TIME: 9 :00 AM
Yes, sir- how may I serve you today?
*ELECTRONIC VOICE* I need you to check your Instagram and see if someone liked your pic or left a comment for you.
Yes, sir- I will do so without any delay.
TIME: 9:05 AM
Yes, sir- What is it that you want me to do?
*ELECTRONIC VOICE* I need you to check your Instagram again and see if someone liked your pic or left a comment for you.
Yes, sir- I will do so without any delay.
TIME: 9:15 AM
Yes, sir- What is it that you want me to do?
*ELECTRONIC VOICE* I need you to check your phone and see if there are any new messages from your “friend”.
Yes, sir- I will do so without any delay.
*panic voice* WHAT’S GOING ON HERE, CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME??!
Here’s a thought- social media has completely taken control of the reins of your brain. You have become a slave of your social media masters and you’re at their disposal ALL DAY/ EVERY DAY.
Think about this for a second.
We are literally using technology as our Masters! *NAUZUBILLAH!*
Every day we let these gadgets and interruptions steal away our focus from Allah S.W.T. We practically HAND our attention and focus to these gadgets and tell them to do whatever they want with it.
At the best— we are thinking about our latest post while praying or reading Quran. Did someone like it? When will my “friend” reply to me?
At the worst– we keep delaying our Ibadah, including prayers and reading Quran. We waste hours procrastinating because we are too addicted to our phones. To calm our conscience, we keep saying “I’ll get up in 5 mins.” Those 5 mins become 5 hours. And when that happens… when we realize we’re about to miss our Salah… that’s when we ACTUALLY get up and rush to pray our Fard prayer (barely making it in time).
Can we deny that social media is one of the biggest reasons why we feel so distant from Allah S.W.T.? We can’t.
So how do you prevent social media from destroying your relationship with Allah S.W.T.? Listen to the episode below to learn how to stop social media from taking away our focus from Allah S.W.T.!
READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF Q&A FRIDAY: EPISODE 06 [SOCIAL MEDIA IN ISLAM]
Assalamualaikum, this is Aimen! You’re listening to the sixth episode of Q&A FRIDAY. In this podcast, I answer self-development questions from other growth-oriented Muslims, just like you. I really appreciate you for taking the time to be here. JazakAllahu Khayr.
Alright let’s begin.
So today’s question is from PEACE and it goes like this: How can we Muslims use social media effectively and not let it disrupt our spiritual life? / PEACE
Today, I want to share a few strategies with you on how to prevent social media from interfering with our spirituality without banishing it completely from our lives.
The advice- don’t ever be on any social media is frankly dumb. Sure, the people who are not involved in the digital world whatsoever have one less thing to worry about. But the 21st century Muslim does not WANT to live like a farmer or an eskimo because it’s not realistically possible to do so when everyone around you is deep in the social media game.
So today’s tips are applicable to those Muslims who enjoy the use of social media but want to limit it to an acceptable amount and prevent it from disrupting their family and spiritual life. Who’s ready to learn more? Let’s do this!
- NOT CHECKING SOCIAL MEDIA GOSSIP FIRST THING IN THE MORNING
Social media can only invade our spiritual space when we replace the spiritual acts of Ibadah with the act of ‘checking’ social media. The first and foremost spiritual act is to say the dua of waking up when we wake up in the morning. But what do most of us do instead… we spend a good 30mins I would say, tossing and turning in our beds, eyes glued to our phone, hungry to get our first shot of social media funsies…this is a classic way to strip ourselves of Barakah all day.
And a big trigger/ cue is having to use our phones first thing in the morning to turn off the alarm. I can imagine how tempting it can be to check the notifications when you pick up your phone to turn off the alarm. There are a couple simple solutions for that:
- Use a traditional alarm clock instead of the alarm on your phone. It’s not that big of an investment. My granny has one. Well, that’s kind of because she doesn’t know how to use a smartphone. But that’s beside the point here.
