One day, Hanzala al Usaidi* (r.a.*) said to his friend Abu Bakr (r.a.), “Abu Bakr, I have become a hypocrite!”
“A’udhubillaahi minash shaytaanir rajeem*! Why are you saying this?” Abu Bakar was shocked.
“Wallaahi*,” Hamzala continued, “When I am in the presence of the Prophet ﷺ * or when we are listening to the Quran from his mouth, or when he reminds us of Jannah*, I feel motivated and energised and inspired!
When he reminds us of Naar*, I feel fear and aim to be extra careful in my actions. But the moment I reach home after the gathering, when I meet my wife and children, or when I go back to work after the gathering, I feel different! I often get busy and forget about the matters of Akhirah*. I can’t recognise my own heart anymore!”
Abu Bakr said, “You’re right. This is a problem. I feel the same way too! That makes the two of us. We’re both hypocrites! Oh no. Let’s go ask the Prophet!”
So, off they both went to see the Prophet ﷺ straight away. They knew that the Prophet was the best teacher they ever had and nobody else could answer them in the best way possible.
After listening to their query, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ replied, “By Allah*, Hamzala, if you had the same feelings when you are here with me and when you are with your family or when you are at work, the angels in the streets would want to shake hands with you! Why? Because your level of Imaan* is so great. And it is consistent too. (Masha Allah. TabarakAllah. Wow. That would be amazing, wouldn’t it? SubhnanAllah*.) The angels would turn up in broad daylight to come shake hands with you.”
“But (let’s try being realistic here)… An hour and an hour.”**
“An hour and an hour”?
What does the Prophet ﷺ mean by “an hour and an hour”?
This means that we can put aside an ‘hour’ for our heart’s matters and its purification or cleaning process. And we can put aside another ‘hour’ for our dunya* matters or even entertainment.
It does not mean that we can do one hour of good deeds and one hour of bad deeds. For example, we spend one hour listening to an Islamic lecture and we spend one hour at the club or pub, dancing, drinking, singing karaoke or gambling. No! That’s not what the Prophet ﷺ meant.
What the Prophet ﷺ meant by the dunya matters was that we have to attend to the necessary and important things that we do for our body, mind and life like eat, drink, go to the bathroom, go to work or school, clean the house, cook, ride the train or car or other vehicle, etc.
As for entertainment, we could perhaps read a book, watch a Halal* movie, play a video game, go for a walk, go shopping, spend quality time with your parents or grandparents, enjoy moments with your siblings or cousins or aunties or uncles, sew, paint, fish, solving puzzles, visit friends, etc… There are numerous other Halal dunya activities and Halal entertainment activities that we can do. Can you name one more?
Don’t you just love Islam? Islam is perfect. It teaches us to be balanced. Alhamdulillah*.
Moral & Afterthought
Islam does not prohibit us to do many normal activities. There are many, many things that we can do without getting into trouble with Allah or with the authorities. These activities are actually Halal.
We should not think that going to school or work is actually un-Islamic or a waste of valuable time. Or vacuuming or cooking or sewing is not good as we are not reading the Quran or Hadeeth* books or cleaning the mosque or doing something that is related to Islam.
Going to school, work, vacuuming, cooking or sewing or many other activities are actually alright to do, as long as we do not over-do them. Besides, these actions can be converted into forms of worship to Allah if we have the right intentions when doing them.
Okay. So those are necessary things that we do each day. But what about the fun stuff? As Muslims, are we allowed to have fun?
Sure! We should not think that having fun is Haram*. Many Muslims unfortunately think so. This is not true. Having fun is not necessarily Haram. Having fun is a natural feeling. It is part of a human life. All human beings like to have fun every now and again. Having fun is part of human nature. Islam is the religion of Al-Fitrah* (roughly translated to ‘Human Nature’). Allah knows that we like to have fun. Allah has made Islam easy to follow. Islam does not punish those people who want to take a break or crack a little fun in their lives. It is not wrong to have some time off from reading the Quran or going to Islamic classes. It is not wrong to want to relax. As you can see from the story above, it is vital for us to have a good balance in our lives.
Yes, having fun can be Halal. In fact, most forms of entertainment are Halal! Really? Yes. Look around you. There are all sorts of Halal fun activities. We can find some ideas here, insha Allah: https://storiesformuslimkids.wordpress.com/portfolio/fun-ideas-for-muslims/
Sadly, despite the fact that there are many forms of Halal entertainment, there are still quite a number of Muslim brothers and sisters who seem to choose the Haram forms of entertainment instead. For example, gambling, going to the pub, smoking, going clubbing, singing Karaoke in a Karaoke bar, going on dates or going to prom night are all not allowed. Let’s be sensible and choose the right kind of entertainment for ourselves and our family, insha Allah.
Okay, so let’s say I’m having fun the Halal way. Can I do this fun activity all day long then?
Well, Islam teaches us that everything has limits. We cannot be having fun all the time and forget our five daily prayers or our homework or even to eat or have a shower, for example. Islam is indeed beautiful. Allah has made Islam the religion for all of Humankind. Islam understands that humans need to have all sorts of different activities in their daily routine to be healthy. Islam encourages us to have several fun or necessary activities AND several serious activities in our lives daily. We just need to find the right balance, insha Allah*.
