• Aiman

Is the internet مباح?

In fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence the term mubaah refers to things that are neutral as to permissibility. It's like a hammer, which is good or bad depending on how it's used. Consider if the internet, both in general or specific areas/uses, is mubaah (a different sort of "net neutrality"). Some contexts could actually be fard kifayah (obligatory on the community) in order to provide a Muslim presence or fard ayn (obligatory on the individual) as it would be harmful on a person to totally avoid. And other areas and uses are clearly haraam (forbidden, like any internet feature specifically designed for stealing, deceiving, or salaciousness). But is most of the internet and its common uses mubaah, neutral?

Consider the hammer again. If someone wraps their hand around the handle of a hammer, it neither pulls them to build a house nor to strike someone. It's also just as easy to let go of than it was to grasp. If the user is going to do either of those things, that's got to originate from inside the person and is not due to the nature of the object. So is the internet like that? And because the internet and its uses are so vast, let's at least now narrow it to sitting with a smartphone, computer, or tablet and there's an open browser.

Yes, what's inside a user will matter, and having a clearly defined intention prior to opening the device would make a big difference. But isn't there something terribly simple and quick about a person's movement on the web? It would be easy enough to just bemoan the evils of the internet, but what exactly is that? That. I think there is a that. Something like a stream flowing in the wrong direction, one a person has got to resist and push against in order to do good and avoid harm or harming. And it starts well short of the obvious proliferations; I'm talking here about something more fundamental than cyberbullying or pornography.

Maybe that's life, but life doesn't normally bend our heads down for minutes or hours at a time or repeatedly sustain our gaze, day in and day out.

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