Sacred Path of love (Note 1)

spol2014notes the Ocean of Mercy in the Footsteps ofBeloved

Ustaz Zahid Mohd Zin

 

  • Rabiul Awal is a great month to start learning about Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam.
  • Allah swt asks us to emulate Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him as he is the epitome of excellent characteristics. He is an exemplar of perfection. He was the best when he lived and the best when he died.
  • There are so many things worth reflecting about Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. All our questions can be answered when we look back into his life, peace be upon him.
  • In this day and age, there is so much information circulating. Yet this information is not translated into knowledge if there is no guidance.
  • Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam left a great impact to his wives, family, sahabahs and we see vast transformations from them. Everything he had, and everyone he interacted with, he gave some love to them. He gave care, he gave concern, he sallallahu alayhi wa sallam gave time.
  • He gave eye contact to everyone.
  • He managed to capture attention by giving love to everyone around him.
  • Everyone needs to be given at least a drop of love of the Prophet’s love, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam.
  • In Rabiul Awal, read more about Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam.
  • He loved children. Anas bin Malik and Abdullah bin Omar would climb up to him and count his grey hair. These children not only counted his hair (one said 18, another said 21) but also narrated the Prophet’s traits, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam.
  • Walk the path of Rasulullah s sallallahu alayhi wa sallam and feel the love. Go back to the lessons of Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam.

Crisis of Knowledge: Between Knowing and Living

Ustaz Mohammed Iqbal bin Abdullah

As I listened to Ustaz Iqbal’s delivery on the crisis of knowledge, I cannot help but mull over his words on the ‘Syaikh Google’ phenomenon. There is no denial that in this present day and age, we are quick to refer to online sources for any doubts before consulting any scholars or the learned. Then what came to my mind are the many backlashes online of people engaging in debates about many issues that our community is plagued with.

Ustaz Iqbal reminds us to be civilized, open minded and kind to other Muslims. We should also follow the consensus of the scholars of Islam and be positive as well as respectful towards other Muslims regardless of our difference in opinions. But why is it that time and time again we see hateful comments directed at people who don’t agree with one another? Why do we sense tension between two brothers furiously typing about their opinions on contentious matters? And then there are people like me who helplessly read the threads but do nothing to alleviate the situation, for fear of being misunderstood.

I cannot help but relate this phenomenon to the social psychology of new media. Allow me to indulge in a little application of what I have learnt in school thus far! J

The online disinhibition effect is a phenomenon where daily Internet users disclose content on cyberspace they would not ordinarily do the face-to-face world. They loosen up, feel less restrained and express themselves more openly. Online disinhibition is broadly classified into benign disinhibition and toxic disinhibition. In the latter, Internet users witness rude language, harsh criticisms, anger, hatred and even threats flung at one another.

 

Dissociative Anonymity

Internet users are empowered to reveal their personal particulars in the ways that they desire. They can alter their identities and remain ‘anonymous’as the point indicates. Therefore, this makes it easier for a said person to express hostilities or any deviant actions. This is due to the fact that the person can evade responsibility for those behaviours. He has to the opportunity to separate his online actions from his in-person lifestyle, so he feels less vulnerable about self-disclosing and acting out. Typed a rude comment on a religious leader’s Facebook post? One can simply run away by deactivating his account, or restricting his particulars so that he remains a virtual unknown.

Invisibility
Invisibility gives people the courage to do things online they would not otherwise do in real life. Would you have the courage to insult a fellow brother whom you disagree with in public? Hopefully not! However, invisibility online, coupled with anonymity, amplifies the disinhibition effect. One does not have to worry about he looks or sounds when he types a message. He also does not have to worry about others would respond to what he has posted. The absence of non-verbal cues such as a shaking head, a disapproving look or a bored expression, accentuates one’s bravery to communicate freely online. This subsequently leads him to type unfavourable messages he would not otherwise say in real life because he is perpetually invisible online, his presence only in the form of words and his voice as perused by the reader.

Asynchronicity
There is no need to interact with one another in real time when online. Ever chanced upon online threads where you see comments laden with verses from the Quran and quotes from the hadith as well as religious scholars pertaining the issue being discussed? Those are only made possible because online users are advantaged with the gift of time to beautify their replies. With delays in feedback enabled, people’s trains of thoughts may progress more steadily and quickly towards deeper expressions of benign and toxic disinhibition that avert social norms. It’s much like an ‘emotional hit and run’, as online psychologist Kali Munro puts it. You say what you feel and leave it for a bit before you brace yourself to read the responses from your comments.

 

Dissociative Imagination

It is easy to escape or dissociate from what happens online as if one’s online activities are in a make-believe dimension, separate and apart from the demands and responsibilities of the real world. Online ‘fiction’ is dissociated from offline fact, it seems. Author Emily Finch suggests that some people see their online life as a game with rules and norms that do not apply to daily living. Once a user logs off from Facebook after his tense comments on a conversation thread, he believes he can then return to his daily routines and leave behind the conversations and his identity. He relinquishes any responsibility in what seems to be a make-believe world that has no relation to reality. This hence accentuates his bravery to be outspoken online.

 

Minimisation of Status and Authority

In an online environment, everyone starts off on a level playing field, regardless of his position in society. Authority figures express their status and power in their dress, body language and their environmental settings. However, all these are diminished online. It gives an illusion that everyone is equal and exists a feel of peer relationships. Appearances of authority are minimized and hence people are much more willing to speak out and misbehave. This explains why people are not hesitant to post harsh comments on even religious and government leaders. This unfortunately breeds a hostile online environment that can potentially contribute to spiritual bankruptcy.

With all these in mind, I fervently hold on to Ustaz Iqbal’s reminders to be careful on social media platforms. While the advent of technology can aid us believers in acquiring knowledge more efficiently and effectively, we ought to also retain our adab in online environments. All praises to Allah, now consulting an asatizah is as easy as a Facebook message away. Contributing to discourses can be done in mere seconds as one furiously types his comments and clicks ‘send’ to in a bid to be heard online. In our future online interaction’s, let us ask ourselves three questions before we embark upon an act (such as reprimanding a sister for not covering her toes!):

 

  1. What am I doing?
  2. Why am I doing it?
  3. How am I doing it?

 

May these reflection questions guide us to become exemplary online users that are fervent in maintaining unity of the ummah. May we seek knowledge with the correct methodology and may we always be in the company of fellow strivers of the deen. And as we delight ourselves in the company of the like-minded, let us also be careful of our mannerisms in both our online and offline interactions, in shaa Allah. A conversation I had with a fellow communications major led us to conclude that indeed, our beloved Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam is the best communicator that ever lived on this earth. As we go about in our daily online interactions, let us keep in mind to be excellent communicators just like he was. We are the torchbearers of our beloved Messenger, peace be upon him. Let us keep the torch ablaze by emulating his beautiful personality, never to be doused with bad mannerisms and ill intentions.

Reference

Suler, J. (2004) The Online Disinhibition Effect. Cyberpsychology & Behaviour 7 (3): 321-326.