ISLAAM AND RECREATION
People require rest and recreation. This is something completely natural. Without it, a person cannot be productive in life. The Companion Abu al-Darda' said:
"I seek recreation in something that is neither useful nor unlawful, and this makes me stronger on the truth."
Islam is complete and comprehensive, addressing all aspects of our lives and all of our needs, including our need for diversions and for recreation. It provides for us lawful means to fulfill this need.
We read in the Qur'an how the brothers of Yuusuf (salallahu aJayhi wa sallam) appealed to their father, the Prophet Ya'qub (salallahu alayhi wa sallam), on the basis of this fundamental human need. They said:
"Send him along with us tomorrow so he may engage in revelry and play. We will indeed keep him safe." (Q12[Yuusuf]: 12)
The judge Abu Bakr b. al-Arabi, commenting on this verse, observes:
"There is no real objection to this type of recreation. A man engages in play with his family, as well as engaging in horse riding, archery, and in any other form of recreation sanctioned by the sacred texts. It is authentically related to us that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said to Jabir whe'h he married a mature widow:
"Why did you not marry a virgin whom you could play with and who would play with you?" (Bukhari Muslim)
The recreation that these brothers were referring to was either foot racing or archery. This we can understand from the verse:
"We went off to compete with each other.” (Q12 [Yuusuf]: 17)
Aishah (RA) related the following about her husband, the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam):
"I swear by Allaah that I saw Allaah's Messenger (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) standing at the door of my room while the Abyssinians were engaged in spear play in the mosque of Allaah's Messenger (salallahu alayhi wa sallam). He screened me with his cloak so I could watch them perform. He stood there for my sake until I decided that I had had enough. Now just imagine how much time a young girl eager for entertainment would stand there watching." (Bukhari and Muslim)
Qarazah b. Ka’b said: "The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) permitted us to engage in recreation during weddings." (Nasa'i)
In the Sunnah, we see the Companions participating in many different forms of lawful entertainment and play. They engaged in sports like footraces, horse racing, wrestling, and archery. They spent time in telling jokes and in lighthearted conversation.
Salman al-Farisl said to Abu al- Darda': "Your own self has a right over you, your Lord has a right over you, your guest has a right over you, and your family has a right over you. So give everyone his due." When the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) heard about what Salman had said, he approved of it, saying: "Salman has spoken the truth." (Bukhari)
The scholars of Islaam have attested to the importance of lawful recreation to the healthy development of a person's character. AI-Ghazali writes:
“After completing his bookwork, a child should be allowed to play in a nice manner so that he can relax from the fatigue of his studies. His play should not tire him out. If the child is forbidden to engage in play and forced to spend his time in perpetual study, this will result in his heart dying, his intelligence waning. and his manner of living becoming so wretched that he will seek from it any escape he can find."
Ibn Miskawayh writes: “A child should be permitted on occasion to engage in nice play so that he can relax from the fatigue of his proper upbringing. His play should neither cause injury nor be very tiring."
Though recreation and entertainment is essentially lawful in Islam, it is necessary for us to keep the following in mind:
1. Time is precious. We must always be acutely aware of how valuable the time is that we have been given in our brief lives on Earth. Islam teaches 'us to place a premium on our time and to get as much out of it as we can, defining for us the various ways we can employ it.
“it is He who has made the night and the day in succession for whoever desires to remember or show gratitude." (Q25[Furqan]: 62)
Our lives should be spent in the remembrance of Allaah and in thanks to Him. Indeed, Allaah says:
“I created neither humanity nor the jinn except to worship Me." (Q51 [Dhariyat]: 56)
This is the ultimate purpose of life and it should be what preoccupies our time. The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) speaks to us about how much we lose when we waste our time, saying:
"There are two blessings that many people squander: health and time." (Bukhari')
We all know that we will be standing before Allaah and questioned about how we spent our time. The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
"No one will be permitted to turn his two feet away on the Day of Resurrection until he is questioned about four matters: about his life, how he spent it; his youth, how he employed it; his work, what he did with it; and his wealth. how he earned it and spent it." (Tirmidhi)
2. Our work and our efforts are important in Islaam , and as Muslims we are encouraged to be industrious. Allaah says:
"Say: Work, for Allaah will see your deeds as will His Messenger and the believers." (Q9[Tawbah]: 105)
Allaah makes clear to us the effect that our works have on our recompense in the Hereafter. He says:
"Are you recompensed except for the work that you used to do?"(Q27[Naml]: 90)
He also says:
"Is the recompense for goodness anything but goodness?" (Q55[or-Rahman]: 60)
There are many verses in the Qur'an that mention good works in conjunction with faith. Moreover, the importance of diligence and being responsible in our work is specifically emphasized. Allaah says:
"O Yahya, take the scripture with determination." (Q19[Maryam]: 12)
He also says:
"Take what We have given you with determination." (Q2[Baqarah]:63)
The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
"The believer who is strong is better and more beloved to Allah than the believer who is weak." (Muslim)
The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) also said:
"Allaah loves that when you engage in some work. you do so with proficiency." [al-Bayhaqi, Shu’ab al-Iman]
He also emphasized the importance of continuing with our deeds throughout the duration of our lives, saying:
"If the Final Hour arrives and one of you has a sapling in his hand. if he can finish planting it before standing up, then he should do so." (Bukhari, al-Adab al-Mufrad)
A Muslim alternates from his worldly work to his work for the Hereafter, being equally diligent in both, Allaah says:
"Therefore, when you are free from your immediate task, still labor hard. And strive to please your Lord." (Q94[Sharh]: 1-8)
3. Islam stresses the importance of striving to reap benefits for both this world and the next. The life of this world is the harvesting ground for the Hereafter. It is but a passing phase and the life to come is the eternal abode. A Muslim, therefore, should expend his efforts for the sake of the Hereafter and at the same time bring about benefits in this world. He should excel in cultivating and developing the Earth while gearing his efforts towards achieving felicity in the Hereafter.
"And He has made of service unto you whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the Earth; it is all from Him. Lo! Herein are signs for a people who reflect." (Q45[Jathiyah]: 13)
"He it is who has made the Earth subservient unto you, so traverse its paths and partake of His providence." (Q31[Mulk]: 15)
The Muslim world today is behind everyone else in knowledge, enterprise, and productivity. One of the reasons for this is that Muslims are not making productive use of their time and generally do not have a positive work ethic. We must resolve to stop wasting time, to stop falling short in our work, and to put an end to our unproductive habits.
In light of all of this, we can place recreation and entertainment in the proper context: We must observe the following guidelines:
1. Recreation must never cause us to neglect our obligatory worship and our obedience to Allaah.
2. Recreation and entertainment should not take up too much of our time. We should not engage in it to the point where it ceases to be beneficial .
3. It should not become our habit to perpetually seek recreation and diversion.
4. Recreation should not keep us from activities that will benefit usin our worldly or spiritual lives.
5. Our means of recreation and our entertainments must be completely free from anything that is unlawful in Islam.
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited