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In the Name of God بسم الله
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W.I.M. wimmin

Haji 2003

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W.I.M stands for 'woe is me".

We get new threads on Shiachat started by new posters who typically relate some domestic issue where a woman has been badly treated by either the father or the husband and occasionally some other male.

The story, since these posts are typically reasonably long, has a fair amount of detail and explanation and has clearly been written by someone with a reasonably good command of the English language. We are not talking about someone who has secretly grabbed access to the village computer in some remote part of a developing country.

Not unreasonably the post elicits uncritical sympathy from most Shiachatters. After all, if you saw Bambi's mother wounded in the forest would you not do all you could to support her and criticise the hunter in the process? 

Given the patriarchal nature of Muslim societies, the collateral damage is, of course, the implicit criticism of such societies, their institutions, cultural norms and so on. So for example, if someone has been taken advantage of through the use of mutah, then invariably there will be concerns directed at the practice and the people who engage in it.

And to my mind, that is the objective of these threads. 

The following are the reasons why I usually have grave reservations about their authenticity:

  1. The person writing them is articulate and educated. They know how to construct a narrative that works. This is not an easy skill to acquire. Their spelling and sentence construction are always good. This matters because such education does not exist in a vacuum. Anyone who is educated to this level has a knowledge of their environment and you'd expect the support systems where they could get help (if that is what they wanted).
  2. The poster typically writes about a situation where they were taken advantage of, sometimes as a result of their lack of knowledge e.g. the terms of mutah. Now that situation would be entirely reasonable if the person was writing about a situation pre-internet. However, if they are writing about any event within the last 5-10 years the question which arises is that any google search of various Islamic issues throws up results that include Shiachat discussions. We are therefore being led to believe that the first time this person heard of Shiachat is when the situation imploded and not beforehand.
  3. Allied to this point the question why someone would turn to anonymous, generally unqualified strangers for help when it would make more sense to approach organisations and institutions they were familiar with and which would both offer an independent and trustworthy point of view. If someone can find shiachat on google they can find such resources.
  4. There are often references to the poster's fragile state of mind, which in my opinion is simply there to head off any uncritical assessment. In developed countries the first person anyone would go to in a fragile state of mind would be there local G.P. (doctor) and they would refer the person to appropriate sources of help.
  5. Such stories are always about 'relationships'. The topic is sexy and everyone has an unqualified opinion. We don't get similar posts about any other aspect of human activity. We don't get anonymous new posters writing in detail about the challenges they face in terms of choosing between medicine or engineering, for example. 

The question then is what motivates such posters?

In my opinion, it is to attack Islamic and Shia institutions and practices, it is to sow discord amongst board members and certainly it is to provide ammunition for those board members who have an anti-Islamic agenda and who can use these stories as the basis for attacking people with a more orthodox mindset.

You may well ask what would qualify such threads as being genuine. 

I'd expect a genuine poster to leave out the 'gory' details. After all, that is for the benefit of feeding the bun fight that is supposed to follow. I would expect a genuine person to explain in very general terms the situation that they are facing and then to ask posters if they are familiar with any sources of support in a particular country or region (this assume that they can't find such resources themselves). At a push, I would say that a new poster could say that they wanted to speak to someone qualified and whether board members or moderators could point them in the right direction.



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On 1/11/2019 at 5:21 PM, ireallywannaknow said:

Hm, good points and food for thought. I should be more discerning with these stories... 

@ireallywannaknowThe irony, of course, is that the OPs story always demonstrates a lack of discernment or naivety on their part. This may be understandable but the way the story is constructed requires everyone reading it to also suspend disbelief.

We have plenty of threads challenging aspects of Islamic and Shia belief, but in such threads critical thinking is not allowed.

Edited by Haji 2003

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3 hours ago, Mohammed-Mehdi said:

I always had the idea and still have that there are hidden enemies. Some of them might be portraying themselves as friends for years but they are knowingly enemies. They can be volunteers and/or part of something bigger, I don't know. 

People sometimes wonder why there is conflict between Iraqis or amongst Pakistanis or within Iran.

These threads provide an excellent case study as to how a stranger can come within a community and set off internecine strife with one post. Now imagine what anti-Muslim forces can do at a national level.

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The cost of making these posts is nothing compared to the possible “benefits”, so I’m surprised there’s not more.

Especially text based ones with a much lower production budget than audio, images, or videos. 

Like Nigerian scam emails, if a million people ignore them, but one takes the bait, it’s all worth the return on investment exponentially.

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Another important factor is the “hit and run”, where an OP doesn’t respond beyond the initial post. If the member was sincere, there would be more back and forth, showing resolution and progress of the issue (through the Islamic suggestions of responders).

The key for these topics is to show there’s no solution, and that Muslims are helpless squabblers.

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19 hours ago, Reza said:

Another important factor is the “hit and run”,

@RezaGood point, this is one I should add to the numbered list.

