How Technological Advancements are Ruining Our Relationship with God
Silence is a necessary ingredient of spirituality which technology can rob us of; without silence not only do our minds fall into chaos, but so does our relationship with God.
Muslims are aware of the importance of prayer, fasting and helping the poor. These are essential ingredients for establishing a relationship with God. Prayer is the way of communicating with God, and fasting is a way to disciplining the soul so as to make it more receptive to the divine. As Muslims, we must give alms to the poor and fulfill a number of obligations. Yet there is one practice that we tend to forget; the entrance into silence as a way of rediscovering our being and deepening our experience of God.
Technological advancements come at a price; they have introduced perpetual and overwhelming noise into our lives in a way that was not imaginable before. Just over a century ago, most families basked in silence as part of their daily experience. When it would turn dark, families would get together in front of a fire, eat with their families, read and pray. As the sun would go down, so would the noise. Silence was an important means through which people connected with God. It may be said that one of the reasons why people are less religious today is because silence has become a rare commodity.
We can still experience silence by turning off our TVs, iPads and laptops as well as putting our phones on silent. By allowing brief periods of silence, it can allow everyone in the family to experience the voice of God. Just by refraining from conversation, music and all kinds of entertainment just for an hour a day can have tremendous effects.
Silence is the means through which we can deepen our relationship with God. The Buddhists realized long ago that silence was a means they could connect with the transcendent and develop self-knowledge. Self-knowledge in the Islamic tradition is a prerequisite for knowing God – as Imam al-Sadiq (as) once said: whoever knows himself has known God. Silence not only allows us to live harmoniously with ourselves, but it allows us to live harmoniously with the world as it is an invitation to calming our thoughts.