Slanderers should hold their poisonous tongues, as there are more pressing issues for the nation to handle, says Mustafa K Anuar.
If telling lies and spewing slander are highly valued in Islam, then some Muslims would have collected enough brownie points for a one-way ticket to paradise.
If the messages and images that have gone viral are any indication, there are people busy doing just that for political gain.
This is despite the fact that Islam clearly prohibits such nefarious activities among its followers because they are the vilest and most despicable of things that can sow enmity and discord among people.
To be sure, this divine injunction is meant for every Muslim, no matter where they are on the political spectrum or social ladder.
The recent announcement of the sale of four Tabung Haji hotels and other assets has witnessed the activities of certain keyboard warriors going into overdrive, with the online attacks of the purveyors of slander still trained on [former] Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
That Lim is non-Muslim and ethnic Chinese should not make him fair game for these unscrupulous people to the extent that he is painted as Islam’s no. 1 enemy and therefore “his blood can be spilled”.
Such a wild exhortation smacks of dangerous and violent racism, which should be condemned unreservedly by all Malaysians.
To reinforce their unfounded assertion, a photo was widely circulated on social media in which Lim was depicted as having chaired an official meeting with [former] de facto religious affairs minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa and Jakim officials, giving the erroneous impression that the finance minister has power over the Islamic body, if not all Islamic matters in the country.
In another instance, there was a photo of [former] Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad making its rounds on social media that had been photoshopped to make him look like he was holding a glass of beer. A cheap shot indeed.
No one, including public figures, deserves such a slanderous onslaught, especially if it incites violence in a country that practises democracy and promotes peaceful engagement.
Yes, it is a given that dissent is permitted in a democracy, but it shouldn’t take the form of slander, which is a weapon of the coward and the intellectually lazy. Nor should dissent be violent.
An intellectual exchange that is civil in nature would be the right course of action, with opponents from both sides of a conflict making known their clear arguments and personal identities in the public domain.
Slander, particularly on social media, is not only foul and offensive; they can also divert our attention away from more pressing issues that demand our immediate attention and action.
For one thing, the coronavirus epidemic certainly warrants our focused attention, given its danger to human health and security. Our energies should be mobilised around this scourge.
Furthermore, as a result of the spread of the virus, our troubled economy demands our attention to think of how to cope with the outbreak’s wide-ranging implications for a large majority of the people.
Slanderers should hold their poisonous tongues while others should try to be useful in seeking ways and means to repair our ailing economy.