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Saturday, March 25, 2023

Haha emoji on Facebook is ‘haram’ for Muslims, Bangladeshi cleric

Ahmadullah said that if your reaction was intended to mock or ridicule people who posted or made comments on social media, it's totally forbidden in Islam.

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A prominent Muslim Bangladeshi cleric with a huge online following has issued a fatwa against people using Facebook’s “haha” emoji to mock people.

Ahmadullah, who uses one name, has more than three million followers on Facebook and YouTube. He regularly appears on television shows to discuss religious issues in the Muslim-majority country.

On Saturday he posted a three-minute video in which he discussed the mocking of people on Facebook and issued a fatwa, an Islamic edict, explaining how it is “totally haram (forbidden)” for Muslims.

“Nowadays we use Facebook’s haha emojis to mock people,” Ahmadullah said in the video, which has since been viewed more than two million times.

“If your reaction was intended to mock or ridicule people who posted or made comments on social media, it’s totally forbidden in Islam,” Ahmadullah added.

“For God’s sake I request you to refrain from this act. Do not react with ‘haha’ to mock someone. If you hurt a Muslim he may respond with bad language that would be unexpected.”

Thousands of followers reacted to his video, most of them positively, although several hundred made fun of it — using the “haha” emoji.

Ahmadullah is among Bangladesh’s new crop of internet-savvy Islamic preachers who have drawn millions of followers online.

Their commentaries on religious and social issues are hugely popular, drawing millions of views per video.

Some have earned notoriety with bizarre claims on the origin of the coronavirus. A few are accused of preaching hatred, while several have turned into celebrities for their fun-filled videos.

Read More: Modernizing moonsighting for holy events infuriates clerics

The clerics in the Muslim world have historically been anti-modernity and, for all practical purposes, opposed almost every new technology. In Pakistan, the ulema have opposed the used of technology to sight the Eid moon.

Fawad Chaudhry, then Minister for Science and Technology, shared that his ministry has formalized a system for moon sighting and sent it to the legislative affairs ministry for approval; adding that the ministry forwarded it to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) as well. “Now it is their and the cabinet’s job if they want to impose it or not,” said the minister.

Many scholar attribute the current level of illiteracy and underdevelopment in the Muslim with some historical developments.

For example, by 1480, printing presses were operating in 110 Western European towns, mostly in Italy and Germany. By 1500, Western European presses produced 10,000–15,000 different books and an estimated 15–20 million copies of books. The Ottoman Empire remained aloof from printing press almost three centuries (until 1727) because influential ulema regarded printing technology as unnecessary, if not dangerous.