Your teenage son attends school. You pay his fees, buy his uniform, provide him with his text books and stationery, arrange for his transport and give him whatever else is necessary for his education. However your son is not truly dedicated to studying. His main purpose of attending school is to enjoy the few exciting excursions arranged by the school each year. Hence in his school life he “lives” from one excursion to the next. This is what motivates him. It is his objective. He eagerly awaits the excursion and plans for the next excursion before the first is over. If the excursion is cancelled for any reason, he is dejected and depressed.
Like any sensible father, you are very disappointed. Your son should have been dedicated to his studies. The excursions are secondary and “by the way.” If no excursion was undertaken, it is not a serious issue. Studying diligently and obtaining a good pass should have been the main concern. You feel your son has “let you down.”
We are also in the “school” of this world to “study” – to learn to recognize our Creator, become His true servants and gain His pleasure. This is our main focus of life. This is our motivation, objective and wherein we experience real pleasure. Everything else is secondary. Thus the “excursions” – the occasional little breaks to freshen the mind – are entirely secondary. They should not be given primary importance or become the driving factor in our lives.
TAKE A BREAK
Unfortunately with the Western culture eroding into our way of life, the “excursions” — the elaborate holidays — have become an aspect of primary focus. Generally people no more take a holiday to “take a break.” Instead the holiday has become the objective. Many people need to take a break after the holiday. Nevertheless, much time is spent planning one’s holidays. Budgets are allocated for it. While on holiday “where we will spend the next holiday” is discussed. Thus we generally live from holiday to holiday. Every effort is made to ensure that the next holiday is more fun-filled and exciting than the previous one. If the holiday does not materialize, the person is dejected. Alas, this is not the life that a true Mu’min leads.
Making holidays a high priority in life and generally chasing fun and entertainment are in fact the ideals of a “religion” termed “hedonism.” In Philosophy, hedonism is defined as “the doctrine that pleasure is the sole or chief good in life and that the pursuit of it is the ideal aim of conduct (Encarta Encyclopedia).” In simple terms a hedonist is one who worships his desires and makes chasing fun his object in life. This is exactly what Allah Ta’ala has denounced in the Qur’an in the words: “Have you seen the one who takes his desires as his deity and (as a result) Allah caused him to deviate despite knowledge (45:23).” Indeed no Mu’min will claim to be a hedonist in belief. Yet in practice by and large we follow in the footsteps of the hedonistic West. The cornerstones of Western society are “make money” and “have fun.” Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has taught the very opposite – the crux of which is that do not chase the world but spend your life in striving for the comforts, luxuries, fun and pleasure of Jannah.
Apparently it would seem that the one who follows the teachings of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and spends his life striving for the Hereafter would have no pleasure in this world. There is nothing further from the truth. In fact only those who dedicate themselves to Allah Ta’ala taste true pleasure. Hazrath Ebrahim bin Adham (R.A.) used to say: “By Allah we experience such pleasure in worship that, if the kings had known about it, they would have tried to snatch it with their swords.” It is for this very reason that they have no need to chase the artificial and superficial fun of material things, nor do they get depressed due to not having some petty material pleasures. On the contrary, the fun worshippers not only get depressed but also become suicidal. It is part of their belief that “avoidance of pain should be the main concern … and suicide is by far the most efficacious way of avoiding pain (Encarta Encyclopedia).” Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raajioon! Allah forbid!
Just as no Muslim will claim to be a hedonist in belief, likewise he will never believe in suicide being a way of avoiding pain. A Mu’min certainly believes in life after death and knows that there is unimaginable pain and suffering for one who commits suicide. Yet, due to imitating the hedonistic lifestyle and to some degree making worldly pleasure the purpose of life, some Muslims also become depressed and even suicidal when their desired worldly pleasure is not acquired.
Indeed, Islam has given leeway for a person to occasionally “take a break” from ones normal schedule of work. The object is to take some rest and refresh the mind so that one could return to one’s primary objective (Deen) with renewed enthusiasm and vigour. Hence in taking some rest one will never compromise one’s Deen. Compromising one’s objective for some trivial fleeting pleasure will be like a person who for the pleasure of some warmth makes a bonfire with all the money that he has earned. This would be very tragic indeed.
DO NOT DEGRADE…
In order to ensure that one’s “break” does not break the back of one’s Deen or break the morality and Imaan of one’s family, the following are some guidelines which should be adhered to:
Refrain from all venues of fitna. Even being in the vicinity of the popular public beaches, parks, “shoppertainment” centres and other such venues where hoards of naked people wearing scraps of clothing prance around, is extremely detrimental to one’s Imaan.
The same applies to beachfront hotels, holiday resorts and the like. Exposing oneself and one’s family to all the nudity, music and other fitnas at these venues seriously damages every ones hayaa (shame and modesty) though one may not actively be a part of the fitnas taking place.
Do not degrade the Islamic garb (the beard, kurta / cloak, niqaab) by attending any such venues where drinking, nudity and other haraam activities take place. These are places which should not be attended by any Muslim, let alone a Muslim who is conscious enough to adopt the Islamic garb.
Remember that you are only taking a break from your normal daily schedule, not from Deen. Therefore, Salaah, recitation of the Qur’an, zikr and other Deeni activities should not stop. Instead it should increase since one is free from many other daily chores.
Any place where immorality abounds attracts the wrath of Allah Ta’ala. This is clearly mentioned in the Ahadith. Incidents such as tsunamis, earthquakes and other similar catastrophes in the recent past were a clear manifestation of the ahadith. A common factor was the prevalence of much immorality in the affected areas. When the punishment of Allah Ta’ala descends, the innocent are also affected with the guilty, though in the Hereafter they will be separated from the criminals. Thus places where the naked hordes roam around – on the beachfront, resorts and other similar places – must be strictly avoided.
Always bear in mind that true pleasure only lies in obedience to Allah Ta’ala. In disobedience lies torment and agony – even though one may be in the lap of luxury on the most “exotic holiday.” May Allah Ta’ala grant us the taste and true pleasure of Deen in this world and grant us the eternal holiday of Jannah. Aameen.