Social media can be a good medium for debate and discussion, but if you find yourself in the wrong forum it can all be quite a horrible experience. Unfortunately, I have found this to be the case with most Muslim related forums; I thought it would be an over generalisation to suggest that Muslims are unable to debate, but anecdotally speaking, it seems to be true.
What I have often found is that unsubstantiated claims are often passed off as fact, readings of ideas and events are often quite superficial and criticisms are simply dismissed – epitomised by that dreaded sentence “you can’t judge people!” What happens at times is that discussions descend into personal insults and at the end of it all, very little has been achieved and all too often it leaves a bitter taste. This can be extremely frustrating for people who actually do want to engage in debate, who want to discuss and learn from people with various opinions on a wide-range of topics. But even beyond the individual it’s extremely important – a culture made up of critically minded people who are able to debate and discuss can only ever be a good thing.
The most common problem often encountered in various Muslim forums is the strength of entrenched views. These are often a product of cultural indoctrination; anything that attempts to challenge a particular view is taken to be an affront to the culture in question. Of course, it’s absolutely ridiculous; there is no special rule that makes culture immune to criticism. In fact, far more of us, particularly from immigrant backgrounds, need to adopt a more critical attitude towards the particular cultures of our forefathers. It makes very little sense for us to perpetuate views that are of very little use in our particular context.
And being critical and offering constructive criticisms should never be dismissed as judging, an emotive word often used when people don’t like what they’re hearing. Being able to take constructive criticism is actually something many of us struggle with – many Muslims come from a cultural background where defending your position is a matter of honour. However, not only is there no disgrace in being able to take criticisms on board, if taken in the right spirit it can be a beneficial source of self-analysis and evaluation.
On the whole, being critical, asking questions, and more than often questioning answers is something we can all embrace. Positing ideas, challenging them and taking criticisms are all skills that we need to adopt and implement to make British Muslim society as dynamic as it can be.