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Verify before You Amplify

 

“To see is to believe.” This expression, often quoted, aims to explain that if a person beholds something with his own eyes, he will readily accept it and believe it. While this is certainly accurate, we should not forget that “hearing” is also believing.

 

This is glaringly evident in today’s times when information is rapidly disseminated across different platforms, and people gullibly believe it, seldom pausing to ponder over whether there is any substance to the information, or whether it is mere hearsay, or worse – a deliberate fabrication designed to deceive.

 

In the Quraan Majeed, Allah Ta‘ala has warned the Ummah to be very cautious when receiving information, and has urged us to verify the veracity of the information before accepting it. Furthermore, the Quraan Majeed cautions us that accepting and acting on unverified information is a formula for damage and destruction.

 

At times, the damage and destruction can be to people’s reputations and relationships, and at times, it can even lead to people losing their lives. Thereafter, when it comes to light that the information was false, inaccurate, misquoted or taken out of context, then it is already too late as the damage has been done.

 

It is reported that a person once went to purchase a slave. However, before confirming the deal, the seller warned the purchaser and informed him that the slave had one evil quality – he would fabricate information and carry tales. However, the purchaser did not realise the seriousness and danger of this fault and purchased the slave anyway. He said to the seller, “I accept what you have said, and you are absolved of any liability in regard to this fault in the slave.”

After some time, the slave came to the master and said, “Your wife is having an affair and she intends to kill you.” The slave then went to the master’s wife and said, “Your husband intends taking a second wife.” The slave then offered to ‘help’ her saying, “If you wish to secure his love for you, so that he will love you alone and will not take another wife, then take a razor and cut a strand of hair from his beard, near his throat, while he is sleeping (you can then use that strand to enchant and bewitch him into loving you alone).” The wife accepted the slave’s suggestion and agreed to do as he advised.

In the interim, the slave went to the master and warned him that the wife intended to murder him. Accordingly, when the husband went to bed that night, he pretended to be asleep, anticipating the moment when his wife would attempt to kill him. As for his wife, then she took a blade and began to approach him silently, hoping to cut a strand from his beard.

As soon as the husband saw his wife stretch her hand towards his throat, holding the razor, he grabbed her hand and killed her. Thereafter, when the wife’s family members heard that her husband had killed her, they took revenge by killing the husband. (Kitaabus Samt wa Aadaabil Lisaan #268)

 

In the same way, how many marriages, friendships, partnerships and other relationships were damaged and destroyed beyond recovery on account of unverified information being accepted and believed?

 

When false or misleading information is transmitted and conveyed, then even if it does not lead to fights and quarrels, those spreading the information are still guilty of committing multiple serious sins. These include the sins of gheebah (backbiting), buhtaan (slander), nameemah (carrying tales to create discord), and even lying. At times, through sending a single message, one can fall into all of these sins at once.

 

It should be borne in mind that even if one is not responsible for creating the incorrect content of the message, but one merely passes it on and forwards it to others, then one is still guilty and sinful. It is for this reason that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has said that for one to merely convey all the information that he receives is sufficient to cause him to become sinful. (Saheeh Muslim #7)

 

Thus, in regard to information, it is safest for us to ignore all that which does not concern us and relate to us. In the case where the information does concern us and relate to us, then we should ensure that we verify it before accepting it and acting upon it.

Remember the golden principle – Verify before you amplify

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