Islam is a religion of utmost perfection. It teaches standards of morality, ways of interacting with people, both believers and non-believers, and ways of being healthy and wealthy. It also concerns various callings, professions, careers, and other things one may commit to doing. Indeed, Islam does not leave any stone unturned. It is a religion that has divine guidelines and guidance, which are the Quran and Hadith/Sunnah of Rasul (S. A.W): One who wishes to succeed here and in the hereafter should strictly adhere to and ultimately prioritize it.
As part of the teachings of Islam, it forbids the dissemination of false information with or without the purpose of defaming one’s personality. This part of the teachings of Islam mostly concentrates on the journalism profession. It teaches journalists and broadcasters to be careful about what they want to disseminate to the public. Hence, as pious Muslim journalists or broadcasters, it is mandatory to follow the words of Allah and the sayings of the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W). Allah says: “That (shall be so); and whoever respects the sacred ordinances of Allah, it is better for him with his Lord; and the cattle are made lawful for you, except that which is recited to you, therefore, avoid the uncleanness of the idols and avoid false words,” (Q 22 V 30), also, Allah says in (Q 49 v 12) “O you who believe! Avoid most suspicion, for sure suspicion in some cases, is a sin, and do not spy nor let some of you backbite others. Does one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? But you abhor it; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, surely Allah is Oft-returning (to mercy), Merciful.” These verses of Allah’s words are enough to warn a person who takes journalism as a profession or career. Whatever a journalist wants to sell out should be true.
In the same vein, Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) also admonishes believing journalists to be cautious of their reports, as narrated by Hudhaifa (RA) “I heard the Prophet (S.A.W) saying, “A Qattat will not enter Paradise” (Sahih Bukhari: 6056). Meanwhile, a Qattat is an individual who carries false information from one person to another with the intention of causing harm and enmity between two or more people. It is also referred to as a talebearer. Additionally, The Prophet (S.A.W) said, “Whoever does not give up false statements (i.e., telling lies), evil deeds, and speaking bad words to others, Allah does not need his (fasting) leaving his food and drink.”
By the virtues of the words of Allah coupled with the sayings of the prophet (S.A.W), it is evident that a devoted and God-fearing journalist, broadcaster, or individual should not engage in the dissemination of false information, irrespective of the money or popularity one may want to get from such dissemination of information. A journalist should be trustworthy and accurate. He/she should investigate and verify whatever information is brought forth before publication or broadcast. Allah says in Q 49 v 6: “O you who believe! If an evil-doer comes to you with a report, look carefully into it, lest you harm a people in ignorance, then be sorry for what you have done.”
Also, any journalist should leave out doubt: any information that seems unclear should be left unpublished. Allah says in Q 49 v 12: “O you who believe! Avoid most suspicion, for sure suspicion in some cases, is a sin, and do not spy nor let some of you backbite others. Does one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? But you abhor it; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, surely Allah is Oft-returning (to mercy), Merciful. In support of this, Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) says: “Leave what you doubt to what you do not doubt.” As reported by Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib (At-Tirmidhi).
By extension, a journalist should be impartial and balanced in whatever he/she is disseminating. Allah says: O you who believe! be maintainers of justice, bearers of witness of Allah’s sake, though it may be against your selves or (your) parents or near relatives; if he be rich or poor, Allah is nearer to them both in compassion; therefore do not follow (your) low desires, lest you deviate; and if you swerve or turn aside, then surely Allah is aware of what you do (Q 4 v 135), also in (Q 5 v 8) Allah says “O you who believe! Be upright for Allah, bearers of witness with justice, and let not hatred of a people incite you not to act equitably; act equitably, that is nearer to piety, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is Aware of what you.” If a journalist follows the guidelines of Allah (SWT) in his/her profession, he would be blessed in his job and the Paradise of Allah would be his abode. And surely, the society will be at rest and safe for everyone.