5

I understand that this issue has been discussed before (1, 2, 3).

Whenever, I see a question for which there is not a direct answer either from Hadith or Quran (most of the questions fall under this category), I believe that answering such questions require profound and comprehensive knowledge and should only be answered by the scholars.

Now, I can do two (or three) things here,

  1. I can search for an answer in the expert sites like, Ask Imam or Islam QA, and copy and paste the answer, citing or not citing the sources. This will be a direct plagiarism per se based on other standards.
  2. I can find the answer from the expert sites and completely rewrite it and put it here. This will be an indirect (clever?) plagiarism.
  3. I can simply ignore the question. Or direct the OP to the expert site in a comment. But if I simply direct him to an expert site, he may not have the patience to go through the lengthy answers over there. (No disrespect intended.)

Now, I can not fully decide what to do. Sometimes I see questions of serious implications in everyday life which if unanswered may move a muslim to wrong path or enable him to make incorrect decisions.

Perhaps you will agree with me that I myself not being an expert (scholar or Mufti) on issues of Islam, the answer I may provide based on my feelings or partial knowledge may be the popular answers, these even may be up-voted, but these may not be the correct answers. Often the issues should be better answered by the scholars only.

So, when you see a question which has an answer in an expert site, what will be your best course of action?

  • Good question, but "he may not have patience," "may move [him] to wrong path" are severe assumptions on your part. – user549 Oct 9 '15 at 9:59
6

If you don't know the answer and are not able to give a thorough high quality answer, just let it go and leave it for somebody who can.

If a question requires an expert or scholarly answer (as most questions on SE sites should) and you are not an expert in that field, let it go and leave it for somebody who is.

If all you can do is lookup the answer somewhere else and rehash it here, just let it alone.

If you can actually research the subject until you understand the issue and can formulate the answer based on your own knowledge and use the sources you studied as external references then by all means jump in.

If you are actually an expert and really know what you're talking about, none of this should be an issue. References are still nice for people doing their own further research but it should be clear you know your field from your answers.

2

Referencing is not plagiarism.

3) I can simply ignore the question. Or direct the OP to the expert site in a comment. But if I simply direct him to an expert site, he may not have the patience to go through the lengthy answers over there. (No disrespect intended.)

If this is the case, what you should do is summarize the expert site. Link answers are frowned upon because the linked site may be removed. But rehashing the content exactly should not be a problem, as long as you highlight the important points.

What I do is give a link to the expert page in question in an answer and copy the most relevant points to the question. A lot of sites like Islam QA often answer several questions or give multiple answers to a question. Sites like Islam QA alone is a good reference because it has a documented, well discussed fatwa.

If you feel guilty about repeating a single answer, find several others that answer the same thing.

-1

I think the general advice is this: you should do what you would do if a friend asks you that question off-line and informally (i.e. not considering you as a religious scholar).

The content on this site is similar to the content on Wikipedia, i.e. this site makes no guarantee of validity, and this site does not offer professional advice. For professional advice (e.g. fatwas on some issue) people should contact religious authorities they trust.

It is fine to use content available on other sites but you should rephrase them in your own words and also acknowledge them in your answers.

  • Whenever I give a general advice to my friend, that is a general issue. But whenever he asks a very specific question with no direct answer in the references, I will either direct him to an expert or point him to an expert answer. Also, putting an answer in writing, and making it available to the mass has different implications. (No, I was not the one to downvote you.) – Masroor Jul 20 '13 at 17:51
  • @MMA, you should do what you feel is right. But what I wrote is generally true. You should consider this site as knowledge sharing about Islam, not a place for getting professional advice. The answers do not come with any grantee. Note that an answer being based on the views of some scholar does mean you can trust it unless you trust that particular scholar, on many issues scholars have different views, anyone looking for professional advice should ask a professional they trust. You should treat content on this site similar to how you treat what you find on Wikipedia. – Kaveh Jul 20 '13 at 19:56
  • The SE model – Kaveh Jul 20 '13 at 20:04
  • And what you write in answers is similar to what people write in Wikipedia articles. When a site is working reasonably well the answers with higher quality typically are voted up more than answers with lower quality. – Kaveh Jul 20 '13 at 20:13
  • ps: the votes on meta are usually expression of agreement/disagreement so it is fine to up-vote or down-vote based on whether you agree or disagree. However, it is more useful if down-voters also explain the reason they disagree. (There is the possibility of someone systematically down-voting my posts independent of their content. Since the number of active participants on this meta is small it is not difficult to figure out if someone is systematically down-voting my posts even without moderator tools, but I don't think it is important enough to do that.) – Kaveh Jul 20 '13 at 20:26
-1

The spread of Islamic knowledge sometimes are going out without a name mentioned. As the end, does one who spread the Islamic knowledge to let people to know their name or its more important to earn the pleasure of Allah(swt)? The sole purpose of spreading Islamic knowledge is to be a part of the Ummah of Prophet Mohammad (pbu) while the remembering or referring of source is more of academical requirements, but Allah(swt) is the final creditor of the good deeds you done in the name of Islam, inshaAllah.

Its important to notice that I do not encourage people to share content without credit to source. since its important for one to learn the knowledge and aware of where it originated from. I think the required citation will be ONLY Quran / Hadith and in some cases, the lectures quote given by scholars/imams with sound Aqidah. Otherwise, even myself, I do put my own credit on content I share, but I will not refrain from sharing it just because I do not have the credit for the 'source' website or person's name.

Again, There isn't plagiarism in Islam since its knowledge below to Allah(swt) alone and I do not consider my answer as absolute, so correct/edit my answer if you will, inshaAllah.

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