[Edit] on reflection there is another very good reason why the OP rarely follows up with any meaningful response. The narrative we are provided with presents the OP as a passive recipient of others' evil actions, there is no sense of agency.

If the OP were to respond and thereby demonstrate their role as an active participant in their situation, firstly it would diminish their role as the passive recipient. Secondly, it would also require their acknowledgement that there had been mistakes undertaken on their part and again this would diminish the legitimacy of the charges that they were laying at the feet of the accused.

Edited by Haji 2003

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@Laayla, If it has been hidden, I had nothing to do with that decision.

This blog post may have referenced a couple of things that had similarities with that thread, but here I was making a more general point.

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@Haji 2003 Brother, while some of the points you made are valid I would still give the benefit of doubt to such posters.

As you must already know 4/5 years back I posted here as a 'W.I.M' so I think I am in a position to address some of your reservations.

Having a good command over English does not automatically mean someone has direct access to help. In some places such resources do not exist and in others, hard to believe but true, reaching out for help just doesn't cross the person's mind. How your mind works when you are in a situation is very different to how you think when you are looking at that situation from an outside perspective.

Lots of people come here and post in hope of finding an easy solution. Easy, as in discrete, minimum fuss and without involving the families. Understandably in cases like underage and virgin mutah the girl doesn't want her family to know and in marital problems people fear the amount of gossip and hence resort to places where they can be anonymous. 

Marital issues affect lives like no other. They leave long lasting, sometimes life long changes on almost every aspect of the person's life - physical , emotional, financial, social which is far more than a choice of degree or car would affect someone. 

So while lots of times topics are started to attack Shia practices there are times when a genuine person comes here in need of help. 

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2 hours ago, starlight said:

I would still give the benefit of doubt to such posters.

@starlight

It's an issue of assessing each thread on its merits.

2 hours ago, starlight said:

As you must already know 4/5 years back I posted here as a 'W.I.M'

I don't remember giving you both barrels, so it must have been ok, I think.

What I pointed out in my OP were some indicators of troll-like behaviour, it's when there is a preponderance of such indicators that the light switches from amber to red.

Certainly, giving such threads carte-blanche for public consumption is not on IMHO. If independent, discreet advice is what is needed then we have mechanisms for that.

Often it's because these people supposedly took everything they were told at face-value that they got into trouble in the first place, the last thing we should be doing is following their example.

Edited by Haji 2003

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Bismehe Ta3ala 

Assalam Alikum @Haji 2003

I don't know if you heard the news recently about a Saudi 18 year old girl seeking asylum in Canada.  She arrived in Toronto in a short skirt...

Freeland said Qunun commented about the cold and she responded that it gets warmer in Canada.

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/World/2019/Jan-12/473881-Saudi-teen-asylum-seeker-expected-in-Canada.ashx

I thought about opening a new thread about this topic, but I'm noticing there is a lot of sensitivities taking place within the mods and members.  Attacking in full force when anyone mentions where the person fell into sin from the very beginning, just to warn other people not to fall into the same mistakes or normalize the sins as something teenagers do.

Of course the issue at hand is not her type of clothing, but her impression of living a free life.  There is many points I want to address about this topic, but the “atmosphere" at ShiaChat feels like some voices are being restricted and prevented from sharing their viewpoints.  

Thank you for your time. @Abu HadiI tagged you Hajj to share my concern with you.

M3 Salamah, Fe Amin Allah 

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17 minutes ago, Laayla said:

There is many points I want to address about this topic, but the “atmosphere" at Sc feels like some voices are being restricted and prevented from sharing their viewpoints.  

@Laayla

That's previously been the case as well. There was a famous bun-fight about 10 years ago when a woman wrote about the oppression that she was facing and many Sis wrote in support of her.

The one Sis who pointed out the fact that the poster had admitted committing zina took a lot of flak and she is no longer here. 

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Bismehe Ta3ala 

Assalam Alikum 

Then I wonder, what is the goal of Sc?

Dare I say are we striving to be Shias of Amir al mo2mneen or Abu Sufyan?

We have non Shias who are reading and observing these types of topics, I can only imagine the type of confusion that would occur to read about Amir al Motaqeen and then see those who profess to love him, but do the total opposite of his teachings.

But then I guess the 3ql readers will know their are discrepancies and eventually know who is in the right.

God help us stay steadfast on His religion.

M3 Salamah, Fe Amin Allah 

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I like to give the benefit of the doubt even if I'm skeptical. The harm done by incorrectly assuming that a person is trolling seems far worse to me than the inconvenience of spending time helping someone who is playing us. 

Besides, I have enough faith in our beliefs and practices that I don't worry about criticism, even if disguised as a plea for help. There are always false assumptions, and once those are corrected, a person in need is helped or a troll gives up. 

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On 1/13/2019 at 12:58 PM, notme said:

The harm done by incorrectly assuming that a person is trolling seems far worse to me than the inconvenience of spending time helping someone who is playing us. 

