Analyzing what deters you from Allah is a lifelong and personal struggle.
My high school friends told me about Facebook. Since all of them had an account, I decided to create one myself although I was very nonchalant about my account. I had never displayed my pictures on social sites and told myself that I would not display my pictures on Facebook. But then everybody I knew had their pictures on. So, I started uploading pictures, and before I knew it, I had a million pictures of mine there.
What happened next was that brothers I knew started adding me. I was reluctant in the beginning, but a voice inside me told me to grow up and that it was no big deal. The first comment I got was from a brother I studied with – “Nice picture, Maryam.” What did he mean by that? I asked myself. Was he being chummy? Honestly speaking, I felt so bad when he wrote that comment on my wall, but then a voice inside my heart told me not to overreact and to show some manners so I thanked him.
I don’t know what happened next, but I started following the dunya. The values I stood up for and walked with became obsolete to me. My compromises turned into huge sacrifices. I became so desensitized and immune to the haram that was happening. I forgot that there was a God out there watching me, and I forgot that I was supposed to emulate the best of mankind- RasulAllah salla Allahu ‘alayhi wasallam. Random people would message me asking me for friend requests; they said I was “pretty” and they wanted to be friends with me. I even got some proposals on Facebook- can you believe it! And there were lists of stalkers who kept sending me stupid messages and songs on YouTube through fake accounts in my inbox.
Later, when I had pulled back a bit from Facebook, I stopped interacting with a lot of brothers there because a verse from the Quran kept spinning in my head:
I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. [51:56]
When I woke up from my stupor, I realized that I had become some other Maryam I never wanted to be. I had so many friends, but I was never happy because none of them reminded me of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. None of them ever told me that displaying my pictures like that or chatting with random people was wrong and against the sunnah. Shaytan loves spreading promiscuity and hates modesty, and somehow I had chosen to follow him instead of following Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Prophet Muhammed salla Allahu alayhi wasallam said:
Modesty is part of faith and faith is in paradise, but obscenity is part of hardness of heart and hardness of heart is in hell. (Ahmad, Tirmidhi)
I had faith, and I was a monotheist. But where was my hayaa, and where were my priorities? I had become a slave of my desires. Islam came to guide man, and here I was in the shackles of my own desires, other people, and the media. Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, has said:
“Have you seen him who takes his own lust (vain desires) as his ilah (god)?” [45:23]
In light of this verse, Imam Al-Ghazali said:
“Those who follow their own passions do not conform to monotheism, because anyone who follows his own passions makes them the object of his worship. The monotheist is he who sees nothing but the One God and only turns his face to Him.”
I removed all my pictures and changed the privacy settings of my account, but I still felt that my soul was filthy. My heart was hard. Even the Quran failed to penetrate my heart and didn’t make me cry anymore. I had everything I wanted, but something inside me was dying. It was my Iman. My Iman was suffocating.
I realized that the only way to purify my nafs was to leave things that distracted me. True, Facebook had its advantages, but for me, it was like alcohol; its detriment was greater than its benefit. So I decided to give it up for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. For months I struggled with my decision. It was hard saying goodbye to everyone, but I told them that I would be available by email if they needed me, and I requested them to remove, crop, or blur my pictures from Facebook because a voice inside me said, Maryam your face is precious and only for your hubby to see. Yes, I struggled, and it was hard: I gave up so many things which I feared would not benefit me in the Hereafter. I am still in the process of purifying my heart and always will be inshaAllah because it’s a lifelong struggle. Sometimes, things we do seem good to us, but they slowly poison our Iman.
Sheikh Reda Bedier said: “Watch the little things; a small leak will sink a great ship.”
You see, sometimes, we have our feet in two separate boats, one which has the flag of our desires on it and the other which says, “I love you, Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala.” It’s sad how we juggle between what’s necessary and what’s not and prefer what our heart desires over what our Khaliq wants us to do. Ustaad Khurram Murad said:
“Your Qalb (heart) cannot be compartmentalized. You cannot dedicate one piece of it to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and another to some other god, like wealth, status, career, spouse and so on. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is One, Indivisible and wants the human being to be undivided in service to Him. So long as our heart lies in a hundred places, so long as our eyes are set in a hundred directions, so long as we have many loyalties, we shall never be able to achieve that condition of ‘holding onto Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala’.”
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has said:
“O you who believe! Enter into Islam whole heartedly without any reservation.” [2: 208]
I want you to know, that if I can do it, then you can too. If you have anything in your heart that perturbs you greatly and it gives you sleepless nights, ask yourself one question: “Am I prepared for my death, my akhirah?” Truth is, nothing in life is guaranteed but death. After deleting my Facebook account and saying goodbye to it for good inshaAllah, I have so much faith in Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that He will give me a better platform to do dawah, one that will not distract me inshaAllah.
I pray that each and every one of us succeeds in becoming a believing, steadfast servant for Allah’s sake. May Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, enable us to be amongst those who purify themselves and help us differentiate between right and wrong, Ameen.