The Devil in Cell Phones

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Modern information technology has undoubtedly made life in modern times much easier than it was before the advent of Global Satellite of Mobile communication technology. In the analog years of landline phones, you had to be within range of the phone and its cable before a call could be made or received. The launch of cell phones in 2001 was nevertheless a technology that revolutionized all human life on earth; ending the patronage previously enjoyed by certain wireless communication devices, including walkie-talkies and Thurayah phones. With the GSM phone, people travel with the world in their pockets, or in handbags in the case of women.

Many tasks that were previously performed on larger machines or stationary devices can now be performed on mobile phones and in a relatively shorter time. With a mobile phone in hand, you don’t need to travel around with a table calculator to calculate given sums, or a camera to take photos, or a video camera to record scenes at an event, or a typewriter to type letters, or a wall map of the world to find out where Russia shares its borders with Ukraine, or a fax machine to send wireless messages, or a desktop or laptop computer to access your email inbox, or a wall calendar to remind you of dates, or a wall clock (or even a wristwatch) to keep track of the time of day, or a diary to document events as they happen. they happen, or a radio to listen to the news, or a cassette player to listen to music, or a photo album to keep photographs or electronic games for relaxation. With the storage facility on the mobile phone, one need not carry his hard copy of the Holy Quran because electronic copies of the Holy Book could be saved on the phone memory. These built-in apps certainly make it easy to perform multiple tasks at your fingertips.

Apart from the applications that come with the mobile phone device, several other operations exist on the devices to facilitate communication across ethnic, religious, and political boundaries. While some of these applications such as short message service (SMS) and electronic mail (e-mail) are alternatives to voice calls, many other communication and interaction platforms collectively constitute what the commonly referred to as 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 material. However, the devil is not in the huge volumes of the materials but in their dark sides. One wishes some of the social media apps never existed due to the way some people have converted them for purposes other than what they were designed and produced for. Some of these platforms have become “battlegrounds” for hate speech, fake news, political brutality, religious bigotry and other forms of vulgar speech. It’s no less of an understatement to describe social media as a convenient hub for manufacturing, marketing and spreading all the so-called lies.

Given their nature, social media platforms provide a friendly environment for liars and lies to respectively survive and thrive. Unlike landlines where the destination of each call is determined by the city code which usually forms the first three digits of a phone number, mobile phone numbers without a city code make it easier for people to lie. For example, a person making or receiving a call on a GSM handset in Abuja could become a “successful liar” if they tell the person on the other end of the call that they are in Kaduna, Lagos, Sokoto or Maiduguri. Of course, the mobile telephony device would not indicate the point from which a call is made or received. Telling or spreading lies in Islam is haram (prohibited) in Islam. Lies are so hated by Allah that the Prophet (SAW) said that the fasting of a Muslim who tells lies would not be accepted. Yet, it remains the most common sin among mobile phone users.

Some youths on trial in Ogun State for ritual murder recently confessed to police that someone had posted on a Facebook account that “you can make quick money and get rich by killing and burning the head of the victim”, which led to one of them colluding with them to kill his girlfriend. Unfortunately also, browsers give cellphone users free access to porn sites and bomb-making. One could google how to kill oneself, rob houses, or steal cars. The worst evil that mobile phone has helped in Nigeria in recent years is the activities of terrorists. While insurgents use it to coordinate attacks, kidnappers use it to negotiate ransom and collect it.

Except for those who appreciate the guidance of Allah, the unhindered access to unlimited sources of information provided by the mobile phone makes most users irresistibly hooked to the device for long hours. There is no guarantee that such long hours would be without watching, listening or engaging in anything prohibited by Islam. Satan is always on our side to lead us astray. When Prophet Yusuf (as) was wrongly accused of intruding into the intimacy of his master’s wife, he said (as mentioned in Quran 12:53) that “the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil…” Except for those who strictly organize their time, it is common for social media to steal the time people should be using for worship. On a daily basis, many people spend more time with their mobile phone than they spend with Allah during worship. The mobile phone has robbed most of us of the time we should be spending on istighfar, Quran recitation and dhikr (remembrance of Allah).

If the Prophet (SAW) who by divine responsibility was free from sins and sins, asked Allah for forgiveness, at least 70 or 100 times a day; asking for forgiveness from a sinful cell phone generation like ours should even be considered a duty. May Allah guide us to devote much of our precious time to the service of Allah rather than mobile phone, amin.

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