Ismailis on social media: You need to take care and STOP indiscriminate likes, follows and forwards!

Aniza Meghani, Simerg
Social media portrait of Aniza Meghani, author of this post.

[A TRULY SHOCKING FORWARD: On Monday May 5, 2020, Simerg received numerous WhatsApp and email messages that stated “MHI has donated 250 million Euros towards the vaccine for COVID-19.” That misleading note was based on the wrong reading of a headline in the Portuguese newspaper noticiasaominuto  which said, “Imamat Ismaili dá 250 mil euros para o combate à Covid-19, and spread like fire around the world. Without even considering to do a (FREE!) google translate, the person(s) forwarding the note assumed that 250 mil euros in the headline represented 250 million euros! Utilizing Google translate would have informed the first sender(s) of the message that the amount is actually 250 thousand and not 250 million — mil denotes a thousand in Portuguese. Aniza Meghani in the following piece asks us to verify facts properly before rushing to accept and like everything that appears to look good on social media. The same care should be exercised with messaging applications. It becomes the duty of the recipient to conduct preliminary fact checking, through translations if necessary, before forwarding messages to their friends and group members. Once forwarded, the rippling effects are enormous, and almost impossible to reverse in a timely manner! A lot of time of precious time was lost in responding to individuals who sent out that error filled message. — Ed.]

By ANIZA MEGHANI

Social media is the most powerful tool in the world, one that can make you or break you! Gone are the days of hearing genuine news by physically buying the newspaper or researching material by visiting the good old fashion library. No more writing a letter and posting it before you patiently wait for a reply. THE WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER AT A TOUCH OF A BUTTON. That is the most dangerous part of it all. We simply access, copy, paste and distort leaving a trail of one’s data history. Data that others can still access. That is more worrying because if you are not careful, it will come back and haunt you when you least expect it. This is critical for students of today when applying for university places or jobs.

Be warned, in certain places as soon as you enter a building, your mobile will give them your history without you even knowing. Now that’s scary! So today, we have within our community, weblinks that allow us to access our Jamati activity and keep us informed. However, with so much misleading information and sites, let us protect ourselves and safeguard our community. To do so, I thought why not show examples of misleading sites that are harmful and painful.

Almost all Ismailis today, traversing through all age groups, from old to young, from those who are fully conversant in the English language to those who do not understand even basic words of English, everybody is on or wants to be on social media.

As Ismailis we are particularly drawn to those pages or sites which display beautiful photographs of our beloved Imam and members of his family, whom we respectfully refer as the Noorani family. Many of us immediately post a ‘like’ or reply with “Yam” wherever we see a photograph of Hazar Imam or his name.

Many of us even join these groups or sites or pages just because the name of Hazar Imam and his photograph are in the title.

I am writing this article because having just concluded reading the recently released Farman book containing the Jamati work Farmans from 2011-2013, it struck me as a matter of curiosity that Mawlana Hazar Imam, in these Farmans — as well as in the Lisbon Diamond Jubilee Darbar Farman — repeatedly stresses to us, his beloved children, to learn and understand English. My cocooned world is all about English, so it felt strange reading about the imperativeness of learning the global language of English.

It wasn’t until recently that I came across the danger of not knowing English well. Or perhaps even the dangers of not reading properly.

Social media is greatly to blame for this growing culture of posting likes to images and skimming through texts. Not really reading, not really absorbing the context of a post, just hitting the like or follow button on whatever pops up on the screen that catches your fancy, in this case, a photograph of Hazar Imam or his name.

It’s sad really. But something still needs to be done. Hence the purpose of this post.

There is a group, or maybe several groups, on social media that tend to post lovely photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam and the Noorani family. It’s heartening, I am sure, to see the glittering countenances of our Imam and the Noorani family, is it not? So, we click the like button and we follow that page or join that group – however, we are absolutely, intolerably clueless about the actual purpose of it. And then, bam! Out of the blue, the very same page posts a sacrilegious article about Hazar Imam, albeit coupled with a beatific photo of him.

Now, if you are a reader by nature, you would be highly scandalized. But if you’re a skimmer, or if you don’t understand English, or if you don’t bother to read the text and are just mesmerized by Mawla’s resplendent smile (I don’t blame you, but I do), you are treading on dangerous ground because you may inadvertently be joining a group that is anti-Imam, anti-Noorani family and anti-Ismaili.

My advice: whenever you see a photograph or name of Hazar Imam, refrain from putting a like or leaving a YAM reply or joining the group blindly. READ all the posts on that page –present and past — as well as read the website where the social media link takes you. And join or reply or like only if the page is in legitimate praise of Hazar Imam. Do the same for each quote, message and link that you receive, and don’t blindly re-forward a message that has been forwarded to you simply because it has come from a trustworthy or reliable source.

Because, as a murid of Hazar Imam, how can you — how can you approve of anything that mocks him, that belittles him, that spreads falsities and terrible lies about him and our faith? How can you be a part of that?

