Youth often struggle between a balance of responsibility towards self, versus responsibility towards others. Their…
There are many things we do in our lives that distract us from our connection and remembrance of God, especially in the digital age we live in. We may not necessarily worship these things, but they preoccupy and prevent us from utilizing our time responsibly. Because of this, we make excuses for praying on time or, for some, even praying at all. Even our work and studies take a backseat to the constant engagement on our electronic digital devices.
Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (p) said, “Do not allow the abundance of what amazes you to deceive you, because it will only be a little that you take from it.” (Bihar al-Anwar, v.73, p.118, #109)
The addiction begins as soon as we get our first electronic device. It becomes an integral part of our daily routine and a partner in everything we do and everywhere we go. Because we are carrying these devices around with us, they are always within arms reach and easily accessible with minimal effort. We fall victim to a vicious cycle of checking how many ‘likes’ we get, adding status updates, tweeting, re-tweeting, taking selfies, playing Candy Crush, checking snap stories and Facebook feeds, and so on. It’s a disease that feeds on our boredom. On those moments where we have a choice to be present in the moment or be summoned to its false power over us.
So what are the steps we can take to free ourselves of this digital addiction?
Step 1: Figure out the problem
There is never a solution without first identifying the problem. Ask yourself how much total time you are spending being distracted on a device (by distracted, we don’t mean using a device for educational purposes). Then assess what you are spending the most time doing. Is it affecting your other duties and obligations? Think to yourself how you could be spending that time differently. What could you have learned or taught yourself instead? Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (p) said, “Continuously taking lessons gives rise to the faculty of insight, and brings about self-restraint.” (Ghurar al-Hikam, no. 5150). The realization of how many hours spent wasting time is essential towards taking the first step in fixing the problem. Don’t wait for your loved ones to nag you to get off your phones. Do it for your own growth and development, and more importantly, do it for your Hereafter.
Step 2: Month Long Digital Detox
Give yourself roughly a month to detoxify your habits and develop productive ones. Changing a habit is never easy, especially when it feels like second nature. So you have to make an effort. This will take work and determination, so roll up your sleeves and get ready to battle yourself and your desires. Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (p) said, “The best form of worship is self-restraint.” (al-Kafi, v. 2, p. 468, #8). That’s the key. Be aware and set limits to how much time you are spending trapped in the digital world. Remember, in Islam, moderation is encouraged in everything we do. Therefore, make a plan before the day starts. Then stick to the amount of time you have allowed yourself to go on your digital device. Feeling tempted for more? Hide your device, put it on silent, or power it off. Be firm about it. Remind yourself that habits don’t change without effort, and hard work always pays off, especially in addition to dua. Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (p) said, “Virtue is overcoming one’s habit.” (Ghurar al Hikam, no. 357).
Step 3: How to spend your time
Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (p) said, “Be cautious of wasting away your lives in that which will not last for you, for whatever has passed of them never returns.” (Ghurar al-Hikam, no.2618).
Now that you have purposefully chosen not to waste your time on a device, how should you spend it instead? Allocate time for everything you need to get done: work, studies, prayers, as well as time to relax. Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (p) said, “A believer has three sets of time: A time to call onto his Lord, a time to secure his livelihood, and a time for himself to pursue permissible pleasures in moderation.” (Mizan al-Hikmah. Vol. 2, page 1,111). You’ll probably have a lot more of it now that you’ve put your phone away. Having time to yourself allows you to think and contemplate, and that is a beautiful thing, so start there. Focus on you, what you need to achieve, your goals, and what matters to you. Read ‘How Muslim Youth can Impact Society’ for ways you can utilize your time.
Life is Finite
Put things in perspective that this life is finite and our time here is valuable and not to be wasted. Value that time. Value your time. Every second that passes does not return, so how do you want to spend it? After you are gone from this Earth there is a no return policy. There are no do-overs. Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (p) said, “If only you drew lessons from all that you have lost, from what has passed of your life, you would look after what is left of it.” (Ghurar al-Hikam, no.7589). So spend your time with purpose and recognize your capacity to make a difference in the world. We are not perfect but why can’t we strive to be the best version of ourselves every single day until the day Imam Mahdi (may God hasten his appearance) is to come? Read ‘How to Help Alleviate Hunger in Our Community’ & ‘Our Duty the Environment Begins at the Mosque‘ for ways to use your time effectively.
Step 4: Dua
Nothing happens unless God wants it to, alongside our effort, so pray. Ask for strength, ask for freedom from anything which holds us hostage and consumes us. Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (p) said, “He who knocks on God’s door, it is open for him/her.” (Ghurar al-Hikam, no. 8292). With sincerity, purity of intention, effort, and determination, you can break free of the digital addiction and live a much fuller and productive life in remembrance of God.
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