The internet never fails to astonish us with the number of hoaxes and rumours, especially when it comes to Islam, where we find the rumours in plenty. The hoax that claims the conversion of a famous celebrity to Islam, first being reported as news and then being spread as rapid as a wild fire in social sites is quite well enough to stain the image of Islam. With verification of authentic sources proving these deceptive news are false, Islamophobes exploit the opportunity to defame Muslims.
Many websites and Islamic pages, especially on Facebook, spread such news without proper verification of their authenticity. These hoaxes spread fast and and cause a positive uproar and premature reactions amongst the Muslim communities active in the social networks. It is also evident that very few readers verify the authenticity of the news and also insist that the writers provide the credibility for their stories.
Has not it been mentioned in the Quran as;
“O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.” (Quran 49:6)
Then is not it a duty of every Muslim to verify any news before we rely on it the lest pass it on?
The recent hoax or unauthentic news revolving on the internet was Rowan Atkinson (aka Mr. Bean) converting to Islam. This was shown on several Arabic websites, and they even included news clips. It was also mentioned that he was inspired to convert after watching the offensive movie against our beloved Prophet Muhammad. There was no authentic source to confirm this news and furthermore the videos mentioning his conversion only portrayed a picture of him lifting his finger of the right hand, just as Muslims do, but this is no evidence to prove or believe he is a Muslim.
This hoax was good enough to put Muslims and Islam through harsh criticism by many non-Muslims websites. Their concern was not on falsifying the claim or focus on the way the unauthentic news spread, but rather their articles on this hoax were conceived to attack Islam and Muslims in mocking tones.
Such hoaxes are published by Muslim writers themselves, hoping to shed light on the greatness of Islam but it ends up staining the image of Islam and inciting more hatred towards the religion. When these unauthentic news have been proved to be inaccurate, Islam becomes the target of satires. Muslims are portrayed as those who aspire for deceptions and attract potential converts with ambiguous methods.
As long as a news is not verified, writers and readers both should take the trouble in verifying is the news is authentic or find out if it is just a mere deceptive hoax to increase the internet traffic. Premature reactions over the deceptive news subsequently leads to staining the image of Islam and emphasising the negative consequences the hoax can breed.