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Etiquettes of Discussion on a Blog | Comments Policy

alḥamdulillāh, Muslim Matters has grown immensely over the past years- our readership has increased as well as our Facebook and Twitter fans.   With this comes additional responsibility. As we expand, one of the issues foremost on our minds was our comment moderation policy.  Some of our readers thought we are too harsh in moderation, while others thought that we allow commenters to get away with many un-pleasantries. Instead of serving the Muslim community, some post's comments became a fitnah (tribulation), weakening the readers' īmān (faith) instead of uplifting it. We have worked hard to change the atmosphere on MM threads.

Etiquettes of Discussion on a Blog-

When we write, we are inviting you into our lives; please treat us as you would if we were right in front of you. Just because you are anonymous does not make your words less hurtful and vile.  Many of our writers have felt publicly humiliated by some of the comments. As writers on Islamic topics, we know that we have to answer to our Rabb (Lord) for our words and would like our readers to reflect on that. We value our commenters – good blog commenters add to the discussion and are known as informative, friendly, and engaged (we know who you are -JazakAllah Khayr and thank you for your contributions, even if we sometimes disagree with you). Here are some suggestions to make yourself a great blog commenter:

  1. Make RasulAllah your role model
  2. Read the post completely before commenting
  3. Read the thread
  4. Stay on topic
  5. Think before you type – check your language
  6. Disagree respectfully
  7. Cite your sources with links or inline quoting
  8. Make the tone of your message clear
  9. Be Gentle

Make RasulAllah your role model.

Prophet Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was neither a Fahish nor a Mutafahish.

He said

“The best amongst you are those who have the best manners and character.”

This is something all our writers are committed to. We aim to be a forum where Islamic discourse takes place within Islamic Adab and Akhlaaq (manners). Sometimes we discuss controversial topics, politics, fiqh issues. If you disagree, please do not publish a long blog post (refutation) in the comments section, but do send a letter to the editor ( hena.z@muslimmatters.org) and we will let you have your say if it passes shurah (consultation).

Read the post/article completely.

Many times we get comments from readers who have not bothered to read the whole article and comment based on presumptions. If you do not know what the article says but comment anyway, it is like barging into a conversation or asking a speaker a question about their talk without listening to his/her speech.

Read the thread.

Read all the previous comments in the thread, especially if you plan on responding. It's best if you know what others have said so you don't repeat their sentiments, or misrepresent them. Plus, how can you properly respond to something if you don't know what it is?  We know this hard to do when there are many comments or if you feel particularly strongly about an issue.

Stay on topic.

Sometimes a comment thread is all over the place, and all of a sudden you're talking about  'Īd at your grandparent's house instead of talking about the topic at hand. Keep the original post in mind when writing a comment.

Think before you type.

Don't start your comment or response with “No offense, but…” because that's a sure sign you're about to be offensive. “Even use of “Um…” or “Really?” at the start of your response to another poster can carry more “uncritical sting than rhetorical zing”. Give respect, even if it is someone you totally disagree with – especially if it is a scholar – we know we are humans and we make mistakes and even scholars make mistakes, but calling people sellouts, etc. does not make for constructive discussion.

If a post addresses a topic unfamiliar to you or does not immediately gel with you, your first reaction should not be typing. Instead, think it over. This might include doing some research and reading, and listening to other voices before commenting. One way to address such a topic is to not make it about yourself. Remember, once it is published it is forever.

In Surah al-Hajj, Allāh described the believers:

“And they have been guided to the purest of talk; and guided to the path of Him who is worthy of praise (22:24)

Save your snark for the issues, not for other commenters who have come here just like you to engage with Muslims. This involves directly attacking the poster, using snark as a weapon ('Um, sorry, but which world are you from?'), or just generally giving attitude. If your reasoning and arguments are good, they should be able to stand on their own merits. Do not get into useless debate or snide others who may have views that are not the exact replica of yours.

Disagree respectfully.

Address the argument, not the person. “If you're critiquing someone's tone (“Why are you so upset?”), the emotions behind their argument (“You obviously have problems.”), or using adjectives like “fanatic,” “ridiculous,” and “paranoid,” you may need to rethink your comment.”

Allāh Most High says,
“O you who believe, let no men scorn other men, for they might well be better than they are. And let no women scorn other women, for they might well be better than they. And do not find fault with one another, or give each other insulting nicknames” (Qur'an 49:11).

The Prophet (Allāh bless him and give him peace) said,
“When two vituperate each other, [the sin of] what they say is borne by the one who first began, as long as the one wronged does not transgress [the bounds of merely defending himself, by answering back with worse].” (Muslim, 4.2000: 2587. S)

Just because you think you're right (or because someone else thinks you're right), that doesn't make your opinion any less of an opinion. Leave room for other people to disagree with you. We as bloggers know this and that is why we have a comments section.

