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Plan. Design. Replace.

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

ربي اشرح لي صدري و يسر لي أمري واحلل عقدة من لساني يفقه قولي

ربي زدني علما وارزقني فهما

Holidays in a typical Muslim household are quite challenging. It is that time of the year when you don’t have any work but at the same time, you can’t spend your time on literally any form of entertainment. Picture this: You play two sessions of video-games and your mum complains, “All day! You’ve been playing on that computer all day!” Try and watch two episodes of your favorite series and your mum says, “All day! You’re sat in front of the TV all day!” Call a couple of your friends and catch up with their lives, and your mum goes, “All day! Computer-TV-phone! All day!” Fed up, go to your room and try to sleep – “That’s all you’ve been doing! Sleeping ALL day!”

Frustrated, you ask, “I can’t do this and I can’t do that! Well, what should I do then, ma?”

“‘What should I do?’ Read the Quran! Pray voluntary prayers! Do some Dhikr! Help your family! There’re so many things to do!”

Seems familiar?

If you’ve been raised in a typical Muslim household, then this might probably ring a bell. In which case, you might also recall the emotions that you felt in that moment. Irritation, mild annoyance, maybe even anger.

Why?

Maybe because you knew that your mum was equating two different types of activities that had different purposes in your life. You probably got irritated because playing video-games was being equated to carrying out household chores. Games where charming and well-built characters assassin elite people in exotic locations – how can it be a match to scrubbing grease off dishes!

Well, you aren’t completely wrong.

Recitation of the Quran, performance of prayer, remembrance of Allah (swt), helping in the household – all require effort, discipline, focus, and an active mind. None of it would be classified as entertainment. Entertainment is a means to relax yourself from daily obligations. And it isn’t something that is forbidden in Islam. Entertainment and recreation are necessary to refresh your mind and energy from all the work that you do as part of your everyday responsibilities. But, like all things in Islam, they too have their own standards.

And it is upon us to choose these standards in our entertainment. To be able to determine what constitutes a good entertainment and what would be simply a depletion of our time.

Part of gaining that kind of insight requires monitoring your lifestyle, making plans of action, designing and redesigning your lifestyle to incorporate better activities, and replacing existing haram forms of entertainment with their halal alternatives.

Of these, the first step (of course) would be to admit that there is a need for better entertainment in your lifestyle. Making a plan to identify mis-entertainment and then to rectify that would be priority number one. This basically means asking lots of whats and whys.

If you’re a fan of popular shows, you might want to question what is it that they’re trying to convey to you. Most probable answer to that is that they’re trying to normalize their culture to you. Or maybe they are using you to gain fame (and money!) whilst you gain nothing out of it. Once you understand that, know that it’s time to filter out shows that don’t offer real benefit to you!

If you’re hooked onto social media for your entertainment doses, then seek to understand how they work. Look closely. Your Instagram feeds and FaceBook ads teach you a thing or two about how Allah brings a person closer to what they actually seek! No kidding. Every time you search, click, like, share, do anything with a particular post/page/profile, you get similar posts lining up in your feeds. Ever noticed that?
What thou shall seek, ‘related posts’ thou shall get!

Okay, so maybe from now on you will know what is wrong with your most common forms of entertainment that you so love and trust. But how do you plan to get rid of these characteristics of your entertainment without completely disturbing your whole entertainment system? Simply by redesigning your lifestyle.

You might be, for example, obsessed with movies that bring about zero benefit. You might now understand that they are only trying to promote a very specific culture, and consequently, making you lose confidence in your own culture and identities. One way to reduce the impact of such movies on your life is through designing a lifestyle that is inclusive of more productive activities that actually focus on increasing your value as an individual –rather than the wallets of movie-makers.

You might be someone who is obsessed with the lives of popular celebrity figures, even though you understand that whatever they do does not help you in any way. Knowing their day-to-day movements has probably made you attached to them on an emotional level, and you may think it’s not possible to detach them from you. Here, you can look at designing as a process of weeding out unwanted stuff in stages. Remember how Allah eliminated the deeply-rooted culture of alcohol-consumption from the lives of the Muslims in Prophet’s (ﷺ) time. It was a process, with step one being acknowledgement, step two limitation, and step three complete prohibition. This is a very handy information, because once you master this, this lets you overcome about any negative habits that you may be nurturing. For example, people who’re passionate about sports to the point that they neglect their obligations can redesign their lifestyle to limit their association with sports in order to accommodate their duties in it as well.

Okay, so far so good. But what about stuff that can’t be limited because it’s not a matter of how much time you spend on it, but about the type of entertainment it is by itself. Because sometimes you may enjoy stuff that are simply haram. There are no two ways about it. But they give you a unique fulfillment that you don’t find in other activities available to you. What do you do then?

Well, you simply replace that activity with an equally fulfilling halal activity. Pretty simple!

Used to listening songs that have bold, explicit content? Replace them with songs that respect modesty. Part of your daily routine involves checking out updates from negative influencers who happen to be famous celebrities too? Replace them with people who inspire you to do good. Finding yourself enjoying the company of those who love gossiping about people? Replace them with people who have nobler personalities.

If something has been established to be haram, then you can always seek alternative means to get equal adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, and what-not-onin kicks in a halal way.

Let’s get back to the holidays and the frustration that comes with, “Don’t do this! Don’t do that!” Doesn’t this frustration resonate when newly learning the number of prohibitions in Islam?

“Everything seems to be prohibited! I can’t do this, and I can’t do that! Well, what can I do then?”

Know that although Islam has set many standards in almost all areas of life, it has allowed halal alternatives to those ‘off-limit’ activities too. There are more allowable and do-able options in the world than there are forbidden activities. All you gotta do is: Plan. Design. Replace.

بارك الله فيكم

وجزاكم الله خيرا

سبحانك اللهم وبحمدك أشهد أن لا إله إلا أنت استغفرك و أتوب إليك

والسلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

Written by: Aniqa A

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