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|The Importance of Recreation|
|04/11/02 at 19:55:19|
|[color=Black]The Importance of Recreation[/color] |
by Imaam al-Haramain Abdul-Baaree ibn ‘Awad Ath-Thubaytee
16 Rabee’ul-Awwal, 1422 (8 June, 2001)
All praise is due to Allah Who has made clear that which is lawful and that which is unlawful. I testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is His Slave and Messenger. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his household, his companions, and all those who follow their path.
Fellow Muslims! Fear Allah the Exalted and always remember your ultimate, inevitable return to Him. Be aware of the deeds that you have sent forth and do not be deceived by the life of this world; for it is but an illusory enjoyment. Allah says,
“O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared and die not except in a state of Islam.”(Aal-‘Imraan 3: 102)
Brothers in faith! During holiday seasons, many parents and teachers are concerned about two important issues: recreation and what forms of it are beneficial and acceptable; and spare time and what to do with it.
When you read the story of Hanzalah Al-Usaydee, you will note the admirable method that Islam promotes. Hanzalah belonged to a generation that preferred to spend all its life in the highest possible state of Eemaan. They assumed that playing with one’s wife and having fun with one’s children negates the concept of worship and total submission to Allah.
Hanzalah said “(One day) Aboo Bakr told me, “How are you, Hanzalah?” and I said, “Hanzalah is a hypocrite!” Aboo Bakr then exclaimed, “May Allah be glorified, what are you saying?” I replied, “We stay with the Messenger of Allah and he reminds us of Paradise and Hell and it is as if we are looking at them and when we leave him, we attend to our wives, children and livelihood; hence, we forget much (of what we have learnt).” Aboo Bakr said, “By Allah! We also feel the same.” Then I, along with Aboo Bakr, went to the Prophet and I told him, “Hanzalah is a hypocrite!” The Prophet said, “What is that?” I replied, “We stay with you, and you remind us of Paradise and Hell as if we were looking at them, then when we leave you, we attend to our wives, children and livelihood, hence we have forgotten much.” The Messenger of Allah then said, “By He in Whose Hand is my soul, if you had remained upon the same state you were on when you were with me, in the remembrance of Allah, the angels would have shook your hands while you were on your beds or (walking) along your way. But, O Hanzalah, An hour and an hour! (i.e. everything has it’s proper time)” (Muslim)
Spending time alternatively between work and recreation removes tiredness and boredom, renews energy and increases one’s productivity. The Prophet’s statement quoted should not be taken to mean that a Muslim may spend all his time in amusement, playing, watching immoral films and reading immoral magazines that only arouse one’s desires.
Umar bin Abdul-Azeez said,
“There is no harm for a Muslim to have some amusement and partake in some recreational activities so long as he does not make that his habit and lag behind during the time of seriousness, and play during the time of work.”
Abdullah bin Mas’ood used to say,
“I will give you sermons only when you are eager to have them, as the Prophet used to do with us fearing that we might get bored.”
However, people of weak understanding use these texts to straiten the hours of remembrance of Allah and seriousness and broaden the period of amusement thereby making places of knowledge and admonition deserted but for a little while.
Further, some people wrongly assume that recreation and amusement is an unrestrained matter in which one is free to overstep the limits of Sharee’ah and partake in it through whatever means without having regard for halaal or haraam. Here we have to know how our righteous predecessors amused themselves.
Ibn Mas’ood, while explaining the importance of recreation said,
“Refresh your hearts; for when the heart is coerced (to do something) it becomes blind.”
Alee also said,
“Make your heart relaxed and seek for it (entertainment in) light insightful conversation, for it gets bored as your bodies get bored.”
Aboo Dardaa said,
“I make my heart relaxed through lawful amusement; that it may be strong enough to assist me on the Truth.”
Since we have concluded that recreational activities were part of the life of the first generation of Muslims, we have to know how they used to amuse themselves. Was their recreation a result of having nothing to do with their time, or to fight boredom? No, not at all! Their recreation was rather to train their souls and to get more energy and higher aims to achieve the goal for which mankind was created which is to worship Allah.
To them, amusement was a definite means to an end, and not an end in its own right in which to spend all of one’s money and time.
Brothers in Islam! It is unfortunate that nowadays participation in recreational activities has become a way to waste away one’s character and show disregard for the Law of Allah. This is a result of the present-day misconception of recreation, for the people nowadays regard recreation as the goal in itself and not as a means to achieve a higher goal.
As for the first generation of Muslims, they partook in amusements in order to strengthen their bodies, refine their manners, train themselves in the qualities of real manhood and seriousness and to open new horizons of knowledge and action. It was for these noble purposes that they raced, wrestled and encouraged one another to learn spear throwing. The Prophet raced with Aa’ishah and wrestled with Rukaanah and defeated him and that was what caused Rukaanah to embrace Islam.
