It's not avoiding food or even the drink I'm worried about this Ramadan. Fasting from these, the core of what the Ramadan experience is about, is hard but Alhamdu lillah doable. What I'm really worried about is email and Facebook.
Ramadan is a time to focus on the bigger things in life and to remember our higher purpose as Muslims: to worship God.
Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said "Ramadan has come to you. (It is) a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with blessing, for He sends down Mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers. In it, Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived in (this month) of the mercy of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted" (Tabarani).
I invite you to join me in taking the Ramadan 2009 Fast from Technology Challenge. Here's how it works: participants do not check email, Facebook or any other similar type of technology except if related to employment or absolute necessity from dawn to sunset daily.
If you're someone who already does this, then up the ante and limit it further: check Facebook once a week, for example, and send email just once a day. The whole point is to make the most of Ramadan by taking time away from what has often been one of the biggest time wasters known to human beings: modern technology.
While email and social networks are an excellent way to connect cheaply and quickly with far flung family, friends and business contacts, many of us spend too much time on them, to the detriment of everything else. We cannot live in line with our purpose if we are posting status update upon status update on Facebook, uploading hundreds of photos monthly to our accounts, sending inane jokes and comments via email and other posts, taking silly quizzes or playing several rounds of online Scrabble. We are wasting our time and we are wasting our life.
In Ramadan, there is no time to shoot the proverbial breeze. Squeezing in even Tarawih prayers can be hard with work, school and home responsibilities. To make this blessed month the high spiritual time it must be, let us start by freeing up those precious moments we all need to be more contemplative, conscientious and focused.
Let us fast from email, Facebook, MySpace and every other distraction that takes us away from Allah and deceptively pulls us towards what is temporary and fleeting - just for Ramadan. Let us not be like the person described in the above-mentioned Hadith - "the unfortunate one" deprived of Allah's Mercy and blessings, simply because we may have been too busy chatting online, posting witty comments or SuperPoking