Source: Al JUMUAH magazine
by: SUMAYYAH MEEHAN
As the world we live in has become more technologically advanced, so too have our lives become more chaotic and stressed. There’s always something buzzing, beeping, or whirring for your attention – whether it’s the cell phone plaintively ringing that annoying ring tone you chose but have never got around to changing or an instant message from an important contact.
Combine the annoyances from your e-world with the pressures of the real world, like paying bills or raising a family, and the results can be suffocating. Peace, quiet, and inner harmony are precious commodities that are lacking in most of our lives, today. There are just too many distractions today that are affecting the quality of our life.
The Myth of Technology
Weren’t technological advances supposed to make our lives easier? Indeed, technology has made major positive impacts in many areas of our lives, especially when it comes to communication. Never before in the history of humanity have humans been able to communicate as fast as Internet technology has made possible.
Thanks to our new and improves “digital age” tasks that would have taken hours, if not days, to perform just 15 years ago can be done today in mere minutes. Just imagine, for example, how long it would’ve taken you to write on paper every single email you sent out today. And that’s not even accounting for the time it would take to look up the address of each person, getting them on the envelopes, purchasing stamps, and mailing them at the post office. While technology has freed up our lives, most of us have re-clogged them to capacity. Instead of wisely utilizing the free time that technology has unchained, many of us cram even more activities into our daily routine and that saps up every single minute we have left. The cold hard reality is that while technology has been a blessing, it has also been a curse. For many, the reliance on all of our tech gadgets and living life “online” is so strong that it is hard to make an independent decision without being hooked up to some electronic device. And in the event of mechanical breakdown, or worse, an electrical failure that severs our connection to these machines, it is as if someone has encased our world in darkness. And it is difficult to come out of the dark.
The Side Effects
Just as much as technology has improved our lives, so too has it created a veritable vacuum of negative side effects. In the case of the Internet, just about anyone can learn about private aspects of our lives that we have shared online. And in the event we have been cautious and not shared anything, someone can still use the Internet as a platform for discrediting our character. And what about the cell phone? For many, texting around the clock has become an addiction that is difficult to break and cell phone bills often push the family budget into the red. It’s important to realize that every technology gadget has its downside, especially if we empower this inanimate gadget to control our lives.
As Muslims, the Noble Qur’an and Sunnah of Muhammad Shollallaahu ‘alaihi wa Sallaam have taught us to rely upon Allah Almighty for all of our affairs. Yet our increased reliance on machines and the added stresses that come along with them often disrupt our inner peace, and that in turn might affect the quality of our worship. How can we make a meaningful connection with our Creator when we are hooked up to just about every electronic device on the market?
How can we live our lives in peace when our lives are anything but peaceful, thanks to the digital “rat race”?
Thankfully, regaining some of the peace that has gotten lost in technology is not difficult at all. First things first: Determine how many gadgets you must rely upon to get through your day. For example, if you have a cell phone, then there is no need for a pager. If you’ve got one cell phone, there really is no need for another with a separate line. And if you’ve got a map, do you really need that pricey GPS system? Downsize your reliance on technology by eliminating the unnecessary gadgets in your life. Resell them or donate them to someone in need.
Now go on a tech diet by limiting the number of hours you allow yourself to use technology. Instead of leaving your computer on all day, turn it off for several hours. It is not necessary to leave your cell phone on around the clock. If you want a little peace and quiet, simply switch it off for a couple of hours.
The resulting silence will truly be golden. Don’t allow your electronic devices to control your every movement. Take control back and use technology to enhance your life, but never to define it.
Making the Connection
There is only one place to cultivate inner peace and harmony. And that is by forging a connection with Allah, the Exalted. There is only one way to do this and that is through sincere worship of Him and Him alone.
Performing the five daily sholahs, making sincere supplications, fasting and performing good deeds are the best ways to begin reconnecting with our Cherisher and Sustainer starting today.
Machines cannot soothe our hearts, cool our eyes, or solve our problems. But Allah can. And He is always available to receive our earnest efforts in worship. Really strive in your worship, and put it above everything else vying for your attention. Remember that those who bow down to Allah can stand up to anything that life throws at them.
Relishing the Peace Train
Once you’ve broken the chains of reliance upon technology, you can start savoring the peace that will inevitably resurface. You can now limit the interruptions when you are trying to focus on something important, like praying or reading the Gracious Qur’an. You can refocus your attention and can open your eyes up to the beauty found only in Allah ‘s creation.
Why not turn away from the laptop for a while and take in the sun as it sets in all of its gilded glory?
Is there anything so pressing online that cannot wait for just a few moments? How about putting away your cell phone and walking that couple of blocks so see face-to-face the friend you were about to call?
It is more than possible to balance life in our digital age and utilize the basics of technology rather than enslaved to it.
No one can argue that digital technology has shrunk our world to the size of a small village. Communication comes fast and easy. Yet something has gotten lost, and that is the quality of our human interactions. You cannot see how someone you care about reacts to your email or instant message (or even if they’ll be taken right). Their smile or even grief does not translate in a digital message or even that well in a telephone call.
Relying less on technology to communicate and more on your own actions to interact with others will not only allow peace to thrive but will also make your every relationship all the more meaningful.