Online Hijab: 5 Useful Tips
In this new era, technology has become an essential part of our lives. We are connected to the Internet and more importantly, connected to the people around us and around the world. Conducting ourselves in person, we know all too well the rules that govern it. In the online world, it is not written black and white on the etiquettes we must uphold and we tend to lose ourselves in all the easily accessed information.
With the advance in technology, social media has turned into a big part of our lives. Grandmothers can see their grandchildren’s photos, you can share a new cafe with amazing coffee art, or a best friend can be half way around the world for a vacation and still be able to communicate with us and show us photos of another country. We want to be close to our friends and families, sharing as much of our lives with them as we can.
Behind all the typing, uploading, and updating of our walls, we feel this sense of security and safeness because there is a ‘barrier’ between us and the rest of the world – the barrier of our devices: iPhones, Samsung Galaxy, iPads, tablets, laptops, desktops and any devices we use more than 5 hours daily. But, how much is too much?
Despite being able to hide behind them, the information we share and the way we behave online may not be enough to protect ourselves.
Our privacies are invaded the moment we sign up with any form of social media, or basically anything on the Internet. Our personal information is taken from us and our profiles are available for everyone to see.
We can be dressed and covered modestly in our hijab in person, and watch our own behaviour around others publicly, following the Qur’an and Sunnah. However, when we tap on that Facebook app and go on to read updates or update our status, we need to remember that the hijab takes on more forms that just how we conduct ourselves in person.
In modern times with technology by our sides, we should try our best to also protect ourselves online since we interact with many people across the Internet. Here are some online etiquette we can follow:
No. 1: Set up privacy settings for your own personal updates, photo albums and profile.
An update or upload of a single photo on Facebook or Instagram may seem like nothing on our side, but many others connected to us via the social media will see a new notification pop-up. It means even your acquaintances or your friends’ friends, or even that one person who added you because you were from the same school but of different graduating year, can see what you are having for lunch today.
The guy who lives in the next block knows what you are wearing today – that cute pink headscarf with a beautiful pink dress, carrying that dainty white handbag, or your group of hang out buddies can see how beautiful your wife is on your wedding anniversary date. It is kind of uneasy knowing someone on the streets will know how you look and so much more!
So, sort out your friends list if the social media platform allows. Set blocks and permissions allowing only your family and close friends to be able to view all that you want to share.
No. 2: Cut down on leaving comments, chatting or liking photos and updates for people (especially of the opposite gender).
Not that you cannot share your thoughts on things, try to cut down on having unnecessary interaction with friends or acquaintance of the opposite gender. Imagine it as though you are interacting with them face-to-face, online makes no difference. Especially with your future wife or husband being able to see all your activities, it will be wise to communicate with those who are important and friends of the same gender only than to strain your relationship just because you liked a photo.
Another thing is to watch your language. Being online does not grant us the permission to freely use obscene languages while communicating with others. The same Hadith still applies to online communication.
No. 3: Avoid uploading excessive photos and giving too much information.
We must protect our modesty and the modest of the people around us. While it is understandable that we would want to show our beautiful children, wives, husbands, family or anything in our lives to everyone else. However, we must remember our duties to take care of the privacies of the people around us. Do not upload photos excessively of families and friends, or posing and uploading 200 selfies. Remember, there are so many other people that we do not know in person seeing our photos!
Not only photos we must moderate, our status updates on our thoughts and happenings in our life must be moderated as well. There is no need to post every single thought and happenings in our lives. It will not be nice for the neighbour to know what we are fighting about last night, or the counter-arguments you had in mind that you cannot voice out to your wife who keeps going on and on. TMI! Or, the thoughts we have of the girl we saw in the train who is not dressed appropriately – protect ourselves from unnecessary sins of gossiping.
No. 4: Do not stalk people we don’t know or people we think are ‘hot’ or good-looking.
It is not okay to flirt or openly stare at other people in the train or in public because we think they are pretty or handsome. In person, we watch ourselves to lower our gaze (for both men and women). Same goes for online, we should lower our gazes online and only look or interact with the circle of friends and family we have. We do not want to turn into a creepy stalker if it is in real life.
This will help to preserve any loving relationship we have because we are guarding ourselves from checking out ‘new’ people and causing unnecessary arguments.
No. 5: Share any new knowledge on your social media platform.
Da’wah does not stop outside of our computer. Learning and sharing knowledge on Islam goes beyond classes and talking to the people around us. Take the opportunity that we have many people that (majority we hardly meet in real life) are connected to our pages, perform da’wah by clicking share on any Islamic Hadiths or advices or even updating your own status with anything you learnt offline.
That way, not only will your friends and family be able to learn from you, non-Muslim friends will be able to gain some knowledge on Islam when they scan through their news feed. Minimize any sins committed and gain some rewards from using your Facebook everyday!
As we move into modern times, all which had been revealed to our Prophet (S), more than 1400 years ago, are not irrelevant in our times. Striving to improve ourselves as Muslims and trying our best to follow the Sunnah, the teachings from the Qur’an and Hadiths should be adapted to our modern context. With the advancement of society and technology, all the more we cannot forget our foundations. Make the Internet and social media a way for us to earn rewards from Allah SWT.