I would like to start off by admitting that the title of this post is a bit misleading. Social media is a broad term encompassing different social networks and websites. For instance, I still have my Tumblr and Twitter accounts and a few other social media applications that I seldom use and maintain. For the purpose of this post when I say ‘social media’, I really mean Instagram; the social media platform and account I was most active on.
Up until recently, I had zero intentions of writing a blog post about this personal decision I made several months ago to permanently delete my personal Instagram account. It was one of those things I wanted to keep to myself and explain to just my closest family and friends because it felt truer and more authentic for me to do so. Writing about it felt like I would be betraying my intentions and one of the strong reasons I decided to leave Instagram.
However, I’ve been sounding a lot like a broken record by repeating the same half answer to what is now a common question I receive from both friends and strangers alike that knew me on Instagram.
I recall a time I was at a small family gathering and a stranger questioned why I left Instagram. She went on about how she benefitted from some of the content I shared and it was a shame I was no longer on there. She even mentioned it was not too late for me to rejoin the social media platform. A few weeks earlier, I had also received a surprising phone call from an acquaintance online who mentioned she was checking up on me and wanted to know If I was doing okay because she had not seen me active for some months, and wanted to know if I was only taking one of my hiatus social media breaks and would be returning soon.
Most recently, at one of my hair appointments I ran into an old acquaintance and she also inquired about my reasons for leaving Instagram. At that point I was quite exasperated but I told her the same thing I told everyone…’I left for multiple reasons but the most important reason was for my peace of mind.’ She nodded in understanding.
Today I’ve decided to share the full reason of why I quit my most active social media account and how it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life so far.
If you’d like to take a break to go grab something to bite or drink, or would like to settle into a more comfortable reading position, this is a good time to do so. As always I’m going to keep it 100% real with you guys and open my heart and mind to you.
Reason One: ‘I left instagram to cover and protect my awrah and not form part of the growing number of people propagating the wrong ‘Hijab’ online’.
The awrah for those who don’t know simply refers to the parts of the human body that must be covered by clothing according to Islam. The awrah of a woman is different from the awrah of a man, and I am not going to delve deeper into this topic as it is a matter to be discussed at length in another post In Sha Allah.
Now, ensuring the appropriate covering of my awrah and the observance of the correct ‘hijab’ was something I deeply struggled with. I’d like to clarify that my struggle with the hijab is not the struggle where I ever once contemplated removing the hijab. Far from it; I absolutely love my hijab. I’m a proud hijabi and my hijab makes me feel incredibly empowered and beautiful. My personal struggle with the hijab lies more from the fact that I knew I could do better. I was highly aware of my mistakes and shortcomings and I often struggled to marry my actions, with my level of faith alongside the knowledge I’ve been blessed to acquire.
As many of us can testify, our knowledge of what we know to be right or wrong doesn’t always stop us from doing the wrong things. Some people attempt to justify their wrongs or try to hide under their perceived weaknesses or mention the fact that they are the flawed creation of Adam and that to err is to be human. I, on the other hand, do not do very well with excuses…it eats up at me, especially when the excuse doesn’t satisfy my conscience. If I’m doing something that I know to be wrong or is not good enough, best believe it will bother me every second of the day and will eat my peace of mind until I correct my ways and do what I know in my heart and believe to be the right thing.
The hijab…as beautiful, simple and clear as its revelations and rulings are, it still remains a controversial topic both within the muslim and non-muslim community. My opinion about the hijab, especially the one that is observed correctly is something I see as one of the truest acts of worship and sincere expressions of love to Allah. I believe that no man or woman should judge, dictate or impose another woman to observe the hijab simply because it’s an unequivocal ruling of Allah. Indeed as a true muslim, If Allah instructs us do something, we bow and submit immediately and without question or doubt. However, it is also important to recall that there is no compulsion in Islam and everyone’s journey to Allah is different. We are all misguided and Allah is the only One who guides. The observance of the hijab is a deeply personal act of worship because it stems from pure love and submission to Allah and it requires one to truly forfeit the desires and rewards of this life for the next and to gain the pleasure of Allah.
My hijab journey started in 2014 when I was 17 years old and it’s something I struggled with for the past 8 years. The day I made the decision to observe the hijab I never once looked back. However, I made several mistakes with it and more importantly I strived to correct it. If you were an observant or ardent follower of my personal instagram account you would have witnessed my hijab transformation from the outfits and pictures I posted. Similarly, you may have read some of my most vulnerable Instagram posts on this same issue and how transparent I was with my community.