And do not forget that the administrators of these sites are very clever — they will post three very beautiful articles or photographs in praise of Hazar Imam, but then will slip in an article of hate speech against the Imam, the Noorani family and/or the Ismaili Community.

STOP THE ZOMBIE-LIKING BECAUSE IT HELPS SPUR THESE NEFARIOUS PEOPLE ON AND SUCH PAGES AND SITES TO FLOURISH! And please explain this to all of your friends and relatives who are on social media but who do not understand English. You have a duty to do this.

Date posted: May 4, 2020.
Last updated: May 5, 2020.

© Aniza Meghani / Simerg.

___________________

Aniza Meghani
Aniza Meghani

Originally from Uganda, Aniza Meghani lives in London, England, and is an entrepreneur of textiles and couture fabrics.

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27 thoughts on “Ismailis on social media: You need to take care and STOP indiscriminate likes, follows and forwards!

  1. Excellent article and truly an eye opener. This should be brought up on our Friday night Reflection where the whole Jamat is watching the
    programme and make them aware.

  2. Thank you Aniza. Very nicely explained. Most of the jamati members including myself are not aware of it. Your continuous input to such issues will be very beneficial.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. Lot’s of misinformations are flying around unvetted. Question.. I came to this article AND site from a link shared on WhatsApp..
    Curious..? What is this website SIMERG?

    Is it another OFFICIAL website as I thought THE.ISMAILI was the official one. We are advised to stay away from NON official social media sites so was wondering … could someone comment pls.

  4. Thank you for the reminder. For any public announcements or press release, we should always check the AKDN web site or iiCanda or similar sites to verify the information, before forwarding.

  5. Aniza it was high time to have this clear message of click and send without first verifying the source to be avoided. Thanks, you have abundantly made this clear in this article. Perhaps this message could be disseminated to a wider audience through our weekly Jamati Saturday evening short live talks.

  6. Aniza has provided very good advice and information. Fake news and websites and cyber crime etc. are on the rise.

  7. Bravo Aniza,. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, we MUST always fact check our messages that are received, before we blindly forward to friends and families.

  8. Aniza’s article is an excellent piece as it touches on a very relevant subject. Truly there are many sites that post vitriolic comments about our Imam, His family and our community and they try to camouflage their poisonous thoughts by dissolving them in sugar. In other words some beautiful photographs of Hazar Imam and quotes, which draw us in. But then , the articles are packed with venom, and Hazar Imam is made out to be openly against Holy Qur’an.

    As the writer has indicated, we should NOT be fooled by the title and by the photographs, NOT post likes and NOT join and forward. Our Iman (faith) can be swayed especially for the youth and for those who don’t have deep knowledge of our faith.

    “Eji Gurnar thi bhula taasu vaad na kijie teto avarko jiv dolaave”
    “Do not associate with those who have gone against the Imam, they will shake your faith and make you sway towards them “

    Once again Bravo to Aniza for bringing us this article 👏👍

  9. Well put article and timely as people are cocooned with Covid, and have more access to online stuff.

    We need to have some classes on internet literacy, as many of us either were born a “little too late”, or are engrossed in our education, professions, business, family, etc, that we have not been able to get ourselves get a better understanding of how social media actually works.

    We have a Jamat that is amazingly talented today, and if we were to turn to some of our smart youth, they could put together online crash courses that the Jamat can partake and learn from. It would be a win win situation as the youth will get an opportunity to contribute and perform seva, while the rest of us, and some youth as well will learn.

    I don’t know if this platform is where the initiation can happen – or maybe the organizers and or participants here can take this initiative forward?

    Thank you in keeping us in tune and I agree with someone who said this site and its sister operations are great to access info from. I used to love reading the “Ilm”, which I believe was the work of the current organizer’s dad. I still reference to it – simply a great piece of literature – congratulations in continuing what your dad started in digital form now.

  10. I don’t pretend to know any more than what our brethren are commenting on this site but one glaring fact I think is of utmost importance for any follower of Hazar Imam. These kinds of negative and sacrilegious evil inferences can very easily sway the faith of young generation as well as many of us who have only a very scanty knowledge of the recognition of the Imam.

    And I refer to Mowlas Hidayat Firman of 1992 August 25th, Vancouver, Canada during Institutional dinner. In essence Mowla insisted that one generation from now the younger generation will be asking how they relate to our tariqah. What is the essence of our tariqah. And he said that the articulation of our tariqah cannot be done without articulating the concept of Imamat.

    Born an Ismaili is an infinite fortune but that is the beginning and a privilege that Allah has bestowed upon us. Nurturing our faith with knowledge of the Imam, through Firmans , through analysis, through internalisation, and bringing all this to its ultimate fruition in Ibadat will inshallah experience the true recognition of the Noor of Imam e Zaman.

