A focused gaze, all attention captured, honed in on you – that would have been the scene if you were to have had a conversation with the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. One of the reasons he was loved so much was because he ﷺ made you feel like you were the most special person to him, all eyes and ears if you had something to say, no matter what he was doing.
Fast forward to today and the scene changes drastically. Capturing and retaining the attention of this generation has become something of a task. With increasing speeds, whether it be fingers moving across the keyboard, the number of notifications piling up, or internet speeds, we have become an impatient nation, desperate to check that new ping; do away with the blinking light.
We are all guilty of having our attention riveted to our phones when someone is talking to us –producing half sentences or grunting noises in our distracted frame of mind – but how irritating do we find it when the same happens to us? Be the change you want to see in the world. What this culture breeds is disrespect – not just for the elderly, but our fellow human beings.
Islam is a very social religion. If you look at the reward for doing things together, it is multiplied than that of doing it alone. Praying at the masjid is 25 (in another narration 27) times more rewarding. It is mandatory to attend the Eid salah. Jumu’ah prayer has such high importance because it is the gathering of the community once a week. The reason for it is the interaction. We smile, we greet, we meet, we form ties, and we create a brotherhood. The physical aspect of meeting is what is important. But if we introduce social media into that section, it removes the barakah because the purpose of gathering – physical interaction – has disappeared.
WALK into a room these days and what you would find are a group of people who are together physically, but miles away mentally, all on their devices. The dangerous child that this antisocial behavior has bred is in the form of haters. The countless hateful comments and dragged on debates come from being desensitized due to a lack of physical socialization and interaction with people. Stuck behind a screen creates a bubble, with one typing out things that they would never had said to someone’s face, without a care for the emotions evoked on the other side. It gives a false sense of bravado that is, in reality, a disgrace to our ummah.
What has all this addiction brought about? (And no matter how much we deny it, it is a form of addiction.) Ibn Abbas t reported: The Prophet ﷺ said, “There are two blessings which many people waste: health and free time.” [Bukhari]
Youth is deceptive in the way that we think we will live forever, and so any free time we have now is spent (mostly) in front of a screen. The sad truth of life is that we only appreciate what we had, instead of appreciating what we have. The time we have dwindles away by scrolling through our newsfeed, looking in on other people’s lives, and exchanging messages back and forth.
What we sometimes don’t realise is that the relationship we have with those on the other side of our device puts a strain on the relationships we have with those right in front of us. When our online conversation is interrupted by someone face-to-face, irritation flares up which affects the way we respond. The other person is then left wondering what they did wrong.
Imagine our confusion if we were on the receiving end. Anas relates that the Prophet ﷺ said: “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
We need to put that into practice.