Sunday, 1 July 2012

Do you use Tech, or does it use you?

 And if you do not find anyone in [their homes] do not enter until permission has been granted unto you. If you are told to go away, then go away. That is more pure for you and Allah knows well what you do. [an-Nur: 28]

Mufassirun have discussed whether one verse of the Quraan can be said to have greater virtue than others, or whether they are equally virtuous as the Speech of Allah. In either case what cannot be denied is that various parts of the Quraan have had differing impacts in various circumstances.

Consider the incident which Thabit bin Qays رضي الله عنه narrates, as recorded by Abu Dawud. Umm Khallad al-Ansariyah رضي الله عنها rushes to Rasulullah صلى الله عليه و سلم, her mind greatly unsettled with the probability that her son has been killed. A man confirms that her son has indeed been martyred, but asks how did she have the presence of mind to cover her face when entering the presence of Rasulullah صلى الله عليه و سلم despite her obviously perturbed state. There is not enough gold in the world (or perhaps I should say iPads) to equal the value of her words. The venerable lady replies, "I may have lost my son, but I shall never lose my modesty."

Allahu Akbar!

What is still more amazing is that that lady belonged to a generation and culture which a short while earlier had been walking around with uncovered heads and exposed breasts (or am I confusing this with contemporary Muslimahs?). These ladies were the products of Surah an-Nur, a Surah which laid the foundation for the edifice of modesty and social interaction in Islamic civilisation. To add yet another amazing aspect of these ladies. The males had had three previous verses to wean them off the primarily masculine activity of drinking wine, before the final fourth prohibition was revealed. On the other hand, the ladies submitted the instant Allah commanded them to dress modestly. They tore down old and ugly curtains to cover themselves. They had no concern for their appearance. Their only concern was to obey Allah. Were I to live for a century, I would prefer that single act to all my good deeds.

Now let us examine some other aspects of Islamic etiquette directly or indirectly derived from an-Nur:

  • A Muslim does not enter another person's home without permission.
  • Permission can only be sought thrice, thereafter leave.
  • If there was no appointment made, one is not obliged to let others enter the privacy of one's home.
  • When two people are speaking, a third should not butt in without permission.

Now let us ask ourselves in all honesty, if I am not obliged to respond to one who is physically at my door, how can I possibly be obliged to answer a cell phone?

The manners of Muslims are absolutely deplorable when one looks at how they deal with just this one aspect of technology. Whether one is speaking to a friend, spouse, teacher or parent, as soon as the mobile rings, 14 centuries of Islamic culture and etiquette succumbs to the demands of Nokia, Apple, Blackberry etc. The rights of the gathering are forgotten as well as the respect for seniors. Conversation is immediately cut off. Everyone is forgotten and the cell phone answered. I have even witnessed Ulama teaching a Hadith, breaking away from the lesson to answer the call. Yet one finds Western businessmen first seeking permission from each other before taking a call. That is supposed to be our way. They are using technology, not being used by technology.

We always say that technology cannot be good or bad in itself, it is how you use it. It is rather sad that a Raafidi, Ali al-Alawi, pointed out that a product of a society must innately include the values of that society, it cannot be neutral. On the other hand, scholars born of Sunni households, happily endorse everything the West churns out, without considering the impact on Sunnah values and culture.

I am not saying that we become Luddites and smash all technology. After all, how did I write this message, if not by the use of technology? What I mentioned is just an example. Answering your phone might not be a sign of Qiyaamah, but let us not be mindless drones. Consider carefully, are you are using technology, or is technology using you? The next time your Samsung rings, ask, "Am I being used to eliminate Surah an-Nur from the Ummah?"

Just a thought, and I would like to hear your thoughts. In just over a year this blog has reached 6,000 hits from all over the world. Not much some would say, but considering that I haven't promoted this blog, I never expected this readership. But no comments? Come on guys! If you got something positive out of this, let me know so that I know what you want to read. If I've erred it's your duty to tell me.

سليمان الكندي


  1. Let's for a minute consider the respective positions of Khalid Baig and Ali Alawi on this issue. Baig states that technology developed by the West cannot only be considered neutrally as being the product of technicians in a factory, but should be seen as reflecting of the values of that society. For example, television has been manufactured with a specific pupose in mind, being to entertain, notwithstanding the fact that it has other uses. Alawi posits that even physical, non-animate objects should reflect the Islamic ethos of a society. Based on the above, in general terms, it is clear that western technological inventions (whether television, phones etc) have not been created or produced to reflect Islamic ethos. It therefore follows that the use of western technology per se has an inherent detrimental effect on Islamic society. I'm not for a minute suggesting that we should not use the technology around us and use smoke signals instead of telephones, but the key driver for the future has to be the development of technology from within Islamic civilization, that reflect the values of our society and reinforce our belief in the unseen sacred, as opposed to an object that is seen as merely a further scientific stepping stone in the secular "search for truth".

  2. Dear Brother Umaru
    Jazakallah khayran fior your comment. What I especially like about your thinking is that fine, we have identified a problem, but you look ahead to a solution.... although it might not be very easy.
    "the key driver for the future has to be the development of technology from within Islamic civilization, that reflect the values of our society and reinforce our belief in the unseen sacred"