Entertainment and Islam

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Ahmad Umair

The Holy Prophetsa was the pinnacle of prophethood therefore the perfect of all the teachings was revealed on him for all mankind and for all times. It is for this reason that Allah says:

اِنَّ‭ ‬هٰذَا‭ ‬الۡقُرۡاٰنَ‭ ‬يَهۡدِيۡ‭ ‬لِلَّتِيۡ‭ ‬هِيَ‭ ‬اَقۡوَمُ

“Surely, this Quran guides to what is most right.” (Surah Bani Isra‘il, Ch.17: V.8)

In the current era, we see that people are brave in neglecting the commandments of Allah the Almighty and consequently have drifted away from the path that leads to their Creator. In this age of the second manifestation after the Promised Messiahas, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa, Khalifatul Masih V, under divine guidance, is shielding the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community from the toxic glamour of the world.

Our world is engulfed in restlessness and a lack of inner peace. Apart from other means, people are trying to find inner satisfaction in modern technologies. Improper use of these technologies is leading to endless issues. All this restlessness and anxiety is due to the fact that we are far away from our Creator. According to Islam, our main purpose in this world is to worship our Creator, as God Almighty says: 

وَمَا‭ ‬خَلَقۡتُ‭ ‬الۡجِنَّ‭ ‬وَالۡاِنۡسَ‭ ‬اِلَّا لِيَعۡبُدُوۡنِ

“And I have not created the Jinn and the men but that they may worship Me.” (Surah adh-Dhariyat, Ch.51: V.57)

Hence, the complete Islamic teachings revolve around the said fundamental principle. This is further emphasised in chapter 63, verse 10, of the Holy Quran, as Allah says:

يٰٓاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا لَا تُلۡهِكُمۡ اَمۡوَالُكُمۡ وَلَاۤ اَوۡلَادُكُمۡ عَنۡ ذِكۡرِ اللّٰهِ ۚ وَمَنۡ يَّفۡعَلۡ ذٰلِكَ فَاُولٰٓئِكَ هُمُ الۡخٰسِرُوۡنَ

“O ye who believe! let not your wealth and your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. And whoever does so – it is they who are the losers.”

Thus, the primary objective of mankind’s creation is to worship their Creator. Therefore, true inner satisfaction and contentment have been kept in the worship and remembrance of Allah the Almighty. 

Where people are making a futile effort in search of inner peace, we should be grateful that we are constantly being guided by the divine and blessed institution of Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya. On one occasion our beloved Imam, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa advised Ahmadis towards true and lasting contentment by saying:

“Certainly, the glitz and glamour of the world can never provide true and lasting contentment, no matter how attractive it appears at first sight. In chapter 13, verse 29, of the Holy Quran, Allah the Almighty says:

اَلَا‭ ‬بِذِكۡرِ‭ ‬اللّٰهِ‭ ‬تَطۡمَئِنُّ‭ ‬الۡقُلُوۡبُ

“‘Aye, it is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts can find comfort.’

“As we ponder over this verse, we know that it is not just a claim of the Holy Quran; rather, the lived experience of the righteous and God-fearing members of our community testifies to the fact that true contentment and inner peace is attained through the worship and remembrance of Allah and not through worthless forms of recreation or superficial means of entertainment. 

“Here, I shall clarify that there are some very good and beneficial forms of recreation that should be pursued. For example, regular exercise and physical activity are very important for a person’s physical and mental health. However, those forms of recreation or games that place a barrier between a person and God Almighty, and which increase a person’s lust for material things, must be avoided. Such activities are neither good for your health, nor your spirituality, and instead, increase a person’s anxieties.” (The Review of Religions, Concluding Address Lajna Imaillah UK National Ijtema 2021)

Moreover, sometimes we indulge ourselves in the said technologies so much that we forget our Creator. Our beloved Imam has emphasised the proper use of modern technologies and the importance of prayers on various occasions. On one occasion, Huzooraa pointed out the negative and ill effects which modern technology is having on us:

“Evils of these days include television and the Internet. One can observe this in most homes that the eldest to the youngest are not offering Fajr prayer on time as they were either watching TV or were online on the Internet until late, watching some programme and, as a result, they are unable to wake up on time. In fact, such people do not even realise that they have to get up for salat in the morning. 

