Facebook Fasting


Your Heart Will "Like" It this Ramadan

Ramadan is right around the corner and that means the first thing that enters our minds is the worry that we will not be able to eat or drink. In fact these worries bother us so much that by the end of the fast all we’ve achieved is abstinence from food. But it seems that in our modern online society, people actually devote more time to Facebook than they do to food. So this, along with other meaningless daily habits, tend to leave our Ramadans empty and meaningless.

This article is not meant to bash technology nor to attack the virtual society. So before giving it a “thumbs down”, read on. While it’s true Facebook gives us a new way to communicate, it also leads to obsessions with our own lives and the lives of others. According to the Time Magazine 2012, 48% of 18-34 year-olds check Facebook right when they wake up and 250 million pictures are uploaded every day. Such obsessions are obstacles to a clairvoyant mind.

Impulse indulgence: Posting and sharing tidbits of our lives become habitual, and after posting something we watch the likes and responses attentively for the coming days. This Indulgence into abrupt whims distracts us and our devotion to God. Active Facebook participation  hinders human intellect and results in useless habits. So instead of being distracted by the idea of connecting with people at a distance, we should connect with the Creator during this holy month.

Involvement in Vain talk: Socializing via Facebook is a shallow experience; it is too superficial to be real. We read streams of brief messages from a variety of people, but the messages barely contain any depth. Most are trivial and mundane and some are clever or witty; but little of the information on a Facebook wall could actually touch our hearts and make a difference in our lives. Such vain communication is against Quranic teaching. The Qur’an clearly describes that the doomed are preoccupied with idle talk and are therefore deprived of God’s blessing. Using Facebook might provide a feeling of connectedness, but it engages us in vain emotionless talk. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Fasting is not [only] abstaining from eating and drinking, but abstaining from vain and obscene talk, so if someone insulted you or wronged you, say: I am fasting.” Applying this lesson, our silence on Facebook during Ramadan could be an eloquent movement towards spreading Islamic teaching.

False sense of self-importance: The more visible our life is through Facebook, the more our desire to display ourselves grows. Slowly a self-centered world is fabricated in the virtual nook of Facebook where every experience, every photo, every inconsequential move and thought is extravagantly displayed. Thus the false sense of self importance grows on the deathbed of humbleness. This lack of humility leads us to numerous misdeeds and deprives us from the blessings of the most Benevolent. Because of this we neither can correct our own hearts nor can we acknowledge the mercy of the most gracious deity. The goal of this life is to internalize our personal insignificance in front of God’s greatness. But Facebook works against this eternal truth and prevents us from submitting to God with humility.

Unconscious control over life: Facebook obliges us to share updates frequently with “friends”, most of whom we’ve never even met in person. These so-called friends either compliment our posts or complain; they also grumble if they find us updating our profile irregularly in . Thus this distant virtual community conditions us to behave in a certain way without a conscious choice of our own. Being soaked with other people’s thoughts, feelings, and beliefs on a daily basis can be pleasing and inspiring, but the endless repetition of empty emotions can easily turn into resentment. Facebook fasting will free us from these lame obligations and help us regain control over our lives.

Illusion of unreal socialization: We are deceived into imagining an active social life via a few clicks on Facebook. We tend to forget that a Facebook hug is not a real hug and a smiley isn’t a real smile but a symbolic imitation on a digital device. Thus this virtual life merely displays witty banter, wastes our time with each click, and the deceives us into thinking we are being social. According to Facebook there are 2.7 billion daily “likes” and comments. One could surmise that much of this is not really intended for socialization. Rather this is simply an illusion that enfolds us into a fog full of thoughts, words, actions, behaviors, and attitudes that are empty in essence and keep us away from self-awareness.

Parched productivity: most often we only intend to spend a few minutes on Facebook, but we end up staying for hours. We forget that this time is what determines our destiny on the Day of Resurrection; we are accountable for every moment we spend in this world. Keeping this in mind, we need to be cognizant of social networking and whether or not it is making a positive difference in our lives and in the lives of others. It might be difficult to reconsider our daily habits,  however the month of Ramadan could be a good time to start spending our hours more wisely in order to secure a better hereafter.

Intrusive externally: Facebook culture is heavily focused on the affairs of others, what they’re doing, what they like, or what they think of one another, and so forth. If we are so intrusive into other people’s business, their spiritual progress during Ramadan will be hindered. It is baffling to find people wasting hours reading comments on others’ walls or viewing pictures of people people who they barely know. Although no one is watching or questioning us for being so inquisitive about others’ affairs, we are still compromising our own ethic of manners and morality. Early scholars used to say ‘Whoever busies themselves with that which does not concern them misses out on much of that which does concern them.’ Thus spending time involved in the affairs of others instead of our own brings no benefit to us.

Have any of you started defending yourselves against the above aspects yet? If you have, then your heart has already been corrupted with one or another. Don’t delay any further to discipline these digressions. We need to use this blessed Ramadan to beat our bad habits. Ramadan requires rigorous reflection and steady self-persuasion. We have to be careful that our human (nafs) soul does not give into the self-deception and self-indulgence that is Facebook.