People who know a lot, but don’t understand each other

social-networkingWe are living in an age of instantaneous communication, where the whole world is connected to each other. It is very easy to find out what’s going on in a country thousands of miles away. From a natural disaster to a festival, from politicians’ speeches to countries about to bankrupt; the information is within our reach in a matter of seconds. And, this constant flow of information takes most of our time with us being none the wiser. Everyone complains that the time is passing by so fast, and that, 24-twenty four hours are not enough for them; but the interesting thing is that most people spend this amount of time with unnecessary occupations and procrastination.

Television and internet may prove to be traps that push people to waste their time on useless things. Today, the situation has gotten so much out of control that many people choose to focus more on their telephones, computers or tablets rather than paying attention to their families, friends or loved ones. Actually, this thought-provoking situation is the source of an important problem- it prevents people from communicating with each other, although they are constantly connected to the whole world. Some call this ‘unhealthy relationship with time’, while others call it ‘twitter-ized or facebook-aholic private lives’.

These people might learn about millions of unimportant things, but they don’t take out time to take care of themselves or the people around them. The passage of time keeps some people away from thinking, improving themselves, and working to build better personalities for themselves. The situation has became so serious that many of these people now consider taking out time for their families, complimenting each other, having a pleasant conversation and sharing blessings  with others as ‘unnecessary occupations’. Their followers on social media, who might be on the other side of the world, know about all their troubles, tastes and favourite foods, while their families are ignored.

What is even more thought provoking is the fact that these people don’t take out time for themselves; they quit thinking, and as a result, they begin to experience the effects of this in their morality, and then in their social lives as a whole.

For people, who don’t know about themselves, and the weakness of their lower selves- selfishness, hurting others, sudden bursts of anger, fits of jealousy and other evil acts- become ordinary parts of life. They begin to see these acts not as vices that should be refrained from with great care, but things that should be gotten off one’s chest. However, this is against the very reason behind the presence of people in this world.

Humans are sent into this world to attain moral maturity, in other words, to train the ‘me’ inside them. Just like we weren’t consulted about our birth, we aren’t consulted about our death either. We stay in this world for the duration that God has set for us, and with death, we will part with this world and begin our eternal life. We came to this world to learn about love, sharing, brotherhood and sublime morality. Every moment in this world is created independently for each person, and we make our choices between what is wrong and what is right. The things we choose, either make our personality better, and strengthen us spiritually, or leave us in darkness if we make bad choices.

To better understand the importance of this point, let’s ponder over some questions to see what lack of love, altruism and spirituality causes:

–                    Will your children be able to look around and learn what having ‘lofty morals and virtue’ means?

–                    Will they believe that they can be successful if they are honest and hardworking and avoid lies?

–                    Will they know that abundance can increase with goodness?

–                    Will they be aware that they can gain more by protecting the rights of innocent, poor, needy, refugees, orphans and not by cheating, lying or sacrificing the needs of others?

–                    While there are people who lose their lives as a result of obesity, there is widespread hunger in some other countries. Will they be able to see that?

–                    Will they pass by a poor person on the street without looking, or will they want to share with them what they have?

We have to tell our kids about these facts and that they are in this world ‘to be trained and to achieve good morality’.

Love, forgiveness, generosity and altruism are the essential characteristics of religion and help people gain peace and happiness. For this reason, it is imperative that we teach our children that they will find happiness only when religion is a part of every aspect of their lives. We have to show them the ease and plain nature of religion by living it ourselves.

We have to explain to our kids that everything they have is created by God for them, and how to love God every minute with passion; and that, only when people love God with sincerity can they find happiness in their hearts and blessings in their lives.

Living without love, compassion, friendship and kindness is not living. Accepting such a life is horrible. That’s why we need to help our children know themselves, and make them understand that they can defeat the evil in their lower selves with faith and closeness to God; and that everything they have should be used for goodness.

We have, but a single life in this world, and we don’t know how long it will last. That’s why we need to benefit from every single moment we have.

Knowing God, loving God and being aware of the purpose of our lives is crucial. Otherwise, depression, nervous breakdowns and troubles will end up as your grim companions. If you want a good life for yourself, your family and your children, and if, you want wars to come to an end and the world to find peace- the only thing you have to do is to have superior morals and encourage the same for everyone.

