Bismillahi ir-Rahman ir-Raheem.

In the Name of God, the Universally Merciful, the Singularly Compassionate.


The heart and soul must be watched carefully and guarded with taqwa in order to be preserved from dispersion and disintegration. Furthermore, wisdom does not discard the outer checks and balances offered by religion, which are fundamentally a mercy from Allah Most High and not mere stricture. Building character (soul-development) is another level, which I might address in another article, insha’Llah.

When you allow the phenomenal world to capture your attention, you are in danger of being drawn out from your own center. While this is a natural challenge posed by the life of this world, the extent to which our senses are bombarded today is unprecedented.

Our past experience of time was slower. We were able to relax into the present moment and savor it. It was not so easily intruded upon. To communicate, we had to travel and visit people directly or write a letter that would itself take time to deliver. With the advent of the telephone, one still had to be near the phone to be engaged. Today, the “interruption” is instantaneous, especially via smart phones. Social media has widely opened this door. We have allowed the spaciousness and sacredness of the present moment to be invaded by a chattering world in constant flux. We are consequently unsettled and ultimately robbed of the solitude that we could be sharing with our Lord.

We have gone so far as to become uncomfortable with silence and the sublime tranquility of night. We have consequently become uncomfortable with our own thoughts, emotions and feelings, to the point of seeking stimulation to drown out the cries of the heart at the buffet of the modern world that is stacked with television, radio, entertainment, social engagements, substances, food. Your relationship with your own self, however, is a subset of your relationship with Allah Most High. Recall the Hadith, “He who knows himself knows his Lord.” Knowing yourself requires presence and listening. If you can’t even face yourself, what quality of relationship can you expect with the One Who brought you into being in the first place?

The experience of relationship itself has also been altered. We are capable of “meeting” an exponentially greater number of people in a very short time, but these are largely empty connections, not based in any meaningful interaction and development over time. This has bred a mass experience of loneliness and isolation and simultaneously compromised our capacity for solitude. Islam was passed on by people who sat with people. Face-to-face meetings are a profound mode of connection and communication, quite unlike the fragmented connections propagated by social media that have bred dys-experience, i.e. a distorted experience of life. Consider what is lost and how to recover it.

We can also engage in cyber-public without being physically present in public. “Users” are able to hide behind anonymity and geographic absence, which potentially feeds a number of character flaws and degrades virtue, the basis for noble and dignified character. Effective public speaking requires a number of skills – breathing, composure, understanding the audience and setting, precise intention, clarity of thought, careful choice of words, clear articulation, real-time listening and observation, and restraint in the face of offense. And since we have allowed the contraction of time from both ends, we practically demand an immediate response to our communications and are offended by a perceived delay.

Social media has the capacity to erode the BodyMindSoul very quickly. It is highly addictive. Studies have shown that internet dependency causes brain changes parallel to drug addiction. And as the body is taken down, the soul is dragged with it.

It’s noteworthy that the Dajjal (l.a.) is described in a hadith as being blind in his right eye, thus having one working left eye (note the right-left correspondences, the ‘right’ symbolizing the way of truth, piety and righteousness and the ‘left’ corresponding to the opposite). This has an interesting parallel to screen-based technologies as a whole (i.e. tv, computer, smart phone). Food for serious thought.

The fact that I can share these thoughts with you via the internet is positive, but this does not negate the inherently problematic nature of technology, which is not neutral. It is extremely difficult to navigate the traps of our time. We must be vigilante and proactive to simply stay intact. Most importantly, we should take constant refuge in Allah Most High for our protection and preservation.

Wa’Llahu a’lam.


Ḥakīm Ilyās al-Kāshānī