The Messenger of Allah saw some of the tribe of Aslam taking part in a combative competition in the market-place and told them,
“Throw it (i.e. their spears), O children of Isma’eel, for your father was a (spear-)thrower.” (Bukhaaree)
Umar bin Abdul-Azeez said,
“Discuss the Book of Allah and gather together (for the purpose of learning and discussing) it and when you get bored, then telling stories of (the deeds) of men is agreeable.”
The amusement done by the first generation was not a vain one. It was full of benefits. It did not contain making jest of others, backbiting, lying or blackmailing.
Dear brothers! Roaming about market places, pursuing other peoples faults and sitting in the cafés and roadsides are not lawful amusements. Entertainment in Islam should be free of un-Islamic manners, mingling of the two sexes and any means that could lead to violation of the greater Islamic injunctions.
The Salaf confirmed that the human soul does have its ups and downs, but they did not allow it to exceed the limits of Allah during the time of Salah, for that is a transgression over the rights of Allah; nor did they partake of amusement during the hours of work, for that is transgression over people’s rights.
There is more to the life of a Muslim than just recreation. It is only allowed so that Muslims may not be negligent in their duties and obligations. That was why the companions used to amuse themselves. However whenever real issues came up they became real men. Salamah bin Abdur-Rahmaan said,
“The companions of the Messenger of Allah were neither corrupt nor lazy, yet they used to recite some poetry in their meeting places and recollect some of the issues of their Jahiliyyah period; but when any one of them was offended on the matters of religion, he became enraged.”
The Prophet also used to make jokes. An old woman came to him and said,
“Pray for me, O Messenger of Allah, that Allah may admit me to Paradise.” The Prophet then told her, “O mother of so-and-so, old women will not enter Paradise.” The woman became distraught and wept, thinking that she would not enter Paradise. The Prophet then told her what he meant: that an old woman would not enter Paradise as she was in this world, but that she would be raised up by Allah on the Day of Judgement as another creature and He would make her enter Paradise in the form of a maiden.
He then recited the word of Allah,
“Verily, We have created them (maidens) of special creation. And made them virgins, Loving (their husbands only and) of equal age.”(Al-Waaqi’ah 56: 35-37)
In another example of Prophets innocent and lawful joking; he asked a woman
, “Who is your husband?” and she answered, “So-and-so.” He then said, “The one in whose eyes is a whiteness?” The woman hurriedly went to her husband and started examining his eyes. Being astonished, her husband asked her, “What is the matter with you?” She told him what the Prophet had said. He then said, “Don’t you see that the whiteness of my eyes is more than the darkness?”
This personality that made jokes is the same that prayed in the night, fasted in the day, fought in the way of Allah and spent generously for His sake. The Prophet – while advising his Ummah to maintain balance in matters of seriousness and amusement said,
“Indeed, your Lord has a right upon you, your soul has a right upon you and your family has a right upon you; so give everyone his due right.” (Al-Bukhaaree)
Brothers in faith! During holidays, there is a problem that causes sleeplessness for both parents and teachers alike: the large amount of spare time that youths have in which they have nothing serious to do. In fact, youths’ corruption and perverseness is a direct consequence of this problem, while the present material civilisation widens the scope of this danger,
The more dangerous part of this problem is that this spare time must either be spent in something good or something bad. For whoever does not use his spare time in good deeds will spend it in evil acts. Yes, when one does not make proper use of his time it becomes a problem to him and it is well-known that having nothing to do makes one susceptible to corruption and leads to lustful desires that incapacitate the intellect and opens doors of devilish insinuations and other evils.
Specialists testify to the fact that crime and other social ills reach their highest point with unemployment and vacant hours and that the problem increases with the modern mass-media that entices youths and opens for them innumerable ways to waste their time.
Therefore, in order not to turn spare time into a demon, spending one’s time in useful things and moving from one work to another is a prevention against the disadvantages of spare time.
Among the useful means through which one can spend his free time is performing acts of worship and reading useful religious and moral books. That is why it was said,
“There is nothing that has more impact on the mind, is more gladdening to the heart and makes one more eloquent … than a book which has many benefits in it and costs less…”
Abdullah bin Mubarak used to stay in his house, after he had sought knowledge and finished from his trade, reading the books of the Salaf and if he was asked,
“Don’t you feel lonely?” He would answer, “How can I feel lonely while I am with the Prophet and his companions.”
Indeed, the people who spend their spare time in reading and learning books of useful knowledge rise in progress and civilisation and will be capable of understanding life, themselves and achieving their goals. As for those whose culture does not go beyond arenas of recreation, amusement and fashion they will ever remain subordinates and disgraced.