In Spotlight: Fiqh of Social Media

FiqhofSocialMedia-logo

In this exclusive interview with Hiba Magazine, Br Omar Usman, founding member of MuslimMattersQalam InstituteMuslim Strategic Initiative, and Debt Free Muslims, talks about his project, Fiqh of Social Media (http://fiqhofsocial.media/). Brother Omar is a regular khateeb and has also served in different administrative capacities in various national and local Islamic organizations.

1. For people who haven’t yet heard of it, what exactly is Fiqh of Social Media? It’s a blog, it’s an e-book, it’s definitely a fantastic idea to address pressing issues related to social media… but how would you define it?

Social media has transformed our lives within the span of a couple of years. It’s like it crept up on us when we weren’t looking, and now we are trying to figure out how to deal with it. Fiqh of Social Media is a niche project under the guidance of Qalam Institute, and the goal really is to provide guidance on how to use our faith to navigate this new era. With that in mind we do have the ebook and blog, and we hope to develop more material in the future insha’Allah.

2. How did Fiqh of Social Media come into being, and what was the inspiration behind it?

The internet and social media has always fascinated me in general. I made my first website about 20 years ago when I was barely 13 years old, and was making Islamic websites in university. There is no singular inspiration point, but over the years I have been keenly aware of how these new technologies are affecting us – religiously and with our families.

It’s always bugged me that the Muslim community seems to be behind one step technology wise. When the world shifted to CD’s, we were still producing audio cassettes. When the world shifted to the mp3 age, we started producing Qur’an recitations on CD’s. Social networks now have impacted us in ways we can’t imagine.

When I was growing up, it was considered rude to take a phone call at dinnertime. If someone called, you would answer and tell them you would call them back after dinner was over. Now, many families can’t eat a single meal without everyone being attached to a device.

Our Islamic tradition is timeless and contains the solutions to these pains and problems we face – I feel it is at the point where there needs to be a dedicated resource for this.

3. Initially, what were your aims & objectives? And have they changed over time with social media’s evolution?

We are at the first time in human history where people have an abundance of relationships, but no friendships. We are able to connect with thousands of people we could not before. Before, people had to wait and clear a gate keeper to get on TV, publish a book, or even write an editorial to the paper. Now anyone can have a platform. This opens a lot of doors – but it’s an entirely new situation that raises a lot of questions. For example, how do we understand Islamic principles of friendship in an age where people have 5,000 friends on Facebook?

The aim for me has always been to connect these dots. What are the Islamic principles, and how do they apply to social media? What problems are we encountering online that we need answers to, and what are the solutions provided in our religious tradition? Those are the basic aims. What has evolved, though, is that connecting these dots is branching out into a number of subjects I never even imagined.

What problems are we encountering online that we need answers to, and what are the solutions provided in our religious tradition?

4. What is the current vision of Fiqh of Social Media?

To provide thought leadership in this area. It’s not just Muslims struggling with these issues. In fact, most of the materials I am finding are from secular sources. So there is definitely a huge problem here; I want to spread the message of how our faith addresses these issues.

5. Most of your work is online – how do you organize everything? Also, is this a one-man show or do you have a team working with you?

I wish I had a team. Right now it is a one-man show. The primary content mechanism is the email list, so I do my best to send out at least 2-3 newsletters a month.

6. You write on things people at times don’t even think of, like Food Instagramming. What kind of response do you receive on such blog articles? Are people receptive or they lash out?

Alhumdulillah the response is really positive. In the case of this article specifically I wasn’t expecting backlash – particularly because I was criticizing and analyzing my own photos (as opposed to someone else’s). A lot of items like this one are things that everyone notices, I just happened to take the observation one step further and write the article.

http://fiqhofsocial.media/40hadith

http://fiqhofsocial.media/40hadith

7. Your content and ebook is all free – how do you arrange funding?

Alhumdulillah most of the cost at this point is nominal (it’s just a couple of dollars a month) so it has not been an issue.

8. What are your plans for the future? Are you planning to get your book 40 Hadiths on Social Media formally published (in print)?

So right now there are 2 major projects being worked on. The first is an online course that is specifically for parents and how to manage social media with their kids. This will cover a number of things like kids being addicted to screens to how to reclaim family dinner time.

The second project is a formal book on the Fiqh of Social Media. This is a larger and more comprehensive undertaking so it will take some time. Please make dua Allah (swt) grants tawfiq to both projects.

