Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Purpose of YouTube | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Political leaders, celebrities, and entertainment figures are full of anger at YouTube’s ability to climb their walls and expose their secrets to hundreds of millions of viewers around the world.

In 2005, the idea of this useful but harmful website was launched when a group of friends had a dinner party and filmed some scenes which they wished to share with their friends. They were unable to send these videos via e-mail due to the low upload capacity of e-mail at the time, and so the idea for a website where video files could be uploaded and shared crystallized, and only a year after the website was founded YouTube ranked fifth in the list of most visited websites.

This interesting website – which contains the world’s largest [online] library of video footage – is the number one means of publicizing scandal, exposing secrets, and shedding light on people’s private lives. It is a website that can best be described as one with a diverse range of content, ranging from the useful, to the most useless and superfluous content. Despite the various beneficial contributions, this internet website has become the last refuge of every slanderer, scandalmonger and gossip. In the past anybody who wished to spread slander or gossip had to spend time and effort to do so, and in the end such gossip would reach tens or even hundreds at most. However now, it is only seconds and a mouse-click away before scandalous material can be viewed by the entire world, from the islands of Japan in the East to the shores of California in the West.

In our Arab world, despite the [religious] pressures in Islam against unveiling other people’s secrets, our Arab society is one that most enjoys hearing scandalous news, and spreading gossip. It goes without saying that this enjoyment would further increase if the scandal revolved around a famous political, entertainment, or sporting figure. These gossips and scandalmongers have found an easy means to publicize their gossip and slander which is via the YouTube website. What is painful in this regard is that some of these scandalmongers justify their actions on the grounds that the celebrity in question has committed a sin, such as committing adultery, or drinking alcohol [and so a scandal is their just deserts]. However these scandalmongers do not distinguish between those who commit these sins publicly, and those who commit them clandestinely. Originally, Islamic Shariaa Law helped to protect a Muslim and conceal their sins, as was advised by Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] when he said “Whosoever protects a Muslims sin, God will protect [his sin] in this world and the next.” There is also the story of the Prophet’s companion Ma’ez who confessed to committing adultery [and was sentenced to death by stoning], the Prophet [PBUH] told a man named Hajjal of the Aslam tribe “Had you covered him with your cloth, it would have been better for you.”

And so the excuse is uglier than the sin itself, for the motivation behind disclosing such secrets can be blind sporting fanaticism, such as the case when the subject of gossip is a member of a rival, club, town, country, or tribe. However this does not justify exposing any perpetrator of sin, unless he commits this sin overtly. Another significant issue is that people never imagine that those who commit adultery or drink alcohol might have any faith in their hearts, and they may say, how dare this person – who did good deeds- do such and such? But this is also wrong, for good believers may sometimes be led astray by desires. Some of the prophet’s companions committed adultery, such as Ma’az, and the woman from Ghamid, while another companion No’ man Bin Omar was found guilty of drinking alcohol, while he was being punished it so happened that a man cursed him for his weakness, but the Prophet said “Do not do this, for he loves God and his Prophet.” Therefore YouTube should not be used for this purpose.