- Put your phone to airplane mode before going to bed so when your eyes sweep over your phone screen in the morning to turn off the alarm or something, a million plus notifications from overnight are not begging you to click through.
So that was the first way of preventing social media from disrupting your spiritual zones.
- NOT SPENDING HOURS OF YOUR VALUABLE TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA
If you’re someone who’s spending hours and hours of time on social media every day, then the tips I’m about to give can help you.
And this applies to people who’re using social media for dawah. No matter how much dawah one is doing using social media platforms, nothing justifies spending a stupendous amount time, I’m talking 4-5 hours a day on social media (unless of course you have a legit reason, such as social media is a part of your business or it’s your job as in you’re a social media manager etc.).
So here are a few ways you can reduce the amount of time you spend on social media:
- Restrict the social media usage time to a specific period: if you have suffered a few times from SCROLL-syndrome, where years go by, people get old, birds stop chirping, food gets rotten and your thumb is still moving across your phone screen on autopilot… then maybe, it’s a good idea to set a time-block for social media usage.
So like if you end up scrolling through Instagram every time you open it…then don’t open it all the time, any time. Makes sense?
Allow yourself to use it during a short window (20 minutes or half an hour) after which you have to get up. Now, of course you won’t respect that time-frame in the beginning. pfft who are you kidding? But keep trying it anyway. First, you will develop that nagging feeling in your head that says ‘it’s time to get up’. After a few fails, you’ll probably start respecting that window. And when you do, you’ll feel wonderful, like you’ve achieved something. That’s because you’ll have so much free time at your hands that you’d been trashing before because of social media.
So answer this question- How much time do you think you spend on social media on an average day?
So this is how most people respond: “Ummm…I think I only spend around 20-30minutes…”
That’s BOGUS! 😀
We almost always underestimate the amount of time we spend on social media.
Let me give you a small CHALLENGE:-
In a typical day, accurately measure and record the time you spend on social media.
Next day, try to restrict the time usage to 20-30minutes a day and at the end of that day, note the amount of extra time now available to you. I bet its hours. Huh.
- Delete apps you don’t use: If you don’t use Facebook–like ever—WHY do you have it on your phone is my question?? DELETE IT. The world will not change, birds will continue to chirp and your mother won’t love you less. (Idk why birds keep coming up in today’s episode-hmm)
Anyway, those extra notifications from the dumb app that’s sitting in your phone because it might come in handy ‘someday’ are only adding clutter to your brain. Don’t kid yourself- there will NEVER be a need for that app. How can I be so sure? I’m not. Hehehe. But, if there is an unprecedented need for it someday, you can always download it AGAIN. So just lose the dumb apps and get this over with.
- Only lose yourself to the no-go zone, aka your social media accounts, when you’re tired and drained: This is where most of us go wrong.
Here’s a question for you: Is spending half an hour on social media of your peak productivity time better than spending an hour when you’re drained?
WRONG if you said yes. It’s not better, it’s worse.
That half an hour of your golden time is way more valuable than an hour of time when you’re mentally drained. That’s because you can get wayyy more done in those 30 minutes of peak time than you can in an hour of drain time. So reserve the social media usage to the time when your brain is dead. Not literally of course.
- Turn off the notification sound from social media accounts: I get it. Your friend just had a baby. Your class mate got a promotion. Your sister is posting about her visit to Africa. Dirilis Osman premiered. Everything is urgent and important and you need to know about it ASAP.
Allow me to say this- you DON’T.
You can read about all the juicy news when you check your social media in your free time.
Quit being a slave to your social media masters because they’ll only use you, give you no meaningful satisfaction and throw your time away like trash. Ok. I’m getting way too emotional about this. *clears throat*
- Don’t take forever to post something: If you take an hour deciding on the perfect instagram caption and the perfect photo from the 700 photos you took and finally end up posting something like “Had a great time with my bestie (tag tag) at awesome-super-duper-uber-place (tag)” #BestiesForever #BestPlace #TheGoodLife.
This is going to be my instagram caption for that instagram caption- is that instagram works?
