MUFTI MOHAMMAD ANWAR KHAN
The modern era is distinguished as an age of amazing discoveries, wonderful inventions and a huge explosion of knowledge. The human being who had a very limited scope of invention and scientific vision in the past now has become able to create a vast range of surprising devices employing the resources Allah Almighty has bestowed upon his intellect. We have scores of devices, which have crept into our lives and are available at our disposal, which were quite unbelievable in the time of our forefathers. Many unlocked areas of science and information have been brought to light by the scholars of research and technology in different arenas of our life like space, layers, and oceans etc.
One of the most important and substantial inventions our time has brought about is in the field of communication, interconnecting people across the city, country, and even other countries across the globe. Even in the recent past the human being was unable to communicate his voice or message for one kilometer but now he can convey his message and communication successfully to the four corners of the world at anytime he desires without much effort through radio, television, fax, mobile and telephone etc. One can have a satisfactory and long conversation through the help of telephone or a mobile in the most clear, and effective way as if he were sitting with the person talking to or communicating with.
The invention of satellites and powerful devices, which are used in them, have made the use of these communication instruments even more easy, more accessible and more convenient with the fastest services built into them, which can be ever imagined or visualized by the ordinary human mind.
If we give a close thought over these manmade technical instruments, we come to know that these inventions and devices, in fact, corroborate some of the Islamic teachings and beliefs. The Holy Qur’an, time and gain, admonishes us that everything in the world is directly managed and supervised by Allah, the Almighty, run under His Absolute Knowledge and Power, everything judged under His keen scrutiny. Every creature of the world receives commandment from God without any agency, and in His mercy delivered to it directly by means of Prophets and Messengers to us under His great Cosmic Plan.
The Revelations sent to the Prophets of Allah were very much in this way delivered to them, which appeared impossible to the human intellect in those days. The Divine Commandments were sent to the Messengers of Allah sometimes directly as Allah spoke to Moses on the Mount Sinai, and sometimes they were delivered through inspirations and spiritual indications as it happened in the case of Prophet Ibrahim (as) who was ready to slaughter his dear son on the basis of a dream in order to please his Lord. Sometimes they are communicated to them by a powerful angel invisible to the naked eyes who consigns the Divine Word to the Apostle of Allah, as is the case with all Prophets of Allah including the seal of all Prophets, Muhammad (saws).
One of the most important inventions, highly beneficial for the human beings is the telephone which draws distances nearer, and gives each person a chance to share the happiness or sorrow cutting across all geographical boundaries. It has minimized the concept of space, removed the obvious obstacles, and given “distance” a new meaning, and a different sense that the world appears to us as having shrunk in size, which the intellectuals of the world term as a “Global Village.”
Historically speaking, telephone was invented by the great scientist and genius Alexander Graham Bill, which has now been improved upon and evolved into a dynamic mobile system. Nowadays, this invention has gained a great popularity in almost all circles from a beggar to the world’s richest businessman, who cannot simply do without it. The time has gone away when only the rich enjoyed the privilege of speaking on a telephone. In recent days, it has been noticed that almost every person possesses his own set of mobile and treasures it as he would do to a precious gem, uses it constantly, and in this way it has become one of the crucial requirements of a city life, the hallmark of a developing modern civilization.
After this brief introduction, I would like to give some details on this invention from an Islamic point of view in order to enlighten Muslims on the use of this device.
In fact, talking on a telephone is just like meeting someone personally or directly. Therefore, all the etiquettes mentioned in Islamic Fiqh books regarding personal and direct meetings will be based on this case also.
The Messenger of Allah (saws) has instructed a person visiting another to first greet him and say “Assalamu Alaikum”, and then ask his permission to enter his house. This Prophetic guidance makes it obvious that whenever we happen to make a phone call to someone, we must first say “Assalamu Alaikum”. Since this particular “Salaam” is designed especially for Muslims greeting each other, it will be better to greet a non-Muslim in any other form of greetings or compliments, which he is familiar in using it.