The plain truth is that social media made it harder for me to correct my hijab. When you see a lot of people doing things or observing the hijab the incorrect way that you do, you start to accept and believe it’s the right thing or that it’s okay. Even though I had a headscarf covering my hair and chest, there were instances where I betrayed the whole concept of the hijab by wearing tight clothing, or not covering my awrah properly by wearing three-quarter, lacey and transparent sleeves or abayas that cinched the waist in the right areas to give your body a flattering silhouette. I wore make up which enhanced my looks at mixed gatherings, I started to beautify and wear accessories and jewellery that I never used to wear before, I wore sandals and heels that exposed my feet, which are all a part of the woman’s awrah and ought to be covered. Deep in my soul I felt the impact of my sins because it left a huge unrest and void in my heart.
I was not happy for the longest time because I wasn’t ready to address the issue and would instead try to justify the continuation of my inadequate actions by hiding under the guise of being an unapologetic muslim woman who wanted to serve as a positive role model to the younger sisters on the deen, by showing them that they are a prized creation of Allah and they can be just as fashionable and beautiful covered and they don’t have to conform to the west’s standards of beauty and fashion. Although my intentions were good, I poorly executed them in my actions.
I’m a firm believer of the notion that if you are capable of doing something, then you are capable of doing it very well. I knew I wasn’t observing the correct hijab or protecting my awrah. When I spoke to a few people about my struggles, it wasn’t good enough for me to hear them say to me that I was at least still ‘covering’ and they would try to cite the examples of muslim women who weren’t even wearing the hijab or seemingly appeared to be observing the hijab more incorrectly than me. It was a low bar to set for myself, the bar I set for myself is the example of Maryam (AS) who Allah praised in the Quran for her modesty and chastity. I want to be counted and cited as an example among the most excellent of women. Of course I know I can never reach that level of perfection as Maryam (AS) but I will sleep better at night knowing that I tried my very best to be and I did not make excuses or was satisfied with observing the bare minimum.
Reason Two: I left Instagram to observe Haya
Haya is one of the virtues that is highly praised in islam and it means the ‘natural or inherent, shyness and a sense of modesty‘.
Some of you may agree or disagree with me when I say we currently leave in a pretentious and narcissistic world. The greater population of the world are all seeking ways to display, promote and show off their achievements, their accolades, their beauty, their wealth, their power, their family, their celebrations, their blessings…their everything so far as it something that can be captured in a picture, a video or with words and shared with the world online. What’s that word everyone is saying now…you have to ‘flex’ what you have? Do you really?
I’ve always been someone who preferred to be away from the limelight and I do not say this to sound conceited or to put myself on a high pedestal; it’s simply just how Allah created me. The few times I wilfully chose to be the centre of attention were the periods I dabbled in drama as a high-school student as a form of self expression and something I challenged myself to do, to help overcome my timidity and stage fright. I’m genuinely someone I feel won’t cope very well if I had a lot of fame and popularity. The idea of having millions of followers is a nightmare to me and if I’m being completely honest with myself, I perhaps sometimes undermine myself when it comes to the goals I set for myself because attaining remarkable success and being known for them scares me. The popularity or notoriety that often comes with succeeding greatly at something or being at the forefront of something sends knots in my stomach. If there’s a way one can achieve groundbreaking success at something they love without anyone knowing, I would be at the forefront of that queue and will happily camp on that path.
As a shy individual that also desperately needs a creative outlet, I learned the hard way that I was channeling my creativity through the wrong channel i.e through instagram by curating an aesthetic feed, creative reels, scouting locations and taking picturesque photos of myself, sharing bits and pieces of my life and the food and drinks I enjoyed, dressing myself in new clothing all under the guise of lifestyle and modest fashion influencing when instead I was just promoting vanity and stroking my ego and letting people learn about the most recent things I’ve acquired and experiences I’ve had. I did not like it and I was not proud of it.
While I was active on social media, I learnt I was observing less and less ayah and indulging vanity and grandiosity. It all just needed to stop for me.
Reason Three: I left Instagram in order not to become discontent, greedy and wasteful.
Social media revalidated to me that if we are not intentional or careful about the things we consume with our eyes and ears, we risk changing and becoming a version of ourselves that we would no longer recognise as time passes.
