KPop, Islam, & Social Media: Addressing The Importance of Appropriate Use of Speech.

MTBD YT comments

Do you see and understand, what I am trying to convey through the photo above?

I have never thought there would come a day I’d actually write about KPop and being Muslim, relating the two together. The association between KPop and Islam has honestly never crossed my mind – not once. Yet it happened. The damage is done, and it disgusts me that hate and ignorance are reiterated with exactly those same things, over something so trivial. It is over something so disgustingly trivial – Korean music, of all things. Of all things.

You can be as batshit crazy as a fan for all you want, but you’ve got to be as equally batshit realistic as a person.

The above set of comments represent a slew of generalizations, insults, slander, delirious and fanatical stance, ignorant replies, and blind hate. They are not just disgusting – this is our society, ladies and gents. Welcome to the age of social media, where everyone is now a keyboard warrior, all kinds of activists for not necessarily the right reasons. Welcome to the land where opinions are free, unfiltered, and filled with so much ignorance and hate over something so, so trivial that I shudder to think how it’s like over real, more pressing issues.

Wait, don’t answer that – I’m already seeing that through the MH370 incident. Let’s not go there right now.

If you’re not in the know about what happened, the digest is the 2NE1 fandom, subsequently the KPop fandom as a whole, later followed by random passerby – basically, a huge number of folks went crazy, literally, in rage and whatever else, when CL‘s live performance of her solo song, Mental Breakdown (MTBD) was released on Youtube. Why? The remixed background song allegedly featured the voice of a young Muslim boy reading the Qur’an. It was very short, but highly inappropriate.

The short story is that it is utterly disrespectful. The Qur’an is the one-stop central for the words of God. Like with all things, in Islam, we have defined instructions on maintaining and practicing respect and care where the Qur’an is concerned – especially the Qur’an, more like. The other short story is that it might not be true that a verse of the Qur’an was even inserted; I’ve read both accounts from native Arabic speakers, claiming they either did or did not hear it.

I can’t concur myself, because I’m not a native Arabic speaker and not as learned, compared to the more respectable folks. While I did watch and tried to listen to the video (which has since been re-uploaded), I’ll be honest – it’s hard to be on the lookout for a religious verse when the girl’s friggin’ grinding on the stage, shaking her booty and whatnot. Also to everyone who pointed out that this isn’t the kind of music Muslims should listen to in the first place – strictly speaking, you are absolutely correct. I am not about to claim something is religiously permissible because I do so, but my personal take is that listening to music is hardly the biggest sin to commit, and as far as my knowledge about this goes, it’s not totally forbidden (haram), but yes it is highly discouraged (makruh).

Where that video is concerned, what I did do, which I shouldn’t, was to read the comments section. This was earlier in the week, when the issue was still hot on everyone’s tongues, and coupled with the MH370 media party – well, social media and the world-wide web are having a jolly good time, aren’t they? Keyboard warriors and social media activists have been busy practicing their rights and freedom of speech.

I kept scrolling down the comments section… until I forced myself to stop; I tasted bile in my mouth. I had to pause for a second to steady myself. I closed my eyes, wishing I could undo the things I’d just seen and read. My head hurt, my heart even more so. I closed the tab with disgust, only to pop it open two seconds later to screen cap them, which I then compiled together as the above photo.

I’m not here to discuss about whether CL‘s in the wrong, though if you ask me – frankly, I call BS on those who claim that she’s innocent, that “it’s the people behind the remix.” Bullshit. These things don’t get checked once, twice and singers don’t receive their material the day of their big D-day, with neither a clue nor say. I accept and agree that she probably simply didn’t know, but to hold zero responsibility towards her, transferring the accountability to the production crew and everyone else but her because she is your favorite girl – let’s not be biased here. Let’s not be a hypocrite. Quit being delusional, favorite person in the world or not.

And no, don’t give me this whole “you’re not a true fan because a true fan stands by their artists.” To begin with, I am not even a fan of 2NE1 and CL – I literally stumbled upon this mess because Tumblr was having a field day about this – but that’s besides the point. Don’t give me that pep talk because I call BS on that, too. True fans are loyal, mostly great folks, but if you are really, really true, you’d realize that these artists are also humans – they make mistakes, they don’t know everything, they’re hold liable and accountable for their words and actions, just like how you and I are.

