“Necessity is the mother of invention.” Without a doubt this is true for many things today that have made our lives much easier. The internet is one of these great inventions that has changed the way we do things. Yet as Muslims who strive to be successful in this and the next life we must every now and then evaluate the things we have in our lives to determine whether we are using these in beneficial ways or in ways that are determental to us. What follows below is a personal evaluation of the use of internet in my life.
Lately I did not have much access to my computer or my ipod. I either did not have time for it or whenever I got time for it I would be interrupted by my almost one year old son who is very amazed by all things “techy” and cannot wait to “play” with them. Hence I just did not get the opportunity to use the computer much and consequently to go on the internet. This allowed me some time to think about computers, about the internet, and about technology in general and what I personally had used this great advancement for. I realized the following things:
1. It is very easy to spend hours on the internet not doing anything but just looking up “information.” Information that does not lead to anything productive and can neither benefit a Muslim’s dunya (life) or the akhira (after-life). I myself was guilty of this. I admit I did use the computer to listen to beneficial lectures or read up on self improvement. Yet lately the majority of my time was spent wasted on the internet. I would browse stores or look at other blogs without any purpose in mind or any idea of what my end goal was. Hence the time away from my computer allowed me to realize which sites I should visit and which I should avoid and how much extra time I would have if I did just that. This precious time could be used to further my goals in other areas of my life.
2. Being on the internet so much does not allow one to think about their surrounding, their life and where it is heading and basically does not allow one to reflect. The internet can think for you. You can use it to watch youtube videos all day or to look at various websites loaded with ‘information’ and not think for a second about what you are doing with your life. Basically it can be used to keep one’s mind occupied kind of like television so that one never has to think about their bigger purpose in life or the fact that they will be answerable for the way they spent their time in the hereafter. Using the internet this way makes a Muslim fall into ghaflah (heedlessness). Ghaflah as translated by Nouman Ali Khan here is “the attitude of doing something without thinking about what you are doing, of not really thinking about what you are involved in, not thinking or caring about how your time is spent or what comes out of your mouth, or what actions you perform, or how your actions impact other people or how they even impact your own self your own personality.” As a result of having very little access to the internet, it allowed me time to reflect and to snap out of my own heedlessness.
The thought came to me when I was putting my son to sleep. Usually as he falls into deep asleep in my arms, I would check my emails on the ipod, yet this time I did not have the ipod. As he lay there slowly going into deep sleep it made me think of how fast time is moving and how much I still have to accomplish and how my son will turn one soon and that this life is very short and there are many things in life I need to accomplish in order to secure my akhira. Essentially the free time allowed me to reflect and allowed me to snap out of my ghaflah and enabled me to put pressure on my goals. Pressure that was well needed and after the Mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala (exalted is He) this reflection would not have occurred had I been on the internet.
Technology is a great thing and can be used for many beneficial purposes. However it has its drawbacks and if you find that you are using it too much and are not accomplishing much, maybe its time to step back and take some time to reflect on your life, your purpose. For here in the tafseer of Surah Asr, we learn that we are in a state of emergency and that ALL of humanity is at a loss except for the few who do the four things mentioned in the Surah. Hence we should guard our time vigilantly because we will be asked by Allah (swt), on a Day when nothing will avail us except our deeds, what we did with our life.