Permissibility of Technology in Islam

Today is the world of science and technology and one cannot deny the benefits it has brought to the human kind. In Islam, using of Technology in itself is permissible and technological advancement is much desirable for Muslims. However, the manner in which technology is used can make it haram. For example, it is permissible to use a mobile phone, but it is haram to use it for an illicit relationship. The following are some of the most commonly used technical gadgets that need some explanation on their usage:

Television

The most common tool of entertainment in the world today is the television. Even the poorest of people have a television set in their homes. It is a powerful tool that can be used for both good and evil; it is highly influential and plays a major role in shaping people’s personalities and morals.

However, since its invention, the television has been used mainly as an instrument of the satan; it has been condemned completely by most Muslim scholars since it has proved more harmful than beneficial. It is only recently that Muslims have decided to use the television to propagate Islam and its teachings. As a result, it has been discovered that Muslims lack media content as compared to the disbelievers may be because their delayed start left them behind.

Shaykh Salman al-Oudah explains this change of opinion as follows: Other Islamic workers rejected mass media. They warned against the evils and the dangers of television. Alas. they ultimately found themselves compelled to accept the fact that such things were here to stay and could not be ignored. They realized that they were going to have to use the media to call people to Islam and give the people a wholesome alternative to the filth that they were watching. In this way, the television and other mass media options became means of disseminating Islam. These means were understood to take the ruling of the ends for which they were employed. They were not to be regarded as good and evil in and of themselves.

Originally, Muslim scholars rejected television because it enabled many forms of immorality to enter the Muslim home and corrupt it from within. The effects of this are evident in many Muslim homes today, where there is unrestricted access to television programmes with unsuitable content. However, scholars later realized the mistake of this ruling.

It is not the television itself that is evil; instead, the way it is used determines whether it is good or evil. If television is being used correctly, it can be a great means of influencing people in the right direction. Taking this into consideration, many scholars have changed their rulings regarding television. It is a tool of mass communication, but it is the content that determines which of the five categories of fiqh it falls into. For example, watching women dressed in a sexually provocative manner would be haram, while watching an Islamic lecture might be recommended.

A Muslim, however, should tread very carefully because most of what is shown on television is haram. It is best for Muslims to ensure that they tune in only to Islamic television stations and maintain a library of halal videos. Having UN-Islamic television stations in the home can prove to be too difficult a test for many Muslims and their children.

Internet

The most powerful tool of mass communication and globalization is the Internet. It has made an unlimited amount of information available at one’s fingertips, but unfortunately, a great amount of evil is also accessible. The Internet is perhaps the toughest tool to pass a ruling on. On one hand, so much good has come out of it: many Islamic websites exist, online universities and programmes have been initiated, and people have reverted to Islam online. In short, the benefits of the Internet are too many to count.

On the other hand, a lot of evil has spread through the Internet, the most common of which is the widespread and easily accessible pornography, and the worst of which are the misleading websites that take people away from Islam. Many websites twist the teachings of Islam to make it look evil, and this is nothing but a trap of Satan to make Muslims apostatize. Many of these misleading websites are easily accessible, causing a great test for a Muslim’s faith.

The Internet is like a minefield in which you must tread very carefully. You should fear Allah and use it only for good. If you fear that you will not be able to use it for constructive purposes, then you should not install an Internet connection in your home. The following steps can help a person benefit from the Internet and avoid the traps of Satan:

1. Start by saying Bismillah (In the name of Allah). If you begin using the Internet by remembering Allah, you will only use it for permissible purposes inshallah. A God-fearing Muslim would not use the Internet for evil after taking Allah’s name prior to using it.

2. Firmly resolve to use the Internet only for that which is beneficial. Ask Allah to protect you from Satan and to guide you to the straight path. Your intention will help you to choose good websites, and your supplication will be a means of gaining Allah’s protection from misinformation from Satan.

3. Make use of all the safety features available on your computer to block out pornographic and other unsuitable content.

4. The computer with Internet access should be in an open area of the house, where other members of the family can see what is being viewed. This will reduce the user’s desire to access sinful content on it.

5. If you do not have good control over yourself and your nafs, then avoid using Internet as much as possible. This is very important to safeguard your Akhirah.

Mobile phones

The use of mobile phones has become so widespread that almost every child owns one. Furthermore, the mobile phone has become so technologically advanced that it has the features of a computer, television, radio and phone all in one. This has been the cause of great trials for Muslims. The phone has given young Muslims access to the opposite sex and to pornography and other evils, right in the palm of their hands. It is now possible for a young man to exchange text messages with a girlfriend while he is sitting at the same table as his parents, without them even knowing.

The question that needs to be raised is whether the phone is necessary. Why does a ten-year-old or a fourteen-year-old need a mobile phone? The phone does not contain many benefits for them; in contrast, the harms and temptations greatly outweigh the benefits. It is for this reason that I hold the opinion that it is not permissible for parents to hand over a mobile phone to their young children until they are mature, strong and spiritually developed enough to resist its evil temptations and to use it only for halal purposes. If this is not considered, then parents should not be surprised to find their children in illicit relationships.

A general rule for technology

Technology is like any other tool; it can be used for good or evil. It is up to the user to fear Allah and to use His gifts in a way that pleases Him. A user who falls into error should repent and not allow the devil to overcome him or her. This is the balanced method; to completely cut Muslims off from technology would stifle the growth of Islam and any chance of Muslims becoming a rival to the West.

We must embrace and master technology, and then go on to develop more beneficial ways to use it. This will prove crucial to the development and growth of the Muslims, and it is definitely critical for the establishment of a Muslim state.