Cite your sources with links or inline quoting.

To comment on specific bits of a blog post, copy and paste the lines in question and add your response below each section. If you're referencing information located elsewhere, provide a short summary and a link to your source so others can click through for more information at their discretion.

Make the tone of your message clear.

No one can hear the tone of your voice or see your facial expression online. When you read your message out loud, does it sound the way it would when you speak to another person? Furthermore, sarcasm, in-jokes and exaggerations can easily be taken the wrong way in a public forum.  Using emoticons or additional information to communicate the spirit of your message is helpful.

Be Gentle.

The Prophet (salAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said,

“You must be gentle. Whenever there is gentleness in some matter, it adorns it and whenever it is taken away, it disfigures it.”

Finally, if you feel particularly strongly about a topic, please think through your response, and make sure that
a) it isn't attacking someone
b) you're not responding out of defensiveness

Our mission in creating a forum for discussion is to keep that discussion useful and thoughtful

This is an Muslim website, but not everyone who visits it has the same understanding of Islam. If someone's comment or post sounds like Islam 101 to you, there's a good chance it's because that is their understanding of Islam and while that may frustrate you, it's not helpful to lash out at them. They may have different scholars they look up, different fiqh that they follow and many may not even be Muslim. That commenter has as much right to be here as you do.

Comment Policy: Please don't think we don't want discussions.

As  the Khalifah al Mamun said,
“Discussion entrenches knowledge much more than agreement.”

We aim to accommodate different understandings. That said, willful ignorance will not be entertained. If you are new to Islam or a topic at hand, please remember we will not tolerate any comments that are:

        1. Derogatory Comments About Islam: Disagreement with the religion, its personalities, and what it teaches is not out of bounds, but disrespect and mockery will not be tolerated.
        2. Personal Comments: Bringing up personal information about others, either writers or other people who are not related to the discussion.
        3. Poor Adab: Abusive, insulting, and mean-spirited comments will not be tolerated, nor will foul language.
        4. Discussion Killers: Off-topic, overly argumentative, and troll-ish comments will be removed.
        5. Encouraging Criminal Behavior: Inciting violence or threatening others will not only not be tolerated, but  your IP will be traced and you'll be reported to local authorities.
        6. Clone Spam: Anyone who posts under multiple names, or whose account is under moderation and tries to evade the system by coming in with different email addresses will be moderated as well.

Moderators may intervene as they see fit in any thread on any post, usually by editing comments that cross a line, but in some cases even outright deleting comments and in the most extreme cases, banning users. The best way to attract attention is to ignore the Muslimmatter's norms, or repeatedly engage in behavior after being asked to stop. Please use names, popular blog/twitter handles or kunyah for nicks or handles – not messages.  All new commenters will be put on auto mod until you build a history. We will edit or delete any comment we feel does not fit these standards, and will turn comments to approval-only temporarily if we feel it is necessary, or if a blogger requests it (so please do not be offended).

MMstaff can't moderate everything all the time, and we encourage our community of commenters to be part of the process. We have implemented tools to help you do this not just because we can't do it alone, but because we also don't want all content authority coming from the top down. We now have a comments team led by Aly Balagamwala. Please email comments@muslimmatters.org if you see something that needs our immediate attention or if you find an offensive comment that has slipped past us.

with Salaam,

Hena Zuberi
Editor-in-Chief

14 comments

  1. Sister Hena Zuberi,
    Assalamu alaikum,
    My name is maher and I submitted an article well over a month ago, yet have not received an acknowledgement of receipt. I am curious about the process, as I seem to read quite a bit about how everyone is calling for making our institutions to be more professional, my expectation is that the same should apply to this MM, as a very important and useful element to us as American Muslims. I am not that concerned if it is published or not, I am just curious about the process and the time frame. The tile of the article was “is the media or is it bad parenting”. I would appreciate a response.

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    • Wa alaykum massalam wa ramatulahi wa barakatahu,

      We have made some recent changes to our submission policy and are implementing a new process with the new site.

      Please excuse our delay in responding to your submission. It was be discussed in Shurah and since it was very similar to an article we already had scheduled, we had not made the decision to accept it. But since it is a relevant topic we hope to publish it in May.

      You should ear from our content manager soon.

      JazakAllah Khayr for reaching out to us and giving us your feedback. Keep us in your duas as we are all volunteers

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  2. Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    This brother named Baasel made some pretty nice comments which had nothing apparently wrong with them….I even responded and said “jazzakAllahu khair” My my “jaazakAllahu khair” is there but his comments are not there.

    I don’t understand, where did his comments go? Why?

