Short Answer: When you decide to watch something entertaining or ‘light’ hearted, just be the master, not the slave. Master your time and ideas getting into your mind. Don’t passively submit to what is being consumed. Also, make it more meaningful by having the right intention. For example, learning how to beautify yourself for your spouse, or cooking healthier food for your family, or watching something interesting to share with family/friends and bring happiness to their hearts…etc. In short, just make it mindful and purposeful.
Peace be upon you, Dear Reader,
You’re actually raising a very important point.
The answer to this question is not to simply replace impure entertainment with less harmful ones.
The issue needs more serious, mindful discussion.
Understanding Tazkiyyah & Entertainment
Tazkiyyah means purification. You make something purer, more elevated and bring the best out of it.
We pursue that because Allah loves those who purify themselves: internally and externally, physically and spiritually.
“Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.”(Quran 2:222)
“Successful indeed is the one who purifies their soul,” (91:9)
When we purify our thoughts/hearts/actions, we are more able to actualize the purpose we were created for.
Part of purification is to monitor what we allow into our ears and eyes because they are the windows to our hearts.
Allah says in the Qur’an (translation of the meaning):
“You shall not follow anyone blindly in those matters of which you have no knowledge; surely the use of your ears and the eyes and the heart – all of these, shall be questioned on the Day of Judgment.” (Qur’an 17: 36)
What we spend a lot of time with rests in our hearts and becomes our friend or teacher even.
For example, you may find a lot of people using foul language, or immoral words, memes, insinuations casually. They’ve normalized ‘fawahish’ (immorality) due to the excessive exposure to it.
Interestingly, the Prophet (SAW) says:
“A man is upon the religion of his friend, so let one of you look at whom he befriends.” [Related by At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud].
Is Entertainment Your Friend?
Entertainment, by and large, is about amusing people, or amusing oneself. It takes up a lot of time and is addictive. We like it because we do not put effort other than passively getting amused.
This is a problem.
The solution is not to replace the impure entertainment with purer one.
The solution is to actually remember why we’re here and whether we’re meant to be spending that amount of time entertaining ourselves.
Think about it: even if we watch long halal series about great Muslim heroes of the past, for example, we’re watching the great things that other people have accomplished. But what have we accomplished?
They lived great lives and died. Their test ended. Now is our time, our test. Instead of creating our own legacy, we waste a lot of time watching others.
Yes, these things could be good for inspiration- if we monitor how much time spent on them. But we’re not meant to be constantly looking to be entertained.
The point is to change our mindset and mindfully deal with our free time.
Entertainment makers should not be the leaders of our lives, or the ones controlling our times and filling them with what they want.
Allah reminds us in the Quran (translation of the meaning):
“This worldly life is no more than play and amusement, but far better is the ˹eternal˺ Home of the Hereafter for those mindful ˹of Allah˺. Will you not then understand?“ (6: 32)
And He says:
“Know that this worldly life is no more than play, amusement, luxury, mutual boasting, and competition in wealth and children. This is like rain that causes plants to grow, to the delight of the planters. But later the plants dry up and you see them wither, then they are reduced to chaff. And in the Hereafter there will be either severe punishment or forgiveness and pleasure of Allah, whereas the life of this world is no more than the delusion of enjoyment.” (57: 20)
Physical Engagement in Meaningful Activities
Of course we cannot and we are not saying that we should be serious all the time.
Allah says that He is The One who brings deep happiness:
“And that it is He who makes [one] laugh and weep” (Quran 53:43)
So find meaningful enjoyment that pleases Him.
Here are some ideas:
- Find good companions (sisters/brothers) and meet up more regularly to do nice activities (feeding people, taking care of others’ needs, remembering Allah). Even just hanging out in the company of those mindful of Allah can have Allah descend unrivaled joy upon your heart. [See this powerful & beautiful hadith].
- Discover your talent, and find ways to use it to benefit people- for no exchange maybe.
- You’ll be surprised how much you can memorize from the Quran in the time normally spent consuming entertainment. Try it for a week. Try to memorize even a few lines of the Quran, and see how much happiness and blessings this will bring you –let alone the reward in the hereafter.
- Find people in your circles who have disagreements, and try to reconcile matters between them. See the reward of doing that here.
- Think carefully about the people in your circles; try to see if they have needs you can help with. Maybe you have friends unable to get married, or someone feeling lonely or depressed… some people around us need us, but we’re busy amusing ourselves.
- Attend online or offline workshops on something enjoyable that benefits you in your deen and Dunya. Maybe something that helps you better your relationship with your parents, family, spouses, children…etc.
- There are plenty of pages online that have great and enjoyable Tafsir videos, dawah videos, and faith-based self-development videos. There are online outlets to learn Quran, Seerah and these things are done creatively and will inspire and empower you.
When you decide to watch something entertaining or ‘light’ hearted, just be the master, not the slave.
Master your time and ideas getting into your mind. Don’t passively submit to what is being consumed. Also, make it more meaningful by having the right intention. For example, learning how to beautify yourself for your spouse, or cooking healthier food for your family, or watching something interesting to share with family/friends and bring happiness to their hearts…etc.
In short, just make it mindful and purposeful.
And Allah knows best.
I hope this helps.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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