DUBAI - Preferring to specify more time to prayers and reciting the Noble Qur'an, many Muslims are choosing to abstain from social media website as Facebook and Twitter during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
"I wanted to make sure this Ramadan I had no distractions whatsoever, Saud Inam, a Muslim based in Atlanta, US, was quoted as saying by Al Arabiya website on Monday, July 15.I'm reducing things in Ramadan that don't have to do with religion. I felt I should concentrate more on introspection and reflecting on my spiritual stateâ¦ sometimes Facebook and social media can be information overload.
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, started in the US on Tuesday, July 9.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
Fasting is meant to teach Muslims patience, self-control and spirituality, and time during the holy month is dedicated for getting closer to Allah though prayers, reading the Noble Qur'an and good deeds.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur'an.
Many men perform i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), spending the last 10 days of the month exclusively in the mosque.
Like Inam, Dawud Walid, a Detroit-based Islamic preacher, said he plans to reduce the number of tweets he writes in observance of Ramadan.
He said those who love social media but are observing Ramadan should take the hours they would otherwise be logging on to Twitter and put them toward reading the Qur'an.
"Those are the easier parts of the fast," Walid told the Huffington Post.
Social media at times lends itself to gossiping and vain talk, so avoiding gossiping and vain talk are the inward spiritual secrets within the fast.
It's not simply the outward but also it's the inward restraint and discipline that needs to be shown from those matters that take us away from spiritual purification."
Some Muslims, however, find social media website as an opportunity to share Qur'an quotes or good material about the holy month.
I would rather use it [social media] to my benefit however it suits me, but it should not stop me from fulfilling my religious obligations such as reading the Qur'an and performing Taraweeh prayers, etcetera, Abdul Ghani Hindi, professor of religious and social affairs at Al Azhar University in Egypt, told Al Arabiya.
The professor added that there were no specific Islamic guidelines over use of social media over Ramadan.
Yet, many Muslims like to perform an I'tikaf [a religious retreat], where they stay at a mosque and even retreat from their jobs and daily duties, he said.
Hussein Rashid, an Islamic professor at Hofstra University, is one of many Muslims used social media platforms to tweet religious posts and verses of the Noble Qur'an.
Rashid estimated that he has tweeted between 35 and 40 percent of the holy book to his 3,113 followers over the past three years.
"For me, it's very much a living text that living people are to be engaging with and making meaning of, Rashid told the online publication.
To trend Ramadan across the platform, Rashid encourages people to hashtag #ttquran, which stands for tweet the Koran.
Hindi agreed, seeing social media as offering Muslims a wider platform for religious teachings.
Preaching platforms are no longer contained inside the mosques, or within gatherings. There are â¦ virtual platforms on social media and we must keep up with the civilized discourse, he added.
With around 60 million active Facebook and Twitter accounts in the Arab world, according to the Arab Social Media Report, many Muslims were using virtual platforms to voice their thoughts during Ramadan.During last year's Ramadan, social media activity in the Arab world rose by at least 30 percent, The Online Project (TOP) Social Media in Ramadan' report said.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net