The Directorate of Religious Affairs Publishes a Book on “Social Media Sins”

The language used in a book named “Our Prophet and The Youth,” published by The Directorate of Religious Affairs in Turkey, caused a rebuff due to the use of conventional Islamic concepts in the context of Web 2.0, with unfamiliar Islamic verdicts such as retweeting someone’s photo without his/her permission is a violation of Shariah, therefore a great sin, according to Islam.

The book came out amidst debates premised upon the increasing presence of the directorate in the public sphere. The chairman of the directorate, Ali Erbas, was harshly criticised for his comments on the importance of religious education for children.

“Children who lack Holy Quran education in their lives are with Satan,” he stated during a speech he gave weeks ago.

Some excerpts from the book include appealing novelties to youth, including one outstanding metaphor resembling life to YouTube, where cameras are on throughout one’s life and the successful ‘youtubers’ will be rewarded at the end.

The metaphor was taken literally by some segments of the population whom are discontent with increasing societal role of the directorate, and some news sites came up with headlines implying a take on by the directorate against YouTubers.

Meanwhile, the Directorate of Religious Affairs issues religious verdicts (fatwa) on demand; a telephone hotline service that has been providing Islamic guidance on the day-to-day life since 2012.

The Directorate made it on international headlines in 2015 when it announced that, contrary to common beliefs, toilet paper is not prohibited by Islam. The Directorate also found out that feeding dogs at home, celebrating the western New Year, lotteries, and tattoos are all prohibited in Islam.

Legally speaking, the directorate’s rulings carry no weight, and following them is entirely voluntary, but it is unprecedented for a state agency in a secular state to provide religious sanctions on the day-to-day behaviours.

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