Back in middle school, I bought a teach-yourself-HTML-in-X-days book and created my own live website – all it had on there was a picture of the Houston Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. In college I tried to start some “Islamic” websites, posting up excerpts from books as articles. This eventually evolved into blogging. I started/stopped at least 5-6 blogs (including a failed T-shirt business) before finally joining on at MuslimMatters.org in early 2007.
As I began blogging more, my exposure to social media naturally increased. I had signed up for a Facebook account (this was back when you could only join if you were currently a college student with a .edu email address), but never really used it. Everyone I knew was on it, so I started using it. Then came Twitter, Instagram, and all the other platforms we have now. As I’ve learned these platforms, I’ve also worked with a number of Islamic institutions to help develop and execute their social media strategies (such as Bayyinah, Qalam Institute, and MuslimMatters).
Alhamdulillah, I’ve been blessed to have 3 kids. I grew up in a house where my dad wouldn’t let me get a Nintendo or any other game system – but I always had access to a computer (this was a big deal in the 80s). It’s fascinated me how my children have figured out how to work an iPhone, iPad, Netflix, and games – all before even learning how to talk. It’s freaky, but as quickly as things change, we have to get a handle on how to adapt with the times.
It’s become a trend at Islamic conferences and MSA events to have some kind of a social media talk. As I’ve gone through recordings of some of them, I started to notice that the same few points were being hammered home. What was missing though was a larger discussion of how social media affects our lives. How it affects friendship, how our addiction to our phones impacts us, and how we raise our kids. There also seems to be some kind of “Muslim issue” flare up on social media every few months as well. While these issues have always been there, social media has put a huge magnifying lens on a lot of things and we haven’t figured out how to deal with it properly.
The goal of this project is to create a resource that addresses all these types of issues in detail. It’s not so much fiqh – but a practical faith-based approach for our community that will hopefully provide relevant solutions to the problems we face. I’m hoping insha’Allah it can become a book along with a collection of resources to provide a comprehensive reference.
We need a resource that helps us successfully navigate this new culture we live in. For the first time in history, we have an abundance of friendships and relationships with people we have never met. We have a generation of ‘digital natives’ growing up that have never seen a world without a smartphone or social media. We must adapt to the rapid changes around us – and the best way of doing that is falling back on the timeless principles from our own faith tradition and learn how to practically apply them in this era.
The best way to follow this project is by subscribing to the email list below. This is where the detailed content will be sent out. It will not be posted on the website. I don’t want another blog and all the hassle that comes with it. I’d rather share what I’m doing with a group of people who are actually interested in this type of material and get more effective feedback via email.