One day before Ramadan..
“Has the moon been sighted yet?” asks my husband. I reach for my phone, quickly check my Facebook newsfeed, and yes, Alhamdulillah, a friend has uploaded a picture of the moon sighting certificate in Saudi – Ramadan is soon here!
Gone are the days of hearing the engaged tone as you attempt to ring the local masjid to find out about the moon; social media will answer your query with a tap of the screen.
But is this technology in our hands and on our laps truly benefiting us during Ramadan or are we best unplugging our screens for the Holy month?
Here are some of the views of Muslims from around the world, first starting with those who have decided to take a break from social media, either completely or by reducing the time they spend on it:
“I have been taking time off from social media during Ramadan for a number of years now. It came about instinctually. Social media can be very distracting and time absorbing…minimizing this means less distraction and more time, which in turn gives me the space to focus on ibadah (worship) and non-worldly matters bi’idhnillah (by Allah’s leave). I’m not sure if it’s a Ramadan thing or just ‘abandoning’ social media, but I feel lighter and freer – perhaps, most likely, it is down to intention (insha Allah – God willing)”
Khalida Haque (Founder & Managing Director, Khair Therapeutic Services CIC), UK
“I chose to sign out of Facebook and Instagram during Ramadan in order to focus more on ibadah and become as little distracted from it as possible. Social media inundates you with distracting things to read, that in the moment often seem interesting but afterwards you realize they just ate up your time. Sure, you can use Insta and FB for good things, but all that other stuff that constantly pops up is too much. Regarding it being good for your religion, it is better to read a book or listen to real lectures, and also to gain real rewards by spending time with your brothers and sisters in real life. At least during Ramadan.”
Umm Salih, Sweden
Many Muslims still check their feeds and upload posts, but not as often, and how they use social media changes during Ramadan:
“I do not stop using social media such as Instagram and Snapchat during Ramadan, but my posts change. Outside of Ramadan, I usually post pictures of food, children’s activities, and fun events. But during Ramadan, I try to post something that is beneficial, anything about Islam, hadith etc.
But my use of social media does decrease, usually a lot – from checking FB, Snapchat, and Instagram 18 times a day perhaps down to 4 times a day during Ramadan.”
Others have tried to give up on social media in the past, but see the benefits outweighing the negatives:
“When I first started using social media a few years ago, I used to try and eliminate Facebook altogether during the month. That became increasingly difficult, and so now I take the approach that as long as I keep up my prayers and stay on top of my daily Quran goals, I ‘reward’ myself with some screen time. I know it can be a distraction from the Deen, but for me, between a busy home and work life, social media has been a god-send for maintaining a spiritual connection to the Ummah during Ramadan.”
For some, Ramadan is a busy social media time as many Muslims are getting ready to unleash their purchasing power in time for Eid:
“I primarily use social media for the purpose of my business. As orders increase in Ramadan I try to be more active on social media…”
Umm ‘Abdirrahmaan, Aisha Dolls, Saudi Arabia.
For the many who choose to remain on social media during Ramadan, they find it has a positive impact on them during these days of fasting.
“I love to see all the Ramadan related posts on social media – it makes me feel connected to Muslims all over the world and as I live in a country with few Muslims, this is something that’s important to me. It reminds me that I’m part of a huge global community of people who are fasting and trying to better themselves. I enjoy the feeling of solidarity social media brings. I find the reminders people post useful, and I always find something to help keep me motivated – whether it’s a link to a YouTube video or an article, or just a reminder to get off that social media and read some Qur’an!”
“I have never gone on a social media diet during Ramadan, as I feel it’s an opportunity to connect with people and share beneficial du’as and tips. This Ramadan, it just got better with so many sheikhs doing live Tafseers and reviews of the Qur’an online.Sometimes, during a slump in energy or iman, a post shared by someone fasting or a du’a gives me that push that is needed to get back on track.”
Sana Gul, Canada
Social media is here to stay, and not less so for Muslims during Ramadan. Like many tools, it’s how you use them that makes the difference. If you do choose to keep up your social media use, one piece of advice is to quickly swipe over the plethora of uploaded photos of plates of food as the different time zones reveal our brothers and sisters tucking into iftars while you still have hours to wait!
May you have a blessed Ramadan – before you know it, the Holy month will be over, and we will be able to see if Twitter has produced a new Eid emoji!
First published: June 2016