PREPARATION FOR RAMADAN
Beware of The Sinister Thief: Social Media
Social media has transformed our way of life. While social media may offer some benefits, research has shown that regular use of social media causes mental health problems, addictions, lower attention spans, physical health problems, poor sleep quality, relationship problems and more. However, the most harmful effect of social media is on our hearts and our relationship with Allah _سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى
Today, one of the biggest obstacles in our journey to Allah is social media and the entertainment industry. Thus, before the month of Ramaḍān begins, it is vital that we reassess our relationship with social media and reflect on its harms. Ramaḍān is the month in which we should undertake a much needed ‘detox’. Psychologists are now advocating ‘fasting from social media’. If we could do the same in this month for our spiritual health, our Ramaḍān would truly be transformative.
The following are some of the key harms of social media and practical solutions we can take to protect ourselves:
1️⃣. Time waster & addiction: Social media is the biggest thief of our time. Millions of dollars have been spent on designing social media platforms to ensure that we become addicted to them, using psychological and behavioural techniques such as infinite scrolling, instant gratification, personalised algorithms and constant notifications. These platforms distract us from our goals, hinder us from our social and familial responsibilities, and reduce our ability to focus. Our worship, such as ṣalāh, dhikr and seeking knowledge, is particularly impacted, and we struggle to maintain it for any significant duration.
Solution: As Muslims, every moment of our lives is precious and we must use our time consciously, wisely and productively, especially in Ramaḍān. Therefore, try to detox from social media completely. Otherwise, reduce it to the bare minimum: have a set ‘window’ in which you allow yourself to catch up on it, rather than just saying ‘I’m going to reduce it.’ For example, ‘I will use social media for twenty minutes after ifṭār.’ Deactivate all social media apps and remove them from your phone. You can also use free apps or plug-ins on your browser that restrict the limit on when and for how long you can use social media.
Similarly, don’t waste your time arguing pointlessly online. Al-Awzā’ī r said, “When Allah intends evil for a people, He makes them busy with arguing, and prevents them from (real) action.”
2️⃣. Gazing at haram: Social media platforms are full of ḥarām and harmful imagery. It’s common to see enticing pictures and videos of evil acts and the opposite gender. Gazing at ḥarām is a poison which leads to the darkness of the heart and stops us from tasting the sweetness of īmān and worshipping Allah. Along with lowering our gazes from anything which incites lust, we should also avoid looking at the glitz and glamour of the world, as this makes our hearts attached to the world.
Solution: We have to protect ourselves from all ḥarām, including looking at that which is ḥarām. Similarly, we should ensure that we are not posting anything which can be a source of temptation for another person. Ramaḍān is the time to end any ḥarām interactions with the opposite gender and unfollow any account that is harmful or not beneficial to your spiritual and mental wellbeing.
3️⃣. Backbiting, slander & lying: It is common for people to criticise others or talk badly of others on social media, even sometimes under the guise of ‘daʿwah’. It is not just the person who backbites that is sinful. Even the one who is listening or reading is sinful as he is complicit in spreading negativity and harm to others.
If what was shared was not even true (and as an observer you are unlikely to know whether it is true or not), then it falls under the extremely dangerous major sin of slander. Spreading false information can have serious consequences for individuals, communities, and the Ummah at large. Backbiting, slandering and lying are major sins which should not be taken lightly. Each has disastrous consequences in this world and the hereafter.
Solution: Do not spread or share negative information about others. Before posting anything, consider if it is necessary and respectful to share. If you have a concern, speak directly to the person involved, with the correct adab. If you are following someone who is speaking badly or negatively of others, unfollow that person. If you want to share information about an event/topic, verify it is correct before you share it, otherwise don’t share it.
The Prophet ﷺ was once shown the horrific punishment of a man lying flat on his back and another man standing over his head with an iron hook. (The man standing) would put the hook in one side of the man’s mouth and tear off that side of his face to the back of his neck, and (he would tear) his nose from front to back, and his eye from front to back. Then he would turn to the other side of the man’s face and do just as he had done with the other side. He would hardly complete this side when the other side would return to its normal state.Then he would return to it to repeat what he had done before. The Prophet ﷺ was told that this was the punishment for a man who goes out of his house in the morning and tells lies that are spread all over the world (Bukhārī).
Author: Naeem Bemath, from South Africa
Views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the publisher.
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