We all have a presence—whether in the real or virtual world. But the question is whether we are a positive or negative presence? Do we in a particular space, have the positive spirit that should accompany that space? Do we give each moment its due? When a friend asks for our company, do we show up but distracted. Maybe we are on our phones checking our social media pages. We make no eye contact. We are there but not really there. We might not think of being distracted as harmful to those around us , but it really is because it tells those around us that they are of no value to us . It sends the message that they’re a company unworthy of our attention . Another situation, maybe we are in a lecture hall in the midst of a very important lecture but we’re busy on social media , while the train of information passes us by. For what? For a social status about what friends are doing for fun, which restaurants they’re eating at or what they ordered. What if the lecturer notices that we were fiddling with our phones and asked us to leave, what have we gained from coming to the lecture in the first place? Nothing. Our presence was unnecessary. It was a negative presence.
To be in the moment, and to be in the spirit of the moment is kind of like following a dress code . Would we ever go to an important business meeting in shorts, t’shirt and flip-flops? Equally would we go to an important business meeting unprepared? No. In appearance , words and spirit we should be in agreement with the space we are in, for only then can we say that we really were a positive and beneficial presence. The Prophet (Salah Allah Alayhe Wa Salam) said, “The believer is like rain, wherever he goes he brings goodness.” So, if you can’t be the rain that brings goodness, then don’t be otherwise.
Let’s take another example from the time of the Prophet (Salah Allah Alayhe Wa Salam) before the Battle of Tabuk, when Muslims were asked to contribute to this battle. Some afforded a lot and others very little. A group of hypocrite onlookers attempted to find fault with people’s contributions , as Allah showcases in the following verse,
“Those who criticize the contributors among the believers concerning their charities and criticize the ones who find nothing to spend except their effort, so they ridicule them– Allah will ridicule them, and they will have a painful punishment.” (Qur’an 9:79)
These hypocrites at a critical historical point chose to have a negative presence. The choice was theirs and they chose to be thus. What about us, and our presence in this life/ in this world? Are we here to worship Allah, obey Him, and be kind to others? Or are we here to deny the presence of our Creator and oppress others? We all have to choose which of these two presences we want to have. Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) in the Qur’an says,
“Indeed, We have warned you of a near punishment on the day when a man will observe what his hands have put forth and the disbelieve I will say, ‘oh, I wish that I would dust!” (Qur’an 78:40)