Sakeena Suliman – Cii News

It’s fair to say that social media has changed the way we communicate and relate. There is no doubt that it’s made it easier to connect, contact and even speak to almost anyone and everyone. Facebook, Twitter and others have allowed us to follow and be followed, befriend and un-friend, ignore and respond, like and retweet, share and ignore or snap and post.

By just creating profiles on the different forums available to us, we create impressions of ourselves. Depending on the type of user one is, we include an unknown number of strangers into our lives.

While it took longer to sign in to popular social media websites before, advanced mobile technology has made accessing applications so much easier now. With information at our fingertips, “at the touch of a button” has become a cliché. Social media is the new drug with some users living more online than they do in reality.

In the UK it is regarded an “official addiction”, with many clinics treating patients addicted to one or more of these sites. A 2013 study by the University of Chicago found social media can even be more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol.

The research shows that social network features such as “likes” and “retweets” give users a burst of the addictive neurotransmitter dopamine, while a lack of endorsements can provoke jealousy and anxiety. Signs of addiction include spending more than five hours per day on a social media website, missing or avoiding the necessary things in life – even at a fundamental level of self-care, delaying or avoiding eating, drinking and sleeping.

Aside from the research, most people will tell you they feel uneasy without their Smartphone. It’s not that social media is a problem, it’s the lack of self-control when using it. Lack of self-control can quickly turn a positive tool into an obsession or even make its use impermissible.

While social networking sites can be used for good such as Da’wah and for business promotions or breaking news, they are more often than not used for impermissible purposes such as intermingling, browsing photos, chatting, and online relationships. Many are aware of the impermissible aspects of social networking, but only a minority actually refrain from getting involved in them.

The most important fact to note about social media is that they do not have a “purdah” system.  All of these websites are based on the intermingling of the sexes and communicating with non – mahram  people. Unfortunately, some Muslims don’t consider this to be a sin anymore. The free mixing, joking and interaction with the opposite gender is so widespread, it is even practiced on Islamic pages within these forums.

In an extract from a Hadith it is narrated that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) has said, “…Allah hates vain, useless talk or that you talk too much about others and ask too many questions in disputed religious matters.” (Bukhari, 41:591)

The extent to which some Muslim users detail – in words and pictures – every aspect of their lives, even their lawful and unlawful  desires, is evidence that many of us aren’t aware of this Hadith or just neglect it. Muslim women and girls disregard this and the obligation of Hijab by posting pictures of themselves – even in headscarf – on these mediums. With the rise of the pout and the fall of self respect, young Muslim girls and even older women post pictures of themselves in sultry poses for all the world to see.

In the spirit of sharing, without realising, users enable the spreading of Haraam material such as videos, music, pictures, blasphemous jokes and ideas.

It is easy to sign up to these websites to keep in contact with family that live far away or to use as a tool to keep up to date with the news or make contact with others. But certain rules must be put in place to keep usage to a minimum. Unless one is mindful of who they befriend or follow, what information they access and publish, and how much time is spent networking, they will inevitably neglect the laws of Shariah, and not just in the virtual world.

Social networking sites can be a means of spreading Islam and raising awareness but it is done much less compared to how much impermissible one gets involved in, consciously or not. People use Deen as an excuse to sign up to these sites, but eventually forget their original purpose and become like all the other users. There are many other means of Da’wah.

“The dwellers of paradise will only regret the time they spent in the world not doing the dhikr (remembrance) of Allah” (Baihaqi)

Every time one has the urge to post a ridiculous picture or type a mundane status or attack another in a comment on one of the many mediums available, we should strive to remember the reason Allah SWT created us. To worship Him. It is also wise to be mindful of the fact that every word we utter or write and every action is going to be put before us one day. On a day when not one of the numerous friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter will be able to speak up by retweeting, liking or sharing.

Our free time and even our time used doing permissible things must be spent in the remembrance of Allah SWT. Social media is another worldly device taking us away from our true objectives as Muslims.