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The devil in mobile phones

Modern information technology has, no doubt, made life in modern times much easier than it was before the advent of Global Satellite of Mobile communication…

Modern information technology has, no doubt, made life in modern times much easier than it was before the advent of Global Satellite of Mobile communication technology. In the analogue years of land line telephones, one needed to be within the reach of telephone set and its cable before a call could be made or received. The debut of mobile phones in 2001 was, nevertheless, a technology that revolutionized the entire life of man on earth; ending the patronage hitherto enjoyed by some wireless communication devices including walkie-talkies and thurayah phones. With the GSM phone, people move around with the world in their pockets, or in handbags in the case of women. 

Many tasks that were previously carried out on bigger immovable machines or devices can be done, today, on mobile phones and within a relatively shorter period. With a mobile phone in your hand, you don’t need to go about with a table calculator to compute any given sums, or a camera to take photographs, or a video-camera to record scenes at an event, or a typewriter to type out letters, or a wall map of the world to know where Russia shares borders with Ukraine, or a fax machine to send wireless messages, or a desk or laptop computer to have access to your email box, or a wall calendar to remind you of dates, or a wall clock (or even wristwatch) to know the time of the day, or a diary to document events as they happen, or a radio set to listen to news, or a cassette player to listen to music, or a photo album for keeping photographs, or electronic games for relaxation purposes. With the storage facility on the mobile phone, one does not need to carry his or her hardcopy of the holy Qur’an because e-copies of the holy Book could be saved on the phone’s memory. These in-built applications certainly ease the performance of several tasks from the tip of our fingers.

Aside of the applications that come with the mobile phone device, several other operations exist on the devices to facilitate communication beyond ethnic, religious and political boundaries. While some of these applications such as Short Message Service (SMS) and Electronic Mail (email) are alternatives to voice call, many of the other communication and interaction platforms collectively make up what is widely referred to as the social media. They include Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, Telegram, Skype, YouTube, Zoom, Tiktok, LinkedIn and Snapchat. 

Social media platforms provide access to a wide range of informative and entertaining materials. However, the devil is not in the huge volumes of the materials but in their dark sides. One would wish some of the social media applications never existed because of how some people have converted them into uses other than those for which they were conceived and produced. Some of the platforms have become ‘battle grounds’ for hate speech, fake news, political thuggery, religious bigotry and other forms of vulgar discourses. It’s no less an understatement to describe the social media as a convenient hub for the fabrication, marketing and dissemination of anything called falsehood. 

Given their nature, social media platforms offer a friendly environment for liars and lies to respectively survive and thrive. Unlike the land line telephones where the destination of every call is determined by the city-code that usually formed the first three digits of a telephone number, the mobile phone numbers which are without city-codes make it easier for people to tell lies. For example, a person making or receiving a call on a GSM handset in Abuja could become a ‘successful liar’ if he tells the person at the other end of the call that he or she is in Kaduna, Lagos, Sokoto or Maiduguri. Of course, the mobile phone device would not indicate the point from which a call is being made or received. To speak or spread falsehood in Islam is haram (forbidden) in Islam. Lies are so detested by Allah that the Prophet (SAW) said the fasting of a Muslim who tells lies would not be accepted. Yet, this remains the most common sin among users of mobile phones.

Some youths standing trial in Ogun State for ritual killing recently confessed to the police that someone posted on a Facebook account that “one can make quick money and get rich by killing and burning the head of the victim”, which led one of them to connive with them to kill his girlfriend. Sadly too, browsers offer mobile phone users free access to pornographic and bomb-making sites. One could search the Google to learn how to commit suicide, burgle houses, or steal cars. The worst evil mobile phone has aided in Nigeria in recent years is the activities of terrorists. While insurgents use it to coordinate attacks, kidnappers use it to bargain for ransom and its collection. 

Except for those who enjoy Allah’s guidance, the unhindered access to unlimited information sources provided by the mobile phone irresistibly gets most users hooked to the device for long hours. There are no assurances that such long hours would be without watching, listening or indulging in something forbidden by Islam. Satan is always by our side to lead us astray. When Prophet Yusuf (AS) was wrongly accused of trespassing into the privacy of his master’s wife, he said (as mentioned in Qur’an 12:53) that “the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil…” Except for those who strictly organize their time, it is typical for the social media to steal from the time people ought to utilize for worship. On a daily basis, many people spend more time with their mobile phones than they spend with Allah during worship. Mobile phone has robbed most of us of the time we should spend in istighfar, recitation of the Qur’an, and dhikr (remembrance of Allah).

If the Prophet (SAW) who, by divine responsibility, was free from sins and sinning would ask Allah for forgiveness, at least, 70 or 100 times daily; asking for forgiveness by a sinful mobile phone generation like ours should even be seen as a duty. May Allah guide us to devote much of our precious time to serving Allah than the mobile phone, amin.

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