By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com
We Muslims in particular seem to be a nation of extremes. On the one hand we have our stricter brethren who tell us that it’s haram to have fun, and that even laughing is disliked. On the other end we have plenty of young people whose main interests seem to be Facebook, clubbing, and “hanging out”. Not to mention our corrupt “kings” and “princesses” who own private planes stocked with French wines, and spend millions at the blackjack tables in Monaco.
We need a balance. Our Ummah is convulsing, and these are times when every Muslim must be dedicated to da’wah and jihad (by which I do not mean violence, but the constant struggle for spiritual improvement and social reform).
At the same time, for those of us who do take our deen (Islamic way of life) seriously, not everything we do has to be about worshiping (in the devotional sense of the word) or helping people. Nor does it all have to be work and earning money for our families. It’s okay to have hobbies, to have fun, to relax now and then in halal ways. Ali ibn Al-Khattab (ra) said, “The believer’s time has three periods: the period when he is in communion with Allah, the period when he manages for his livelihood, and the period when he is free to enjoy what is lawful and pleasant. And the last part is a tonic and refreshing for the other parts.”
If our work itself is also enjoyable and fun, then ma-sha-Allah, we are blessed with the best of both worlds.
The Prophet (sws) and Entertainment
Once Abu Bakr (ra) came to visit his daughter, Aishah (ra), the Prophet’s wife. He found two maids singing. He told them off and reproached his daughter, saying: “Is Satan’s trumpet to be heard in the Prophet’s house?” The Prophet (sws), who was reclining on a sofa, revealed his face and said to him: “Leave them alone, Abu Bakr, for these are Eid days.” The Hadith mentions that this took place at the time of Eid Al-Adha, when pilgrims perform their Haj rituals.
Another time a delegation from Abyssinia came to see the Prophet (pbuh) and pledge their loyalty to him. These were some of those who adopted Islam as a result of the da’wah done by the Muslims who emigrated there. The Abyssinians wanted to entertain the Prophet with a show of their folk dancing. This took place in the mosque, with Aishah watching from her position behind the Prophet, placing her head on his shoulder.
Can you imagine that happening now? People would be horrified and would accuse the masjid of blasphemy.
On another occasion, the Prophet was informed by his wife that she attended an Ansari woman’s wedding. He asked her: “What entertainment did you have? The Ansar enjoy a bit of entertainment.” Aishah indicated that there was none and the Prophet said that they should have had some singing. He even suggested the words to sing.
There were several occasions when the Prophet either suggested that there should be some singing, or approved of it, or corrected people’s attitude when they expressed disapproval. The Prophet was with his wife, Umm Salamah (ra), when a maid of Hassan ibn Thabit (ra) came in, with her hair untied and a tambourine in her hand. Umm Salamah reproached her, but the Prophet said: “Leave her alone, Umm Salamah. Every community has their festive occasion, and today is our Eid.”
On another occasion, the Prophet was at Aishah’s place when a woman came in. The Prophet asked Aishah whether she knew the woman, but she said she did not. The Prophet said: “This is the singer of this clan. Do you like her to sing for you?” She did some singing.
Keep a Balance
Allah created us and He fathoms our needs. One of our human needs is to laugh sometimes, to chuckle and giggle and see the ridiculous side of life. This allows the mind to collect itself and the spirit to smile, Alhamdulillah. And sometimes we need to forget all our cares, to be exhilarated, to hang out with friends and chat and tell stories, or swim in a lake, hike in the woods, go bowling, play table tennis, read a novel, attend a poetry reading, and wet our toes at the beach.
Of course, many of us go too far and need to reel it in. I’m talking about ordinary Muslims now. We neglect our prayers, but we don’t neglect our movies, music, iPods, dining out, taking trips, playing sports, and shopping. In that case we need to reverse the dynamic, and spend less time being diverted and more time worshiping Allah and working fee-sabeel-illah. When it’s time for salat, put down that iPhone. When Ramadan arrives, turn off the TV and devote more time to dhikr and Quran reading. Don’t spend your afternoon watching two rental movies back to back. Make time for contemplation and Islamic study.
Let’s try to find that wholesome balance that enables us to be worshipers, workers, family members, and also to have a little fun when we need it.