OnIslam.net

Moderation and Recreation: The Perfect Solution

New Muslims After the Shahadah Stage:
By Deana Nassar
Freelance Writer
AA - Holiday-nz
Taking time for yourself through recreation is not an indulgence but rather a necessity

Islam teaches a person everything including how to act and behave, how to sit and talk and how to care and share through moderation.

A Muslim is sure of himself both in this world and in the Hereafter. That is to say, Islam strikes a balance between the demands of the soul and the needs of the body and in observing this balance, one will be able to merge the demands of this life with the preparation for the Hereafter.

Blessed by Islam, we are presented a balanced formula of rights and duties, in which we are neither spoiled by too many rights nor strained by too many duties and obligations. After all, as previously mentioned, moderation is the key concept of Islamic morality.

Enjoying Recreation and Humor

We, as humans are created requiring rest, recreation and humor. This is something completely natural. Taking time for yourself through recreation is not an indulgence but rather a necessity and a great way to deal with the many stresses and constant worries life throws at us, no reason to remain the wrongly stereotyped serious Muslim 24/7.

After all, Muslims can have fun. Remember without this recreation and humor we cannot be productive in life. There are many instances in Islam where Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), used humor to lighten the mood in many situations; he was known to always smile. In fact when he laughed it was said the whites of his teeth showed. Abdullah ibn al-Harith relays: “I have never seen a man who smiled as much as the Messenger of God.”  

There are also many stories relaying the Prophet and his humor. Recalling one incident is when the Prophet was with Ali ibn Abi Talib and they were eating 12 dates together. As they were about to finish, Ali saw some people approaching. He quickly moved the pile of 6 pits that he had to the Prophet's pile and jokingly told the passersby that the Prophet had kept all the dates to himself and didn't share! The Prophet in good spirits said right back, look at Ali, he eats the dates and he eats the pits as well! (because he didn't have any pits on his side).

The prophet did not limit his recreations and jokes with only his friends where his wife Aisha narrates the following about her husband:

"I swear by God that I saw the Messenger standing at the door of my room while the Abyssinians were engaged in spear play in the mosque, where 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." (Al-Bukhari)

The scholars of Islam have attested to the importance of lawful recreation

Addressing all aspects of our lives, Islam is complete and comprehensive; it covers all of our needs, including our need for diversions and for recreation. It also provides for us lawful means to fulfill this need.

The Companion Abu al-Darda’ cites: “I seek recreation in something that is neither useful nor unlawful, and this makes me stronger on the truth.” There are numerous stories where the Prophet's companions participated in many different forms of lawful entertainment and play. They engaged in sports like footraces, horse racing, wrestling, and archery. Moreover they spent time in telling jokes and in lighthearted conversation.

The scholars of Islam have attested to the importance of lawful recreation to the healthy development of a person’s character.

Enjoying recreation and taking care of yourself by taking a break ensures you  have the energy to return to whatever other roles you play, whether as a parent or a professional, or whatever your responsibilities in life generally are, in turn, making us better Muslims in our transition from this world to the Hereafter.

Living Moderate

Since 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. We are taught 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, thus creating the balance outlined earlier. Prophet Muhammad said:

"Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately. Always adopt middle, moderate, regular course, whereby you will reach your target of paradise." (Al-Bukhari)

Salman al-Farisi has been reported to saying 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 heard about what Salman had said, he approved of it, saying: “Salman has spoken the truth. (Al-Bukhari)

Muslims can and do have fun. They love to smile just as much as the next person

In one occasion, the Prophet once asked a companion: Is it true that you fast all day and stand in prayer all night? The companion replied that the report was indeed true.

The Prophet then said:

"Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave it at other times. Stand up for prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you." (Al-Bukhari)

This indicates the importance of moderation which is the true scale for Islam, and it is significant that converts/reverts understand this.

Muslims can and do have fun. They love to smile just as much as the next person and they enjoy recreational activities to the max. Islam stresses the consequence 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. We can reach our full potential only after we have taken care of ourselves and take advantage of the right to take a break, use humor and engage in activities close to the heart.

In light of all this, we can ascertain that while recreation and entertainment are necessary to lead balanced lives, we should not however allow it to take up too much of our time. Nor should we engage in it to the point where it ceases to be beneficial. Furthermore we should not let it become our habit to perpetually seek recreation and diversion and lastly our means of recreation and our entertainments must be completely free from anything that is unlawful in Islam.

Related Links:
How to Strike Balance Between Work and Worship
Balance and Moderation of the Islamic Civilization
Winning Hearts in the Face of Anti-Islam Pressure
Prophet Muhammad: A Source of Mercy For Young Ones
Wisdom: A Fresh Look at Islam

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