بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
No doubt, the present decade has been taken over by the screens; the computer screen, the smart phone screens and the oldest of them, the television screen. With all these we must remember a golden rule; every gaze and miniscule click is being watched by Allah and recorded by the scribes.
While on these gizmos we must refrain from being witness to disbelief and matters disliked by Allah. Allah (st) has said in the Qur’an: “And it has already come down to you in the Book that when you hear the verses of Allah [recited], they are denied [by them] and ridiculed; so do not sit with them until they enter into another conversation. Indeed, you would then be like them. Indeed Allah will gather the hypocrites and disbelievers in Hell all together.” (Surah Nisa 4: 140)
The next time you are in front of any screen, ask yourself: would I watch and share the same stuff if Prophet Muhammad (sa) was with me?
Let us now explore some alternative activities to keep ourselves occupied in our free time.
1. Islamic videos and lectures: When we are bored and feel passive, the easiest alternatives are refreshing lectures by Muslim scholars, and videos that comprise reminders and knowledge. You can find tons of these available in Islamic shops and free on the internet. You can also watch videos and lectures related to your areas of interest, e.g. crafts, nature, etc., provided you take care of the golden rule.
2. Reading: Books take us on exciting journeys. They let us meet wonderful people in faraway lands, giving us ideas and expanding our thoughts. In the beginning, if you are not in the habit of reading, you may not want to read dry books dealing with serious issues. Don’t worry! There are so many interesting books out there which, if you pick once, you’ll not be able to stop reading. Such are the books of Seerah, books about great Muslim personalities and self-help books like ‘Don’t be Sad’ and ‘Enjoy your Life.’ Dig into your area of interest and let the cruise begin!
3. Hobbies: In the good old days people used to have a range of interesting hobbies like coin collecting, making pen pals, stamp collecting, etc. Now almost all of these have been replaced by the internet and cable. When tempted to entertain yourself with some screen, explore a new and productive hobby. For example, planting trees is an act of charity, and gardening with kids can turn into an excellent opportunity for bonding and pointing out to them the wonder of Allah’s creation in plants. Knitting, sewing, mending pipes, fixing plugs, pottery, wood work, writing and drawing are some of the numerous hobbies you can get involved in. You may also do some task in return for money and then give it in charity.
4. Join beneficial gatherings of knowledge: When we keep ourselves engaged in beneficial activities, especially in the field of Dawah, there is no time left for the screen. Search for local Qur’an study circles in your community and attend these gatherings to increase your knowledge and faith.
5. Sports and games: Have a refreshing time through sports and indoor games. Prophet Muhammad (sa) and his companions also engaged in healthy activities like racing, swimming and competitions of archery. If time and space do not allow for these, you can also play indoor games. Have a great family time playing board games such as scrabble, or the simple tic-tac-toe, or ‘name, place, animal, thing’ game.
6. Building skills: Join some skill building courses like graphic design, leadership management, baking, mechanics, or learn a new language. Also think of ways you can employ your newly acquired skill to please Allah (st).
7. Volunteer: Through volunteering we are not just helping others but ourselves too. The opportunities are endless and there is a dire need for skilled and passionate Muslims to serve in every field. Be a volunteer for Allah’s Deen, helping in Islamic causes and organizations.
8. Be social: The last and most important thing you can do is to be social! Get to know the people around you. Meet or call some friends, neighbours or relatives. Spare some time today and have a lengthy conversation with your waiting mother. Help her around the house, complete pending chores, and organize the messy kitchen cupboards.
Moreover, the best way to keep children away from the screen is to keep them occupied with you. Play with them, build blocks with them, read to them, and talk to them. They need your presence more than your presents.
Keep strict control on your screen time, and soon you’ll see its fruits in the form of a de-cluttered mind and a lot of spare time. Keep your company perfumed, not only the ‘live’ one but also the screen company! Insha Allah this will lead us to the company of Prophet Muhammad (sa) in Paradise!
Zahra Anjum is a freelance writer, editor and translator based in Islamabad, Pakistan.
© IIPH 2015