Culture is defined as the ways of a particular group of people or a society. With the advent of the millennial and Gen Z cultures, a new character of people has developed. This has given rise to a new culture, which is being thrust upon every tolerant individual.
Muslims today often have to play a tug of war between their deen and cultural trends. Our early predecessors, too, had to deal with their own pull of culture. However, this pull has become increasingly stronger with changing times, as evidenced by many Muslims joining the wrong side. This has made it harder for a fellow Muslim to distinguish an innocent trend from a serious fitnah.
Let’s see how these cultural trends are actually a fitnah and how one can deal with it.
The Influence of the Influencers
The profession of an influencer has now progressed beyond simple advertisements and the promotion of mediocre products. It has become a medium of inspiration, teaching, and a form of embedding “true” lifestyle choices in others. Be it the pomp and glitter of westernized influencers or even the short Islamic reminders of Muslim influencers, the Imaan of the Muslim audience is swayed by these people.
Many followers of such influencers are highly disappointed if the influencers do not match their religious level. And, many times, even a sin is considered acceptable just because an influencer said so. How should one deal with this manipulative virtual society?
Firstly, one should seek knowledge through the correct means, and random social media pages and influencers are not it. Next, the audience should be aware that the influencer is merely a human, who is prone to make mistakes, and should not accept everything that is put up by the influencer as the truth. Above all, one should maintain Islamic values while following a person on social media.
As for the Muslim influencer, they must abide by the Islamic laws in running their page, and be responsible with the content they create and display, as the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,
‘Whoever calls people for true guidance, will have a reward equal to that of those who follow him, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest. And whoever calls people to misguidance, will have a (burden of) sin equal to that of those who follow him, without that detracting from their sins in the slightest.’
[Sunan Ibn Majah 206 | Grade: Sahih (Darussalam)]
Even as an influencer, one must not display their sins or mistakes to the public, as it is between them and Allah ﷻ, and Allah ﷻ is The One Who forgives and judges all. In this way, they can protect themselves from getting involved with the vile side of this culture.
And the best advice of all is that one must take a break now and then from social media, and dive into the authentic, real sea of knowledge—and this goes for both parties.
Idealizing the Idol
The term “idol” here does not refer to the structural statues that are worshipped; rather, it refers to the so-called “perfect human celebrities”. Famous actors, sportsmen, and especially, global pop singers and musicians are looked up to by many. Although, nowadays, they seem to be lost in the crowd in comparison to the K-pop singers, better known as K-pop idols.
This popular music culture has taken over the world. The fandoms consist of no less than worshippers of these humans. They are ready to fight for their “idols” whenever they are opposed or criticized. Sadly, Muslims are also counted among this lot.
This popular culture not only promotes music but also encourages obscenity, promiscuity, nudity, LGBTQ+, and being “flawless and perfect” among many other things. Many argue for the “positivity” it promotes, but they forget the disturbing side of it; these performers are put on a pedestal—a fandom with endless praises for them has risen as a result of this.
In Muslim-dominated countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia, huge musical concerts are held. Thriving fan clubs have added fuel to the flames of difficulty for Muslims. This is in terms of the fitnah a Muslim has to face in order to uphold their Imaan and religiosity.
No matter how good the music or songs may seem, they are prohibited in Islam and will always be among the tricks of Shaytan, as Allah ﷻ says,
‘“And incite (to senselessness) whoever you can among them with your voice and assault them with your horses and foot soldiers and become a partner in their wealth and their children and promise them.” But Satan does not promise them except delusion.’
‘Do you marvel at this statement, and laugh and do not weep, while you amuse yourselves (proudly) in vanities? Rather, prostrate before Allah and worship Him.’
As for the ridiculous obsession over these people and their “nobility”, it is nothing but a means of making money for them. And Allah ﷻ talks about such obsession,
‘And (yet), among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. And if only they who have wronged would consider (that) when they see the punishment, (they will be certain) that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is severe in punishment.’
Rather than a culture, it is more of a technological way of publicly lynching a person. Here, a person is shunned or abused for something they did in the past, or for something that goes against the present social norms. Many times, this is done for the most trivial reasons, and the person’s reputation is played with by means of mockery.
This kind of derogatory behaviour is completely unethical for a Muslim to exhibit. One cannot judge a person by their past mistakes or sins, as one may never know when the person changed for the better. As for the corrupt social norms, a Muslim must never agree to or accept something that Islam prohibits and abhors. Apart from that, the Most Merciful teaches us to be merciful to others, as the Prophet ﷺ says,
‘Allah Almighty will not show mercy to the person who does not show mercy to other people.’
[Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 370 | Grade: Sahih (Al-Albani)]
Culture will keep changing with time and people, but Islam will remain unchanged. Culture is designed according to man’s limited intellect, while Islam is the way of life ordained by Allah ﷻ. Cultural customs become ridiculous after a period of time, while Islam will always make sense, even after 1400 years.
Nonetheless, culture is one of the tricks Shaytan employs to lure people into the disobedience of Allah ﷻ. It may sound absurd to some, but it is the truth. Small steps of following trends will eventually plunge a person into the blazing fire. Shaytan will say on the Day of Judgment,
‘Indeed, Allah had promised you the promise of truth. And I promised you, but I betrayed you. But I had no authority over you except that I invited you, and you responded to me. So do not blame me; but blame yourselves. I cannot be called to your aid, nor can you be called to my aid. Indeed, I deny your association of me (with Allah) before. Indeed, for the wrongdoers is a painful punishment.’
- K-POP FANDOM IN VEIL Religious Reception and Adaptation to Popular Culture by Sunny Yoon
Written by: Musmirah
Edited by: The Editorial Team
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