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A society obsessed by selfies..even in death

Bint Assalaam | 14 April 2014/13 Jumadal Ukhra 1435

Things, it seems can get weirder than the pout. Selfie absorption has shifted to another level. Not necessarily upwards.

Social media has encouraged the rise of the selfie obituary. As morbid as it sounds, it’s about people writing their own obituaries. Before they die.

According to experts, those helping others pen their “last words”, it’s about control. Selfie- absorbed people want to control everything about their lives including what is said about them – after death.

It’s about using your own words to describe how you’d like to be remembered and in some cases so far, the obit has allowed others to reveal facts about their life that they only wanted exposed after their death.

While there is definite need to do away with the desire to leave countless images of ones self attempting to look like a duck all over the virtual realm, this idea need not be about the ego or practiced as such.

Sheikh Mirza Yawar Baig, an international speaker, coach, trainer and author who specialises in global leadership, says it’s human tendency not to want to be forgotten.

“The reality is that everybody is forgotten whether you write of yourself or if somebody else writes,” says Sheikh Baig, “People are forgotten. People don’t remember what we did. They remember what happened to themselves. They don’t remember what we did. They remember how we made them feel.”

As its name suggests the selfie trend is very much about one’s focus on the self. In a narcissistic sense. The selfie obit further entrenches this vanity by allowing one to exercise a level of control in terms of how they would like to be remembered in terms of words. Actions speak louder than words.

Instead of making the focus how one’s temporary existence is remembered the focus needs to be living in preparation for one’s existence after death. “Instead of writing they need to be thinking about saying, how am I useful to others, how am I benefitting other people and as far as we are concerned being remembered or not being remembered is not important at all,” explains Shekih.

One of the teachings (akhwaal) of Hazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi RA was that the best person who lives and dies is the one who quietly did the work of the Deen of Allah SWT and nobody was aware of it when he lived or when he died.

There needs to be a refocus from living for the self and about the self to bettering the self and those around us. Exhausting effort writing ones obit is effort better put to use writing a list of three goals or self changes of top priority that one can inculcate to please All Mighty Allah SWT.

“The best reminder and guide is the Kalaam of Allah SWT. Allah SWT has said that He has created life and death so that He can test and see which one of you does the best deeds. Allah SWT is not saying which of you does good deeds. The choice is not between doing Halaal and Haraam. The choice is not between doing good and bad. The choice is between doing the better of two good deeds. The question of Haraam does not arise because a Muslim is not expected to do something Haraam deliberately anyway.”

Making positive changes to inculcate characteristics pleasing to Allah SWT makes one live a memorable life anyway. One’s sincere deeds and actions speak volumes to those they affect positively.

“We seem to live our lives completely mechanically. We wake up in the morning and go back to sleep. What happened in between we have no clue, most people can’t recall. Other people tend to live life from sensation to sensation.”

And this is recorded and displayed moment by moment on every social forum for friends, family and strangers to see.

“What is more stupid than jumping off a bridge with a rope tied to your ankle, upside down? And this excites people. Because they are completely devoid of all sensation the best thing is to hang off a cliff and jump upside down. That is the life of an animal,” says Sheikh.

As human beings we need to aware of the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah of Nabi Muhammad SAW and live with a level of consideration of one’s choices. Decisions should not merely be based on making a decision but about making very conscious active choices between two good things.

“The hadith of Nabi Muhammad SAW where he said the reward of a deed, the actually effect of a deed depends on the intention when that deed was done. When we combine the verse [mentioned above] from the Quraan and the Hadith of Nabi Muhammad SAW we realise that a Muslim has made sense not to live mechanically like an animal, or to have fun or just do this and that and then write arbitrary details about it.”

Like many of the selfie obits out there, many encourage readers to live a good life, a life of love and family, a life about doing good. None mention the car they drove, the size of the mansion they lived in or the number of shoes and fashion labels in their closet.

“The best of mankind is those who did their best for mankind – not to show of or to be remembered.”

LISTEN to the interview with Sheikh Yawar Baig HERE

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