Social media has taken the front seat in our everyday life and we can see a lot of people glued to screens of their cell phones not only inside their homes but in markets, parks and recreational places as well. You see people staring at their devices while sitting in a park or bus terminal, walking, travelling, shopping or sometime driving. With this quantum leap into the social media arena, a popular trend of messaging also cropped up widely. Hence, you see a series of good-day messages, marriage and birthday greetings, health updates, greetings on seasons and festivals, pictures, clips, videos and everything possible to be transmitted through a wireless signal.
Amongst these, the most momentous are selected texts from the Holy Quran, and Hadiths, quotations from the Islamic history, sayings of scholars, poets and notables. Ostensibly, the purpose of sharing such material is the display of divine connection, and demonstrates someone’s love for Islam. The flood of religious messages portrays a picture as if our nation is too much associated with Islam. They have little time to think over anything else but spend their days and nights extending love to their great religion. In reality, things are quite opposite to what we portray and pledge. Hence, overtures primarily undertaken to promote goodwill and project the real face of Islam factually end up in a futile exercise.
The recipients resort to a cursory reading of the message or a casual glance at it and forgetting all the next moment. Whereas, this practice hardly does any significant service to Islam and it only consumes a lot of productive time and money. It is painful to see that the moral values of our society are deteriorating with every passing day. Had we been so religion-oriented and practicing Muslims as we portray on social media, we should have been a role model by now for the world to follow. All said and done we the Muslims already know what all is projected in these messages and posts made viral on social media. For decades and centuries, we all have been listening speeches and sermons so we are not alien to these scripts.
We have to understand that just copy-pasting religious texts again and again neither tells anything new to us nor does it serve any good. Generally, we resort to verbosity derived from rhetoric and sentiment but practically we hardly do anything substantial. The virtue in the real sense is demonstrated through action rather than pledging high sounding words and sharing religious or social quotes. Actions speak louder than words. Mere sermons and verbosity have zero impact on anyone. Every Muslim knows the fact that spending our life according to Quran and Sunnah is the only answer to our woes. If you ask for the solution to our predicament from a common man in the street, he will reply to you the same. On average, we listen to various religious accounts at least four times a month.
Our society has gone from worse to worst and there is no chance in sight of an early improvement or rapprochement. We must know that copy-and-paste on Facebook or WhatsApp or delivery of big sermons is just useless effort. We need to focus on reasons for this paradoxical embodiment and evaluate why our continuous efforts have made no impact on our daily life. We will also have to do brainstorming to explore methods as to how we could implement Islamic values and norms to our lives in general and the community at large. In our society, there is no adherence to rule of law, some people hate to stand in a queue, some people are not ready to follow traffic rules, some people are not caring about rights of others, ‘might is right’ so rampant, hypocrisy is the order of the day in some cases, telling lie and playing deceit is just fun. Under so much malaise at hand, a gigantic effort will be required to transform this mess into a civilized outfit.
Another thorn in the head has been the proximity to adoptive culture, as it has played havoc in our religious beliefs. Resultantly, we have crowded shrines and deserted mosques. One can witness it in our customs performed during marriages, on the birth of a child, rituals at shrines and in so many other areas. Even our affluent and educated class is not devoid of primitive superstition. You can see hundreds of people riding cars worth millions and tying black ribbon with the rear bumpers thinking it will save them from death and damage. Such social and cultural barriers and taboos serve as the stumbling blocks in the way of following simple and basic Islamic principles. On contrary, we in our wishful thinking expect convincing such a diverse and fragmented lot to follow Quran and Sunnah by forwarding messages or pouring emotional and high sounding sermons into their ears. But the question arises that do we really draw benefits from these holy pieces of wisdom? And the answer is no.
I am sure that Quran is available in every house of the Muslims but most of us reciting the holy book for reward and not to understand and act upon the guidance the Quran provides. Last Ramadan, I was listening to a speech by Maulana Tariq Jameel on a television screen. “I spent two months in New Zealand and did not come across any person telling lie. In our country, travel from Peshawar to Karachi and you will hardly find a person telling the truth,” he told the audience in front of him and through TV screen. From childhood, the children in Western societies saw what their parents do, what their neighbours do, what their peers do and how they behave in different situations. Therefore, they are groomed accordingly on similar lines taking vibes from their role model or mentor in front. We have much bigger role models and mentors in front and we also sermonize a lot and boast about their majesty but once it comes to following their footprints, we miserably fail and look the other way.
We have to understand this reality that our children and youngsters learn more by observing rather than listening. A child has a clean mental slate to start with. When he listens to a sermon an audio track is engraved in his brain. But later, once he observes things happening quite opposite to what he had listened to his brain baffles. As a result, highly confused and skeptical image imprints on his brain. From here, his personality starts getting dents and ripples. If we focus on the theory of perception, a ‘picture’ or ‘observation’ has a higher impact on the mind as compared to events perceived through listening. Consequently, the pre-saved soundtrack of positive sermons on the child’s brain gets obliterated by the contentious visual impact due to antagonistic exposure. So the end product is a stubborn human with a negative personality. Under such circumstances, a child grows up carrying the baggage which keeps retarding his pace of mental growth and never let him reach his full potential.
The bottom line is that we need to display a truthful, honest and pragmatic model before our children, siblings, relatives, neighbours, co-workers and peers, instead of exchanging messages on social media or verbally sermonizing and boasting our glory cum might that we lost some centuries ago. Therefore, a beautiful message on social media or a sermon to the audience is not a motivating factor by any means. People just read the message or listen to the speech considering it a story or anecdote, raise some loud slogans and proceed to continue with their routine and tricks well trenched-in since ages. We need to display empathy, care and ethics in our everyday dealings rather than mere advising. Good manners and civic sense is better learnt by demonstration than by lecturing. One last point, no government or any force can thrust upon norms, values, ethics, or civic sense upon the masses. It is only self-motivation that can be infused through example and not by lectures, slogans, or beautifully crafted messages on social media.