As for the bit about Muslims, I’ll state the obvious: there are many different types of Muslims in this world. Let’s be real: similarly, there are a multitude of Christians, Buddhists, Hindu and more out there. Heck, with seven billion human beings on this planet, how can anyone expect anything less? My point is, don’t generalize. I’m sorry that there are bad Muslims out there who do terrible and atrocious things, supposedly in the name of the religion, but I hold steadfast by the fact that the religion’s fundamentals are based upon peace and tolerance.

Let’s not even look far, instead we’ll focus on the commenters – those death threats to CL, supposedly by Muslims themselves. Astaghfirullah-al-azim, may God forgive them for shaming not just themselves, but Islam too. I’m sorry they responded that way, too many of them, because without a doubt those death threats and slander are neither supported, nor taught in Islam. Their actions completely misconstrue the religion’s true purpose and core.

If you take the time to read the Qur’an, which is literally and directly the words of Allah (glorified and exalted, s.w.t.), or the hadith and sunnah, which comprise of Prophet Muhamad’s (peace be upon him, pbuh) words and actions, you’ll realize how much the things those folks do – y’know, that thing called terrorism – I hope you’ll realize that they contradict with the fundamental lessons taught in Islam.

Here’s an example.

The sermon given at last week’s Friday prayer touched specifically upon the use of speech to build community, using Prophet Muhamad (pbuh) specifically, as an example. I’ve gotten permission to share the speech (written by a brilliant young lady, Nausheen) and here’s my most favorite part of the speech. I love it because this bit drives home the point about Islam as a religion of peace. It also addresses our responsibilities when it comes to our speech:

Words have a powerful place in Islam. Allah s.w.t. chose to reveal Himself through words and scripture, and our prophets all spent time carefully crafting their speech to deliver His message. As believers, therefore, it is our duty to pay close attention to our speech and how we use our words in our interactions with others. In a hadith narrated by Imam Musnad Ahmad, the Prophet (pbuh) said:

“The faith of a man cannot be straight unless his heart is straight, and his heart cannot be straight unless his tongue becomes straight.”

The Prophets and their companions all encountered fierce opposition, and often met with individuals who not only refused to listen to their speech, but also actively tried to refute their claims and ridicule them among their people. Throughout such trials, our prophets and their companions practiced ‘adab’, implementing a code of manners and standards of politeness and civility in their dialogue. The Prophet (pbuh) stressed that maintaining adab is the key to gaining Allah s.w.t.’s love and guidance. In a hadith narrated by Tirmidhi, the Prophet (pbuh) said:

“The dearest and nearest of you to me on the Day of Resurrection will be the one who is best in manners; and the most abhorrent among you, and the farthest of you from me [on that Day] will be the offensive [in speech].”

I sincerely hope all of us will reflect upon the points noted above because the message is universal.

This is what I want to emphasize, where expressing opinions are concerned:

It’s not that I don’t believe opinions can’t be expressed or that truths should stay hidden, but it’s in the way they’re told. It’s in the way that words are used: recklessly, spitefully, and condescendingly. Words have power, and it is within each of us to decide on how to use this instrument to represent what we stand for. If you don’t think, don’t talk. Even if you do think – step out of your mind and ask yourself, are you expressing your thoughts to satisfy yourself and your ego; is it really, sincerely, for the betterment of those involved?

Of course we need not keep silent and just watch things take place, but silence does not necessarily equal weakness. Learn to distinguish the two. The strong aren’t exclusively comprised of the outspoken folks, keep that in mind. Speak when things are worth deliberating over, after more sound evidence and the like have transpired. Speak when certainty is present, with conviction and clear conscience. Do not speak up to belittle others; it makes you no better than them, worse in fact. In Islam, it is even more sinful to cast doubt and stir gossip about others, compared to the wrongdoing that’s claimed to have taken place. Opinions are already in abundance, but here’s the irony:

Too often, people use so many words, yet they speak very little.

Do not be that person. 


