Muslim YouTubers And Social Media Influencers

Muslim YouTubers And Social Media Influencers

YouTube.

I’ve been familiar with it since the year 2010. That year, I was in the midst of studying a marketing diploma in the city. Because I lived so far away from the campus at the time, I’d resorted to living with my aunt. Living with her helped me to reduce my morning commute time by cutting my trip in half.

What she loved to do in her spare time was watch YouTube. This is how I was introduced to the world of vloggers and social media fame. I became fascinated with the fact that everyday people could build a channel around any niche they wanted and build a following around that. With nothing but a cheap camera or smart phone and a blank wall behind them.

I became hooked on watching YouTube too.

It’s incredible how easy it is to access any information you like – tutorials, reviews, lectures, vlogs, comedy sketches, movies and music. Everyday people all around the world can share their ideas with the world. Anyone can become a teacher or an authority figure on just about any topic or niche that they like.

The Dark Side Of YouTube

YouTube has been around since 2005.

Since its beginning up till now, plenty of people have come and gone on the platform. Channels have been around and then disappeared. Dramas have unfolded. Gossiping and rumours started on YouTube have destroyed people’s lives.

Take for instance, the “Shane Dawson is a pedophile” rumour.

Or the Logan Paul suicide forest scandal.

Everyday people have the potential to become famous and recognised in public, just as a Hollywood celebrity would.

People even go so far as to stalk YouTubers.

YouTube arguably has the most troll accounts and hate commenters on there out of all of the social media platforms.

Depression, Anxiety And Burnout

Another downfall of YouTube.

Have you ever noticed that a lot of YouTubers seem depressed?

Maybe they seem like they’ve got their life all put together and are having the best time joking around, travelling the world and being admired by thousands of adoring fans.

But eventually, if they’re honest and sincere, they release a tell-all video explaining why their life is in a shambles. They inform their audience that their online image isn’t as glamorous as what it seems.

One thing that’s common among YouTubers is having a split-personality (or alter-ego, if you like). When they’re alone in front of the camera, with no one else around to judge them, they can be whoever they want to be.

Maybe in everyday life they’re quiet and withdrawn. They could’ve been the not-so-popular kid in school. But when they’re in front of a camera, they can exaggerate their personality and create this character that they put out there into the world.

Just check out Muslim YouTubers – here and here – talking about how their online presence has affected their everyday lives.

Monetisation

Is the life of a social media influencer always a glamorous one?

Nowadays, people are able to make a living from blogging and vlogging. Some people do it very well – even making six figure yearly incomes from sharing their lives online.

This is all through avenues such as:

  • Google AdSense
  • Patreon
  • GoFundMe
  • Sponsorships
  • Affiliate marketing
  • E-book sales
  • Merchandise

To a lot of people, this would seem like their ideal lifestyle. Quitting their 9-5 job to share with the world what they’re really passionate about. All the while getting paid to do it.

But that’s not always the case.

Becoming a social media influencer doesn’t guarantee you a glamorous lifestyle. Ex-influencer Essena O’Neill and psychologist Dr. Linda Papadopoulos would agree, which you can read about here.

Did you know that Instagram influencers even go so far as creating fake sponsored posts? Which raises a few issues.

It affects their influence in terms of their honesty and authenticity. Should they really mess with their audience’s trust like that?

Doesn’t it just make it harder for influencers to get genuine sponsorships because of free publicity?

What if the brand that they claim is sponsoring them doesn’t want to be associated with them? Not all publicity is good publicity for brands. Could that lead to legal issues?

Social media influencers even buy products and return them just for pictures. Is the life of an influencer really that desirable behind the scenes?

It’s no wonder that depression and anxiety is common among influencers.

Fame

So what does Islam teach about fame? Was that even a thing at the time of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ)?

You’d be surprised.

There’s a few ahadith about fame that are so relevant today, it’s as though the Prophet (ﷺ) said them last week.

K’ab bin Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Two hungry wolves sent in the midst of a flock of sheep are no more destructive to them than a man’s greed for wealth and fame is to his deen.”

Riyad as-Salihin

The Muslim should be focused on his servitude to Allah above everything. Your destination in the hereafter is much more important than enjoying wealth and fame, which are just temporary pleasures of this dunya.

You can’t take your wealth and fame into your grave with you.

Sadly, people sacrifice their whole chance at success in the akhirah just for these temporary pleasures.

It is reported on the authority of Amir b. Sa’d that Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas was in the fold of his camels that his son ‘Umar came to him. When Sa’d saw him he said:
I seek refuge with Allah from the mischief of this rider. And as he got down he said to him: You are busy with your camels and your sheep and you have abandoned people who are contending with one another for kingdom. Sa’d struck his chest and said: Keep quiet. I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: Allah loves the servant who is God-conscious and is free from want and is hidden (from the view of people).