When we eat food, we are feeding our physical body, but when we are praying Salaah*, we are ‘feeding’ our spiritual body, our Rooh (soul). Just like our physical body, our spiritual body gets hungry too when it is not fed. Allah has instructed us to ‘feed’ our spiritual body 5 times a day, at specific times. Do you do Salaah regularly? If yes, excellent. Good job. Keep it up!
During Salaah, we are actually conversing with Allah too! Do you know that every sentence in Surah Al-fatihah that we recite in Salaah is answered by Allah personally! SubhanAllah! Yes, it’s true. Maybe you can ask your parents or teachers more about it, insha Allah. They can show you the Hadith about it. Our Salaah is definitely special, isn’t it? O what a superb way to take a break from the stress of the Dunya matters with! Having a conversation with our Maker 5 times a day directly is an amazing feat, don’t you agree?
So, let’s be fair. Let’s try doing both Dunya and Akhirah activities as equally as we can, insha Allah. Remember that even normal activities or Halal forms of entertainment can become Haram through overindulgence and neglecting our duties as a Muslim. So let’s be in the middle. We should not over-do matters of the Dunya nor the matters of the Akhirah. We have to give time to both.
Islam is a religion of balance. No one should doubt this. Islam is the only religion that is approved by Allah (swt*). And therefore what He has decided for us is what is definitely best for us. He has made rules for us to follow as He knows what is good and what is bad. Isn’t Allah our Creator? Therefore, He certainly knows what is excellent for us. Let’s trust Him.
Allah said in the Quran,
“And thus we have made you a just (middle, balanced) community…”
[Quran; Al-Baqarah 2:143]
By the way, another amazing thing about this Ayah* from Surah 2, Ayah 143 is that He has put this Ayah right smack in the middle of the Surah*! SubhanAllah! Yes, this Ayah about being balanced is found in the centre of Surah Al-Baqarah***. Isn’t that amazing! SubhanAllah! How can someone decide what to say in the middle of a whole chapter without any prior corrections or drafts or preparations? Indeed, the Quran is not the word of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ or any other person. The Quran is from Allah Himself.
*Brief meanings or explanations:
- HanZala al Usaidi = he is also known as “HanZala al Asadi”. He is one of Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ companions. He is not the same companion HanZala ibn Abi Amr who died in the battle of Uhud and who was washed by angels between the heavens and the earth.
- r.a. = ra Di Allaahu anhu = May God be pleased with him
- A’udhubillaahi minash shaytaanir rajeem = I seek Allah’s protection against the accursed Satan
- wallahi = “I swear by God.” Some Muslims use this phrase to make a sincere promise or to solemnly state that his next sentence or his sentence before is genuine. By using God as a witness, it is a serious matter indeed. We Muslims should not use this phrase unless it is totally necessary. It is a big sin if a person uses this phrase and lies!
- Prophetﷺ = Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) = Prophet Muhammad SalAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallaam = Prayer of God be upon him (Prophet Muhammad) and peace
- Jannah = Paradise
- Naar = Hellfire
- Akhirah = Hereafter
- Allah = God, The one Almighty God
- Imaan = Faith
- SubhanAllah = How perfect God is! Glory be to God!
- Dunya = this temporary world and everything in it; This lowly life on earth and all its concerns and possessions; Dunyā literally means ‘closer’ or ‘lower’.
- Halal = permissible in Islam
- Alhamdulillah = Praise & thanks be to God
- Haram = not permissible in Islam
- Allah (s.w.t.) – When writing the name of God (Allah), Muslims often follow it with the abbreviation “SWT.” These letters stand for the Arabic words “Sub-haanahu Wa Ta’ala,” or “Glory to Him, the Exalted.” Muslims use these or similar words to glorify God when mentioning His name
- Fitrah – Natural instinct, innate. (Arabic: فطرة ), It is an Arabic word that has no exact English equivalent although it has been translated as ‘primordial human nature’, and as “instinct” or common sense (‘urf).
- Insha Allah = God-willing
- Salaah = special prayers that Muslims do five times a day (Also called Salaat, Namaz, Sembahyang)
- Surah = ‘chapter’ of the Quran (a rough translation)
- Ayah = ‘verse’ of the Quran (a rough translation). Plural is Ayat.
**This true story (which was derived from a Hadith) and the words of the Prophet (pbuh) were edited and paraphrased for ease of understanding. The story has been taken from a lecture called “Balance In Islam” by Sheikh Assim Al Hakeem. (The video was uploaded by Al-khadeem Akymedia Channel in Youtube). The Afterthought section is generally put together by SFMK, using gathered resources such as the Muslim Matters website, Sheikh Assim Al Hakeem’s video and Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed’s video, and the like.
***Suratul Al-Baqarah has 286 Ayat altogether. And the Ayah that Allah calls us Muslims the Middle Nation / Community / Ummah is found in Ayah 143. Right in the centre of the whole Surah! SubhanAllah! It’s definitely HALF! (286 divided by two is 143) Marvellous, isn’t it?
Here are a couple of awesome videos that you may like to watch with your family, insha Allah.
Balance in Islam (by Sheikh Assim Al Hakeem)
Salah- Life’s Forgotten Purpose by Yasmin Mogahed – YM Sisters