Salam Ma’al Hijrah! I think we can all agree that many of us need a major ‘hijrah’ when it comes to our social media habits and consumption. For a Muslim, the risks are apparent and aplenty. It’s fertile ground for cultivating everything ‘mazmumah’ – self-centredness, envy, jealousy, arrogance, love for the world etc.
So, how do we go about making such a big change? By taking small but effective steps.
I remember a few years ago, people became crazy about decluttering and living a more minimalist lifestyle. There was a streaming series featuring a rather famous icon of the endeavour, and it resulted in some of us finally having rather clean closets (for at least a week or two.)
But it was a piece of advice from an e-book someone forwarded to me that has stuck with me till today, and it’s a simple one; throw out one thing that you own, every single day.
Yes, rather than a major spring cleaning once in a blue moon, consistently taking out the trash, so to speak, would do the trick more effectively.
And it’s a practical advice that could also work well when it comes to social media.
On Facebook, for example, when we see a completely useless story that has nothing to do with our lives and will do our ‘akhirat’ absolutely no good, unfollow, unlike or block it immediately. Do not click on it, cos it’s possible that you will feel one of these things; anger, hate, jealousy, like we’re better than the person written about and consequently, we start judging that person that we absolutely know nothing else about.
Remember, if placed under the microscope, ALL OF US will have something unflattering for the world to pick out and ridicule. So, let’s not do it to OTHERS.
And “viral stories” that feature random people’s WhatsApp conversations, that we smirk and laugh at and then forward to others, are exactly what Islam wants us to leave. From the 40 Hadith of Imam al-Nawawi:
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Part of the perfection of one’s Islam is his leaving that which does not concern him.” [Tirmidhi]
In one commentary of this Hadith, it is said: By instilling this quality of focusing on what is of concern to you and disregarding what is not, deeds may become more weighty and valuable in the sight of Allah swt. Masya Allah, how beautiful is that?
So ok, Day 1 task done. The following day, it’s time to mute a topic of conversation or a Twitter user or two. Or even block someone whom you don’t follow but appears on your timeline because a friend constantly retweets or likes their content. Especially when all they do is debate others.
Ah yes, debates. A futile exercise most of the time because basically everyone – especially the ‘woke’ brigade on Twitter, for example – has already made up their minds on issues and will most likely not change their opinions, not least because some random stranger on socmed asks them to.
And apart from peace of mind, our promised reward for leaving arguments is rather awesome.
Abu Umamah reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “I guarantee a house on the outskirts of Paradise for one who leaves arguments even if he is right, and a house in the middle of Paradise for one who abandons lies even when joking, and a house in the highest part of Paradise for one who makes his character excellent.”
Source: Sunan Abī Dāwūd 4800
I don’t have to mention how we need to quickly block any obscene and obviously haram content. What would our answer be when we’re asked about all the time we diligently spent on watching stupid and suggestive videos by so-called influencers, when the time comes?
So yes, don’t let a day pass us by without doing this one simple task. Of course, when I say ‘simple’, the reality is that it’s also way too easy to give in to our lower self and indulge in soul-destroying content disguised as “harmless fun” that are “just for laughs”.
As such, it must be a conscious effort on our part. Fight the urge to click and engage. Unfollow, block or mute instead. This is what ‘mujahadah’ is all about.
As we strive to do and earn more ‘khayr’ in our lives, let’s also leave as much as possible all that are bad and doubtful. Insya Allah, we can do this!
M.Zulkifli is co-founder of mymuslimin.com