Sahih Muslim

How Can You Use Social Media And Be Hidden From The View Of People?

Here’s a few things that you can do:

  • Avoid uploading selfies or footage of yourself.
  • Remain anonymous or use a name other than your real name.
  • Collaborate with other people under the name of an institution or an organisation.
  • Support other people who are using social media for a good cause. Donate to them or share their work.
  • Create a podcast or a radio show.
  • Write a book, a magazine or a blog.

Do you want to be like Muslim YouTubers and social influencers?

Muslim YouTubers
Do you understand the responsibility that comes with fame?

Understand that as a Muslim, being a part of that world comes with a lot of responsibility. Whether you’d like to accept that or not. Even if you aren’t actively trying to promote Islam.

Maybe you’re just looking to be a fashion guru or a movie reviewer.

People will still know that you represent Islam by your hijab, your beard, your Islamic name or your Islamic culture that you casually speak about on the side.

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:
He who called (people) to righteousness, there would be reward (assured) for him like the rewards of those who adhered to it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And he who called (people) to error, he shall have to carry (the burden) of its sin, like those who committed it, without their sins being diminished in any respect.

Sahih Muslim

Say you post publicly that you’ve officially taken off your hijab, or that you drink alcohol or commit zina. Or worse, openly call others to commit sins like those. You’d carry the burden of the sin of those you influenced on the Day of Judgement, without their sins being diminished in any way.

It’s not a case of “only God can judge me” when you’re putting your sins on show for others.

You need to make sure that you’re setting the best example that you can. For not only your own sake but for the sake of the ummah at large.

Purify Your Intentions

Ikhlas (sincerity) is a huge part of Islam. Our intentions behind our actions are everything.

‘Umar bin Al Khattab reported the Apostle of Allah (ﷺ) as saying: “Actions are to be judged only by intentions and a man will have only what he intended. When one’s emigration is to Allah and His Apostle, his emigration is to Allah and His Apostle but his emigration is to a worldly end at which he aims or to a woman whom he marries, his emigration is to that for which he emigrated.”

Sunan Abi Dawud

How do you know that what you’re putting out there online is sincere? How do you know if it’s for the betterment of your deen? Will it affect your ranks in Jannah (or Jahannam)?

Maybe you need to ask yourself the following:

  • Is there an overall positive message that I’d like to promote? Or do I just want to put up things for self-validation and likes?
  • Am I calling people to good through what I’m posting or am I calling people to sin?
  • Am I being a good role model for others?
  • Will others be influenced by my behaviour in a positive way or a negative way?
  • Is my purpose greater than any stupid hate comment that might get me down?
  • Do I feel motivated to put up content on this topic everyday?
  • Do I have a good level of haya and modesty? Do I dress appropriately?
  • Do I swear or use vulgar language?
  • Is the content that I post family friendly? Does it promote Muslim values?
  • Will I regret what I post one day?
  • Do I have enough knowledge to act as a teacher or a guide on the topic that I’m talking about? Or is it better left to someone who’s more of an expert?
  • Is my focus on contribution or feeling significant? Am I motivated by helping others or feeling important?

Are you having doubts as to whether or not you’re doing things just because you’re paid to?

Ask yourself the billion dollar question:

  • If I was given a billion dollars today, would I still be putting that content out there tomorrow?

Because if you would, then that’s a good sign. Maybe you feel like it really needs to be said or done for the betterment of society, or something greater.

If you find yourself thinking no, then maybe it’s time to rethink what you’re putting out there. Are you doing it just for money or is there some other good motive involved?

Want Provision And Worldly Gains?

Think again before creating content just for money. It will just lead to fear of poverty and a reduction in the rizq or barakah that you could be getting from it.

Do things for the sake of Allah and watch how your overall state of contentment changes for the better. Rizq and barakah will undoubtedly come to you anyway.

‘Abdur-Rahman bin Aban bin ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan narrated that his father said:
“Zaid bin Thabit departed from Marwan at mid-day. I said: ‘He has not sent him out at this time of the day except for something he asked.’ So I asked him, and he said: ‘He asked me about some things we heard from the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: “Whoever is focused only on this world, Allah will confound his affairs and make him fear poverty constantly, and he will not get anything of this world except that which has been decreed for him. Whoever is focused on the Hereafter, Allah will settle his affairs for him and make him feel content with his lost, and his provision and worldly gains will undoubtedly come to him.”

Sunan Ibn Majah

Am I Telling You To Go And Hide Under A Rock?

Should Muslim YouTubers quit?

No.

There’s a need for Muslim YouTubers. In this day and age, not many people read the Qur’an all day in their spare time.

