The Deloitte Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey reveals that Millennials and Gen Zs believe in their individual power to drive change. They are passionate about meaningful action — increasing political involvement, aligning spending and career choices with their values, and driving change on societal issues that matter most to them.
To drive change, some of us may actively engage in advocacy online. When we do so, why is Adab important? How do we operate constructively in this new environment in which there are very few barriers to expressing our views?
Speaking at Muhasabah Masyarakat Bersama Mufti in November last year, Mufti Dr Nazirudin Mohd Nasir answered these questions and more on the topic of "Adab in Advocacy".
Adab refers to the refinement of character and moral values. The importance of Adab in Islam and humanity cannot be understated, given that it is amongst the important messages of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
إِنَّمَا بُعِثْتُ لِأُتَمِّمَ صَالِحَ الأَخْلاقِ
I was sent to perfect good character.
Moral ethics is an essential part of Islam. It covers every aspect of a person’s life, which includes advocacy as well.
Here are 4 lessons Mufti shared during the session:
Mufti Dr Nazirudin highlighted that when you engage with people online, there is the same level of seriousness as what you say in the physical encounter. Although you may feel like it’s safer for you to engage in the online space because you don’t have those other things that you would worry about in a physical encounter, your words do matter. Because there are real people reading your comments.
As Muslims, we all know Akhlaq and Adab are very important in Islam. But why are they important?
“I think the reason is because Islam wants one particular objective which is almost like the ultimate objective of life, which is what we call Salam, which is peace.”
Mufti Dr Nazirudin shared that the idea of peace in the Quran is peace in your mind, soul and body.
When we have peace within, we are able to radiate it to others, online and offline.
He brought up a verse in Surah Al-Hujurat that talks about not denigrating others:
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ لَا يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌ مِّن قَوْمٍ عَسَىٰٓ أَن يَكُونُوا۟ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَآءٌ مِّن نِّسَآءٍ عَسَىٰٓ أَن يَكُنَّ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُنَّ ۖ وَلَا تَلْمِزُوٓا۟ أَنفُسَكُمْ وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا۟ بِٱلْأَلْقَـٰبِ ۖ بِئْسَ ٱلِٱسْمُ ٱلْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ ٱلْإِيمَـٰنِ ۚ وَمَن لَّمْ يَتُبْ فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلظَّـٰلِمُونَ
O believers! Do not let some (men) ridicule others, they may be better than them, nor let (some) women ridicule other women, they may be better than them. Do not defame one another, nor call each other by offensive nicknames. How evil it is to act rebelliously after having faith! And whoever does not repent, it is they who are the (true) wrongdoers.
(Surah Al-Hujurat, 49:11)
Even if the person doesn't know that you’re talking bad about them, it allows ill-will and rancour in your heart to fester. You tolerated that, allowed it to grow in your heart about this person to the extent that you talk to other people about this person.
Part of training our mind and soul is to have Adab. We are encouraged to think good about people. You can express your disagreement but let go of anger and angst and move on.
In Islam, it’s not about the big changes that sometimes become unsustainable. Small things can also leave a very powerful impact if we continue to do it consistently - Istiqamah in doing good.
Over time, when we get into very serious conversations about very important issues, that is the kind of environment we want. Because that will be a very powerful platform for us not just to think of change but also to educate, and influence others in a very positive way.
We can think big but act small and that small act can actually trigger a big change if it becomes a collective movement.
Mufti Dr Nazirudin called on the youth to keep that flame burning to contribute in their own small or big but significant way.
Watch the full session by Mufti Dr Nazirudin and learn more about how Adab guides us in our interactions with others (sign language available) here.