By Rana Rais Khan – Editor, Hiba Magazine
“And it is He who makes (one) laugh and weep…” (An-Najm 53:43)
Islam is all about human nature. That is why it works in moderation, avoids extremes and takes into consideration the Fitrah (of connectedness to Allah (swt)). This ensures peace and harmony at the societal level rather than serving individual interests popularly known as human rights today. Any trend or inclination that is temporary in nature and may jeopardize people in the long run is never endorsed in Islam. Because it is here to stay till the Hour strikes, Islam is the means through which Allah (swt) has secured mankind’s ultimate success.
How Merciful our Rab (swt) is to have sent us a Prophet (sa), who was purposely granted a tender disposition. Had Muhammad (sa) been harsh, the people around him would have run away and no one would have been able to experience Islam’s true spirit. Our Messenger (sa) also set examples for the Ummah to enjoy their lives in private moments with family or public gatherings with friends. He would race with his wives, swim and wrestle with his companions, allow girls to sing and play the tambourine to announce a Nikah ceremony or to inspire soldiers going to war, joke with the young and the old light-heartedly and have the most smiling countenance. He was playful with little children.
Ibn Umar (rta) was asked: “Did the Companions of the Prophet (sa) laugh?” He replied: “Yes, and the faith in their hearts was like mountains.” It is quite evident that laughter was a part of life even for the pious.
The rule was simple. Whatever was a source of pleasure to Allah (swt) in the name of fun was approved by Muhammad (sa). Therefore he never partook in pleasures that served the Nafs but defied the Shariah. And vice has been around all along. There were people who drank as lords, and liquor was available in abundance. Women were used as an object, and prostitution and adultery was rife. Gambling dens operated for games of chance. Singing and playing of musical instruments was present. Poets wrote poetry of Shirk and celebrated pagan festivals. Very little has really changed in the world of forbidden temptation. The only difference is the medium through which we are accessing it in the 21st century. Unfortunately, the culture of entertainment in general remains as perverse, frivolous and fleeting as ever.
Earlier, physical presence was a condition to be part of frolic. Now we can access everything quickly, freely and cost-effectively through cyberspace. Tragically, in spite of the strides in technology and virtual animation, the content and character of the entertainment world has plunged. Our avenues of entertainment have a direct connection with the social values in which we believe. Since the presence of practicing Muslims is next to non-existent on this front, naturally, we have people with a different set of values who are actively involved in churning out entertainment for us. Then we either endorse it by enjoying it with popcorn or we sit back and criticize it while fuming like a bull. Some boycott it in disgust and anger. But why can’t we fix it or at least, open options for those who wish to have decent and mindful fun? Certainly, Muslims have the means and minds to do it but maybe not many have thought of working in this area.
Muslims will have to work very long and hard, firstly to make valuable contributions and next, to make any impressions at all. This can mean a pleasant and welcome change of out of the box ideas that are pleasing to human nature and yet, decent in their content. The sex and violence filled productions of media and entertainment have killed diversity and creativity to the extent that it feels we have nothing better to offer.
It is sad but true that most of the fun dished out to us is in direct conflict with our basic faith. And we cannot endorse it or accept it for a couple of hours of merrymaking. This is because the impact is far deeper. The obvious and subliminal messages dictate our lifestyle and are a major source of taking us away from Allah (swt). The following are only some of the major issues that arise while indulging in today’s fun:
- 1. Hypocrisy
Adulterating the truth is a very serious sin in Islam. We are commanded to call spade a spade.
- 2. Disrespect for women
Amusingly those who claim to be the champions of women’s liberation abuse her the most. They sell her the false idea that her honour either lies in behaving like a man or using her feminity for immodest show casing.
- 3. Humour
Muslims are required to cautiously pick their subject of humour. It is absolutely forbidden to make fun of our faith in any way and for anyone.
- 4. Ridiculing others
Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “I am not of those who indulge in amusement. Those who indulge in amusement are not of me.” (Bukhari) It is quite clear that turning someone into a laughing stock and disgracing him is not permissible.
- 5. Falsehood in jokes
Allah’s (swt) Messenger (sa) said: “Woe to him who tells things, speaking falsely, to make people laugh thereby. Woe to him! Woe to him!” (Abu Dawood) Prophet Muhammad (sa) had a unique sense of humour. He was truthful even when he joked and that is exactly what he recommended to others. But the comedy that we watch to laugh is hurtful, immoral, and very shallow.
- 6. Addictive
We find occasional incidents of purposeful fun in the lives of our beloved Messenger (sa). That doesn’t mean that it was the centre of his life. Today, music, soap operas, movies, fashion shows, and Facebook can eat up a greater portion of our day. Forsaking them becomes impossible.
- 7. Satanic in nature
As discussed earlier, contemporary entertainment revolves around a disbelieving culture which has been unleashed upon us. Muslims regretfully behave like the sheep which follow their shepherd, not realizing that they cannot become a part of the world where they don’t belong. It is denting identities and fueling insecurities as most Muslims unquestionably accept these satanic forms of fun, and comfortably sponge it up in their lifestyle.
It is not just merrymaking for a couple of hours. It changes their entire perspective of life. They begin to see the world from the eyes of a disbeliever. And hence, when the same Muslims are urged to steer away from the source of this misguidance, they become reactive and skeptical, casting aspersions on those who wish to preserve their identity as a Muslim and help save the Ummah.
Islam is not grim and grey. It will support everything that has a noble purpose, and oppose everything that appeals to the lower base and carnal desires that end up destructing us. As Muslims, we can blaze our own trails. Many have already made successful attempts.
Secondly, are we here in the world only to kill time and leave behind nothing? Even a dried autumn leaf buries itself to form compost for the new sprouting plantation. As responsible Muslims, the lives we lead must surely serve as the most valuable legacy we can leave to those who come after us.
May Allah (swt) guide us all and honour us with eternal glory and enjoyment in the gardens of Eden. Ameen
Are you knee-deep in contemporary entertainment and want out?
The Hadeeth about moving to a favourable climate and away from sins is really the answer which means we throw out all that corrupts us via entertainment: the TV, the friends, the cellular phones, etc. We stop going to malls, for movies, on Facebook, etc. at least for sometime, especially when we are weak and vulnerable and might get hooked back again.
Make Hijrat. Try ‘out of sight, out of mind’ strategy.
Head for those companions and places which support permissible fun. Hunt for new peers and new past times. Be in the company of inspiring and practicing Muslims via YouTube lectures, audio tapes, and live classes.
Basically, clean the closet of all the dust and cobwebs entirely before you re-decorate. You cannot heal if you are besieged with diseases. That is the bottom line. Once you have a greater control over your Nafs, then you can add some stuff back. Slow and steady doesn’t work.