Perhaps one of the greatest misconceptions people have about Islam is that Muslims can’t have fun. Ask a random selection of people to come up with five words that describe Muslims, and I’m sure “fun” won’t be on the list! Muslims, too, need to examine their own understanding of what it means to be Muslim.
During the summer, then, how are we to behave? What are we to do to have fun, without compromising ourselves and our beliefs? Islam sets certain standards for us, but these don’t have to be burdens upon our shoulders, making us stay at home while our friends are out enjoying themselves. As ever, Islam is about moderation and about enjoying all things within proper limits.
During the summer, then, we can have fun like anyone else and still maintain the good behavior and manners that Almighty Allah requires of us. All of these rules that Islam sets for us are for our own good. Almighty Allah knows us better than we know ourselves.
Follow the Instructions
When you get a new electronic gadget, like a digital audio player or a new mobile phone, you would be very foolish if you threw away the instruction booklet. It’s tempting to rip open the box and start using the new gadget straight away, throwing away the instructions, but we do so at our own peril. Following the maker’s instructions is very important.
As Muslims, we need to do the same. We need to follow the Maker’s instructions. Allah has created us from nothing and He knows everything we need. How foolish we would be if we didn’t listen to the instructions He has given us. These instructions are found in the Qur’an and in the Sunnah of our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and they are there for our happiness. Not living according to the rules of Islam makes us prey to all the unhappiness we see around us. The broken marriages, teenage pregnancies, drink and drug addictions, and high levels of suicide all come from not following the Maker’s instructions in this world.
However, if we do care about the way we behave and we try to live according to the ways of Islam, we can still enjoy life to the full and have great happiness without overstepping the limits.
Good Friends, Good Fun
What can we do in the summer, then? Well, as long as we are careful and keep in mind the way we Muslims should behave, we can do almost the same as anyone else. Going to the park or going skating, rollerblading, or swimming are all perfectly acceptable, as long as we don’t let them overtake us, leading us to do things that are out of bounds.
What do I mean by that? Well, in going swimming, for instance, we need to dress properly in a decent way and to avoid some of the foolish behavior with members of the opposite sex that leads us on to actions that are out of limits. If we go swimming, we go swimming, not flirting! If we go to the park, we go with friends and we are not out to look for boyfriends or girlfriends!
There are many clubs and camps during the summer, especially those arranged by Muslim youth organizations, which exist to provide, among other things, plenty of opportunities for fun, without putting us in harm’s way. As well as opportunities for sport and leisure, there are also chances to meet other Muslims and to discuss with one another what it means to be Muslim in today’s world.
Having good Muslim friends is one of the surest ways of being able to live as a good Muslim. The environment in some of these summer camps is really helpful in teaching us more about Islam and it’s a good way to make new friendships. At home, sometimes it’s difficult to make the kind of friendships we really need to live as good Muslims, but great and lasting friendships often come out of these summer camps.
The important thing is to make the most of the summer. Don’t let it pass you by, so that when it’s time to return to school or college at the end of the summer, you look back and wonder what you did with all that free time. Plan how you’re going to spend your time; so much time for sport, so much for being with friends, and so on. It’s easier to plan if you take it slowly, day by day.
Don’t let the sun go down on any of your summer days without having achieved something good. Don’t waste your time. Each night, decide what you’re going to do the following day.
Have Fun and Behave Good
Since you have so much free time on your hands, why not use some of it for Allah’s sake? Try going to the mosque for some of the prayers, for example. Why not arrange with friends to go together, before going to the park? Why not use the mosque as the place you all meet together before going out? If you’re going in a group to the cinema, why not all perform the Sunset Prayer together first?
When you are at the mosque, ask the imam if there is anything a group of you can do to help out, either at the mosque itself or in the local Muslim community. If the mosque doesn’t have too many suggestions to help you, look up some voluntary organizations in your area to see if there are ways you can help those less fortunate than you.
By the way, keep your parents informed of what you are up to. They deserve not to be worried about where you are. Get home on time. Stick to the limits they have set, out of love and respect for them. Enjoy yourself. Have fun. Make the most of the time you have, and use all the opportunities that come your way.
When the summer is over and you return to your normal routine, don’t be among those whose only reply to questions about how they spent the summer is “Oh, not much really.” Surprise everyone. Amaze them that Muslims can have fun and still behave themselves. There is no need to do haram (forbidden) things to enjoy yourself. Remember, everything is permissible to Muslims unless it has been specifically prohibited.
Enjoy the summer!
First published: September 2008