Of course I’m not a loser who will publicly say that (I mean this podcast is only going out to a few thousand people–awkward silence).
Point is- your time is more valuable than that. Throwing away HOURS of time casually for an instagram post that people will forget about in SECONDS is not really the best of time transactions. #JustSaying #Idon’tusehashtags #thisisgettinglame
Of course I was going to make hashtag jokes, it’s not every day I get to do that!
So those are the 5 ways to reduce the amount of time you spend on social media.
Now, the third way you can prevent social media from disrupting your spiritual zone is…
- DISENTANGLING YOUR THOUGHTS FROM SOCIAL MEDIA GOSSIP
So let’s say you’ve been trying so hard to respect the time-frame that you set for social media, you’ve even taken the bold step of reducing the amount of time you spend on posting stuff but…you have a new problem. You’re constantly thinking about the messages someone sent you or waiting for someone to text you back on social media, even during SALAH. Maybe you keep refreshing the page to see if someone liked, shared or left a comment on your post, after every few minutes. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
You know what’s going on don’t you?
Social media has invaded your brain space. yikes
And now there’s only one thing left for you to do- disengage your brain. Start doing something that’ll keep your mind occupied and distracted from the social media invasion. Engage in an activity that’s NOT digital. Stay physically away from your phone. Talk to someone. Blah. Blah. Go up to the fourth floor of your building and throw your phone down the window on to the street to solve this problem once and for all. I’m just kidding, don’t do that.
Social media and people are NOT your obsession. You are better than that. You have more important things to do than to obsess over what others are thinking about your latest post. Am I right? (Gimme 5)
Now, the fourth way to keep social media from interfering with your spirituality, family life and relationships is…
- NOT USING SOCIAL MEDIA WHEN TALKING TO OTHERS
I think you and I have the same opinion of someone who cuts us off while we’re speaking to them only to talk to someone else—RUDE.
That’s exactly what we’re doing when we’re checking our phone constantly while someone is talking to us. We’re being rude.
I don’t want to enroll either of us in the school of ‘conversation etiquettes’ but even a pet dog knows that when someone is trying to have a conversation with us, we should face them, focus our eyes and brain on them, leave everything we’re doing (and that includes putting away our phones) and give them our full attention. Y’all agree? Let’s move on then.
One of the ways social media can sometimes reduce our spirituality is when we are not careful of whom we follow and what we share. So I’d say that the fifth way not letting social media interfere with our spirituality would be…
- BEING CAREFUL OF WHAT YOU’RE SHARING AND WHOM YOU’RE FOLLOWING
Let me explain this a little bit.
Imagine you enter a room full of people, pick up the microphone and say “This person X posted something about supporting the work of this new popstar Y, you should support them too. The link is in my bio.”
How many people do you think will click through that link? Quite a few, right?
That’s what our casual ‘sharing’ does. It propagates the messages of these social media influencers. So if the messages of the social media influencers you follow align with the teachings of Islam, great. Keep sharing their content.
But if these pages and posts belong to an anti-Muslim group that spreads fitnah, don’t share their posts or support their work so casually. We will be asked on the Day of Judgement what activities we were involved in, the people we supported and the groups and messages we participated in.
Something I hear circling around the web, especially among Muslims living in the West, is this explanation “I care about all humans, Muslims/ non-Muslims. We should be more understanding, accepting and supportive of everyone. ” It’s great to care. We all should. That’s a direct teaching of our Deen. But it does not justify supporting the work of Fitnah- whether it is from a Muslim group or a non-Muslim.
The same concept applies to ‘following’.
Whoever you follow…you’re basically spending your time in their ‘virtual’ company.
If the values of the social media influencers you follow align with the teachings of Islam, following them is no problemo.
If all the people you follow are celebrities, musicians and actors etc. then their influence will rub off you in the long run. This is a 100% true. Why do you think these social media personalities go by the label “influencers”? They influence people to take certain types of actions. And all of us can sometimes take influence from people we repeatedly see or listen to. It’s a subconscious process.