    Without this final link of Ibadaa our faith will always hang in a state of waswasa.

    Thanks

  11. Yes I am in agreement with Aniza on this matter. There are so many deceitful groups using the name of our Imam or our community. We have to be careful and smart because there are so many people who are against us, and are making propaganda.

    One more thing I want to mention here — some of our brothers & sisters that are living abroad are broadcasting live songs during the day time. Perhaps this is common there but it presents a problem for some of us because we are living in a rural areas with some nonsensical people. It would be good to stop these broadcasts during the day time while we are fasting.

    • With regard to your concern about music being broadcast during Ramadhan, there are different opinions even in the Muslim world. For example an article by its staff writers, the Times of Dubai stated that “During Ramadan, it is generally best to refrain from listening to music loudly. It may offend those who are fasting. However, it is acceptable to listen to music on your smartphone or iPod with the aid of headphones.” Furthermore, Amir, it must be pointed out that we live in different time zones. If people don’t wish to listen to music then they should simply turn it off. In Egypt apparently, as reported in the NY Times, “Every year during the holy month of Ramadan, Egyptians crowd around their televisions to gorge on big-budget mini-series starring the country’s top actors, including weepy melodramas, police procedurals and sweeping historical epics.”

      Finally I may note that many songs that are broadcast have religious undertones, with powerful expressions of faith and prayer. Also, Jamati members do engage in prayers at various times of the day.

  12. Aniza is to be commended for boldly writing about the superficial behaviour of many who click on the Like icon without thinking, and start following deceptive websites.

    Leaving aside the social media, I think another major problem is with many Jamati members – perhaps majority, I dare say – who are ill-equipped about the principles of the faith and unable to respond, even in their daily life, to sincere and honest questions concerning our Tariqah as well as Islam generally.

    It is important for institutions to address these matters closely in collaboration with the professionals and youth of the Jamat. If we are truly dai’s, then the first thing is to read up on faith and culture and also become totally familiar with Mawlana Hazar Imam’s programs through his Jamati institutions as well as the AKDN.

    Spending an inordinate amount of time exchanging trivial messages on the social media will fail us! Let us become a little more serious with our time and utilize 30 minutes everyday towards good reading, and constructive learning. I pay my tributes to the council, the tariqah board and others such as the AKTC and Aga Khan Museum for coming up with some programming, with that objective in mind. The introduction of Ismaili TV is also a great initiative.

    At the same time, all these efforts and initiatives require a large audience! I hope the Jamat – especially the youth and professionals will respond.

  13. Excellent article with great thoughts and insights in the mis-information spread, and very deceitfully.

  14. Thank you Simerg for allowing such a progressive thought provoking article in your website and thank you Aniza for the wonderful piece.

    Indeed, we are entering into a new e-horizon and the world has become much more smaller than what it was when we were kids in 80s.

    Nowadays, due to Covid-19 all Ismaili info., leadership messages, advisories and even Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Talika are being posted on the official Ismaili websites and also coming through the social media.

    These messages coming from the leadership and lately from Mawlana Hazar Imam contain his blessings for the Jamat but include themes that are relevant to the entire humanity, and I feel that such information will never offend anyone.

    Now more than ever before, we are openly talking about faith matters, the work of the Imamat and our contribution to society at large. The superb video of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit to Central Asia in 1995 is now openly available on the internet, and we can also see him giving his Irshad Mubarak.

    I have of course come across a number of fake (so called) Ismaili website(s) with most attractive and lovely cover pages with Mawlana Hazar Imam’s pictures, and once you register or follow the invitation to like it, you will find nothing but hate towards Ismailis and plenty of misleading information.

    There is plenty of good material, including scholarly articles on the internet. But as Aniza has already mentioned we should be intelligent, and not be misled by websites that are deceptive. Of course among independent initiatives that have been undertaken taken by members of the Jamat I recommend Simerg and its two sister blogs Barakah and Simergphotos as well as Ismailimail and Ismaili Gnosis.

    Sadruddin Noorani
    Chicago

  15. Agree with you. I was reluctant to read Mawlana Hazar Imam’s messages and Talika Mubarak thinking it might be fake.

    • Dolat: Our total reliance on the social media is a mistake, and many of us do not bother to go to our own official Jamati website, http://www.theismaili.org. A visit to the website link would have immediately removed your concern about the Talika and messages of Mawlana Hazar Imam being fake. Of course, the official social media pages of the Jamat referenced the messages.

  16. Agree wholeheartedly Aniza’s analysis and that we have to be careful.

    I am very concerned when I see Firmans being posted on line or the message from the Imam being posted on Facebook. I have seen responses from non-Ismailis to some of the postings, so it is not just Ismailis reading what is posted. We should all be smarter about this.

  17. Good article. I suggest Aniza Meghani should continue to give tips with examples of sites to avoid and scams. In Ismaili history, enemies have often been from within, unfortunately!

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