“Both the Internet and TV and similar useless things not only cause you to miss your salat once or twice, but those who fall victim to this behaviour get into this habit of watching programmes until late at night or sitting on the Internet. Then, it becomes difficult to get up for the prayer in the morning and [such people] may not even wake up [at a reasonable time]. Some people are such that they do not even give any importance to Salat anymore. 

“Salat is a fundamental obligation; its observance is necessary in all circumstances, even in war, difficulty and sickness. It must be offered even if a person has to offer Salat sitting, lying down, or in the case of war or travel offer it as qasr [reduced form]. But it must be offered. In ordinary circumstances, men are directed to offer it in congregation and women are also directed to offer it on time. However, Satan diverts a person away from Salat for the sake of a single worldly programme. Additionally, the Internet is such that it continues to engage one in various programmes and applications through mobile phones or iPads, etc. 

“At first, good programmes are watched on the said [gadgets]. Its attraction is such that, at first, good programmes are watched, and then all kinds of filthy and destructive immoral programmes are watched, which destroy morality. 

“There is restlessness in many homes because the rights of wives are not taken care of and children’s rights are not fulfilled because men are busy watching vulgar programmes on TV and the Internet during the night. Consequently, the children of the said homes are coloured in the same hue, and they watch similar things. Hence, an Ahmadi house should try to stay clear of all the said ills.” (Friday Sermon, 20 May 2016)

Furthermore, the advancement in technologies has also given rise to video games. We observe that no matter which age group you belong, people are addicted to games and this number is on the rise. People keep on playing games for hours unaware of their surroundings. Even WHO (World Health Organization) was forced to classify this addiction as a disease and termed it as the “Gaming disorder”. (www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/addictive-behaviours-gaming-disorder)

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa has guided Ahmadis on various occasions about the hazards involved in the excessive playing of video games. During an Atfal class, Huzooraa said:

“There is no harm in playing them ; they are not forbidden. However, there are better games that you can play. Children are so addicted to video games that they spend all day in front of the television. Now there is a game called Wii. You can play that. At least, you will get to do some exercise. Alright, play that instead. There is a cartoon where a mother says to her child, ‘You spend all day playing your video game. Go outside to play.’ So, he went outside with his remote, opened the window, and resumed his game from there. This is the extent to which children are addicted; one should not indulge to such a degree. You can play sometimes. It is not violence – those games with fighting, etc., are tolerable, but it is much better to play other good games and play outside. Play football, cricket, basketball or other outdoor games for at least one hour.” (Gulshan-e-Waqf-e-Nau Atfal Class, 24 January 2016) 

On another occasion, our beloved Huzooraa replied to a question regarding Fortnite and said:

“With regards to [avoiding the online game] Fortnite, it meant all such useless games which waste money and time, as well as become an addiction. Now, the boys from Canada are writing to me that, ‘Fortnite has been banned, but can we play such and such other game?’ It is the same matter, wastage of time and money. They should be enlightened about such things, educate them, that these things are useless.” (Meeting with Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya National Amila Canada, 10 February 2019)

There is an article, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad’s warning about Fortnite, which also sheds light on the dangers of Fortnite and explains how our beloved Imam is safeguarding Ahmadis. (Al Hakam, 7 January 2022)

Research shows that such sedentary behaviour and playing video games for long hours not only destroys our physical health but also our mental health. (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8188925/)

WHO has published guidelines for children below 5 years of age, regarding screen timing. According to these guidelines, screen timing for children below the age of 5 is not recommended, and as far as 5 years old and above are concerned, addiction to games is now becoming a global issue as mentioned earlier. (www.who.int/news/item/24-04-2019-to-grow-up-healthy-children-need-to-sit-less-and-play-more)

Although playing video games is not prohibited, it is better to participate in physical activity instead. 

In a nutshell, our sole purpose in this world is to worship Allah the Almighty according to the teachings of the Holy Quran. Entertainment and other recreations are not prohibited as long as they lie under Islamic teachings. And only by following Islamic teachings can one truly attain inner peace. 

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