Facebook. This is a cliche, but yeah, just feel like giving my two cents on it’s usage by Muslims. Most of us use it. Though I don’t know for what reason. We say it’s a means of doing da’wah. Really?
This is what we (assuming most of us are in the same boat) usually do on Facebook and the amount of time it consumes:
- Login/takes a few seconds
- Check out the notifications/15 mins
- Skim through the News Feed/about 20 mins
- Share anything interesting we come across/10-20 mins
- Stalk on our Close Friends’ profiles/ upto 30 mins or more
- Comment on various statuses or update our own/another 20 mins
- Skim through the News Feed once more before we logout (as if we wouldn’t be logging in again after thirty minutes for like ten times over and over again in a day)/ 10 mins
- Logout/ a few seconds
That, by the way amounts to approx. two hours! Didn’t realize it ever before, right? It’s the truth. I’m not exaggerating, time yourself next time you sign in on facebook.
Now, what part of it, may I know was Islamic? Oh, lemme guess, the status? Right. The status was Islamic. So we call it doing da’wah? How many other similar Islamic statuses did we come across during the span of two hours that we spent on our first routine visit to facebook? Many. Did they bring a change in us? Do we even remember what they were? A hadith? a verse from the Qur’an? something inspirational? anything? No, we don’t, we just “happened” to read it and got inspired for that one second and forgot about it the next. Very productive, innit? (Hey, can you hear the crickets too?)
Well, if not certain things we consistently do certain other things on facbeook:
- Stalk (on people who we don’t really know that well…for instance friends of our friends?)
- Read unnecessary stuff (that which some of our not-so-religious-Muslim-friends and also our non-Muslim friends keep jibber-jabbering about, like stuff about hollywood celebrities or their BFs or GFs)
- Gossip (though unintentional, it does happen)
- Envy/Jealousy (towards those incredibly awesome pics that our friends upload when we don’t, because we know it isn’t right)
- Competition (“I’ll upload a better status than her” or “I’ll upload a better cover pic than hers” )
- Show-off (Likes. The number of likes matter, don’t they? where’s your intention? who is it for that you’re doing what you’re doing?)
- Adding people of the opposite gender. (Well, it’s ridiculous, but lets’ face it…it’s like you don’t even talk to each other when you’re face to face in the uni or anywhere else, but on facebook, you’re like the best of pals!)
I’m not saying there are no benefits at all in using facebook. No. Definitely there are. It’s an amazing means of doing da’wah and islaah, strengthening the ties of brotherhood (and of course sisterhood) in Islam, keeping in touch with old friends, and a few other things too. But, the only deal is that we keep our intentions pure and no matter what always act according to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). What this means is that whenever we feel that something’s not going right, we must check ourselves, our intentions, our actions whether or not our actions are in accordance with what Islam teaches us.
For instance, suppose we update our status to a verse from the Holy Qur’an. First of all, we should have a clear purpose for putting it up. There can be more than one purpose, say, it’s for doing da’wah as well as pleasing Allah (swt). Second (this one’s very closely linked to the first one), we should clear our hearts and minds of additional purposes that aren’t correct Islamically, like we usually have the desire of getting maximum likes or comments of acknowledgement and praise while updating a status or sharing something beneficial. Rings a bell somewhere, doesn’t it? We should just remind ourselves that whatever we’re doing is solely with the intention of seeking reward from Allah (swt). Then, even if we get many likes or comments, we should simply thank Allah (swt) for it and be grateful for His guidance and help and not become pleased with ourselves. This is the first step towards preventing getting into further sins like ar-Riya (show-off), which, if not taken, can make us feel proud for getting those many likes, which might even further defile our intentions by creating a desire to update more such statuses just so as to get more and more likes and praises, eventually making us forget our initial intention. Another thing, it’s best to keep our statuses Islam related. As in, facebook is not a place to show affection to our loved ones. Be it our friends, siblings, parents, cousins, or anybody else. Oh, how can I forget the better halves! (facebook is not a dating site! It’s another thing that that too isn’t allowed, lol). But, seriously, there is no other place in the entire universe save facebook where couples publicly declare their love for each other. I mean, yuck! Come on akhi and ukhti, there is something known as “haya” (modesty) in Islam. And, last but definitely not the least, facebook is not our journal. Putting our status as “Having an amazing time in so and so place with so and so people” (and then tagging those who’re with us…and not to mention the endless conversations that follow, making the world witness how much we enjoy life) is just not required. We don’t realize, but there is a lot of fitnah (trials/deviations) that results due to this. Or even putting stuff like this “:’(” or “=D” You know what that means, right? a crying face, a smiling one etc. Okay, agreed that we might be feeling down or feeling high, but that doesn’t mean we update our facebook status to it and prompt people to question us or increase their curiosity.
This is another “opportunity” (or should we call it “trial”) that facebook offers. Commenting is good, opens doors for healthy discussions, sharing ideas and clearing misunderstandings. But, it’s only good as long as we don’t go overboard or misuse it. It has become very common among enthusiastic Muslims who get into heated discussions over religious issues, which may or may not be that important. What happens here is if that particular issue doesn’t affect our Aqeedah (beliefs) or is among the ones that Islam is lenient about, then there is no point in arguing over it with the stubborn attitude of proving our point. Sometimes, it’s not even authentic stuff that we’d argue over. The internet, sure is a very beneficial and easy means of gaining knowledge, but we should make sure if whatever we read is authentic information or not. And, even if we know with certainty that we are correct and the other person is wrong, then by arguing harshly would only cause the other to go deep in his deviance. Do we even realize that often times we become self-proclaimed (if not verbally but through our actions) Shaykhs (Islamic scholars)? And, at those instants does it strike us that the Sahabah (companions of the Prophet (pbuh)) and the Salaf (pious predecessors) used to be so careful in passing a ruling or conveying a statement of the Prophet (pbuh)? Da’wah should be done in a nice way, being open, giving an opportunity to the other person to explain his views, being patient, humble, in short with Hikmah. Allah (swt) says,
“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided.
(The Noble Quran, 16 : 125)
This is trivial, but can prove to be a means of deviance. Sometimes, we like certain pages (that we shouldn’t be liking) just because our friends like it, or it’s trendy or we want to impress someone. But, this isn’t what a Mu’min (believer) should be doing. Rather, we should always stand up for the truth and promote it and abstain from the wrong. Moreover, some of these pages that we, for some or the other reason like, contain bad pictures and indecent posts. By doing so, we’re not only showing our support for such stuff but also unknowingly getting negatively influenced by their ideas.
This is the most important thing that we should keep in mind while using facebook. We *must* always time ourselves. This ain’t no joke. We don’t realize how much time we spend on it. Yes, we don’t. Productive or not, because, once we’re off it, it’ll click us that that time of ours could’ve been spent in a much more productive manner. In those two hours we could memorize and understand a Surah (chapter of the Qur’an), read ahadith and derive lessons from them, spend some time with our family members, help our siblings with their work, help our mom in the kitchen or dad with his office work, go for a walk and reflect on the beautiful creation of Allah (swt) and so much more, the options aren’t scarce, we just need to get out of the virtual world and get into the real one.
Side-note: All of this applies to all other social networking websites too!