When we compare reality with the fantasy world of entertainment, our real lives seem as different from reel life as chalk from cheese. The real life seems like drudgery with hours of work, stress, miscommunication, boredom, unfulfilled desires, broken dreams, restlessness, fearsome futures, etc. Thus, it is no wonder that we are too happy to escape into the virtual realm of fun. It grants us solace, merriment and whatever the heart desires, at least for a couple of hours, just as opium helps us forget the lows of life.
Ekta Kapoor, an Indian drama serial producer, states: “People want to have a sense of belonging. This comes with close family relationships. Because the familial connections are fast deteriorating, they feel a vacuum, which is then filled by the myriad of soaps on air. Each and every one of the audience can relate to a particular character in it and hence, imagines it to be his/her story.”
Similarly, the lyrics and the melodies of music are the unsaid expressions of many individuals, who feel this is their only means of communication and self-expression. With the justice and merit system crumbling worldwide, we love watching on-screen heroes setting the world in order. Consequently, sermons on morality and modesty are as welcome as a skunk at a lawn party.
It is important to remember that Islam does not espouse a morbid outlook. Instead, it offers plentiful opportunities to have purposeful fun without having to escape reality. The problem begins when we use the wrong lens to view our own arenas of entertainment. A globalized idea of enjoyment has been generally enforced, which is in direct conflict with our faith. The point to be understood here is that our Deen has no room for immodesty or frivolity, no matter how trendy and acceptable it becomes. We are concerned if a source of entertainment is detrimental to the social values of the world and not just to the Ummah.
As practicing Muslims, we can stay well within our turfs and be romantic, excited, thrilled and humorous. Our Prophet (sa) was as human as anyone can be. We need to learn from the Sunnah. The real challenge is to improve the real life that we lead so we do not have to frequently disappear into an imaginative den or draw happiness by pretending to look and become someone we are not.
Putting up a constabulary will not prevent unchecked leisure. We will have to set our relations right with Allah (swt), and learn to like ourselves and others the way we are. The nature of globalized fun is extreme whether it is celebrity following, self-projection through the social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, or the mall and cineplex culture of consumerism. It becomes the centre of life instead of being a part of life.
Entertainment should be pleasing to nature, and nature (Fitrah) is always pure. Only fleas thrive on filth and spread diseases. In stark contrast, bees seek sweet nectar that heals and drips pure ecstasy. The more we shop for Fatawas to legalize or to advocate the forbidden, the more we are likely to invite Allah’s (swt) wrath upon us.
In a world where 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty and 16,000 children die of hunger daily (one child every five seconds), how can we justify spending USD1.5 million on making a Bollywood film and USD47.7 million on a Hollywood movie?
Rekha Shetty, corporate doctor and acclaimed writer of “Innovate Happily”, talks about screen time. Her top happiness mantra is: “Too much TV is ‘tele-visham’ (tele poison). Too much stimulation, a mind space crowded by fantasy, people and events, distracts you from focusing on your own mind space, your home, your backyard. Whereas service to others makes the blood flow with serotonins – the happiness chemical.” This is another idea for purposeful fun.
Muslims will have to actively participate in creating fresh and innovative ideas for fun. For far too long, we have left it to those who are, for the most part, unguided and wandering. They may be good people with pure designs, but they are attempting to raise a structure on a crumbled foundation that will eventually fall. This is why we see sports plagued with gambling, talk shows with slander, movies with nudity, and so on.
Muslims are not monkeys. We don’t just do what we see others doing. Instead, we question the promos and cons, and submit only to reality. This issue of Hiba is an attempt to highlight the ideas and efforts of a few such Muslims who have blazed a new trail. May Allah (swt) inspire more to come forward with original and Shariah-friendly ideas. Ameen.