And when they saw trading or amusement, they turned and dispersed to it, and left you (Prophet Mohammed SAWS) standing. Say: “What is in the Presence of Allah is better than any amusement (entertainment) and trading (business, work, sustenance, etc), and Allah is the Best of sustainers. (Surah Jumah, verse 11)
Recently, I began feeling a sense of unease every time I turned off any form of fictional entertainment. An eerie feeling of having wasted my precious one or two hours, would creep into my mind, leaving a huge void. ‘I could have done anything during this time – anything useful,’ I would find myself repeating to myself. ‘This movie/show didn’t add any real value to my life.’
As a child, I often came across people who strongly disagreed with the entertainment culture. They believed that it highlights fictional characters and unreal situations which take us away from the realities of life.
Back then, I didn’t really understand this opinion, until I started witnessing shift in social trends, triggered by these surreal images. Overtime, the ill-effects of excessive entertainment – any form of fictitious art form like movies, dramas, music, games, excessive use of social media – were quite clear.
As an experiment, I decided to check if the absence of these factors from my daily life will have any positive results and will I be able to rid myself of the void I have been feeling for quite sometime now. The decided time was a week but as days passed, the effects were so refreshing that I happened to push it to a month.
Undoubtedly, It was the most productive, positive and anxiety free month of my life. My ‘Salah’ (prayer), Quran studies, ‘zikr’ (remembrance) and any form of work was better than any other days. Neglecting Allah’s remembrance creates a space, from where Shaitan (the devil) enters into our life.
Eventhough, I am still on the journey to negate this ill-habit from my life completely, below are few negative effects I have recognised and still trying to combat:
- Away from Allah’s remembrance: These form of entertainment takes us away from Allah’s remembrance not just for that specific time period when we are indulged in it. But the effect continues even after that. Our mind is effected with what we see, and if we are bombarded more with falsehood than the truth, it leaves a mark on our thinking, unconsciously. Our ideas, actions, and reaction to situations depend on what we see, think and believe. We have to be careful what our input sources are, if we expect positive output. Moreover, how do we wake up for Fajr/tahajjud in the early morning hours, if we sleep late with futile images in our mind.
- Takes away our ‘me time’: Even in our hectic schedule, we end up losing our ‘me time’ to watching / listening to something which leaves us empty from within. For example, I only started writing when I started devoting my spare time to it, rather than wasting it in front of these mediums. I also began spending more time with my children.
- Passive entertainment: Our deeds have direct effect on our children. If parents, are constantly addicted to entertainment, children will develop the same habit. Or if we constantly use entertainment as a source of dealing with our kids (keeping them infront of the screen) they will grow into an addict. This will have more than one side-effect on their over all life. Children are innocent and unaware of the truth of this life and how certain situations end. So even though, educational videos and programs are important for them, they should be saved from fiction. Unreal situations with fantasy endings might make them believe that they can bend the rules their way.
- Watch informative programs: If we do want to spend our screen time with our family, it is necessary that we make use of this time and teach our children about the world that Allah has created. Visual learning is very important. We can also use our electronic appliances for Allah’s remembrance and for understanding His master plan for us.
“And to Allah belongs the dominion of the Heaven and Earth, and Allah is over all things. Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and earth, and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding.” [Surah Imran, Verse 189-190]