Among the useful things that one can do during the holiday is to attend lectures, symposia and scholarly lessons, to be kind to the kith and kin, partake in summer activities and amuse oneself following the aforementioned rules. Umar said,
“These hands of yours must be employed to obey Allah before they employ you to disobey Him.”
|Re: The Importance of Recreation|
|04/14/02 at 01:18:04|
[center]SPORT AND ISLAM
[i]by Shaykh Seraj Hendricks[/i]
( Muslim Views - November 1998 )[/center]
Any discussion on sport and Islam would necessarily be complex and varied, but like sport itself, is nevertheless quite exciting.
The Quran, and particularly the Sunnah, are replete with references to sport. But while sport during the days of the Prophet – or anywhere else at the time for that matter – were not as succinctly classified and categorised as today, the principles, goals, and spirit for Muslims at least ought to remain the same.
The Quran, in surah Yusuf verse 17, has the brothers of the Prophet Yusuf saying to their father, Prophet Y’aqub, "O father, we went racing with one another..." The term "nastabiq" in the original Arabic clearly refers to a type of competition the brothers claimed they participated in. In the same surah, verse 12 states: "Send him (Yusuf) with us tomorrow so that he may revel and play with us."
In the Hadith collections of both Bukhari and Muslim the fact is recorded that when the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) entered Madinah after the Hijrah from Makkah, the Ethiopians (Habasha) celebrated his arrival with a display of their prowess at spear-throwing. Furthermore, Bukhari also records that Aisha (RA) narrated that both she and the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) watched the Ethiopians playing with their spears in the Mosque. Umar (RA) tried to stop them whereupon the Prophet (SAW) intervened and ordered them to continue. The Prophet also said: "Everything not linked to the remembrance (dhikr) of Allah is mere frivolity and play except four things: for a man to play with his family, to train one’s horse, to practice archery, and to learn how to swim." (Suyuti).
The Prophet himself was also an excellent wrestler as evidenced by the fact that he had beaten Rukana, the master of wrestling during his time, in a wrestling match. The fascinating consequence of this dual was that Rukana, after being outclassed, embraced Islam. This is a striking example of the effect that excellence in performance can have on the minds and hearts of people. It is remarkable that here the example is clearly linked to the potential effect of excellence in sport.
It is a known fact too that Imam Shafi’ was the uncontested master of archery during his time. Many other great Muslims – far too numerous to mention here, but including the likes of Salahuddin al-Ayyubi – were outstanding exponents of the art of fencing.
At this point it might be noteworthy to mention that the four types of sport originally encouraged by Islam viz. archery, horse-riding, fencing, and swimming, are largely known for their elements of grace, beauty, and skill – elements of character and conduct which are generally encouraged by Islam itself.
However it would do us well to remember that in Islam sport has a number of very specific functions. Firstly, it has a military function whereby the discipline of sport may be harnessed to prepare the individual for the exacting task of fighting a legitimate battle. Allah says in surah Anfaal, verse 60 : "Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war..." Secondly, it has a social function in bringing people together which is in keeping with one of the chief purposes of Islam and that is to foster a spirit of mutual love, co-operation, respect, and friendship amongst all members of society. In Islam the spirit of sport is one of seeking the general upliftment of everyone, and not a spirit which encourages competition against the other – where the "other" is imagined to be different in race, religion, or nationality. Hitler’s attempt at the Berlin Olympic Games to show the superiority of the "Aryan Race" over everyone else is one example of what the Islamic spirit is most decidedly not. Barbarous discrimination in sport, apartheid style, is another. Thirdly, and closely linked to the second, is the recommended attempt at developing mastery and control of the self. While to win might be a commendable achievement, in Islam to overcome and conquer the lower self is even more commendable. It was Lao Tzu who correctly observed that "he who overcomes others is strong; [but] he who overcomes himself is mighty." Fourthly is the relationship between the body and soul. In Islam divisions between the sacred and secular hold little meaning. Everything we do here in the earthly domain has an immediate impact on the sacred and spiritual domain. A healthy body can act as nothing less than a healthy home for the numerous challenges and demands made upon the soul. Ghazi ibn Muhammad in his work, "The Sacred Origin of Sport and Culture" says: "Indeed, a proper balance of work and relaxation is the way to strengthen the soul’s capacity and endurance for work, just as a proper balance of physical exercise and rest makes the body strong and fitter. Thus one of the companions of the Prophet (SAW), Abu Darda, explained: ‘I entertain my heart with something trivial in order to make it stronger in the service of the truth.’"
Nevertheless it is a regrettable fact that so little has been written about sport in Islam in contemporary Islamic literature, particularly in the light of the fact that Muslims are such keen sportspeople. A challenge facing Muslim scholarship today is to open discussion on, and provide greater exposure, to this important facet of contemporary living.
Shaykh Seraj Hendricks
24 November 1998
|04/14/02 at 01:21:05|
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