There is a popular quote that says that everything will work again if you just unplug it. Including you.
We are at an age where a large number of us are permanently plugged into something; a smart device, social media networks, videos, games, etc. We can argue that there are benefits for us in these things, but we can’t also overlook the harm that they can possibly bring to us, especially when it comes to our faith.
Psychologists have debated extensively about the harmful side effects of being constantly ‘plugged in’. But one aspect that we may not readily focus on is the impact it has on our relationship with Allah (ta’ala)
Meditation in Islam
The story of the beginning of the revelation of the Qur’an is never complete except they tell you how Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) came to be in the cave of Hira where Angel Jibril came to meet him.
The Prophet (ﷺ) was known to withdraw to the cave at different times to ponder. He would take enough provision and leave his family to stay in the cave for certain amount of time. This seclusion allowed him to ‘unplug’ from the world and everything it contains, to focus on his own soul.
This is a task that every Muslim should be able to practice in their lives. We should be able to step away from everything once in awhile to give our soul the chance to breathe by itself and ponder on the purpose of our lives.
If you’re constantly plugged to something or somewhere, it may be difficult for you to carve out time to read or memorize the Qur’an, to read hadith, and assess yourself to see if you are living as a Muslim should.
So what do we do? How do we keep up with everything around us and still be able to connect with our faith?
Limit Where You Hang Out
This is not the part where I tell you to become an anti-fun hermit that reads the Qur’an for 24 hours. But if you want to make time to reconnect with your heart, you need to first take stock of everything that currently occupies your heart.
If you are on every social media network available online, that means that you will spend more time flipping through apps than the person that is on just one or two networks. And the more networks you are checking out on a daily basis, the less time you have for ibadah.
Set a Daily Routine
During the lifetime of the sahabahs, there were people known for their recitation of the Qur’an in the early hours of fajr. It was such a common occurrence that people would refer to the hours after fajr as the hours of the reciters.
These people who woke up every morning to recite the Qur’an before or after fajr came to be known because they built this habit. They read the Qur’an every day, at the same time, till it became a part of them and they got used to it.
If we want to build a habit of unplugging to ponder on our faith and our purpose in life, we need to build habits that will help is achieve this. You can’t say that you want to sit by yourself and ponder every day before fajr if it is difficult for you to wake up for fajr in the first place.
And we cannot expect to have times of personal reflection if we haven’t made a conscious effort to make meditation part of our lives.
Looking at the Prophet (ﷺ), we will see that this is something that he did on a regular basis. He didn’t just happen to be in the cave that day because his favorite social media network was down. The habit of withdrawing to ponder is something that he had been doing deliberately.
If you’re wondering how to start to build a habit of pondering, consider these suggestions:
- Select a time of the day that will be distraction-free time for you. The early hours of the morning are best, but if 10 minutes at night time is all you can manage, it is still good for your soul.
- Select a spot for your withdrawal times. It can be a little corner in your house, or it can be the Masjid down the street. The significance of having a dedicated space is that your brain learns that this space is for meditation only, and if you allow yourself, you’ll get used to it and attach that place to your pondering sessions.
- Leave the gadget out of your meditation space. There is no point in secluding yourself to ponder if you are checking your phone’s notifications every few minutes. Your mind will not be quieted if you’re constantly being distracted by gadgets. To ensure that you fully unplug, leave your gadgets somewhere else before you move to your private space of pondering
- Focus on a task at once so that you don’t get bored or tired easily. If your time to ponder is all about sitting down to reflect on the mercies of Allah (ta’ala), focus on this and don’t use that period to also watch motivational lectures on YouTube.
Engage in A Lot of Dhikr
A tongue that is moistened by the remembrance of Allah (ta’ala) belongs to a heart that remembers Him often. If we want to build a habit of unplugging ourselves from the noise of this world to focus on our soul, our tongues should be moistened with the praises of our Creator.
Many of us find ourselves drifting away from our faith because we have let other things take its place. We have given all our attention to the activities in our lives, such that we don’t have the time to unplug and recharge.
One thing we should always remember as Muslims though, is the fact that our only purpose in life is to worship Allah (ta’ala). And that time is a precious gift that we should strive not to misuse. These two things should encourage us to step back, unplug ourselves from the hustle and bustle of life, and ponder on life in such a way that it helps us stay true to our purpose.