Thursday, January 19, 2012

My take on the MJC Issue

The chicken wars have always been a source of controversy in South Africa. Recently however, things spiraled out of control thanks to a 3rd Degree broadcast regarding the recent MJC controversy.

After viewing the 3rd Degree episode in which MJC officials refused to speak or comment on the Orion Saga, many Muslims were up in arms and took to the social networks to vent their frustration and anger at MJC. Other organizations like SANHA and NIHT also came under attack as old stories against them resurfaced. Twitter, Facebook and Blackberry Messenger and many other networks became the grounds for anti-MJC jokes, broadcast warnings (many of which were old and inauthentic) and some truly hate-fueled comments.

The question that keeps popping into my mind through all this though is when was MJC declared guilty? Have to taken the necessary Shariah steps in ascertaining their guilt and then if so, does the Shariah allow for the amount of jokes and insults hurled against them on the social networks? Every Muslim should think carefully regarding their reaction to this scandal and ponder on whether their response was appropriate and Islamically acceptable.

Now I am not saying that MJC is innocent and I am not defending them (which I might be accused of). All I am doing is asking everybody to remain level-headed and fear Allah (including both MJC and their opposition) in how we deal with this issue.

Firstly, we should remember the command of Allah when He said the meaning of which is, “Oh you who believe, if a sinful person brings you any information then verify it, otherwise you might harm people in ignorance and regret what you did later,” (Surah Hujaraat 49:6)

This verse commands us to verify information that attacks the honor of any Muslim when it comes from a Muslim source. So what about when such an attack comes from a Non-Muslim source?

As Muslims we are obligated to regard all Muslims as innocent until proven guilty. Yes, we may abstain from MJC products out of doubt. Yes, we may explain why we doubt it in a civilized manner. However, we are not justified in attacking any Muslim publically, making ridiculing jokes about them and fueling the hatred against them even if they were proven guilty.

Remember the prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited the companions from attacking the honor of an adulteress while she was being stoned. I know she repented and the example is not related, but the principles and manners taught here apply across the board.

Islam teaches us to be kind and merciful to all his creation, even those who are wrong and sinful. It also gives us guidelines in establishing guilt. Some of those guidelines include:
1) Every person is innocent until proven guilty
2) Both sides need to be listened to in details before a judgment is passed
3) Evidence need to be brought before an unbiased Shariah judge (or in this case Aalim) who will pass the verdict.

None of these guidelines have been followed in establishing MJC’s guilt and none of the etiquettes of Islam have been followed in dealing with the situation.

So yes, there is nothing wrong with abstaining from MJC products if you doubt them, and no harm in explaining why either. However Islamic manners should always be observed in dealing with them (or any other Muslims) and there is no room in Islam for the hate-fueled jokes and comments being propagated via Twitter, Facebook, Blackberry messenger or any other platform.

On a side note: The trend of broadcasting, forwarding and retweeting information without authentication is really getting out of hand. It is better not to forward anything at all than to forward information that could later be proven wrong.


Mohamed Moosa said...

As-salaam-u-alaikum. You make a valid point regarding insulting others (the MJC in this case). What dissapoints me as a muslim is the way the MJC responded - both to Deborah from 3'rd degree when she approached their offices and to the public after the episode was aired on tv. If you consider that it was an ideal opportunity for them to address the ummah across South Africa because VOC broadcasts only in Cape Town and many do not have access to the internet. The president of the MJC is now diverting blame to Deborah claiming that she sieged their offices for four hours - I seriously doubt that Deborah or her crew used any weapons. Why does he not rather give an explanation or apology for the fact that pork products were consumed as Halal under their watch. He also speaks about money which the MJC donated to students, but he does not explain what happened to the money they collected from Orion cold storage for Halal certificates used for selling pork.

Dreamlife said...

I agree with you about the etiquettes we should be following. I just wrote about this same issue (the MJC thing) on Friday...

Criticism is fine if it's justified - but it has to be done in the proper way. But we live in a society where the popular culture is one of ridiculing others and making offensive jokes FIRST - before thinking. And the more we buy into that culture - via the movies, sitcoms, music, and other stuff we consume - the more that attitude to life becomes normal. That kind of approach is the opposite of Islam - but that's the contradiction we live in today...many say they're Muslim, but behave in the opposite manner.

With regard to the forwarding issue, I wrote about that a while back at: