Cell phone Addiction – How the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) foretold our disconnection with people via our connection through mobile communication.

Cell phone Addiction – How the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) foretold our disconnection with people via our connection through mobile communication.

by
Shaykh Faheem of the Islāmic Lifestyle Solutions

1400 years ago, in the desert of Arabia, without any scientific apparatus, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was able to foretell the modern age with pinpoint precision. This is common knowledge for those who have studied the hundreds of prophecies located in the hadīth corpus ranging from the socio-moral decline of people on the micro scale, to topics affecting the global Muslim populace at the macro scale. Foretelling events in the future is no easy feat and to consistently do so with the kind of accuracy as exhibited in the hadīth is evidence of his validity as a messenger of God. After all, the future remains an ‘unknown’ quantity for those of us whose vision is limited to the confines of the present, but for a prophet of God, breaking the barrier between time and space is not an impossibility as the prophets and messengers are aided in their task by God Almighty, who is the master and creator of time!

Be it the prophesized conquests of Palestine and Constantinople, or foretelling the fall of Irāq, Syria, and Yemen. Be it the rise in statistics for committing murder, or the moral decline of modesty, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has given ample warnings to the vigilant.

Amongst his numerous prophecies is one, which, if contemplated upon with the correct analytical approach, proves beyond all reason that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) foretold this age in particular. The origin for this discussion is located in a lengthy hadīth tradition which has been elucidated in one of my earlier books on the subject of eschatology, The Beginning of the End – An Eschatological Endeavour to Unravel the Mysteries of the Modern Age”.

Enter the modern age, an age in which the rat race of life has caused people to “disassociate” with one another. There are many reasons for this, but one very important, yet overlooked reason is with regards to cell phones and cell phone addiction. Retrospectively, many of our elders are perplexed by the demeanour of the twenty first century Muslims and their inability to sit down as a family unit for basic things.

Gone are the days when families sat through meals together, prayed their Salāh together and had a basic conversation with each other. As a corollary of our addictive usage of mobile communications, the family unit, especially spousal relations and parent-child relations have been rendered to basic and necessary conversation only, with the majority of in-depth interaction having moved to the unrelenting tapping of the fingertips connecting to the online means of communication via our keypads.

Is this decline in familial bonds a mere coincidence? Or is there a deeper meaning to this sudden change in the norms of society? The answer may be located in via the interpretation of one of the innumerable prophecies located in the hadīth corpus. Analysis of the statement will clarify to the erudite how a supposedly random statement of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is indeed filled with verbose detail, if we apply our minds to it. The narrative has been detailed by Sayyidunā Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (Allah be pleased with him) who mentioned that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had foretold that,

 

إِنَّ مِنْ أَعْلَامِ السَّاعَةِ وَأَشْرَاطِهَا أَنْ تُوَاصَلَ الْأَطْبَاقُ ، وَأَنْ تُقَاطَعَ الْأَرْحَامُ

 “…amongst the signs and conditions of the hour is that people will connect with dishes and sever family bonds…”

(Majma’uz Zawā’id, Book of Trials, Hadīth 12434)

 

The primary prophecy mentioned here is with regards to the discovery of satellite dishes, which are of course the means through which mobile devices such as cell phones are able to establish their connection. This is evident from the below image depicting how mobile devices such as cell phones etc. are dependent on their connection with satellite “dishes” which bounce off the relevant signals from service providers to customers.

For instance, social media such as Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp etc. forms a line of ‘communication’ between ‘strangers’ and in our addiction to reply to people’s comments or posts, which are in all probability not even directed to us, family ties members are cut off by our snubbing of those around us and proceeding to connect with strangers. In this manner, the prophecy of the Beloved Messenger (peace be upon him) is being fulfilled every day.

Are you Connecting with Cellphones and Disconnecting with Family?

Not only did the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) foretell such great inventions, but he also warned us of the detriments they pose when not utilized maturely. He stated that once these (satellite) dishes are in “communication” with one another, that “family ties will be severed”. Currently, almost every household is suffering with the after effects of the technological era. There seems to be an addiction to the our mobile devices to the point that some people prefer their ‘me time’ over being in the company of people as they can spend hours on their social media feeds and chatting with others in the virtual realm of reality. We have thus become prey ensnared in a world wide web from which the more we struggle, the more entangled we become.

So how do we know if we are addicted?

These days, one cannot have a decent conversation with people without the other person being able to resist the urge to check or reply to their messages. The answer to the aforesaid question is quite simple once we acknowledge that addiction refers to the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice to such an extent that its cessation causes some kind of trauma. Essentially, the absence of that practice or item causes a person to experience some kind of distress.

Whilst mobile communications devices are indeed a necessity in today’s age, we need to know where do we draw the line? Are we going to bed with our phones next to us or else we will be distressed and panicked about its absence from our sight or proximity?

Upon awakening, is the first action of the day to check our messages? Or do we connect with the people around us? When we are in the car, are we talking to the people in the vehicle? Or are we ‘connecting’ with others?

When we are at the table, are we having meaningful conversations with our families? Or do we have our mobile devices in our hands or maybe underneath the table?

When we are in the kitchen, or walking around in the house, or at a function, are we spending time on our devices? Or are we connecting with the family members that are in front of us? There are numerous other examples which can be given and I am certain that with each example there will be a hint of agreement from each reader that either us, or someone we know in our own household behaves in this manner.

These are merely some of the signs of our addiction for which we are willing to even cut off ties with our parents, spouses, and children because we are too busy on our phones. The Prophet (peace be upon him) warned us of these precise predicaments, yet we have been unable to heed the warnings. A humble advice to all readers of this article is that right now, from this moment onwards, we must ensure that when we are in the midst of our families, that we do not disconnect with them in our efforts to connect with strangers on our devices, and if the reader of this article can remember this advice during those times, and put away our devices and connect with our families instead, then we can rest assured that we are not of those who are contributing to the signs of the end-times by ignoring the warnings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him. Rather, we can exhale a sigh of relief in the fact that we are of those who have heeded the warnings and have chosen to connect with those close to us for the pleasure of Allāh (Ta’ala).

Shaykh Faheem

Co-Founder and Head of Da’wah, Media, Publications and Eduction Departments

of the Islāmic Lifestyle Solutions

Durban, South Africa

29/06/2020

 

 

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