what they like. What they think of me. Facebook feeds the preoccupation with others’ assessment of
me. Soon, I enter the orbit of the creation. Inside that orbit, my definitions, my pain, my happiness, my
self-worth, my success and my failure is determined by the creation. When I live in that orbit, I rise
and fall with the creation. When the people are happy with me, I’m up. When they’re not, I fall. Where
I stand is defined by people. I’m like a prisoner because I have given up the keys to my happiness,
sadness, fulfillment, and disappointment to the people to hold.
Once I enter and live in the orbit of the creation—rather than the orbit of God—I begin to use that
currency. See, the currency of God’s orbit is: His pleasure or His displeasure, His reward or His
punishment. But, the currency of the orbit of creation is: the praise and criticism of people. So, as I
enter deeper and deeper into that orbit, I covet more and more of its currency, and I fear more and
more of its loss. While I’m playing Monopoly, for example, I covet more and more of its currency.
And it feels great to be ‘rich’ for a moment. But when the game is over, what can I buy in the Real
world with Monopoly money?
The human currency of praise is Monopoly money. It feels great for a moment to collect, but when the
game is over, it’s worthless. In the Reality of this life and the next, it’s worthless. And yet, I even
covet this false currency in my worship. In this way, I fall victim to the hidden shirk: Riyaa (showing
off in worship). Riyaa is a consequence of living in the orbit of the creation. The deeper and deeper I
enter into that orbit, the more I become consumed with gaining human praise, approval and
recognition. The more I enter that orbit, the more I fear loss—loss of face, loss of status, loss of
praise, loss of approval.
Yet the more I fear the people, the more I become enslaved. True freedom only comes when I let go of
the fear of anything and anyone other than God.
In a profound hadith (Prophetic teaching), a man came to the Prophet and said: “O Messenger
of God, direct me to an act, which if I do, God will love me and people will love me.” He
said: “Detach yourself from the world, and God will love you. Detach yourself from what is with the
people, and the people will love you.” [Ibn Majah]
Ironically, the less we chase after the approval and love of the people, the more we gain it. The less
needy we are of others, the more people are drawn to us and seek our company. This hadith teaches
us a profound Truth. Only by breaking out of the orbit of the creation, can we succeed with both God
So while Facebook is indeed a powerful tool, let it be a tool of your freedom—not a tool of your
servitude to yourself and the assessment of others.