Fitna This!

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.ย  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?

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17 Responses to Fitna This!

  1. falakk says:

    My daddy thinks they’re hell phones! But I have persuaded him to buy me one in time for college. ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Ummlayla says:

    I agree 110%. Just because people might drink and drive doesn’t mean cars are evil for example. Young people will use whatever tools you give them to do sneaky things behind your back, IF they get the chance. Like anything else you bring into your home (international calling, cable TV, wireless internet) you have to use it wisely. And this goes for adults too! Just another case of blaming someone else for your lack of parenting skills. My older kids have phones, and they are really helpful… And they know that they have to use them wisely. Thanks to online cell phone company logs they can’t use them in a way I don’t know about. And of course you can block features that you don’t want them using. I can tell you many times when phones can be helpful, even though my kids are young. My husband has health problems… What if the kids were alone with him and something happened? They wouldn’t have to search for his phone because they have their own. Anyway, I do ramble on… You want evil technology??? Try cable TV for kids (have you seen those Disney kids lately???), leave the cell phones out of it!LOL

  3. Lisa says:

    With you all the way on this! I mean I think cell phones are great, you can text the kid to see what time to expect them, if they’re past curfew, and in case of emergencies.

    I don’t need to tell you how many times a murder victim has been recovered because her cell phone was PINGED to that LOCATION, or the number of times a killer has been removed from the streets! Remember the case of the pregnant ex-wife whose ex-cop hubby Bobby Cutts killed her and rolled her into a blanket in front of thei 2 year old? He buried her in a state park, and his phone was pinged to there! And now he’s serving life!

    Instead of whining about this, they should find other things to occupy them! Love you lots.

  4. D.S. says:

    It sounds like the aalima doesn’t have a cell phone herself or else she would see how awesome they are. Everytime technology advances to some degree there are always going to be people who will find some way to misuse it. It’s inevitable, but you can’t punish a whole system for the actions of a few, if that’s the case everything would be haram and we might as well go back to living like the 19th century.

  5. oh my daddy thinks cell phones are my ticket to a life full of all gloom and all insult!
    sickening and rotten!

  6. Specs says:

    Sounds like the kind of stuff my mum gets sold on. Technology making crime easier. Etc Etc.

    She goes on about how internet’s made it easier for people to meet ‘boy friends’ etc but remember when I was in middle school (I live in Pakistan), every girl in my class used to talk to a ‘boy’ on the phone EVERYDAY. They were labelled ‘boy friends’ because that’s what it meant here in the (relatively) good ol’ days and the internet was a rare thing here 10 years ago.

    Technology si how you use it; not how it CAN be used in evil ways.

    Haramster<–LOLZ! *snickers* That was a good one ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Oh, the ones on technology making crime easier are completely scary. There was a news feature about a month ago on how easy it is to steal people’s identity online, and do all kinds of banking fraud. It made me never want to pay a credit card bill online ever again…

      And seriously, which time and age didn’t have issues with inappropriate inter-gender contact? It’s not something new to the 20th and 21st centuries, although it might just be much more widespread. But that’s down to much more than technology!

      ๐Ÿ˜† At least someone got a giggle out of it!

      (Oh, don’t know why, but your and AD’s comments both got marked as spam…I wasn’t ignoring you two earlier when I responded to everyone else down below! ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  7. Yusuf Smith says:

    As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

    A few years ago a girl was rescued from quicksand under the banks of the Thames in London because she was able to phone for help. She could easily have gradually slipped under and never been heard from again if it weren’t for having her phone. I also recently watched a video by a woman who was explaining how she became disabled, and she said that if her phone wasn’t by her bed, she could not have called for help. The bottom line is that they save lives and any technology can be misused. Even without technology, our voices and tongues and even eyes can be misused, as several hadeeth testify (particularly with regard to the tongue).

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  9. realistic bird says:

    Salaam,

    Just like you mentioned it is how you use it that should be the concern of the parents and not its existence. I guess some want the easy way out because teaching your children manners and morals is harder.

  10. Ajla says:

    I also agree with you, 107938584%.

    Though her fear might have come after watching the horror North-Korean movie named “Phone”? ๐Ÿ˜€ *couldn’t help myself*

  11. falakk, ๐Ÿ˜† He’ll change his mind about it being a hell phone once you have it. It’s invaluable during college!

    Umm Layla, I couldn’t agree more with everything you added. There is instant online access to cell phone logs, so only a really lazy parent (or one without regular internet access) would be clueless about his kid’s phone use. The health issue is another reason to never degrade this piece of technology! ๐Ÿ˜† Nooo, I have not seen Disney for kids lately, but if that Hannah Montana is any indication…

    Lisa, I didn’t know about that case. That is horrifyingly scary! I completely didn’t think of the criminal angle. Thanks for that example.

    D.S., For real re: “might as well go back to the 19th century.” I’m not sure how she can not just imagine how awesome they are, even if she doesn’t have one. I mean, my mom, even before we had cell phones and they were mega-popular, kept saying we should all have one, and my mother is someone who sees the good and bad in new technology pretty easily.

    Yusuf Smith, Thanks for some more great examples! Excellent point re: “Even without technology, our voices and tongues and even eyes can be misused, as several hadeeth testify (particularly with regard to the tongue).” Technology is definitely not the end-all be-all on the path of misdeeds!

    realistic bird, Yes, it is harder to teach responsibility; it’s also difficult to accept that sometimes, even when kids might be taught very well, they may make mistakes. That’s part of the learning process of life, and only complete insulation in a vacuum chamber will prevent those mistakes from occasionally happening.

    Ajla, ๐Ÿ˜† nooo, I don’t think she watches movies! I can’t even imagine her reaction to horror movie ๐Ÿ˜€

    • realistic bird says:

      Indeed, well we are imperfect beings we will make mistakes no matter what but a mistake done by someone who has morals gives him/her more room to correct it and remain on the straight path rather than a person with no morals who may not even notice he/she did a mistake.

      About these fitna everything people I think a survey should be done to see how many phones and TVs they have and if they have their own TV shows no? ๐Ÿ˜†

  12. Tim says:

    Although I work in quite a techie environment, I am quite often a technophobe for all sorts of different reasons.

    Hearing one of my lamentations, my Qur’an teacher reminded me, “The nafs that walks the street is the same nafs that surfs the net.”

    It is the nafs that must be tamed, more than the technology.

    • Tim, welcome ๐Ÿ™‚ There are definitely times when one has to be a bit of a Luddite. I’m usually the last to adopt any particular technology, and there many times when I do see the need to toss out a great deal of the technology I’ve bothered to adopt.

      That is such a great quote from your Qur’an teacher. Do you mind if I add it to my Favorite Quotes page?

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