Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Jamadiul-Akhir / Rajab 1423 H
September 2002
Volume 15-09 No:189

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Muslim Perspectives


Look, Who's Online.....


Look, Who's Online.....

The communication revolution has reduced the distance between the family members who are separated by the geographical boundaries because of economic reasons. Muslim families are now getting habituated to the use of the web cam and instant Messenger services, observes M. Hanif Lakdawala

One concern is that nuclear family life is being disrupted and communication within families is withering due to the proliferation of communication via the Internet. This is an issue with which every nation that has been exposed to the Internet, en masse, has been compelled to wrestle.

But the communication revolution has also reduced the distance between the family members who are separated by the geographical boundaries because of economic reasons. Now the distances, are not so painful thanks to the web cam and instant communication through instant Messenger services.

Webcams and short messaging system (SMS) have given a new dimension to long distance relationship. This new technology has made life easier and worth living for hundreds of expatriate workers who not only see their friends, but also communicate with their families.

Hassan Khan and Kishwar have been married for 10 years now. Three years ago, Hassan moved to Mumbai, while Kiswar,a school teacher in a New Delhi School stayed behind. "Kishwar did not want to move, so she didn't,'' says Hassan nonchalantly. "The decision was painful no doubt, but we were at ease considering the fact that we can see each other and communicate with each other through webcam and Messenger,'' he adds.

As sociologist Susan Vishwanathan points out, "Separation has always been part of marriage, for example the Gulf wives of Kerala or even the army couples. Only the forms of bonding that organise them differ.'' In case of these urban couples, e-mails, mobiles, communicating through web cam and Messenger services, in itself, has made distance a minor negotiable detail".

Sazia, elder daughter of Hassan was very disturbed to see her father moving to Mumbai. "I remember as a child, whenever my father would come home, my mother with her comforting and calm presence would give him tea. I wonder what that would be like. Most of the time, one comes home to oneself,'' she says, almost wistfully. "But I console myself that at least I am able to see my dad through digital web cam and chat with him everyday. That gives me peace", she said.

Ibrahim, a pharma dealer married her daughter Yasmin, four years back to a mechanical engineer based in USA. Ibrahim missed his daughter terribly, but felt the pain that as a father he could not show her the affection she deserved because of the distance. But last year, Yasmin visited India and gifted the web cam to her parents. "Now I see her each day through the web cam and feel she is now with me. She is now so near to me despite the distance between us," he said.

Munira underwent a nervous breakdown two years ago as her husband left her for the Gulf, after making the first visit in three years. She was totally broke until last year when she could see her husband Rahim through digital camera in a cyber café and chat with him to her heart's content." "Gradually I recovered and became my normal self. No doubt, the pain of separation is still there but its intensity is much less thanks to the information revolution which allows me to see and speak with my husband", she said.

Sabira Sarathia was very worried when her daughter Gazala left for New York three years back to study medicine. "She was alone there and I was disturbed by the fact. Now I speak to her through Internet telephony every day and also coach her to cook through web cam in her kitchen. Also during her holidays, we keep the web cam open throughout the day and get the feeling that we are living in the same flat, said Sabira. Psychologist Uday Mehta concurring, opines that the modern tools of communication have reduced the pain and agony associated with the long distance relationship be it husband-wife, mother-daughter or between two sisters." Previously due to the exorbitant ISD rates, even the telephone communication between separated relations was rare. Now a whole lot of alternative communication devises are available. "This gives the sense of security to the separated individuals and a feeling of closeness" he said. Zarina Shah, 56, visits the cyber café near her house and chats with her only son who left with his family for the Canada. Age is no barrier to her. "Initially I was very hesitant to go to a cyber café and learn how to chat and operate a webcam. But the excitement of seeing my only son helps me overcome the hesitation. With the help of the attendant at the cyber café now I can communicate with my son everyday," said Zarina.

Same is the case of Ayub Chappra, 64, a timber merchant. A visit to the cyber café is part of the daily routine. His two sons have migrated to Chicago to set up business there. Anxious and worried about their well being in a foreign country and also to know the progress of the new business, Ayub was coached by his married daughter to operate the Internet and communicate with his sons. "Now I have become proficient in the use of the Net. I am planning to buy the computer so that I can monitor the progress of the business of my sons and also help them with suggestions," he said.

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News| Community Roundup | View from the Other Side | Editorial| Readers Comments| Investigation|
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