Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: I have learnt the following hadith: The Prophet said: “None of you will perfect your faith until you leave that which does not concern you.” How do we do that in practical terms?
Answer: In the Name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate
Thank you for your question. May Allah grant you the best of states and guide you to what is pleasing to Him.
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him) said, ‘The excellence of a person’s Islam is his leaving that which does not concern him.’ [Tirmidhi]
What concerns one is that which will be of benefit in his life on earth and his next life. This is why Imam al Shafi’i (may Allah be pleased with him) is stated to have said, ‘Whoever wishes that Allah illuminate him, let him leave that which doesn’t concern him,’ and, ‘Three things will increase your intellect: sitting with the scholars, sitting with righteous people, and leaving off speech that doesn’t concern you.’
In regards the practical application of this when we live in a world of 24 hours news cycles, feeds, notices, and constant messaging etc., the answer is relatively simple: UNPLUG!
In a 24-hour news cycle, the smallest and most insignificant news item gets dissected and regurgitated over and over again. Not only is it a waste of one’s life and energy, but by constantly feeding oneself with news items and images, we are dissociating ourselves from the real world, and exposing ourselves (and our families) to various external influences that one may not be aware of.
Noam Chomsky rightly explains, ‘The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfil this role requires systematic propaganda.” [Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media]
If one needs to keep up with the news, then they should set aside 10 minutes a day to briefly gloss over the newspaper or online news. Read any articles that may be of benefit, and leave off anything that isn’t. One may argue that by not connecting to the news, people become insulated. This is not true. They become free. One does not need to keep up with the events of the world at every hour of the day, not even every week. This only puts people in a state of anticipation and agitation, whether they perceive it or not.
Muslims need to stop being a part of this system and disconnect themselves from it. Instead, we need to connect to the Book of Allah, to the scholars and the righteous, and to the people and communities around us. Muslims need to become literate and read books. The knowledge presented in a good book lasts a lifetime and tells you all you essentially need to know to understand what is going on in the world, because in essence it’s always the same issues, even if the playmakers and names change. The best of books, is of course the Qur’an.
If we really want to have concern for what’s happening to people in the world, once we get the news we need (which is very little and never changes much week to week), then we should send money, food and clothes to those who need it. Rather than watching the news continuously, we should spend that time making earnest du’a to Allah for the relief of those who are suffering or being oppressed. While we read and follow what’s happening in remote parts of the world, our own neighbours or communities could be suffering and going without. This is having true concern, and much more beneficial and effective. And Allah knows best.
Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Away from the Islamic sciences, Jamir is a qualified homeopath and runs a private clinic in Amman.