The recent Coronavirus Pandemic has been the ultimate exploitation of fake news mongers. The media’s reliability at this point in time is just as questionable as the source of the virus itself.
The current information pertaining to the Coronavirus is causing a lot of conflict and chaos regarding the management of the virus medically, socially and even financially. What does Islam say about misinformation and fake news?
First let’s redefine the job of the media. It is to subjectively provide reliable information to the people to keep them informed of current events. Unfortunately today, the media no longer always provides information that is authentic and accurate; it instead is liable to mislead us and uses various methods of exposure to do so.
We should assess what information is being divulged through common knowledge and most importantly, with the help of Quran and Hadith.
The Quran says regarding news, to verify what is told to us;
‘O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.'(49.6)
Allah clearly condemns the spreading of misinformation and warns of serious consequences;
‘When you were propagating it with your tongues, and uttering with your mouths that whereof you had no knowledge, you counted it a little thing, while with Allah it was very great.'(24.15)
Prophet Muhammad (s) also warns of the impact on a person’s character;
“It is enough for a man to be considered a liar for him to repeat everything that he hears” (Recorded by Muslim).
This hadith speaks of only one person spreading false information. However, in the case of journalism, this can be particularly detrimental, as the audience is widespread.
One piece of unjustified news can spread like wildfire and cultivate misconceptions that lead to conflict and further deviance from what is right and proven. In addition to this, the individual spreading the news also has a hefty price to pay.
In the current situation, hints of this are coming into play; which is why is there is so much clash of opinions and the line between right and wrong is blurred.
It is the responsibility of the journalism industry to inform their audience with useful information and spread awareness of the truth.
The Quran also orders that it is the responsibility from the part of the receiver to verify any news before sharing it.