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The Arabic word “laghw” means vain or useless talk, actions, and pastimes: anything that has no benefit in this world, and brings no rewards for the believer in the Hereafter.
According to Tafsir ibn Kathir, in an explanation of the verse of the Qur’an that mentions the Arabic word al-laghw, this word “refers to falsehood, which includes shirk and sin, and any words or deeds that are of no benefit.”
What activity or habit does or does not classify as laghw, will depend upon a person’s individual circumstances and situations, and also upon the time that they devote to it.
For example, watching television cannot be classified as haram per se, because if that were to be done, then watching beneficial Islamic programs, such as scholarly talks, Qur’an recitation, tafsir sessions, or live transmission from Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah, would also be classified in that category, even though these are most beneficial things to watch on television.
Similarly, watching news on television also has some undeniable worldly benefits, such as following real-time weather updates during a storm or tornado, or keeping oneself up-to-date with political developments around the world that directly affect the global population of Muslims.
However, watching films and drama series on television would definitely classify as al-laghw, since this pastime does not garner any particular benefit, either in this world or the next.
The balanced approach is to watch only that television that is beneficial, and to ignore/ move on from those programs that are not, as Allah has Himself exhorted so in the Qur’an.
The same principle regarding al-laghw applies to anything that can be taken up as a hobby: the believer should ask himself or herself, some key questions about it.
Whether this pastime, and the time that they devote to it, is going to benefit them in the Hereafter, or not? What do they gain by indulging in it? Is it something that has the potential to become too addictive?
Can they replace it with something better than it, to more beneficially use their time and resources? By giving it up, will they be able to have more time to do something even better? And, most importantly, if they were to die while engaging in that pastime, would that be pleasing to Allah?
Whether it is taking up an active sport, reading a certain kind of literature, surfing the web, gathering collectibles, tinkering around with tools, cooking different foods, or crafting, if an Allah-conscious believer will ask themselves the above questions about any of their pastimes or hobbies, they will be able to check on themselves.
And they will be able to ensure that they do not waste their time and resources on anything that is not beneficial in this world and the next.
Allah knows best. I hope that this answers your question.
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