Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- The Internet is a blessing that Allah Almighty has bestowed on us, and we should thank Him for it. We should express our gratitude to Him by making good use of it. It is an act of ingratitude to misuse the Internet in the ways we know to be indecent.
2- Online messengers are among the Internet services, but some people neglect the proper Islamic manners while using them. One such neglect is unnecessary chatting between members of the opposite sex, which may involve unwanted risks.
3- We should ward off the evils that Satan whispers in that respect, as he tempts people in many deceiving ways.
Here are some of the proprieties that should be followed in using online messenger services.
Consider the conditions of the other party online.
We should bear in mind that at many times people are extremely busy at work and thus have no time to chat online with others. Taking this into account, you should not contact someone online merely for chatting when you know that this person is likely to be busy working, lest that person be interrupted or embarrassed not to reply.
Allah Almighty says: “And if you find no one therein, still enter not until permission hath been given. And if it be said unto you: Go away again, then go away, for it is purer for you.” (An-Nur 24:28)
If you know that your friend is busy and yet you insist on contacting him online, don’t be upset if your friend does not reply, for you have not shown respect for another’s time.
Ask the other party if he is free to chat.
It is one of the most essential of good manners that you ask the other party if he is free to chat. You should not wait for a reply to that question; if the other party is ready to do so, he will enter directly into a conversation with you. If the other person doesn’t reply, don’t assume that he is just ignoring you and be upset by that. He may be away from the computer or busy with his work.
Respect others’ times and don’t contact them online without need.
Allah Almighty has taught us that we are responsible for everything we do. He says: “Lo! the hearing and the sight and the heart of each of these it will be asked.” (Al-Israa’ 17:36)
Time is valuable, so don’t waste it in idle conversation with another.
We know that there are people whose time is extremely valuable and others who do not care about how they use time. Muslims should not waste their time. They should realize how valuable time is and how important it is to use it in doing what will benefit them in both this world and the Hereafter.
So, you can contact others on the Internet if there is a subject that you want to discuss with them or consult them about, but do not use the Internet as a means for wasting time, for this does not befit a Muslim. This does not mean that all the conversations you have on the Internet are to be serious; rather, you should not get accustomed to using the Internet for mere chatting with others and thus wasting time.
Don’t name yourself on the messenger after a certain Qur’anic verse or remembrance of Allah Almighty.
Some zealous Muslims fall into the mistake of naming themselves on the messenger after a certain Qur’anic verse or remembrance of Allah Almighty, unaware of the unlawfulness of doing so. They do not realize that when the conversation gets much lighter, it may involve some expressions that do not befit to describe glorious words, even if they are used to refer to a certain person.
In that regard, Dr. Marawan Shahin, Professor of Hadith and Its Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Al-Azhar University states:
It is not lawful for one to name himself on the messenger after a Qur’anic verse or a certain remembrance of Allah Almighty, for this may bring about something that may not befit the words of Allah Almighty and His remembrance. For example, if one calls himself ‘O My Lord, forgive me, my parents, and the believers on the Day of Judgment’ while chatting online with a fellow, then his fellow may call him by that name and say, ‘You are such-and-such (i.e., something unbefitting).’ Hence, this is unlawful.
You should believe others with regard to what they say about themselves. Allah Almighty has forbidden us to suspect what others say (without evidence): “O you who believe! Shun much suspicion; for lo! some suspicion is a crime.” (Al-Hujurat 49:12)
If you have left a message for someone and received no reply, do not think that he has ignored you and be upset. Instead of complaining that he didn’t reply, ask him whether he received your message.
Greet others before starting a conversation with them.
Greet other Muslims with the greeting of Islam (As-Salamu `alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh) before starting to talk with them. If you contact a friend that you have not been in touch with for a long time, ask him or her how he or she is and how things are going.
Greet the other party before finishing the talk.
Tell the other party online that you are going to finish the talk before exiting, and end the conversation with an appropriate greeting. If he or she is Muslim, this should, of course, be the Muslim greeting of As-Salamu `alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.