With the advent of the Internet the face of education changed forever. For the first time in history information became available to the masses at the touch of a fingertip. We could explore content that had once been out of reach, connect with experts from all over the world, and personalise our learning journey to suit our needs, wants and lifestyle.
In the realm of Islamic knowledge, this accessibility came at a cost. Though the scope of potential benefit increased due to easier access to rulings and explanations of Islam in one’s first language, the open platform of the internet meant that anybody could become an authority of Islam and expose their views to the general public. Whether or not a person had studied the Islamic sciences, and whether or not they had the correct skills and wisdom to impart the knowledge, became an obsolete matter. Websites could not investigate the skills needed to become a religious authority, visitors could not see the reality behind the person who was posting, and YouTube only cared about the fame appeal and number of views connected to an uploader as opposed to their academic rigour.
In the wake of this threat to the puritan teachings of Islam, it has become increasingly important for all of us who utilise this medium of information search to retain a link with physical teachers and scholars, and not replace them completely with their viral counterparts. Etiquettes, manners, character building, depth of understanding, rigorous insight into texts and a holistic appreciation of the religion cannot come except by sitting at the feet of the scholars. As teachers we can try our best to engage with the movement of the times and utilise the face of the internet to produce high quality and authentic content. And as students we can ensure that everything we research from the internet is critically analysed to establish its source, all rulings are verified by a scholar that we trust, and that we never self-fatwa our individual situation from the internet.
May Allah grant us a deep understanding of His religion.