There was once a time when Muslim scientists and inventors were ahead of their counterparts, in the European Middle Ages. Amongst some of these were Abu Nasr Al Farabi, Ibn Sina, Al Battani, and Ibn Al Haytham. Making astounding contributions in astronomy, scientific experimentation, medicine and mathematics, they laid the very foundations on which modern-day theories and practices are thriving. But in present times, how many people do we come across, who actually know these Muslim inventors and the contributions that they made? The answer is very few!
The first verse revealed in the Quran urges people to seek knowledge:
“Recite in the name of your Lord who created.”
(Surah Al-Alaq, 96:1)
The verse not only highlights the importance of reading but also elevates the standing of knowledge and urges its pursuit. Sadly, despite such clear commandments pertaining to seeking knowledge, we as an ummah or nation, struggle to come out of our little bubbles.
Expanding the Bounds of Knowledge
Over time, some Muslims have mistakenly equated a narrow definition of knowledge to only include religious knowledge. Amongst this group, this manifests itself in a range of activities which includes a refusal to gain skills in the area and even a fear of exposure.
It is important that we understand how modern advancements play an inevitable role in our day to day lives, before we choose to become blindsided and focus only on the cons, whether it is for our ownselves or for our children.
Many systems we depend on - like education, entertainment and even healthcare - are increasingly dependent upon artificial intelligence (AI). And AI is greatly reliant on data collection. So whether we like it or not, we are involuntarily partaking in the process - when doing online shopping, visiting the doctor, or tuning into our favourite channels (Satellite, YouTube or podcasts), we are giving away data in some form or the other. And, this is how our preferences are being monitored and registered.
Keeping Up with Technological Trends
Our lives are imminently revolving around machines and although that is not entirely the best thing, we cannot isolate facts from the realities. Understanding the significance and role of modern-day advancements is imperative so we can leverage the benefits and mitigate potential harms.
Here are some ways we can keep abreast and stay up-to-date with the latest technological advancements.
1. Read tech blogs.
Blogs are a quick way to gather useful information. Reading them help you work your way up to evaluating likely pros and cons. Also, since they tend to be more like personal reviews, one can easily identify ongoing trends - just to be aware.
2. Follow tech thought leaders on social media.
Social media, by far, has become the major source of getting information into the hands of people. Again, right or wrong is not what we want to get into at this point, but it definitely makes it a whole lot easier to follow up on trends. It also lets you in on how well the trends are resonating, in general, based on personal engagement such as likes, shares, tweets and mentions. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter allow you to follow both famous and infamous tech editors, CEOs, and fast-growing startups. You can choose to turn on your notifications and receive updates on new publishings to be in the zone.
3. Join tech forums.
These forums serve as an excellent place to give you detailed insights into where the tech community is headed. It takes a while to get familiar with the tech slang, but once you become a regular, you'll start enjoying it. Plus, there is always the option of choosing whether you want to look into hard-core tech-specific forums or the more generalized ones such as Quora or Reddit.
4. Attend tech events.
Technology can be fun and exciting to interact with for short periods of time but overwhelming, especially as we grow older. However, It might be helpful to attend tech events such as expos, conventions and conferences, once in a while to help familiarize yourself and stay up-to-date with what's happening in the tech world. You could even make it a family fun event (if it allows), otherwise you could always bring a partner along.
5. Listen to podcasts.
If you need to gain insights on latest tech developments focusing on niche segments, tuning in to podcasts can be highly beneficial. Plus, its quick and easy access, too. You can choose to follow as many podcasts as you like across your favourite platforms such as Spotify or Stitcher. All in all, it is a great way to keep up with technological trends.
6. Learn IT language and skills from your children.
Especially if your kids are nearing their teens, this might be your best bet as parents! Not only can learning from our children help to bridge the generational gap, but also serve as a great conversation starter in terms of getting to know what kind of interests they hold and what kind of activities they are into socially. Moreover, it would be nice if you sign up for a contest or some tech courses together. Gaining insights through our children can help us look at things from a different perspective and be sensitive towards their needs, as well.
Remember, keeping up with technological advancements does not necessarily mean you have to pursue all the latest trends, but it is always useful to keep up with what is happening around you. And of course use it to your advantage to get that extra edge over your professional, financial, and personal life. However, it is also important to stay cautious and educate yourself on how to identify potential areas of risk and threats.
Managing your Children’s Interaction with Technology
Most parents agree that when children become immersed in the digital realm, they struggle to develop relationships in the real world. And without these necessary human interactions and social bonds, our children are unable to develop holistically in terms of their physical, social, emotional and personal skills. And, this is particularly dangerous for children who are still very young and making sense of the world that they live in.
This is why it is becoming increasingly important to teach our children how to differentiate between human interactions and technology based on artificial intelligence. Here are some of the most crucial steps we need to take in order to help our children adopt technology in a safer pursuit.
1. Educate your children.
We need to instill the importance of responsible behavior, in our children from an early age through our own behaviors. Without proper guidance, children can easily fall prey to the dangers of technology. These include cyber scams, criminals, and exposure to other inappropriate ethical and moral conduct and content. And this is precisely why we need to stay one step ahead of our children, so we can protect them and help them differentiate between right from wrong.
Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:
I asked the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him: "Who is the most excellent among the Muslims?" He said, "One from whose tongue and hands the other Muslims are secure."
(Bukhari and Muslim)
2. Model good tech use.
Model, model, and model. Spending hours on gadgets and devices won’t help. Our children seek validation from us and that does not necessarily come through verbally. Children are smart and they pick on behaviors and deem them acceptable or unacceptable based on what they see. Therefore, it is very important that we model good use of technology and establish healthy boundaries and rules, which apply to adults and children alike.
3. Be wary.
Know the risks of exposing your children to technology and take necessary precautions. Here is a detailed article to guide you on how to manage online safety for your children.
Umm Ahmed is an early childhood educator and mother of three boys. Always on the quest to learn, she is passionate about seeking knowledge and passing it on to others. A writer in the making, she draws inspiration through deep conversations, laws of nature, and her own children. She and her family are currently living in Abu Dhabi, UAE.