9. How can other brothers and sisters help you out in your work?

The best thing is to subscribe to the email list at http://fiqhofsocial.media/40hadith – When they do this they will receive a copy of the 40 hadith as well as the new articles I am writing. The best way to help is to simply reply to those emails with your feedback. The hardest part about a project like this is understanding which material is useful or helpful, or how it resonates. So really if I had one wish, it would just be that people not just read the material, but let me know what they thought of it.

10. Any message for the Ummah

That is a really tough question. I’ll offer the advice here that I feel I need most for myself and that is simply to make more Dua to Allah (swt). It is so simple but cannot be emphasized enough.

18-24 is an incredibly formidable time, and also a time where people try out lots of different things. Embrace it, but just be cautious with what you post of yourself online.

11. Any message for Hiba’s readers in particular.

I would say just be careful. The internet is forever. Even things like Snapchat where your photos are supposed to get deleted are not that private. 18-24 is an incredibly formidable time, and also a time where people try out lots of different things. Embrace it, but just be cautious with what you post of yourself online.

12. Anything else you would like to share.

Jazakallahu khayr for doing this interview. May Allah (swt) bless your efforts with this magazine!

Half my Deen – A Reality Check in Time!

happy-marriageIt was declared that Sofia and Saif’s wedding was heading to a divorce. They were not made for each other. Their thoughts did not match. They were complete opposites.

Haven’t we heard that opposites attract? Well, but here they repelled! There was not a moment where either of them did not argue. Be it money, clothes, food or their sleeping time, there were numerous petty reasons of their bickering when finally Sofia returned to her mother’s place declaring that she could not stand Saif anymore.

It was a grand fairy tale wedding that had taken place hardly six months ago. It had been the talk of the neighbourhood that the beautiful and elegant Sofia was marrying rich and handsome Saif.

Sofia returned to her parental home within six months of marriage. But things were not comfortable at home either. Her mom and dad did not welcome her as always. She was not looked at with pity or concern; she was being scorned and had ogling large eyes all over.

Saif too had returned to his parental home disheartened. He did not know what was wrong in their marriage. Every gadget was in Sofie’s (as he called her lovingly) hands, adorned with jewellery rubies, emeralds, a large apartment in a posh locality. But she had lame arguments and fought over everything. He allowed her to buy the best designer clothes, gave her money but nothing would make her happy

Saif’s parents were humble and he was guilty of leaving them to stay with his wife. His parents were shocked to know that Saif and his wife were applying for a divorce. His mother had told him that divorce is such a huge decision that it would shake the Arsh (heavens).

Sofie stayed quiet while they ate lunch, dinner and breakfast. Silence could be broken with just some nods and hums but she did not have the guts to speak out to her parents. Why? If she was right then what was that hesitation? Sofie felt guilt all over. She was sure that she was wrong, for if she had been right, her parents would have supported her. As she stood in the window and saw droplets of water rolling down the pane, she wiped her tears. At 4-four p.m. they had to appear at the court. For an umpteenth time her gaze went on the wall. It had been an hour since lunch but the minutes were getting heavier each moment. Would Saif come to pick up or would he send the driver? But why would he care now? She regretted her behaviour with him the last day they were together.

She gathered some tissues around her. Her heart was weeping. But why could not she gather herself? She had to go alone as her father did not even want to discuss that issue with her. However she was sure that her parents would get over it in a few days after the divorce. She always hated Saif’s choice, his food habits, his sleeping and everything. So why was she missing all the luxuries and comforts he had showered her with? She called her dad’s driver and he was ready to take her. But no sooner she stepped out of the house than her sandal slipped and she tripped down the stairs right to the bottom and her world went dark.

His mother had told him that divorce is such a huge decision that it would shake the Arsh (heavens).

When she woke up, she saw tensed faces around her. Saif and his parents were present there. But her parents were absent. Saif raised his hands and kept on Sofie’s forehead and wiped the sweat with a tissue. Then she noticed her bandaged leg and bruised hand. Her head was quite heavy. Her mother in law asked Sofie how she was feeling. Sofie was too embarrassed to reply, she just stuck a faint smile. She did not know what exactly had happened.

Saif’s parents left to get something for her to eat and allowed them to be alone which Sofie detested. And luckily the nurses came in and told Saif to let her sleep without disturbance.

