In the age of lies and disinformation

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Zafar Bangash

Rajab 04, 1438 2017-04-01

Reflections

by Zafar Bangash (Reflections, Crescent International Vol. 46, No. 2, Rajab, 1438)

Western officials and the corporate media have made lies and disinformation a part of normal existence. What is worse, they even insist people must accept their lies as truth.

The Western corporate-owned media has become so used to spreading lies and disinformation that it no longer feels even a scintilla of shame. In the past, it maintained some pretence of trying to tell the truth; no more. For decades it peddled the myth of objectivity while mixing truth with falsehood. In fact, this point is drummed into the heads of all students attending journalism courses in the West. In the real world, it is very different but they continue to repeat the fiction that their reporting is ‘objective’.

Let us be clear. There is no such thing as objectivity. Every journalist comes with social baggage and preconceived notions about what is good or bad. For instance, the common myth is that the West’s culture is superior to others, that the West treats women fairly and that there is freedom in Western societies. Such self-serving claims can be easily refuted. Even people living in the West have realized that there is little or no freedom. Recent revelations about the CIA’s hacking into cell phones and other electronic devices, even television sets, have awakened most people to the reality that they are living in a police state. Even encrypted messages are not safe because the CIA has access to the keyboard of every gadget and reads them before they are encrypted.

Interestingly, while people in the West are waking up to the reality of the less than free society they live in, most Muslims continue to believe in the fairytale of the West’s free media. Muslims appear to have a love-hate relationship with the media. On the one hand they complain that they do not get fair treatment and that there is much distortion about Islam and Muslims, yet they peddle the lies that the same media spins. Even while complaining about the Western media’s distortions and lies, they do little or nothing to help Muslim media outlets that struggle under very difficult circumstances to survive.

The most painful aspect of Muslim behavior is that based on the lies they swallow from the Western media, they formulate opinions and reactions that cause much harm to other Muslims. Let us remind ourselves of what Allah (swt) tells us in the noble Qur’an: “O you who are securely committed to Allah! If a fasiq (degenerate person) comes to you with some news, verify it lest you cause harm to a people that you may come to regret later [when you discover the truth]” (49:06).

This ayah was revealed about the conduct of a Muslim—Waleed ibn Uqbah ibn Abi Mu‘eet. The noble Messenger (saws) had sent him to the tribe of Bani Mustaliq to collect zakat after the tribe accepted Islam. On his way, Waleed became scared and thought the tribe might kill him. So he returned to Madinah and lied to the Prophet (saws) that the tribe refused to pay zakat. After consulting his Companions, the Prophet (saws) decided to send an expeditionary force against the tribe for violating a fundamental Islamic injunction. While these preparations were underway, the chief of the Bani Mustaliq arrived in Madinah bringing the zakat amount with him. He told the noble Messenger (saws) that since nobody came to collect it, they decided to bring it directly.

Here was a divine reprimand against a Muslim at the time of the noble Messenger (saws). How much more severe would be the divine reprimand against people that are the sworn enemies of Allah and His Prophet (saws)? Why is it that most Muslims are unable to understand this basic point?

The Western capitalist world has entered the post-truth era where there is no longer a false representation of reality but that people are led to believe that the real is no longer real. We are back to George Orwell’s 1984.

Two plus two no longer equals four but whatever the gnomes of the military-industrial-banking complex want it to be. The rest of us must accept it or else. But do Muslims have to do what they are told or they must adhere to a higher calling by upholding truth and justice regardless of the costs?

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