I’ve always valued a simplistic and minimal lifestyle and admire people that adopt this lifestyle. For example, If I were to purchase new items of clothing, I would always ensure to give out the older clothing because I do not like clutter or like the idea of accumulating so much physical items or like the headache that comes with being faced with having so many options.
Whatever I’ve been blessed with by Allah, be it something as small as a grain of rice to eat or something great as a sound health, I desire contentment above all. I grew up in a humble household and even though I had some friends whose families were blessed with generational wealth; they had mansions abroad and fleets of exotic cars, I never once felt like I lacked anything. I might desire one or two things every now and then but I was content and grateful for all that I had.
I managed to feel grateful and content for the most part of my life up until I became very active on social media. If I was ever greedy about something in the past it would have been my unquenchable thirst for knowledge. I read so much as a child and all through my teenage years and up until my young adult years and I can tell you it was never enough. I would always want to read more and acquire new knowledge. There was no such thing as having too many books for me; I dreamt of owning an extensive library in my home.
However, when I became active on social media I started becoming more and more discontent with what I had. I became more greedy for worldly items and ultimately became more wasteful. I’ll never forget the day I opened my wardrobe and saw the amount of perfumes staring back at me. As much as I like to think of myself as a fragrance connoisseur, I never at any point in my life had more than 3 bottles sitting on my shelf. That day, I counted 13 bottles of perfume that I had opened; I still had a few brand new ones that I hadn’t used and stored away. I felt sick to my stomach and almost could not recognise who I was at that moment. It became very clear how I turned into that wasteful person. On my instagram account, I used to share unsolicited reviews of perfumes that I loved or encountered. I remember whenever I passed by a fragrance store and would see a new perfume, I would think ‘oh it would be nice to purchase this and make a review about it on instagram’…as opposed to before I would only purchase a perfume because I needed it or loved it very much. It all just came back to me creating content for people to consume and perhaps even influence decisions based on my recommendation.
I was disgusted. Where is that woman that valued living a simplistic and minimalist life and was content with having just enough. I was splurging and wasting money on things I didn’t need. Did I really need a 5th, 8th or 10th bottle of perfume? I could have put that money to better use even if I could well afford them. I would purchase new outfits not because I needed new items of clothing but because I felt it would make a killer outfit when I style them together and post on social media. This was not who I am. The fact that I was quite good at creating content or the fact one could make a honest living or extra income from content creation and social media influencing does not mean I had to follow suit. Being an influencer or a content creator was not really the path I wanted for myself. Guys if there’s a trend people are hopping on, first check yourself and evaluate if the thing is in line with your values or goals. Do not follow the crowd or do it simply because you want to or are good at it. The fact that more and more people and coming out with their own business does not mean you have to set up your own business. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. The fact that more and more people are registering their own NGOs and non-profits, does not mean you also have too. Humanitarian work is not for everyone. The fact that more and more people are becoming life-coaches, motivational speakers and building their own online courses, publishing books does not mean you also have to follow suit. Search within you and only chase the goals that are in line with your values and dreams.
With the help of social media I started comparing my lives with others…I see girls my age buying their own house, cars, taking exotic trips and receiving awards on this and that and I started invalidating my own successes. The only person you should ever compare your life with is the person you were yesterday. Period.
Alhamdulilah for the gift of self-introspection including the ability to remain honest with myself and to be able to identify our mistakes and correct them. Had it not been for these, I don’t know who I would have become today but I’m certain it’s not someone I would have been proud of.
Reason Four: I left Social Media to attain more Barakah with my time.
Social media was a major distraction and time waster. I remember I would habitually wake up from bed and the first thing I do is to log on my Instagram and check for new updates. Moments in-between work, I find myself refreshing my social media account. Any moment I had to myself I would find myself scrolling endlessly on Instagram. I was embarrassed by my phone’s screen time.
I had to remember the verses of Surah al-Asr, where Allah said:
‘By Time, Indeed mankind is in loss, except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.’Surah Al-Asr, 103, Al Quran
I was already loosing time, why then should I further waste my time on such trivial things.
Time I could spend in developing myself as an individual. Time I could spend to enrich myself. Time I could use to spend quality time with my family and friends. Instead, I used my precious time to pass time on social media, I would spend my valuable time to scout pretty locations to take pictures, or to edit my pictures to fit my aesthetic. I wasted time taking pictures of myself that won’t add an atoms weight of good deed on my scale on the day of judgement. I needed to wake up from the autopilot I was cruising on.