Soon she drifted into a blissful sleep only to be awakened by the doctor who did her routine check up and advised rest for a few more days. Then she ordered the RMO (Resident Medical Officer) and nurse to leave the room as she wanted to have a few words with Sofia in isolation.

She asked Sofie with such pure intentions and concern that she did not see even in her own mother, “Beta, you look so pale. You are newly married. Did you try to commit suicide?” Sofie shook her head, she didn’t know whether to trust her or not. What if she was her husband’s agent? But whatever she said later was enough to change Sofia, her present and her future.

“You know these days where social media is becoming cheaper and there are so many extra marital affairs coming on scene… Getting a sincere, loving husband is rare! You are quite lucky, but what makes you sad? It is indeed the talk of the hospital. Both of you are young and beautiful. You are married to a rich, handsome husband who is so devoted to you. Take my advice; marriages do not remain in the honey moon phase forever. Marriage is a life time commitment. You have to live through thick and thin. Marriage is doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, serving, being a maid and working hard to get the crown of a Queen. It is not what you read in novels or watch in serials or movies.. Marriage is to get peace and tranquillity in our lives. It is not to measure differences but to raise the one who is weak.”

marriages do not remain in the honey moon phase forever. Marriage is a life time commitment. You have to live through thick and thin.

Whatever she spoke was the truth but I was adamant. “Are you related to Saif?” I asked.

“You are very naive!” she said. “Pay some heed to what I said and think over it!” she said without replying to my question.

As she went out of the room, the bitter truth she spoke dawned upon me. Her words were echoing in my mind that “marriage does not remain in the honeymoon phase forever. It is not what you read in novels and watch in movies and serials!” But that’s what every woman searches for! That’s why she was sad, that’s what she was missing in her life. She wanted her husband to take her to a hotel or a movie or to a mall or any other park for an outing every day. He wanted promotion, he wanted to save money and he wanted to invest! Obviously then how could their thinking match? The maturity was still lacking and she was behaving like a kid in some mere infatuation.

Sofie’s ego and pride would not allow her to apologize. She did not want to bend down on her knees. Soon she tossed and turned to get some more sleep. As she turned, she saw a letter.

It began with “Allah (swt) has created man and woman as company for one another and so that they can procreate and live in peace and tranquillity according to the commandments of Allah (swt) and the directions of His Messenger (sa). The Quran states:

“And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect.” (Ar- Rum 30:21)

“And Allah has made for you wives of your own kind, and has made for you, from your wives, sons and grandsons, and has bestowed on you good provision. Do they then believe in false deities and deny the Favour of Allah (by not worshipping Allah Alone).”(An-Nahl 16:72)

The word Zawaj is used in the Quran to signify a pair or a mate. But in common parlance it stands for marriage. Since a family is the nucleus of an Islamic society and marriage is the only way to bring families into existence, therefore the Prophet (sa) insisted his followers upon entering into marriage The Shariah prescribes rules to regulate the functioning of the family so that both spouses can live together in love, security and tranquillity. Marriage in Islam has two major aspects:

1. Ibadah (worship) of Allah (swt)

2. The transactions between human beings

With respect to Ibadah, marriage is an act pleasing to Allah (swt) because it is in accordance with His commandments that husband and wife love each other and help each other make efforts to continue the human race, rear and nurse their children in such a fashion that they become true servants of Allah (swt).

These aspects are beautifully explained in the traditions of our Prophet (sa). It is narrated by Anas that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “When a man marries, he has fulfilled half of his religion, so let him fear Allah (swt) regarding the remaining half.”

The Prophet (sa) considered marriage for a Muslim as half of his religion because it shields him from promiscuity, adultery, fornication, homosexuality etc. which ultimately lead to many other evils like slander, quarrelling, homicide, loss of property and disintegration of the family. According to the Prophet (sa) the remaining half of the faith can be saved by Taqwa.

Since a family is the nucleus of an Islamic society and marriage is the only way to bring families into existence, therefore the Prophet (sa) insisted his followers upon entering into marriage

I never understood the true essence of marriage along with its prescribed injunctions. I am very sorry I failed, but wish you could just give me another chance.” Yours only, Saif.

Sofie who did not want to apologize replied, “I myself never knew what marriage is and in my ignorance almost ended our marriage. I hope we can live more considerately and happily today, tomorrow and always- Insha’Allah!” Yours only, Sofie.