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    • Dear Gibran
      WaAlaikum Assalam Wa Rehmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu:

      The Comments Team has a process of moderation that is followed. Due to this comments may be moderated until approved, edited, or deleted after being guaged for compliance to MM’s comment policies. While some readers may not agree with all our actions, the aim of this site is to be a safe online forum for discussion. Thus, sometimes your comments or those of others may be delayed. We apologize for this but we can’t be logged into the site 24/7 and respond instantaneously.

      You are MashaaAllah one of our active readers and commenters and we appreciate your time spent at the site. We may not agree with each other on all issues, but as long as the Comments Team feel comments are in compliance with the policy they will be posted regardless of the personal views of anyone on the staff. We just ask of a little patience from your side to allow our team to work in accordance with its process and mandate.

      WasSalamuAlaikum wa Rehmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu
      -Aly

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      • *Comment noted and removed by CommentsTeam for repetition*

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        • Gibran Akhi you have been given an explanation on email and i have Also informed on the fact that you are on moderation. Please keep a check on the hostility of your comments towards others. Even saying the right thing the wrong way can be a cause of moderation which is mostly the case with you so please keep it in mind. JazakAllahu Khairin.

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          • “hostility of your comments towards others”

            Only for me and not everyone else eh?

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          • Dear Mahmud

            My dear brother in Islam, whom I love so much for the sake of our Creator, please note that not all comments are moderated by me. Some are upto the authors. My sincere advise to you is to stop thinking that you are the only person who is right and anyone who opposes your view is destined for the worst possible punishment on the Day of Judgement (may Allah (SWT) protect us all). Sometimes even the right thing said in the wrong manner or context can be considered hostility. It is not the sunnah of the Messenger (SAW) and his sahaba to tell each and every person they are destined for the hell fire and I will see you on the Day of Judgement. It was not the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (SAW) as the Quran also points out in 3:159 (http://quran.com/3/159) and 48:29 (http://quran.com/48/29). Further Aa’ishah (RA) reported that the Prophet )SAW_ said: “Whenever forbearance is added to something, it adorns it; and whenever it is withdrawn from something, it leaves it defective.” [Muslim].

            Please note that due to your harshness, a temporary ban is being put on your comments on MM till end of the month. All comments from you will be deleted in this duration. After this perod, you will be allowed to comment again but MM reserves the right to ban commenters permanently. If we are being unjust, please forgive us. However, do take this time to consider the above advice and try to work on softening your tone towards your fellow muslims.

            Best Regards
            Muhammad Aly Balagamwala
            Comments Team Lead
            MuslimMatters.org

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          • On a personal note, I was deeply hurt by your accusations and statements made to me in a personal capacity. Many years ago I also used to be harsh in my attitude towards others. Several things happened Alhamdulillah that steered me from that path. However, there is a story I remembered that I read some years back that affected me a lot.

            There is a story of a man who came upon al Ma’mun, the prominent ‘Abbasi caliph, and started to “counsel” him about vice and virtue in a rough and crude manner with no consideration for his status. Al Ma’mun, who had a good knowledge of fiqh, addressed the man: “Speak more kindly. Remember that Allah has sent someone better than you to a ruler worse than me, and commanded the former to speak mildly; he has sent Musa and Harun, who were better than you, to Pharaoh, who was worse than me, and commanded them:

            ‘Go, both of you, to Pharaoh, for he has indeed transgressed all
            bounds, but speak to him mildly. Perchance he may take warning or fear [Allah]‘.

            I implore you my brother in Islam to forgive me for any injustice that you may perceive from me and I forgive you for your words that have hurt me. And I pray to Allah (SWT) to join us in the highest levels of Jannat-ul-Firdaus and give us His Protection from the questioning on the Day of Judgement through His Mercy.

            WasSalamuAlaikum wa rehmatullahi wa barakatuhu
            -Aly

            *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*

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  3. “All new commenters will be put on auto mod until you build a history”

    Is it reasonable in this day and age to have a database like this? Linked to someone’s IP address?!?! I find it difficult to believe that your database is 100% robust and secure. How can one criticise the invasion of privacy when we are fostering this kind of data gathering…?

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    • Salaamu alaikum Fritz;
      What is Reasonable is often relative to the situation. Keeping a database of commenters and identifiable information helps management in maintaining a balanced moderation program. If you fear governmental invasion of your privacy, be rest assured that your even being here on this site is recorded by some agency somewhere. And if you knew anything about the internet you would know that your TCP/IP activity is recorded on several servers where ever you go.
      Do a google on Snowden :) and trust in Allah(swt).

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  4. Assaalaamu’alaikumwrb
    Greetings to all

    introduce, my name is evi. I live in Indonesia. I am very happy with this website, because we can exchange information on the development of Islam in the world.

    Greetings from Indonesia

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