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Countering Rumour : Psycho-Quranic-Spirituality Model

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The Quran gives clear guidelines to ascertain the truth if any person brings some information to us, people should make sure that the information is a fact, before telling others.

In this digital world, information transmission is very quick and people are getting empowered through a digital mediums like YouTube, Whatsapp, Twitter,Linkedln etc. Information has been in the hands of people through digital resources mainly android mobiles and other sources like print media etc. Technology like other sciences has both boons and banes.

It has been seen that through such medium, rumours, and misinformation creates lots of chaos in society in the form of social dissension, increased threat perception, and panic. Trained professionals in Psychology need to develop psychological strategies to counter such misleading information.

Rumour is defined as “Unverified information” which passes on from one person to another without verifying its authenticity. Rumours spread fast when ambiguity and something of social importance prevail. Infodemic means spreading too much false information, especially in health crises like the Corona pandemic. Misinformation refers to the spreading of false information without verifying its truth.

Spiritual resources like the Quran also attempt to teach and train people to use techniques to counter such information. In this article, an attempt to integrate Quran and Psychology has been made to work on such issues. This has been called as “Psycho-Quranic Spirituality” model.

The quranic model is based on the Cohesive and peaceful co-existence of people of different faiths and beliefs. Two verses from the Quran are quoted that aim to teach and train people to follow basic behavioral principles which will help to curb issues like rumour, infodemic, and misinformation.

Gordon Allport, a social psychologist in the USA opened a Rumour clinic in 1951 to curb the spreading of rumours.

1. “O ye who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly, and afterward become full of repentance for what ye have done” (49:6)

The above-mentioned verse teaches in a wonderful way solutions to curb the rumour in its very beginning to avoid the possibility of social unrest.

In the above verse, a clear guideline is given to ascertain the truth if any person brings some information to us, people should make sure that the information is a fact, before telling others. Rumour is an important construct in social psychology which is defined as some unverified report/information being passed on from person to person without knowing the truth. Rumours have caused a lot of social dissensions and violence across cultures. A book named “Psychology of Rumour” was published in 1944 and written by Robert Knapp. Gordon Allport, a social psychologist in the USA opened a Rumour clinic in 1951 to curb the spreading of rumours. In the spreading of rumour, the actual information is fabricated when it reaches others because of many psychological variables involved in this process.

The Corona pandemic has also seen the spread of rumours through multiple resources leading to panic in society. The basic behavioral principle being taught in the mentioned verse is to put conscious efforts to know the authenticity of the information. Let us demonstrate this through an example in a dialogue given below:

Mr. A: I heard that a new Corona variant has been discovered causing huge human damage.

Mr.B: From where did you get this information, I request you to send me the source of this information with evidence. I request you, Mr. A, kindly first get the source of this information before informing others. Thank you.

2. Do not mix truth with falsehood or hide the truth when you know it (2:42)

The above verse also teaches people not to fabricate any information and hide the truth. It also teaches people to have a balanced perspective. For example, it teaches us to tell both sides of the picture. People should not only be trained to follow precautions required to take care of pathogens like viruses or bacteria, but also be informed about the success stories of recovered patients. This has the potential of building realistic hope among the people.

So use the Quranic message as wisdom to build peaceful and cohesive societies by just following these verses and countering misinformation and fake information by not forwarding it to others. But check its authenticity by using some behavioral and cognitive efforts and reflect on how best we can work on that to build peace in society.

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