Our time is limited on this earth and I wanted to spend it doing more useful and impactful work. I needed to recalibrate my mind to stop it from reminding me to check my Instagram and to instead have my brain send me reminders to read my Quran or to perform dhikr or to just do something that is valuable with the time I’ve been blessed with.
Reason Five: I left Instagram to not become complacent or encourage the wrongdoings of my family, friends, peers or followers.
Social media affords people a window into their lives. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen some companions and friends backing it up at the club, drinking alcohol, gossiping in the dms, or sharing stories of their escapades at night. My family and friends all know my values and what I stand for and against. Regardless, I feel a burden of responsibility to advice them when I see or come across any wrong acts they may be doing.
The truth is I don’t advise them enough because I hate to be that preacher friend. The only thing I’ll say in this regard is if you have friends who whenever you remind them of something or advice them to do good, they become very defensive, make you feel like you are judging them or they think you are too serious or extreme, then you need to consider new friends. People shouldn’t be comfortable to sin around you. As muslims we are taught to enjoin what is good, advise and correct people privately and in the best of manners, while affording them their full respect.
I started becoming more fearful of the day when everyone would turn against each other and I didn’t want a family, friend, companion or follower to speak against me on judgement day and say but you saw me do this and this but you said nothing and didn’t correct me or you withheld the truth. Instead you encouraged me by keeping quiet or laughing along and commenting under my posts and private stories.
By being away from Instagram, I’m no longer privy to what is going on in peoples private lives or witnessing any one transgressing themselves and Allah’s boundaries, thereby reducing the burden I would usually feel.
Reason Six: I left Instagram to maintain my privacy.
If anyone in this world knows me, then they must have learnt one thing, which is I value my privacy a whole lot.
At the peak of my social media use, I remember I would often feel prompted to share things about myself with others. I felt I had to create content and engage my followers or risk disconnection with my audience and have people lose interest and unfollow my account. I knew I was doing something against my value because majority of the times that I shared something personal about myself, I would feel a pang of regret and would delete the post almost immediately or some days later.
For example a few months after I gave birth, I shared a post with my baby bump and my maternity shoot pictures on Instagram and I remember regretting it so much not long after. The truth is no one really cares about me or my family and what is going on in my life but the news of having a baby is common news that is shared on social media. A part of me felt like it was wrong to hide the fact that I was a mother and it’s essential information for people to know. I know none of this makes complete sense but I felt bad. I kept telling myself you are no Beyonce, or any better than mothers who shared their babies pictures online. Why are you trying so hard to be secretive? I wasn’t trying to hide or be secretive about anything. I’m a proud mother and I just value my privacy, including my baby and family’s privacy. I try to limit and control the amount of information that I release to the public about myself and my loved ones.
After I shared and deleted my maternity photoshoot picture, I stopped sharing personal information about myself. I remember I would just caption my posts with some philosophical words or beneficial reminders. I wasn’t very pleased with this either, because one thing about me is I value authenticity and real connections and I don’t like sharing superficial things or doing things just for the sake of it. I remember I would often get teased for being such a serious individual and it took me a while to accept and love me for who I am. Yes, I’m intense and not everyone’s cup of tea and it’s okay…I don’t have to share myself with everyone and more importantly not everyone will understand me and that’s okay. The few people that do understand and appreciate me are the ones who matter and the relationships I must protect. The only exception to my privacy is my blog, which is my safe haven. It’s the only place I own where I feel free and love to be open about pretty much anything without any regrets. My blog isn’t meant for everyone. A few people have mentioned to me that my posts are too long but that’s not my problem if one doesn’t have the mental capacity to focus on one thing for a period of time or have the patience to read my long musings but the people who do are those that are welcomed and are special to me.
With the absence of Instagram, I’ve come to value intimate and personal dates and gatherings where we share and create beautiful memories by spending quality time together and these memories are much more valuable to me than just a friend commenting exaggerated words to stroke my ego or send fire emojis and lovestruck eyes in the comment section of a post.
Reason Seven: I left Instagram to practice and actualise self love and respect.
As someone who grew up with a lot of insecurities and didn’t grow up hearing much vocal expressions of love and acceptance, I relied a lot on others to help fill my tank of love. I sought external validation and what this ultimately led to was that the amount of love and respect I afforded myself was directly tied to the love and respect I received from others. You can only imagine how detrimental this was to me. Whenever I received love on my posts, I felt loved and my tank became a bit fuller. Whenever I received criticism and hate from anyone, I felt that towards myself and my love tank would deplete. Whenever I did not post or share anything and as a result, I wasn’t receiving any love from the outside, I also felt the emptiness of love.
