Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
What does Islam say about technology?
I am not sure how to look at technology from an islamic perspective.
Answer: The default ruling on any matter is that as long as it does not contradict sacred law or tenants of faith, then it is considered permissible. As such, Islam does not condone technological and scientific advancement and use of technologies, as long as it abides to boundaries of Islamic law.
However, rulings on individual technologies, their use and application, is subject to change depending on each scenario and its purpose.
Technology as a mercy and as a bane
Technology moves at a rapid pace in today’s world, and it would be hard to imagine life without some of the advantages that modern technology affords. Through it, we are able to communicate faster, we are able to travel faster and safely, to provide services on a mass scale, to be more efficient, and for some of us, even live in more comfort so quality of life is improved.
We are able to teach and benefit others from a distance in a way that could never have been imagined. In some cases, the ruling on technology may even become obligatory (wajib) and fard kifayah, for example, teaching people their fard ‘ayn knowledge via the internet who otherwise have no access to scholars.
The same can be said for medical advancement, where it is necessary that we have access to certain facilities and procedures.
In this sense, technology is a mercy and blessing from Allah, and we should show gratefulness to God for giving us the ability and tools for these developments. The main way to show gratitude to Allah for these blessings is by using them for positively benefitting oneself and benefitting others.
Likewise, gratitude is shown by not using technology for harming oneself and others. For example, the internet can be a fantastic resource for beneficial information and communication, but it can also be abused and used as place for the clearly unlawful and at the minimum, a waste of time, not to mention the health risks posed by overuse.
In these cases, technology can become a trial for a person and detrimental, changing the ruling from permissible to disliked (makrouh) or impermissible (haram).
With any technology, we must also sincerely consider the ethical aspects to it, rather than the basic fiqh rulings. How is this development going to affect people’s lives and livelihoods, now and in the future? Is this technology going to affect people’s religious practice belief? Is it going to affect human relationships and social cohesion for better or worse? What affect will it have on the environment? Will it impact on the health of people now and future generations, and their sustenance etc.? and so on.
All these considerations must be taken into account. It becomes clear then, that while the original ruling on technology is permissibility, the ruling can change from being permissible, to being obligatory, to disliked, to being unlawful, depending on the application and purpose of the technology.
We have mentioned that technology is permissible as long as it does not contradict sacred law. We should also mention that while using any technology or involved in technological, scientific and medical development, that we always affirm that nothing is possible without the permission of Allah and through no ability or might of our own. We are merely workers using tools, yet there is only one Designer and only one grand design.
لا حول ولاقوة إلا بالله
There is no might nor power except in Allah.
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah
Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.