Teens, Texts and Technology

Apr 11 -Teen, texts and technology

When I was growing up – in the Stone Age – we did not have email or Facebook; cell phones were few and far between. My mother did not even allow a cordless phone at home lest her children spend more time than necessary chatting idly with friends.

Fast forward twenty years from then, and teenagers today have their own cell phone with unlimited texting and web surfing. While there are some advantages to being in touch with young adults via technology, the prospects are scary.

A Pew study in 2004 revealed that 18 percent of 12-year olds have a cell phone. In 2009, the number shot up to 58 percent. The scary part is that with unlimited texts in many family plans these days, our sons and daughters can be tapping their way into trouble. What may be hard to say face-to-face is easier said via text. Being available to respond 24/7 can result in rushed responses that are not well thought-out and can be misinterpreted.

The irony is that while the price of Roti, Kapra and Makan in Pakistan is rising steadily every year, the price for SMS messages, cell phone cards and high speed internet is falling. While this is a feather in the cap for our telecommunications industry, it is also opening the door for a lot of Fitnah.

The new Bluetooth technology is even scarier. It can allow people to exchange photos, videos and text messages with complete strangers – within a range of about 15 yards. With upcoming software, a teenage boy sitting across the table at a restaurant will not even need to have your daughters phone number, he can still text her if he thinks she looks cute in her purple outfit.

A report in the New York Times revealed that 15 percent of teens between the ages of 12 and17 had received inappropriate photos on their phone. So what is a parent to do? A parent cannot blame technology or completely deprive their child from gadgets that have become the norm today – but a parent can set limits and bridge communication gaps. In 2010, a parent cannot afford to say, “I’m not good with computers.” Even if they trust their children and are genuinely not interested in Facebook or Twitter, they need to get on the bandwagon even if they can’t check them daily; at least their children know that they can.

With so many aunties and uncles on Facebook these days, I am positive teenagers have some parallel social site we will find out about soon. When it comes to technology, our children will always be a step ahead of us. Many teens have two Facebook profiles; one where they can add their parents and another where they can be themselves with their friends.

In 2020, when my children become teens, I shudder to think what is in store for us. I firmly believe that in addition to faith in the Almighty and dua to keep children in good company, parents need to make conscious decisions to limit screen time from a young age. Once children enjoy volunteering, sport, art and reading from a young age, they will hopefully continue having a variety of extracurricular screen-free activities when they are older.

Wandering aimlessly on the World Wide Web can take impressionable minds to weird places with even weirder pop-up ads and too-good-to-be-true virus-infested offers. Another key element in limiting technology usage is that parents need to practice what they preach. If a mother does not allow her daughter to use her cell excessively but is herself glued to her iPhone apps, then she should know that hypocrisy will come to haunt her.

I love Facebook too as it is a great way to keep in touch with my friends and family overseas. However, I am appalled at some teenager profiles. In the relationship category, some fourteen year olds have selected “Whatever I can get” and have pictures that are not reflective of the good families that they come from. The worst part is not posting photos but the comments that go back and forth on these teen pages. “OMG…you’re hot…”, “LOL, lmao, you are hotter.” “No, I insist that you look gr8”

Not only have spellings gone down the drain, privacy and modesty is quickly following suit. As parents, we cannot just throw our hands up in the air in despair – we can make a difference if we try.

Some ways to monitor the technology explosion in your home

1)      Children should know that cell phone and Internet privileges need to be earned and can be revoked.

2)      Make sure your teens do not add strangers to their Instant Messaging or Facebook profiles.

3)      Sign up your children for cell phone plans with limited minutes for emergency calls and texts.

4)      Sign up for free Internet activity monitoring such as www.norton.com/onlinefamily

5)      Do not allow cell phones and computers in bedrooms. Cell phones should be charged next to computers in a central place in the home.

6)      Teach your child never to disclose personal information like his address or school online.

7)      Teenagers – and even younger children- will always be a step ahead with technology. Befriend them so you do not have to spy on them. You might not have the time to sit and go through all the texts, calls and websites your child peruses but just the fact that you can check should hopefully deter them from any misuse.

Did you know?

  • 5 million new users join Facebook every week
  • 10 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every hour
  • The average American teenager sends and receives 2,272 texts a month; that is 80 messages DAILY!
  • 90 percent of kids 12-17 said they do not report an incident of cyber bullying to parents.

Source: Journal of School Health, Nielsen and NPD group