I did not embody or practice true self love. Quite frankly one of the biggest acts of self love I’ve shown myself was to quit social media because as much as it was an incredible platform that introduced me to so many wonderful people that I’m lucky today to call a friend, mentor or a companion, it was also detrimental to me in several ways.
I made the tough decision to delete my instagram account because I loved myself enough to let go of what wasn’t serving me well. I made the right decision and did what was best for me and I pray I will always continue to do what’s best for me no matter how tough it may be. I’m not going to lie to you, the decision to leave instagram was very tough. I literally had withdrawal symptoms and was miserable for the next couple of days because I was so addicted to the app. When I no longer had my account, it felt like what am I going to do with all this time now? I had to become more adventurous and creative and made conscious decisions to fill my time with activities that will enhance the love and respect I had for my humble creation.
Today, I still have access to a few instagram accounts that I manage; such as my blog account to notify people of new posts (that we all know aren’t frequent) and other beneficial things, my book club and the halal foodie account where I leave reviews of halal restaurants I visit occasionally. All of these accounts have very tailored and purposeful uses and I rarely use them for anything beyond those uses.
Today I’ve never been more at peace with my soul and I’m happy that I’m free from the noise of social media.
If you currently share some of the struggles that led me to quit Social Media, I’m here to let you know that you don’t have to go cold turkey like I did. You can if you want to and may Allah make it easy for you and make you content with the decision and reward you abundantly for it. However, an alternative option is for you to take frequent breaks from social media, to have fixed time windows within which you log on to Instagram and to be very intentional about the use of your account. Unfollow all the accounts that don’t serve you, or cause you to become envious or malicious towards others and be cautious and deliberate with the things you choose to consume with your eyes and ears; they all have an impact in our lives.
That’s all I have for you guys today, and hopefully with this post no one will ask me again in the future why I chose to delete my instagram.
In Sha Allah until next time,
12 thoughts on “7 Reasons Why I ‘Left’ Social Media”
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May Allah bless you and us all and help us to make and take decisions that are beneficial for our Duniya and Akhirah, Amin.
Maa shaa Allah, this is so beautiful.
This was me just yesterday attempting to delete my personal instagram account cause of very similar reasons, I just couldn’t answer the question of what good it was doing to my growth to becoming a better muslimah. Like you said, it takes some deep reflection, total submission to the words and will of Allah to be able to take this bold step,
May Allah make it easy for us, may He count it as one of the acts we did solely to please Him and find His favour. On the day of judgement, May we be remembered by righteous companies who would ask about us and affirm that indeed we used to be together in gatherings that sought Allahs pleasure 🙏🏽
I really enjoyed reading this and I also learned, my mind got explored here. One thing I would definitely miss from your Personal page is how you post Mobeen Hakim quotes with other very interesting quotes.
In this blog you said “The only person you should ever compare your life with is the person you were yesterday” , I feel like when you have a role model (a genuine and true one) you would have a instinct motivation to try to be like them or imitate them.
This type of comparison is allowed right
The Iranian female protesters will need to read this write up of yours It is service to Allah to be modest , be a private person , be chaste, wear the hijab if you can and fellow the Islamic teachings. Have this in mind it is not a service to society or aid to western civilization . Chasisty, modesty, privacy of self and proper covering of self , is a duty to self and most importantly duty to Allah.
May Allah ( SWT) bless you abundantly and exceedingly.
Ya rabb! Just this morning I was still thinking about how I have been trying to observe the hijab but I always end up not doing it, and I prayed to Allah to please make it easy for me, reading this now is like Allah swt is showing me exactly why I should start 🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺. Jazakalahu airan for sharing
Thank you for being so authentic as always! I enjoyed reading this and I agree with your points. I’ve also been taking social media breaks which have been so beneficial!
Wow! I just read through this post and it was so refreshing! I totally agree with all your points. I’ve also been taking breaks off social media because it can be such a waste of time amongst other things. In this season, I’m focusing on protecting my peace so I don’t need that extra distraction from social media. I just decided to check for some Black Friday deals which is why I stumbled across your post on Instagram. Thank you for being so authentically you! Love you
God bless you ! Thank God I don’t even have personal account ! Jazakallah khairan
All I have to say is 👏👏👏👏👏👏