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Muslimah’s Voice: The Act of Blogging Lies

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My spirit was down on this bright cold Wednesday morning. I kept replaying different the scenarios in my head. I couldn’t believe what had transpired the afternoon before. Why? I couldn’t pray, think or do anything. I was in a daze. My mum checked up on me several times but I just faked sleep. I didn’t want to talk to anyone or answer any questions. Everyone was blowing up my phone to hear the gist or offer my thoughts and prayers, but I didn’t need it. I took my bath, wore all black to suit my mood, then proceeded to work at 7 AM.

I had a six sigma week-long quality training that started at 8.30 AM but I couldn’t bring myself to wait at home. I wanted to be alone but my parents kept spying on me. They thought I would harm myself. I drove around and made a few stops but I just couldn’t focus. I knew I was in no frame of mind to attend any quality training so I drove home. On getting to the privacy of my bedroom, I googled the incident “Maechelli murdered.” What I saw blew my mind. Before proceeding, let me provide a little background.

Maechelli and I started our friendship during our new job orientation (How I met Maechelli). We had just been accepted for an engineering position at a manufacturing firm and we were apartment searching. This was Maechelli’s first solo apartment. She had recently graduated from college where she shared a space with 4 other women. She was happy to leave that crazy life and excited to move into an apartment alone. She found a newly built apartment which met all her requirement, except the cost.

Our plan was to get a 1-bed-1-bath apartment, but due to a lack of availability, we diverted. Maechelli was looking into a 2-bed-2-bath apartment which was $1200/monthly. With her salary, she could probably afford an apartment around that price range. However, it was difficult coming from a cost-effective background to justify spending over three times her old rent fees. The shared student rent was about $300-$400. I understood the rationale. She dragged this decision for about a month but succumbed when nothing was forthcoming. She decided to get the two-bed and find a roommate to rent out one-room/bath. Having a roommate wasn’t my forte. I argued my point but respected hers. We definitely differed when it came to the love of personal space. After a lot of consultation, paranoia and prayer, the first roommate moved in. Boundaries and rules were set. The occupant had separate rooms and bathroom on the different side of the apartment. They only shared the kitchen and living room. There was no issue with the roommate, only that he was male. Mixed rooming is common practice in America.

About a year later, my friend Maechelli was looking for another roommate. The old roommate had to relocate for work. I tried my convincing magic again but my friend explained how much she saved from getting a roommate. I respected her wishes. She searched and found the calm looking engineer who later killed her. He went crazy one day and stabbed her to death. We never knew he had been hospitalized for mental health concerns in another state prior to moving. The background check came back squeaky clean, and the fact that he worked for the state department got us confident. Unfortunately, we didn’t predict the outcome.

Let’s get back to the bright cold Wednesday.

The things I saw on google made me disappointed in the human race. There were lots of versions of what really happened. I knew most of what happened because I was close to the Maechelli. The local newspaper stuck to the truth while the Nigerian bloggers fabricated lies. I saw stories about how she was dating the roommate. The jealous lover story. The loose wayward girl story. My heart sank. I glanced through the comment section and read comments from her sister trying to set the blogs straight. I had to send her a text requesting that she stopped. On one side, I understood the need to defend one’s own, but on the other hand, I don’t believe in feeding the weeds.

Maechelli was slandered a lot and she wasn’t even there to defend herself. A month after, her body was sent to Nigeria for burial rites. The priest presiding at her funeral gave his sermon based on the lies that were written on the blogs. It was very embarrassing for the family. They lost not only their daughter but her reputation on that day. Everyone who knew this lady could testify to her impeccable character but people who didn’t know her felt it was appropriate to slander her.

Why is it okay to slander people? Are we so morally bankrupt that we can’t hold ourselves to certain standards? Does the love of money rob us of our sense of right and wrong? Does making a mockery of others help us feel better about ourselves? How do we sleep at night knowing our lies might be putting others in danger? What does it take to verify information? Are we saying one has to slander people to make it as a blogger? Would the luxury items bought from people’s pain provide eternal peace?

Islam defines slandering as one of the dangerous and popular corruptions of the tongue. There is a Quran verse that warns against slandering and warns of stiff punishment for this action. Quran (49:12) likened slandering to eating the flesh of his dead brother. Another Hadith states that anyone that reveals the secret affairs of another, God shall reveal his own secret affairs and scandalize him in his own house. Abou Saeid narrated from the Prophet that slander is worse than adultery. This is because adultery may be forgiven with repentance to God but slandering requires forgiveness from the other party who might not be accepted. Slandering hinders acceptance of prayers and destroys good deeds.

The way social media has made news accessible is the same way it has made gossip accessible. With the click of a button, the wrong information can cascade to multiple people. With the help of social media likes, tweet, broadcast, and regram, information could spread to hundreds of people within a few minutes. Who should be held responsible for peddling lies? Is it the one that shares the gist with a friend after reading it from another or the one that shared it on social media to others, or is it the one who wrote the initial message? In the current Nigerian society, no one is held accountable. It’s a society where everyone is hustling without being held to any moral standard.

In Islamic doctrine, everyone responsible for sharing the lies would also share in the sin; from the originator to the last person. However, the originator shares in every participant’s sin. He/she shares in the sins of those involved, the adverse effect of the ‘gist’ and he/she would account for it on judgment day. Everyone would account for shares and retweet on judgment day. Technology has made life easy for us, it has also made the path to Jannah more difficult.

