Question: What do you tell concerning use of social networks? Whether it is possible to place there photos? (Malika)
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
There is no doubt that social networking sites have become an important part of people's lives. This is evidenced from the millions of users that are part of these online communities.
While social networking sites can be used for good and/or permissible works such as dawah, business promotions, and breaking news - they are more often than not used for impermissible purposes such as intermingling, browsing photos, chatting, and online relationships. As a result, only a minority refrain themselves from getting involved in impermissible uses of social networking.
In addition to the above impermissible uses, there are other serious harms of social networking sites such as the following:
Using status messages for impermissible things: An enormous amount of time is wasted by users in reading the status messages of their friends. In addition, revealing information about one's personal activities allows others to make obscene comments, cyberstalk and spy on you. A number of documented incidents as noted later in this article prove that such harassment is increasing at an alarming rate on social networking sites.
Posting photos on social networking sites: Many users add photos of themselves as icons and also upload and share photos of themselves while going about their day, or events they attend and so on.
The position of the Darul Iftaa is that it is not permissible to have digital photos of yourself, male or female on such sites.
This impermissibility of photos is further exacerbated when they include pictures of women due to numerous negatives:
a.) It allows mischievous people the ability to anonymously write obscene comments, cyber-stalk, and harass women. This is not hearsay or a mere conjecture. There have been a number of incidents where obscene comments have even driven some young women to take their own lives as well.
b.) According to numerous references, these photos are also photoshopped and modified to put them in embarrassing and compromising situations. Would any decent person, male or female, want such pictures of them circulating online?
In fact, one book mentions a 17 year old Muslim girl who wears hijab, had her and her sister's photo taken from her page and put on naked bodies in an effort to ridicule and harass her.
It is clear from the evidence cited above that in addition to being impermissible, it is not in the best interest of anyone to post their photos online. It is inconceivable that anyone, much less a Muslim, would want their photos to be cropped, photoshopped and displayed in obscene ways or ridiculed.
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Sohail ibn Arif,
Student Darul Iftaa
Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai