaganda or rumours. Allah tells us: "Enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong." (Sûrah Luqmân: 17)
3. Apparently Al-Hasan al-Basri said: "The believer reserves judgement until the matter is proven." Allah says: “Say, Produce your proof if you are truthful” [Quran 2:111]
4. Do not allow yourself to demean the person who is the subject of the rumour. Allah says: "O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them… And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames... [Quran 49:11]
5. Do not try to verify the rumour by spying. Allah says: "And do not spy or backbite each other…" [Quran 49:12] However, efforts to verifying and making certain of the truth of the report and its circumstances should be established [Quran 49:6].
6. Do not fall into rumour-spreading or broadcasting it. Reportedly Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Should I tell you what is a blatant lie? It is a rumour circulating among the people."
Thus, Muslims should be wary about the news that they are bombarded with especially when unrighteous people control all the information that reach the public in most parts of the World. Allah says:
O Believers, if an unrighteous person comes to you with information, you should verify it or else you might inflict harm on a people in ignorance and then end up regretting what you have done. (Qurãn 49:6)
And Allah knows best.
For Younger Readers
God teaches in the Quran, the holy book of Muslims that:
Not to believe every news broadcastings
News must be verified or double checked before making opinion
Not to be judgmental
Not to spread news without knowing the facts