People like to watch YouTube for entertainment. So isn’t it a good thing that there’s Muslims out there trying to create content with Muslim values in it? Whether it be anything from tutorials, reviews, lectures, vlogs, comedy sketches, Qur’an recitations or nasheeds.

Without YouTube, I wouldn’t have learnt how to do the following:

  • Say the shahada in Arabic
  • How to wear hijab
  • Be inspired to wear hijab
  • How to read Arabic
  • How to pray
  • Learn basic teachings of Islam

YouTube is needed sometimes for advice, to connect with like-minded people or just to shut our minds off from the world after a bad day.

Muslim YouTubers just need to be careful about what they choose to upload. Viewers need to be careful about which viewing material they choose to consume.

How Can I Be A Good Role Model?

Besides the obvious like making sure that you’re fulfilling your fard obligations as a Muslim, there’s a few things that you can do.

Try to be the most honest and trustworthy person that you can. Whether you’re giving your opinion on the latest hijab fashion or some sort of product review.

Abdullah reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:
It is obligatory for you to tell the truth, for truth leads to virtue and virtue leads to Paradise, and the man who continues to speak the truth and endeavours to tell the truth is eventually recorded as truthful with Allah, and beware of telling of a lie for telling of a lie leads to obscenity and obscenity leads to Hell-Fire, and the person who keeps telling lies and endeavours to tell a lie is recorded as a liar with Allah.

Sahih Muslim

Be honest in business too. Disclose if something you’re promoting is sponsored or if you’re affiliated with it in some way. Tell your audience how you spend any Patreon or GoFundMe money that they donate to you.

And please don’t go faking sponsored posts.

Narrated Hakim bin Hizam:
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “The seller and the buyer have the right to keep or return goods as long as they have not parted or till they part; and if both the parties spoke the truth and described the defects and qualities (of the goods), then they would be blessed in their transaction, and if they told lies or hid something, then the blessings of their transaction would be lost.”

Sahih al-Bukhari

Do your best to promote halal things that you’re familiar with. Promote things that you’d gladly recommend to your friends or family.

Try to make other people happy. You can find examples of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) humour in ahadith and apply it.

He had a good sense of humour, but didn’t lie or use sarcasm in order to tell jokes. His jokes always had an element of truth in them.

Abu Hurayra reported that the people said, “Messenger of Allah, you joke with us!” He replied, “But I only speak the truth.”

Al-Adab Al-Mufrad

Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) would also smile a lot.

Narrated Ibn Jaz:
“I have not seen anyone who smiled more than the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).”

Jami` at-Tirmidhi

Other People’s “Perfect Lives” Getting You Down?

Advice on depression and social media

Sometimes, it can get really overwhelming comparing ourselves to the fake and shiny images that people put up of themselves online. Which can be really detrimental to our mental, physical and spiritual well-being.

When it gets like that, take a break. Look to those who have less than you.

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:
Look at those who stand at a lower level than you but don’t look at those who stand at a higher level than you, for this would make the favours (conferred upon you by Allah) insignificant (in your eyes).

Sahih Muslim

Who Should We Look Up To As Role Models?

Narrated `Abdullah:
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Do not wish to be like anyone, except in two cases: (1) A man whom Allah has given wealth and he spends it righteously. (2) A man whom Allah has given wisdom (knowledge of the Qur’an and the Hadith) and he acts according to it and teaches it to others.”

Sahih al-Bukhari

From the above hadith, we know that we should look up to people who spend their money wisely. That could be people who use their wealth to perform Hajj or Umrah, or give it in charity.

We can also look up to people who are very knowledgeable about the deen. Maybe they inspire you to start learning more. They could inspire you to become a scholar or a teacher of Islam. Or maybe they just have a lot of knowledge to give to you that you can benefit from.

Analyse your subscription list on YouTube. Or who you follow on Instagram, or which blog you subscribe to, or whatever social media platform it is you use.

Do you need to clean up your social media pages? Do the people or pages that you follow have substance? What are you filling your mind with subconsciously every day?

Is it topics like Islam, religion, world news, history, languages, business, philosophy, science, psychology and politics?

Or is it celebrity gossip, fashion fads, sinful things, biased news, consumerism and advertising?

Our role models should inspire us to strive to become better Muslims, be fit and healthy and gain more knowledge that’s beneficial to us.

Read Others’ Perspectives On Muslim YouTubers And Social Media Influencers

Al-Madina Institute – Shazia Ahmad writes, “The Perils of Fame: How to Be a Famous Muslim”. Read the full post here.

Karsen Breanne – Karsen Breanne writes, “Muslim Social Media Influencers”. Read the full post here.

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Muslim YouTubers And Social Media Influencers