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Blasphemous WhatsApp messaging leads to a death sentence for Pakistani girl

Jan 25, 2022

 

Shakirah Hunter

WhatsApp messaging and other messaging apps are famous for the forwarding buttons and have built a culture of private messages being sent without the permission of the person writing the message. Screengrabs are often shared without permission and has often been the cause for many family disagreements and squabbles, as well as workplace miscommunication or in house issues becoming exacerbated through the sharing of messages that might not have been intended for said person.

This type of negative usage of one’s words as well as statuses that are inappropriate took a different turn recently when a Pakistan court sentenced a woman to death over WhatsApp Blasphemy.

In Pakistan, being an Islamic state, it is is illegal to post any content that is blasphemous against Allah Ta’ala or the Holy Prophet (s). This young girl was embroiled in a situation where she was being used by a family member who was misusing the blasphemy laws to gain revenge against her.

Later a higher court investigated and found that she had been manipulated by this man and her status and WhatsApp messages were misused entirely. A death sentence is not something light, nor is it something that courts come to very easily – however the deeper question that begs highlighting is the ease with which her words were accessed, manipulated, and used to bring about an entire court case.

Blasphemy is not a joke and as Muslims we take it extremely seriously- but at the same time the manipulation of words and false accusations are also regarded with seriousness in Islam.

This case highlights the lack of security in online communications. We all post on our statuses, and we are part of groups and send private messages out regularly. This case shows us the incredible ease that words can be manipulated, shared out of context, and more importantly create massive misunderstandings within communities.

The Holy Prophet (s) has guided us to the understanding that “every gathering is a trust”. We usually understand this to be physical gatherings, and this would demand that information in any gathering of people be treated as a trust and no part of those conversations can be shared without the explicit permission of the other members.

Today’s world has moved online and most of our gatherings are online – we meet on Google meet, do business on WhatsApp and other online platforms and it seems as if it is time for us to treat our online meeting and chatting spaces with the same guidelines outlined in the hadith. Every message and interaction should be regarded as a trust and shared with explicit consent. This limits family frictions, business competitiveness and more importantly creating animosity between Muslims.

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