For many of us, it’s not the sun that wakes us up but the unavoidable glare of our phones. Social media has taken over our lives in a way that could be damaging to our spirituality.
We spend hours scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, and aimlessly watching video after video. It’s good to honestly think about how many of our mornings have kicked off by unproductively.
While some people aim for complete detachment from social media as a spiritual cleansing tool, others think of ways to gain control over their social media intake in a way that brings barakah in their lives and limits harm that could come out of it.
If you are looking to do the latter, here are a few suggested ways to utilize social media to boost your spiritual productivity.
Seek knowledge and capitalize on using beneficial apps
Sacred knowledge used to be very hard to acquire; people used to travel and exert time and money to seek knowledge, but now there is a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips. We are, in a way, fortunate that we have unlimited resources to help us learn more and seek closeness of Allah . So, capitalize on this luxury. Instead of aimlessly scrolling through your phone, allow your phone to connect you more with Allah and less with dunya.
There are numerous apps you can download to gain more knowledge, for example:
- Muslim Pro
- Quran Pro
A majority of us already have apps like Youtube, Spotify and for those who have iPhone: podcasts, so why not utilize them properly? Use them to secure your akhirah and preserve the stability of your heart. If you can find 10 minutes to watch a makeup tutorial on youtube, you can allocate some time to watch a lecture. Short reminders on youtube are plentiful, so even five minutes of expanding your knowledge will be of benefit to you. If you can sit through a 40-minute long episode on Netflix, you should be able to dedicate twice as much time to Allah for the sake of your soul. Replace the music on Spotify with Quran. Download a few lectures on a podcast and nourish your iman on your commute to school or work.
Think about ‘who/what’ you are following and filter out negative influences
It’s very critical to monitor the type of posts that are flooding your newsfeed. The things we watch, read, and listen to impact us greatly. Take a moment to scroll through the list of people you are following, and ask yourself what kind of public figures are they? What is their message? What kind of pages am I following? What kind of pages do I find myself constantly going back to? Will Allah be pleased with me for supporting their message? Will I be affected negatively by this content?
Be firm and strong enough to unfollow/unfriend figures or pages that you feel are toxic to your heart. This is a form of cleansing. Remember, following someone can easily lead to praise, which can lead us to believe the person we admire is infallible. We must be careful not to overpraise someone more than we praise and worship Allah .
Try to follow people of sound knowledge and respected Islamic scholars on social media. The pages dedicated solely to amplifying knowledge are plenty. Also, share what you learn as a sadaqah jariya (beneficial knowledge/ceaseless charity). It is said that the righteous companions will be in Jannah (paradise) together, so motivate yourself and your friends by creating iMessage or WhatsApp groups for the purpose of sharing authentic beneficial knowledge, and for discussion and support of one another.
Block notifications to be more present in real life
When we allow ourselves to receive notifications at all times and make ourselves available to respond to everything we receive on the spot, this can drastically damage the quality of our attention, our presence with people in real life and our ibadah (worship).
Even when our phones are not physically in our hands, our hearts are distracted by them. During salaah (prayer), while we are reciting the holy Qu’ran, or during any other form of ibadah, we should be completely mindful of the majesty of Allah . All other matters should be placed behind you. However, with the notification sounds, the mind wanders, and we begin to speculate about the contents of the notification. We are well aware that it is only Allah that deserves our full attention. It is not befitting of Him to be distracted while being with Him in prayer or dhikr.
So before salaah (prayer), disable the notifications for all of your apps and put your phone on do not disturb. Not knowing who is texting you for 15 minutes won’t damage you, but these minutes could be utilized in pursuing the hereafter and eternal goodness, and showing Allah that He is more important than anything else in our lives.
Control time and don’t let it control you
Allah says:“By timeIndeed, mankind is in loss,Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” [Qur’an: Chapter: 103]
Allah swore by time, and we are all losing time, except the ones Allah has specified. We should make sure that the time we spend fulfills the conditions of success Allah informed us about. So, making sure the time is spent increasing or protecting our belief, increasing us in good deeds, helping us advise other to follow the Truth and helping us be patient and call others to be patient while upholding to the Truth.
Sometimes, we get so consumed in pursuing the temporary life that we forsake the eternal next life. Productivity to a Muslim means striking a balance between deen (religion) and dunya (this life), it means while we struggle to survive in this life, we are to conceive ways to accrue barakah in all our actions. The inevitable time and date of our death are not within our knowledge so we must tirelessly prepare for it and not allow our time to be wasted obliviously.
Every action is written, accounted for, even those moments of filling our eyes with facebook statuses and comments. When we are conscious of that, we will be more in control of what we see/consume.
We cannot analyze how much time we spend on something unless we measure it. Believe it or not, we spend way more time on our screens than we believe we do. When you actually see the number of times you’ve unlocked your phone within an hour or the amount of time you spent on an app within a day, it becomes a huge reality check and aids in improvising ourselves efficiently. There are many paid and free apps available to track exactly what you do on your phone and how much time you spend on each activity. Download them to help maximize your barakah with social media. Quality Time is one such app you could try.
Additionally, while working or surfing on screens other than phones, we subconsciously tend to open many tabs on our browsers, that hinder our productivity and waste our time. Keep check of which tabs you actually need to be opened in the browser for your work/study and which tabs could wait for later.
Don’t let what is artificial deceive you
There are posts that seem to insinuate that everyone around you has perfectly, well-balanced lives. It is an imperative to understand that everything you see on these social media channels is filtered. Every image and every word is refined to give the illusion of faultlessness. Most people are not going to share the dismal aspects of their lives on the internet, rendering them completely vulnerable to criticism. Social media creeps into our minds and hearts, it has a way of making us utterly infatuated with other people’s lives. No matter how mentally strong we are, anyone can become vulnerable and negatively affected by what they see. There is a lot of research on how social media could be tied to depression; when users surveilled what their friends were up to, they were reported to be more inclined to report symptoms linked to depression.
We compare ourselves with internet personalities, wasting away our own extraordinary potential. It deters us from the path of gaining the pleasure of Allah , owing to the fact that comparing oneself to others leads to feelings of dejection. These feelings open the doors to ungratefulness. Remember that ibadah (worship) begins with shukr (gratitude). We say in The Opening Chapter of the Qur’an that we recite every day: “[All] praise is [due] to Allah, Lord of the worlds “, however, when we are focused on the artificial happiness or perfection of others, we feel worse about our own condition and lose our sense of gratitude that brings barakah into our lives. As Allah says:
“And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]”[Quran: Chapter 14, Verse 7]