In the wake of Anas’ Number 12 exposé on football corruption, and in the midst of the orgy of excitement and outrage, the usual debate about the investigative journalist’s extreme methods has surfaced again, this time with two religious personalities taking turns to express their views on whether Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ style is Islamic or not.

One of such persons who has taken issue with Anas’ style of investigative journalism is Mohammed Amin Lamptey, who describes himself as a Muslim journalist and argues that the internationally acclaimed journalist’s style is unislamic, even though he (Anas) is a Muslim.

Citing Quranic quotations, Amin Lamptey stated in an article published on sections of online news portal that “There are countless verses from the Holy Quran that talk about Journalism and news reporting but for the sake of this piece, I wish to provide four verses from various chapters to help this discursion:

When there comes to them a matter, be it of security or fear, they broadcast it; if they had referred it to the Messenger and to those in authority among them, those of them whose task it is to investigate would have known the matter. (Quran, 4:83).

You who believe! if an evil-doer comes to you with a report, look carefully into it, lest you harm a people in ignorance, then be sorry for what you have done. (Quran, 49:6).

For, most of them follow nothing but conjecture: [and,] behold, conjecture can never be a substitute for truth. Verily, God has full knowledge of all that they do. (Quran, 10:36).

You who have attained to faith! Avoid most guesswork [about one another] for, behold, some of [such] guesswork is [in itself] a sin; and do not spy upon one another, and neither allow yourselves to speak ill of one another behind your backs (Quran, 49:12).

From the above verses, guesswork, spying, slander and backbiting are all vices to be avoided. No paparazzi spying on celebrities. No speculation on what someone might have done. No unfair means to make grandiose headlines. No debate on the meaning, constituents, form, nature and context of Truth, as what Truth means is clear. No indirect implications, subtle insinuations, hidden agendas, prejudices and ulterior motives. No incorrect, adulterated, partial and extra-contextual quoting from sources or references. No factoids, semi-truths or pseudo-truths and one sided coverage. No fear of repercussions, pressures of protagonists or antagonists.”

The article further read in part that “The Islamic perspective is so important because of the personality Anas Aremeyaw Anas who to all intents and purposes is a Muslim. Other Muslim Journalists will find this piece extremely significant for their own good. I respectfully want to dare our respected Muslim Clerics to come out and speak to the issue to help correct the misconception about the work of a journalist especially those with the Muslim faith.”

But another student of Islam, who prefers to be anonymous has also put out an insightful thought about Anas’ style which seem to rebut Amin Lamptey’s opinion.

Read excerpts of student of Islam’s thought on whether Anas’ style is Islamic or not:

As a student of the Islamic faith, I feel obliged to respond to issues of Islamic ethics raised in the piece titled Anas’s Mode of Investigative Journalism, Unethical, Unislamic authored by one Mohammed Amin Lamptey, who describes himself a Muslim journalist. His interpretation is a childish look at the Holy Quran and must go back and read the Holy Scripture well. As a Muslim he must eschew peddling lies about his fellow Muslim in vain.

Quoting copiously from the Quran, Mohammed Amin Lamptey concludes that Anas’ work is unislamic;

Q 49:12 – Do not mock and ridicule one other; do not spy on each other

Q 10:35 – Do not dwell on conjecture

Q 49:6 – Verify information from disreputable people to avoid destroying other people’s reputation

Q 4:83 – Refer fear and security information to the Messenger (Peace and blessing upon him) and people in authority for investigation.

If any journalists in Ghana and across the world observe the above Quranic principles to the letter, then Anas is one of them. The public spreads rumours and the famed investigative journalist goes after the evidence. It is not the other way round. Lamptey cannot deny that before Number 12, there was widespread and almost tangible public perception about corruption in the GFA, especially regarding the many controversial GPL sponsorship deals that often collapsed midstream. Anas literally undertook to verify that perception to disprove or confirm it.

Again, on the issue of referring sensitive security issues to the appropriate authorities, that is what Anas has done. He passed the information by the President, a decision which Lamptey unwittingly criticizes in his article.  Moreover, it is FIFA, CAF and the authorities in Ghana and not the public that is deciding whether the persons implicated are guilty. Whoever is cleared has the right to go to court.

Now to the religious injunction not to spy on each other; is it absolute or relative?  Let’s take this scenario. In the wake of the baby-stealing allegations at some of the hospitals in Ghana, a Muslim journalist poses as a wealthy dowager who is desperate to have a baby at any price. A senior nurse obliges and produces a bouncing baby boy! The next moment, the nurse is handcuffed and whisked away to the police station and the next day, the journalist releases the video of the transaction. This will be unislamic, according to Lamptey’s interpretation?

As a general rule and in the spirit of good neighbourliness, Muslims must see their neighbours as honest and honourable persons and avoid suspecting or spying on them.  Perfectly understood. But does this ethical code extend to a Muslim who, as a journalist, has reasonable grounds to believe that the public interest is being undermined in a particular institution?  Do remember, Mr. Lamptey that Anas’ real target has not been innocent individuals, but public institutions infested with corruption. The individuals become the natural victims because they are the agents of these institutions.

Again, if the injunction not to spy on each other is absolute, then we are to assume that governments in Muslim countries should not set up intelligence organisations? Is it haram for a Ghanaian Muslim to be part of the BNI, CID, National Security and the NACOB?

As Lamptey himself acknowledged, the media is termed as the fourth estate of the realm and an integral part of the government machinery. A journalist is not a private person but part of the institution constitutionally mandated, among other functions, to help check corruption. This is what confers certain privileges on the media including invading individuals’ privacy in the interest of the public. It is up to the journalist to make that decision and to subsequently defend it in a court of law or any duly constituted judicial body. The potentially crippling damages and the deadly blow that can be dealt to the journalists’ credibility when they lose such a legal tussle often act as a counter-check.

And contrary to Lamptey’s claim that Anas lost suits related to the judicial expose, the investigative journalist, I have ascertained, has not lost any legal battle.  More importantly, the affected judges rather failed to establish their innocence when they appeared before the Judicial Committee and were given the opportunity to cross examine their accuser.

In conclusion, I wish to advise Lamptey to be wary of falling into the “vices” to which he is alerting Ghanaian journalists. There are hints of those vices in his reference to Anas’s “affluent lifestyle, “businesses owned”, and whether he is “unblemished. These are not exactly charitable perceptions about a fellow Muslim. A celebrity journalist like Anas who is invited literally every day to work or give a talk across the world is not expected to be poor, is he?

Again, I will urge Lamptey who is fighting for the honour of a Muslim brother to rather tell Nyantakyi the hard truth that he has disappointed the Muslim ummah. If Nyantakyi admits his fault, then Lamptey should console him and support him to overcome the trauma and to become a better person. Fingers are not the same, we can all go back and look at what Lamtey did and is still doing in his journalism carrier and look at that of Anas too. If your fellow Moslem is better than you don’t pull him down with lies using the Quran. Look for him and learn from him. You are allowed to tell every lie in the name of academic exercise but please leave the Holy Quran out of your dirty lies. As you condemn Anas, remember he works for all the major international networks including the BBC, Aljazeera etc, which of them could you work for as a journalist? What record do you have as a journalist for the young Muslim ummah to emulate?

Let us help each other in righteousness and piety but not in sin and transgression – Quran 5:2

Source: The New Crusading Guide