What’s up with the issuing of fatwas over every newest fad and technology to emerge? I remember sitting in a lecture being given by an ‘aalima (religiously educated woman), and she said something about Hell Phone. Since I don’t speak Urdu, those were the only two words I picked up, and after the lecture was over, I asked one of my friends if I really heard those words, and what the heck was she talking about?
Apparently, the woman was talking about cell phones, and all the funky ways young people do all sorts of haraam activity with them, and so you should take your kids’ phones away from them as soon as you get back home. Now, I understand that this is a bit of a problem, a very real, very legitimate problem among young adults of today. There is definitely a need to stress the importance of morals, and the Islamic definition of morality, to growing minds and hearts. But, seriously, calling the cell phone a hell phone is not the way to address that situation. Allow me to illustrate a few ways in which a cell phone is really a God-send, arguments that your own child will certainly use on you when look at his phone the wrong way:
- Cell phones are a brilliant tool for parents to keep in constant touch with their kids. Yes, now you call your kid during lunch, while she’s blushingly pulling out her peanut-butter-&-jelly sandwich in the middle of all the cooler kids who are buying their lunches from the vending machines and what-not…and you can embarrass her by talking really loud so that every kid within 15 feet will hear you asking, “Sweetie, have you eaten your lunch yet? Don’t forget to call me before you leave from school so I know you’re safe!” Sure, your poor kid will feel like it is indeed a Hell Phone at that point, but you and I know better: You’re pretty happy making life miserable for the dear with the very phone she begged for!
- Additionally, if you’ve ever been in a car accident during rush hour and the guy who hit you is behaving like a completely petulant child, then you know how nice it is to be able to call the police to the scene (so they can write up the accident report) from the comfort of your own vehicle, rather than walking down the street to find a pay phone. If I had to search for a pay phone, in that kind of situation, then I’d be thinking the pay phone is the Hell Phone.
- Lastly, cell phones now have awesome browsing, GPS, and of course photo-snapping abilities! When I’m in Barnes & Noble, trying to decide if I should buy a book there, or see if Amazon has it cheaper, believe me, my cell phone does not feel like a Hell Phone. Perhaps, to the bookstore, if they come up on the losing end of that query, they’ll think it’s a Hell Phone, but me? I’m sitting pretty. When I’m lost someplace, how absolutely spectacular is it that I can power up my phone’s GPS and get pretty rocking directions? Heavenly delicious! And then there are the times when I’m completely bored, or totally inspired, and don’t have my real camera on me…but hey look! Cell phone to the rescue, because this baby has 3 mega-pixels worth of power, and is actually worth taking pictures with! Hell Phone? I don’t think so.
These are just a few examples to illustrate the absolute silliness of an admittedly catchy label. Believe me, your child will come up with more and better reasons for the term Hell Phone to never cross your mind ever again. So, you might want to discuss potential inappropriate behavior and the reasons behind those behaviors if you really want to help your young adult become a responsible human being.
I realize this type of labeling is not a new trend; such lazy cleverness has been ongoing ever since at least the invention of the television. The TV, while now old-fashioned, still occasionally gets the label FitnaBox, and Shaytan Tube. Another common thing emerging is renaming FaceBook to FitnaBook. I’ll bet Twitter is going to become something like Haramster (I’m not good at coming up with these things, as you can tell!).
When are we going to get it that the technology is not the problem, it’s how you use it that leads to potential problems? Everything has a good side to equal it’s bad side. Pretending like the technology is the root of all ills is just crazy, makes the religious class sound crazy, and encourages apathy towards really examining our moral compasses. On the one hand, the labels are kind of catchy-sounding…on the other hand, they really annoy me with the lack of intellectual depth that comes with using terms like Hell Phone, and FitnaTube. It smacks of fear-mongering, and haven’t we all had rather enough of that?