6 thoughts on “KPop, Islam, & Social Media: Addressing The Importance of Appropriate Use of Speech.

  1. “It’s not that I don’t believe opinions can’t be expressed or that truths should stay hidden, but it’s in the way they’re told.”

    I wholeheartedly agree with this line. It’s sad but I have to admit the truth that the ability to hide behind their anonymous identities give people the freedom to shoot whatever they’re thinking without analyzing the consequences of their words. Most of us, including myself, won’t have nice thoughts on my mind when I’m angry but it’s not the passport to post whatever snide remarks we’re thinking at that moment. Even when the facts are presented through the angry words laced with emotions, other people offended with the said points will argue (most of the time with the same degree of snarkiness) and there, we’ve produced a virtual battlefield ground for the keyboard warriors.

    It’s disappointing to watch people using the social media platform as the place to pick up fights while they can benefit more from sharing knowledge with each other. Maybe this is what they call “kufur nikmat”. We’re supposed to gain benefits from technology advancements but what I’m seeing right now is that we’re losing more things compared to the potential benefits.

    Sorry for the long response but your excellent post made me put on my thinking cap. Hopefully I don’t come out as an angry keyboard warrior :P

  2. “Too often, people use so many words, yet they speak very little.”

    Yes! I wholeheartedly agree with you on this. Unfortunately, there are too many people on the internet that fall into this category.

    It is both sad and unfair on how Muslims are being generalized as terrorists. It would seems that any terrorist activities would have the word ‘Muslim’ and Islam associated with it. I understand that this generalization spite a lot of us Muslims but the approach that they took in order to supposedly “defending” our religion is quite frankly, very humiliating. It does nothing to show the grace of Islam and it only serve further to invigorate the stereotypes.

    Obviously, your post does not fall into this category :D Thank you for sharing the sermon. It is an excellent advice and reminder!

  3. Never read comments online! They’re always like that. It’s horrible though, the things people say, although I’m sure at least half of them know exactly what they’re doing, and post comments like that specifically to get a reaction. Although, at least it was both Muslims and non-Muslims that were being idiots, lol. Equal representation.

    Regarding YG, I don’t think anyone at YG thought anything of what they were doing. Chucking a line in from the Qur’an wouldn’t mean anything to them and they wouldn’t have expected the outcry that happened. I mean, they should have expected it, because everyone knows not to use a religious text in anything, it’s just asking for trouble! I’ve actually paid this whole thing no attention whatsoever so, I shouldn’t really comment, lol. I prefer to just ignore things like this because usually it’s just people grabbing a tiny thing and making it into a bigger deal than it needs to be.

  4. What I find insane is the fact that what the author dientified as the “crazy” part in this story is not the “throwing a tantrum over a few lines in a kpop song”. A mote and beam situation: frankly, I don’t know how anyone re-reading what he wrote wouldn’t be struck as how whiny, unreasonable, extreme and fanatical this point of view is. If a casual line that may or may not be there is considered offensive, I don’t dare to think about South Park or the Book of Mormon parody. Since we don’t live in a theocracy, and not everyone is a religious fanatic, I think that it is important to stress that society as a whole shouldn’t try to pander to this type of extremism in general, and in particular not when faced with either whining or aggressive protest (as it learned to do with Christianity). The generalization in the comment is clearly wrong, albeit absolutely expected (and that selective picks from the comment section would yeld exactly this result should be expected by anyone who is not a completely insane idiot -it is impossible to me not to think that the guy didn’t set out to look for such examples, and obviously found what he wanted, given the nature of these comment sections-). It would have been the same thing if it had been a video about homosexuality, or feminism, or neoliberal economics, etc. Sweeping generalizations in a comment section on the internet? Incredible. Not as incredible as the fact that the author doesn’t even find it fit to address the fact that the comments clearly show that there were reasonable muslims that were able to put the situation in perspective and keep their shit together, rather than showing themselves to be unable to live and let live in a modern society. The fact that such people exist was left completely unacknowledged, which makes the author’s deranged rant and perfect inversion of moral compass somewhat hilarious for its absurd lack of awaredness: “ehi, I am just a regular guy “.

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