Islam has made it forbidden for a non-Mahram male and female to greet each other for this is prone to arouse a fitnah. However, there is very least chance of this fitnah while on phone, so one can greet a non-Mahram on phone. However, it is advisable to avoid this altogether for the unforeseeable problems, which may result at a later date. The person may record the voice of the female, edit it totally out of context, and present it to others as evidence of a unique relationship, which he enjoys with her with malice and mischief.
One of the main points to be explained here is that one should take great care while revealing one’s identity over the phone to a person who is he or she not familiar with for there is a danger that once when the voice is identified as belonging to a particular person, then he/she may open all the doors of harassment from unwanted callers, like telemarketing persons, or other perverts, who take pleasure in the anonymity of the telephone to verbally abuse a person, threaten him, or blackmail him into submission. So, one should be extremely careful as to keep his telephone numbers a secret, and give it to a select few who are anxious to know the welfare of a person. The best method of contacting someone on a phone is that after dialing the number when the other person receives the call, one immediately should make sure that the person at the other end is completely known to him.
If a person does not receive your call after dialing three times, you should not redial again. We are instructed in a hadith that once we are not allowed to enter into a house after asking permission three times, then we should go back to our houses, or attend to our businesses. So, one should not confuse or inconvenience a person by constant dialing more than three times if he is not receiving it for maybe he is busy in some important work.
Furthermore, the Messenger of Allah (saws) would knock on the door for asking permission in a way that no one sleeping onside should be disturbed because of him. Therefore, it is advisable for a Muslim not to dial someone late in the night and thus disrupt his sleep and rest. In this case, our suggestion to such persons is to switch off the mobile to prevent it from being misused by others.
If one has to make a long conversation with another person for an important reason, he should tell the person and ask his permission whether he can spare him that time. If he is granted the time then he/she may prolong the talk on the phone, otherwise, they should decide another different point of time to do the same. However, one can talk to government places any time he pleases and ask the information like airports, bus stands, railway stations and other public and corporate organizations.
It is immoral not to be gentle while talking in phone as in the case of a personal meeting. The Messenger of Allah (saws) has guided us: “Those visiting have a right over you.” We can know from this that if a person is a friend or a relative and likes to talk to us on phone, we should do it gently and decently, and not to be rude unnecessarily. In the same way, it is sinful to give the message through someone that you are unavailable while you are there.
It has become very common nowadays that people have started to set music ring tones in their phones so that if the person has to wait for some time, he could enjoy this. Islam has forbidden this type of entertainment for it goes beyond all the moral norms.
In some cases, people harass a particular person by dialing constantly. It is also noticed that some people abuse while on phone. Indecent words are spoken, and preposterous statements are made, even at some times the receiver of the phone is threatened all of which are strictly forbidden in Islam. Such a person should immediately bring it to the notice of the mobile provider and the police who can track this person, and a case can be booked against him for using the telephone in illegal and unlawful ways.
While talking on phone it must be made sure that one talks only according to the need, up to the point in a brief period, without wasting away too much time, and prolonging the discussion unnecessarily, for Islam has discouraged waste of money and time for no valid reason.
When the conversation is finished, one should greet at the end for the Messenger of Allah (saws) would greet and make Salaam at the end of the meeting.
These are a few basic guidelines regarding conversation on phone, which if applied by the people may be a great means of convenience and ease for all of us.
The last and final warning is that the mobiles in the present age are changing models with an alarming rate. They come with cameras equipped with zoom lens inbuilt inside them, which has evolved over a period of time to give a clear and sharp focus of a person, who is at a great distance away from him. A lady from a Muslim household should take care to veil her faces and strictly observe Hijab, if she is going out of the house for a particular errand, for her photograph in the hands of a pervert will put her into endless problems, which cannot be envisioned by her or her family at that point of time