If you’re following Islamic scholars, their influence will increase your spirituality and help you grow closer to Allah (S.W.T). If you’re following self-help gurus and leaders, their influence can help you increase your productivity.
If you’re following accounts related to lifestyle, health, fashion or beauty, that’s fine as long as excess, haram and shamelessness is avoided, which is a pretty common message in the beauty and fashion industry—including “halal” fashion. Yeah, I mean don’t even get me started.
If we follow accounts that post shameless content, shamelessness will become normal for us.
If we follow people who portray their lives as flawless and perfect (which btw is a total hoax), then jealousy, feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem or depression can take birth in our hearts.
Let’s think twice about the people we follow. After all, we are the followers- the Ummah- of our Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W). We can’t just follow anybody. We have standards.
The next way of keeping social media from damaging our spirituality is…
- THINKING TWICE ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE POSTING
Rule of thumb- Posting content that can help others in any way is good.
Needless to say, posting something that’ll help others become better Muslims is the best way to use social media. But not everyone wants to do social media dawah. And that’s fine. In that case, make sure that you’re not at least posting something that can stray someone away from Deen. Like a music video or a shameless picture etc.
So many Muslims don’t think twice about how their post will affect their followers and yes, it applies even if you have 3 followers- your siblings.
It’s the same thing as blurting out whatever’s on your mind without filtering it. That’s an unhealthy use of social media.
Also, sharing your personal life details all the time is kinda not recommended for Muslims due to the element of Nazr (evil eye) and jealousy.
Ibn Abbas reported: The Prophet (S.A.W) said, “The evil eye is true. If anything could outrun the decree, it would be outran by the evil eye. When you perform a ritual bath, wash well.” [Sahih Muslim]
Since we don’t control what our family and friends post on their personal accounts and many of them might post personal life details, we must fight the evil eye for them. The way to do so is very simple:
Abdullah ibn Amir reported: The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) said, “If one of you sees something from his brother, or in himself, or in his wealth which impresses him, then supplicate for him to be blessed in it. Verily, the evil eye of envy is true.” [Musnad Ahmad]
So if you read a post about someone who just got an amazing job or had a beautiful child, immediately say masha’Allah and make dua for them to be blessed in it.
Now, the last strategy of keeping social media away from your spiritual field is…
- NOT USING SOCIAL MEDIA RIGHT BEFORE GOING TO BED:
Raise your hand if you’re guilty. I’m raising both my hands.
If the last thing you checked before going to bed was the latest gossip on social media, chances are the first thing you’ll check when you wake up in the morning will be the latest gossip on social media. And besides, using your phone before going to bed is a recipe for destroying your sleep. Trust me, I know from experience.
Research shows that the light from screens disrupts our sleep-wake cycle and has other serious health consequences.
Above all, social media strips barakah from our night by replacing the recommended acts of Ibadah—like the Sunnah azkaar and dua before sleeping. So the last action of the day for a Muslim is making dua and reading azkaar, not kindling their social media addiction.
And let’s end it with that. Let me give you a quick recap of the 7 ways to make sure social media does not disrupt our spirituality anymore Insha Allah.
Now I’d Love to hear from you…
If there’s another tip you’d like to share with us that you’ve personally followed and and has worked brilliantly for you, I’d love to hear all about it! 🙂
I hope today’s Q&A was helpful. I pray Allah (S.W.T) helps us in this war with social media, Ameen. I pray we don’t become slaves of social media and stop letting it sabotage our relationship with Allah S.W.T. Ameen.
For the rest of you who’re listening, if you have a question you’d like for me to answer on the Q&A Friday podcast, just click the button on the top yellow bar that says “ASK ME YOUR QUESTION” & it’ll redirect you to the page where you can send me your Q.
JazakAllah for listening, reading and adding to the conversation. I really appreciate you!
I’ll talk to you in the next episode of Q&A Friday, Insha’Allah.
BarakAllahu Feek. Assalamualaikum warahmatullahe Wabarakatuhu.