Thursday 18th of April 2024
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Seeking The Positive Aspects of Amusement

Seeking The Positive Aspects of Amusement

Seeking The Positive Aspects of Amusement

Are there alternatives to these types of pastime?

We need to seek out the positive aspects of what may serve as alternatives, to prevent youth from indulging in their spare time in activities which will lead to wanton pursuits.

When we speak of music, for example, we say to our youth that it is haram-but we must seek a fatwa on allowing soft music which has a soothing effect on the person, which is a balm for the emotions, a repose for the nerves; or symbolic, inspirational music and the like.

Therefore, we must find something within Shariah parameters for judging the permissibility of some types of music. Then, when we issue a fatawa about the prohibition of wanton, sexually explicit material, or what is termed "the tunes of the people of immorality", we must direct youths to soft music which deals with living issues, with human values, culture, and so forth.

When we wish our youth to stay away from things which are liable to change for the worse, we must seek equivalent forms from a different direction. We must not create a rift between the youth and his time in regards to the things that affect his feelings and perceptions. One needs to appreciate the apt words of Imam Ali, "Do not mold your children's ethics according to yours, for they are of a different time than yours." These words do not address morals which may develop negatively, and which are contrary to the positive teachings of Islam, but those which speak of customs relating to a person's pastime, urges, joys, social activities, manner of eating, drink, public relations, etc.

The Problem of Inducement

Another problem which may present itself on these proposed alternatives is that they may induce youth to indulge in haram.

When you place lines of demarcation between the lawful and the forbidden, in order to train this person that the lawful is good for him in this life and that a free life does not mean committing unlawful deeds, you could set him on the straight path.

There may be people who exploit the issue of rendering things lawful to give license to some haram things. This is a deviation which we must cure. That does not mean, however, that we must prohibit the lawful out of fear that some people may use it to move towards haram. For we know there are those who would use religion for commercial exploitation, and who would sacrifice something of great value to gain a paltry profit.

This, however, is normal in the life of a person; when discussing our subject, we speak of the positive aspects which replace the negative ones, so that the person does not live in a void. We do not state that we must find just any alternative, issuing fatwas which are contrary to what God has revealed. We state that we must seek always to think of ways which agree with guidelines of the Shariah, because the problem of the Islamic community is that it is not active enough, but rather thinks of a problem only when it is confronted by it. The problem may be misunderstood and the solution lost, since there was no plan for it, and it was not anticipated.

In this manner, it is possible to invent many permissible methods of amusement for youth to indulge in. If there is a jurist or a celebrated scholar who has forbidden play with gambling tools or chess, there are more recent juridical opinions which allow them. This means that the way is not closed to innocent forms of amusement which fill the spare time of our youth and, at the same time, provides them with certain benefits through play.

Certainly Islam does not wish the human being to be immobile in life. Several hadiths relate: "Let the heart relax hour after hour"; and, "A Muslim must have three moments: one to plead with his Lord, one to look after his livelihood, and one to delight in a matter that is not haram, for it is an aid to the other two times." An innocent form of amusement, then, which provides relaxation for the self-in a manner that revitalizes his activities and eases the tensions he may at times experience in worship or in his daily duties-is something required.

Bypassing Custom

We must seek to bypass social customs to make way for new norms. This must be done by taking things deemed normal and replacing them with other things. We feel that Islamic activists-whether in the social, educational, cultural, or propagation fields-must study in the field all available options in harmony with the Islamic Shariah and is educational, and must invent new methods in this area. I do not feel that these new methods can be few in number. But the Islamic workers have not gone this route, for they have not paid attention to the negative influences that linger among the younger generation from both men and women-in this closed field.

Many workers who were brought up under a repressive conditions have resorted to a life of repression, with narrower social norms than is generally the case; they may be afraid to indulge in any form of amusement.

There are those who are religiously very observant and do not see this as proper or as befitting the dignity of a believer.

We find later scholars from our great religious authorities (maraji) are more open and analytical than these observers of religion, for we see that al-Sayyid al-Khui permitted men and women to dance with the same gender provided there is no danger of inciting lust or immoral acts. In his opinion and scholarly assessment, there was no proof for the prohibition of amusement, and thus no objection to a person taking up some form of entertainment-but only as long as there was no specific proof that it is haram.

That which is forbidden is the singing that accompanies immorality; but the amusement which occurs in society should be considered lawful. It is the same in the case of hand-clapping. We do not know why many are troubled when Muslims and those who are religiously observant clap their hands in praise of a qasida, speech, or something of this kind-as if those who indulge in applause commit some haram! It is possible for us to express our joy and appreciation by clapping, to which lately has been the blessings on the holy Prophet and so on.

What is important is that no problem arises regarding a matter that is legal and is seen as good by the community. While it may have several positive aspects to it, why should we reject it? We may combine the two facets in this area.

We believe that when we seek to create the opportunities that can satisfy youths' spirits, feelings, interests, and love for relaxation and amusement, youths will not depart from the Islamic atmosphere. They will instead perceive in it a richness for the intellect and the spirit; they will derive benefit from the amusement, if we may so state it.

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