Have you ever stopped to look at a tall tree? How it began from only a small seed and then became a tall tree that gives fruits? Have you looked at the sun sits in the sky? How it reflects light on the moon in such a perfected measure? Look at yourself in the mirror, ever take a minute to look at how you were perfectly shaped? How you have two eyes, one nose, and lips?
The reality is that most people do not take time to reflect. Rather, they walk with their heads down focused only on the immediate moment. There are signs of God all around us, but most people turn away. And there are many signs in the heavens and the earth that they pass by and give no heed to (Qur’ān 12:105) We live in a time when people are constantly distracted with electronics and rarely give themselves a moment to reflect. Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, and other forms of media are all competing for your attention. It is easy to get caught in this web and breaking free becomes challenging and feels impossible.
However, this keeps one away from being present. It keeps one away from being in touch with themselves, their feelings, their family, and what is most important. What is it that most people look for when they keep themselves distracted? They may be looking to numb their feelings of fear, anxiety, worry, concern, and stress. They think that electronics provide real happiness, but we all know it does not.
Islam calls for a balanced life and an orientation toward what is most important. During the five daily prayers it is prohibited to talk, communicate with others, eat, or look around. The prayer forces Muslims to disconnect with everything that is worldly and reconnect with God and the hereafter. It gives Muslims a break from the hustle and bustle of life and allows them to spiritually breathe. It is through the remembrance of God that hearts find a sense of peace and tranquility. Those who have faith and whose hearts find peace in the remembrance of God – truly it is in the remembrance of God that hearts find peace (Qur’ān 13:28).
Interestingly, the Qur’ān constantly speaks of “remembering” God. Remembering implies that we already know and are simply being reminded. Humans were created with a natural disposition to know God. This knowledge of God is embedded in the human soul. When we become distracted, God calls us to reflect: Have they not reflected within themselves? (Qur’ān 30:8). We all yearn for a sense of connection that brings solace, and that connection can only be found with our eternal Creator, not a temporary or fleeting thing. This is because we are naturally dispositioned to long for things that are eternal, we want to be forever young, forever healthy, forever beautiful, and forever wealthy. That is why Satan tempted Adam and Eve by promising them eternal life if they ate from the tree.
It is when our inner faculties are aware and are met with these distractions and temporary nature of this world that something great can happen. These distractions can become an insight into our reality. Realizing that we will all leave this world and return to God allows us the opportunity to break free. O Mankind be mindful of your Lord and fear a day when no parent will take the place of their child, nor a child take the place of their parent, in any way. God’s promise is true, so do not let the present life delude you, nor let the Deceiver delude you about God (Qur’ān 31:33).
So back to the original question, what are people escaping from? Why are we constantly distracting ourselves with gadgets? We are scared of taking a step back and acknowledging that we are here temporarily, that everything will wither away, and that what ultimately matters is our hereafter. If we do that, then we have to come to terms with the fact that the joys and entertainment we experience in this life will not last forever. This does not mean that one needs to be completely disconnected from this world, but one needs to ensure that they break free from worldly distractions to connect with God. His signs are all around us, calling us to reflect and remember him. It is essential to try and live in the moment, reflect on ourselves, and on our Most Compassionate Creator, Allah.