This is the heart of the problem.

An effective solution does not require us to make any assumptions at all!

In the most recent example, you'll see from the answers that I gave the poster, I took everything that was said at face value. I gave a constructive answer that would have enabled the OP to address her problem in a practical way. 

On the other hand.

There are plenty of people on this forum who were more than willing to engage with 'the story', the details of which had NOTHING to do with an effective solution and EVERYTHING to do with maligning the religion and its institutions.

@Laayla as a Mod I will caution you not to take for granted the imaan of anyone on this forum and that includes all Mods and Admins. Assess everything you read on its merits.

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45 minutes ago, Laayla said:

We have non Shias who are reading and observing these types of topics

And in the context of the most recent thread the non-Shia reader would get the impression that mutah is a means of corrupting innocent Sunni girls. If that was the mission it was accomplished.

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^^^

Brother,

I'm not questioning anyones eman.  I have only that right on myself and no one else.

I'm assessing based on numerous past topics where the same members, when they find me responding come all at once to criticise, resorting to personal attacks, and the easiest tactic questioning my akhlaq.  

It's the same people, it's like a gang, but really I don't know their purpose or what goals they have in mind. 

I ask Allah swt protection from those who wish evil or malice to others.

I thank you brother @Haji 2003 for addressing these issues.  

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Hajj I never see you criticizing the harsh judgement hurled at posters who post these topics.  How is that not damaging to Islam and its institutions? I would argue it is even more damaging and I hardly ever see you call such things out.   To stretch so far as to come up with this theory is just bizarre as there are far easier ways to malign religion and its institutions rather than coming up with these posts.  I would take your concerns a lot more seriously if you were a bit more balanced in your approach.

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It is best to take posters at their word - because we do not know the reality/unreality or whether their post is exaggeration or underreporting.  Judging someone’s integrity, honesty and level of religiosity based on a few words online is beyond bizarre.  Sure there are trolls, but the post might be genuine and you need to take Muslims at their word unless you have valid reason to believe they are being dishonest.  Online you never know what you dealing with.  The person might be a jaded troll but they also could be someone who is very much on the edge and is posting in desperation.  How would you like to be wrong?

 
People are often in difficulty based on bad choices, or sadly, based on the choices of others.  I think that once someone can actually write out what kind of a mess they are in and post it online, they are fully aware of what those bad choices were.  I am sure they do not need to have a member point out what an evil schmuck they are.  It is not helpful.  The pointer-outer comes across as someone who has self-imposed faux moral and religious superiority getting a quick esteem fix by pointing out the faults of others whom they see as inferior to themselves.  Not helpful to anyone - ironically, including themselves.
 
People disappear after posting because they were either trolls, are wishing they did not post in the first place (and ask for their post to be removed) are embarrassed or humiliated by one or more responses, or feel they have received validation enough to tackle their issue in suggested ways.
 
If one post can cause extreme turmoil, the problem is not with the poster but with the lack of cohesion within the community members.  If something like a post pushes us off the rails into mayhem, then we have some serious work to do in terms of addressing ongoing misunderstandings that create battlefields when there is even the slightest opportunity.  
Edited by Maryaam

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30 minutes ago, King said:

Hajj I never see you criticizing the harsh judgement hurled at posters who post these topics. 

If the people with these problems were to stick to the essential details - there would be very limited grounds for people to be harsh in their response. It's because they want to attack Muslims they dress up the story with details that then invite the attacks.

If some people were that concerned about such threads and the people behind them they would post a highly informed and factual answer and then ask the Mods to lock/hide the thread and/or convey the answer to the OP. Or the Mods/Admin who feel this way could do so themselves.

But let's face it, what people want is a bun fight and if it damages Islam so much the better.

38 minutes ago, King said:

there are far easier ways to malign religion and its institutions rather than coming up with these posts

The level of traction these posts get would challenge your assertion. They have a very low threshold for intellectual engagement and as a result attract a mass audience, in a manner that no theological discussion ever could.

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54 minutes ago, Maryaam said:

If one post can cause extreme turmoil, the problem is not with the poster but with the lack of cohesion within the community members.

I've taken part in forums where the agenda has simply been to save money and even there we've had heated battles about the pros and cons of using breadmakers. I've taken part on forums where the agenda has been to help people dealing with debt and there's been a perennial debate as to whether or not someone is serious about this if have a cable tv subscription.

The point is that in such situations the board members know what causes unnecessary strife and rather than have another debate about breadmakers, the threads are shut down. But the well-being of the community came before that of individual posters.

Edited by Haji 2003

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5 minutes ago, Haji 2003 said:

The point is that in such situations the board members know what causes unnecessary strife and rather than have another debate about breadmakers, the threads are shut down. But the well-being of the community came before that of individual posters.

You cannot continually rely on external reasons for disharmony - at some point, you need to acknowledge that you need to look from within.  

Edited by Maryaam

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