You would think our activists, supposedly so rigorous, would think to themselves: “I have tens of thousands of impressionable followers on social media. I really must ensure the information I’m sharing is true.”
But that would be to assume that their activism has something to do with faith. As Muslims, we’re ordered to witness to the truth, even if it stands against us. Partisanship is not our gauge, only truth and justice.
O you who have believed, persistently stand firm for God, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just: that is nearer to righteousness. And fear God; indeed, God is Acquainted with what you do.Quran 5:8
What stops our influential representatives — self-appointed or otherwise — from pausing for thought and holding back, to do as they are asked: to verify the information they have received before passing it on?
“But the other side is doing it too,” comes the inevitable retort.
Yes, but we don’t act based on how others behave. That’s not the path we are called to. Ours is a higher standard.
O you who have believed, if a troublemaker comes to you with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.Quran 49:6
Who knows the damage our activists have done in fomenting communal strife, sharing misleading, incorrect and plainly untrue information and enabling its wide dissemination.
Many of these activists have vast influence. We expect them to recall that with influence comes great responsibility. Unfortunately, time and again, that is shown not to be the case.
Thus the common man must learn to be more discerning. Don’t just be swayed by the apparition of piety. Do as you are commanded: be just, as witnesses to truth.