There are excuses that maybe the originators had no idea the information was a lie. The Quran states “O you who believe! If a Faasiq (liar — evil person) comes to you with any news, verify it, lest you should harm people in ignorance, and afterward you become regretful for what you have done” [al-Hujuraat 49:6]. It is important to verify everything we hear to avoid peddling lies. If the information isn’t verifiable or there is a tiny chance of uncertainty, stay silent. A Hadith narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “It is enough sin for a man to speak of everything that he hears.” Al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 2025.

I also heard excuses from individuals that blogging is a business that must yield a profit. Of what use is profit when it comes at a very high price of internal rest or peace? Any profit-making scheme on other people’s pain and secret is only for a limited time and will have future consequences. Remember the one who exposes others’ secrets will always be exposed. We rise by lifting others and not stomping on them while they are down.

There is a popular saying in my office: “Trust but verify.” I work in an aerospace firm and the result of misinformation can be catastrophic. Regardless of who provides the information, one is responsible for either fallout or praise as a result of the application. Appending your signature makes you liable for any damage. No matter how much trust we have in the source of Information, we must always verify. This is also supported by the Islamic doctrine.

Regardless of one’s religion or race, it is important to never lose sight of one’s moral code and essence. Every day I ask myself, how I would have felt if I were in Maechelli’s family shoes? I wish the peddlers would get a taste of their own medicine so they could feel how much it hurts.

 

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Muslimah’s Voice (muslimahsvoice.com) was created to educate, uplift and inspire and enlighten women especially muslim women about their rights according to the Holy book. Many Muslim women especially in Nigeria are oppressed due to wrong interpretations of the scripture. This blog was created to discuss difficult and controversial topics plaguing women and the scripture's perspective.

4 Comments

  1. Ruqiat

    February 16, 2019 at 4:15 am

    Thank you for posting.. Slandering is a terrible thing..

  2. Afrogal

    February 16, 2019 at 6:35 am

    Dear sister,

    I am sorry for your pain and for the pain that Maechelli’s family experienced and is still experiencing to this day. May Allah bring tranquility into their hearts. I do not think that her sister should have stopped telling the truth to the blogs because the truth deserves to be known. Hopefully, your article on Bella Naija, a very popular website, will bring the truth to many people. I would like to encourage both you and her sister to share a short description of this article and a link to the article on the blogs who did not write the truth because the truth deserves to be known.
    I’m not sure if Maechelli was Muslim or Christian. Islam and other religions require that their believers not live with members of the opposite sex who are not their family members. This applies to roommates as well. Why this requirement? From my understanding, part of the reason is that women have an increased need for safety, whether they are Muslim women, Christian women or Jewish women. The reason I am mentioning this is that in North America (I live in NA), a lot of people try to recoup the rent as rents here are often unjustifiable. For any woman in North America or in another region, do not try to recoup the rent with a male roommate. Men quickly turn violent. I’ve recouped my rent with female roommates only and I don’t do Airbnb AT ALL, under no circumstances.
    If one of your female friends needs to recoup the rent with a roommate, the best thing would be to advise her to recoup with a female roommate while still doing background checks with past landlords, employers, family and friends.
    Dear sister, may Allah welcome Maechelli in his paradise. Surely, she will find peace in our Creator’s haven and she will be able to pray for your peace of mind as well. Please find the courage to spread this article to as many people as possible.

    • Riqiat

      February 16, 2019 at 12:23 pm

      Thank you for your response…

      it’s very easy to judge when one isnt in the position. What is the difference between Nigerians face me I face you and this living arrangement? In Nigeria, they have their room but share kitchen and even rest room. This scenario is even better because only the kitchen is shared. Dont religious leaders live in that same situation. In North America, 2 different families can share a 2bedroom apartment. Dont believe all the easy life you see on tv. Do we honestly think that a female roommate wouldnt have been Maechelli’s preference?

      Roommate or even strangers kill each other regardless of the religion or gender. Wasnt it on the news that a female tried poisoning her roommate? It is easy to stay in the comfort of our environment and play the what ifs when we arent living someone’s life. It is important as muslims to understand that everything happens because it’s already destined. She was destined to die and she would have regardless of the roommate situation or not.

      I also dont understand the ‘Men’ quickly get violent comment’. Are we boxing the whole male specie? Are women less emotional? Arent there women killers? Has your male relative killed anyone because of it volatility? Let’s refrain from generalizing and stick to the issue.

      The key message in this writeup Is slandering and misinformation. Let’s search for the truth and stop going for hearsay. Islam is against suspicion and lies. Lets leave all judgment to Allah about her decision or indecision.

  3. Adeniji Adesola Ademuyiwa

    February 16, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    I am trying hard to understand this perspective. Anyway, we all can’t have same views. The message of the article is about “Blogging lies” and the decision or intention behind whichever way anyone chooses to arrange his/her rent needs not be questioned or meant to look as if it is not thought out well before venturing into it. We need to walk in people’s shoes before we start to……………..,
    Anyway, this kind of living set-up and incident can even happen within a nuclear family unit or happen between closest blood relation. This is far from being a religion or gender issue.

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