Connected to a World of Knowledge

200024784-001The scenario: a dinner party.

“What an exotic dish! How did you make it?” asks a guest.

“I found the recipe on the Internet,” I reply.

“Oh. On which website?” she asks hesitantly.

“I don’t remember. I just Googled the recipe name and chose the easiest one that came up in the Web search.” I explain.

But the questioner has already lost interest and is looking elsewhere. Maybe she’s not very dexterous with the Internet.

It’s not about graduating in Computer Science or taking a few Computer courses to learn how the Internet can be used in daily life. It’s about consciously striving for ease in all matters, and using the blessings provided to us by Allah (swt) for benefit in the Akhirah. The Internet is one such blessing.

The fact of the matter is that I have been using this tool for many fruitful endeavors for about nine years, ever since its introduction into my life. The most commonly-known benefit of the Internet is communication: the ease of staying in touch with relatives and friends in other cities and countries via email and chat. Even elderly ladies have grudgingly mastered the art of connecting to online messengers in order to talk to their beloveds in other parts of the world. However, they only do so as a matter of necessity, not choice.

“I have no patience with this machine! Whenever I sit on it to do something simple, nothing works out. I’d rather do something more productive with my time,” I once heard one mother-of-two complain.

“I have taken courses more than once in order to learn how to use the Computer, but I just don’t have a rapport with it; I cannot sit on it for more than a few minutes,” says another housewife.

It’s true. Either you have the patience to use the computer and Internet, or you don’t. However, patience is a quality that is acquired. I will try, through a few examples, encourage readers to realize just how they can benefit by being patient with this machine.

“And as for the favour of your Lord, so do announce it!” (Ad-Duha 93:11)

The doctor prescribes a certain medicine, and I want to know its side effects. I log on to the Internet, Google the name of the medicine with “side effects” as search terms, and lo! Multiple websites appear, providing me more details about it than the minutely-printed paper in the medicine’s packet.

I wanted to follow the week-by-week development of my first baby during pregnancy (as an excited first time expectant mother is). Just Googling terms like “fetus baby development” enabled me to browse for hours on websites providing everything from ultrasound scans to physical details of what to expect and do during each month.

My baby sometimes cried inconsolably during the first few days of her life, like most babies do. It was the Internet that enlightened me about “infant colic” and remedies for its cure. More reassuring though, were the experiences and advice of other new parents on online forums, where they discussed the problems they faced. I also tracked my baby’s monthly development after birth, on websites providing bulleted details of developmental milestones – complete with weight and height percentile charts and nutrition guides.

Once we needed the mailing address of a relative abroad. I found the Yellow Pages website (by typing “Yellow pages” in Google first), and put their telephone number in the reverse search: the mailing address was displayed within seconds. I do the same with any unrecognizable telephone number on the CLI: several online Pakistan Telephone Directories work successfully.

After purchasing my mobile phone, I realized with dismay that it came with an indecipherable user manual printed in some foreign language. All that was needed was an Internet Google search with the mobile phone brand and the terms “user manual download”; within minutes, I had downloaded its free user manual in English!

“How did you do that so quickly?” I have been asked many times. My answer: “Alhumdulillah, I know how to use the Internet”.

The sacred pursuit of seeking and forwarding Islamic knowledge and doing Dawah – calling others to Islam – can also be done tremendously via the Internet. It has been a favourite pastime of mine since several years to browse the website of Islamic Question and Answers ( of the Fatwa Committee of Sheikh Bin Baz – the grand Mufti of Saudia Arabia (may Allah (swt) have mercy on him) – in order to quench my thirst for practical Islamic guidance in every aspect of life.

I also search for, read and forward via email, articles on Islamic topics to relatives and friends; many provide positive feedback and ask me to continue the virtual “enlightenment”. Many friends email me to ask about matters of Islamic Jurisprudence: “How do I calculate Zakah on my jewelry?”, “Provide me a list of Haram animal ingredients”, “Is it permissible for me to chat online with male colleagues?” It gives one a good feeling to be able to provide solutions to others’ problems within minutes.

Virtual Islamic education is also a great way to utilize the Internet. Using software such as Paltalk and a set of speakers/headphones, many housewives and young mothers attend online religious lectures by scholars, aired live from other parts of the world. The world shrinks as the classroom virtually connects students to their teacher with a few wires and a screen! Software also allows students to participate in the virtual class with their microphones. Online Tajweed lessons are, therefore, a norm. I know a group of Muslim sisters living in the West who would hold regular Tajweed classes on Yahoo Messenger, using its Voice service.

“Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?” (Ar-Rahman 55:13)

A little initiative and perseverance on our part can enable that small machine sitting in a room in our house take us a long way on the road of knowledge and – eventually – that of success.