The Messenger of Allah (saw) brought the message of Islam to the Arabs of Quraish. This message contained a system of life that would soon give its adherents leadership over the Romans and the Persians. It was narrated that when the Messenger of Allah (saw) first received revelation, he came to Khadija (ra) and proclaimed, “From this day there will be no rest!” Hence the first Ayat commanding the Prophet (saw) to,
اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ
“Read in the Name of your Lord…” [TMQ 96:1]
came with a great burden. It was a weighty message and required an Ummah, characterized by thinking and seriousness, to carry its burden. Because of its tremendous responsibility, this Ummah has been described by Allah (swt) as:
كُنْتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاس
“... the best Ummah brought forward to mankind.”[TMQ 3:110]
The Muslim Ummah, which was once the leading nation of the world, now faces a terrible situation. Our Deen is under attack, we are divided into over 50 insignificant states, and our rulers sell our labor and mineral wealth for worthless pieces of paper. However, the worst aspect of our current situation is that the Islamic Aqeedah has ceased to be the reference point in the Muslim lands. We are constantly being thrown into frivolous pursuits that consume us, distracting us from the serious task of rebuilding this Ummah and taking our rightful position as the leading nation of the world. Hence we witness, with sadness, the ever-increasing soccer (football) and cricket games, in national and international tournaments, and how the Muslims throw themselves at these events, taking pride in their false nations and their trophies.
The Meaning of Distraction (Lahw)
Distraction is mentioned in many occasions in the Quran and Sunnah. It is mentioned in the context of entertainment, for example when RasulAllah (saw) said, “You should (practice) (target) shooting, for it is the best of your entertainment (Lahwikum)” Narrated by Al-Tabarani. It is also mentioned in the context of idle talk, when Allah (swt) says,
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ
“But there are, among men, those who purchase idle talk (Lahw Al-Hadith).”[TMQ 31:6]
Ibn Jareer said that (lahw) is any talk used to impede the Ayat of Allah (swt) and obedience to His order and also “To slander and mock the truth. As Ja’far Al-Saadiq (ra) had said.” [Al-Tafseer Al-Kashif - Mughniyah]. This summarizes the meanings of Lahw in the Qur’an. It is also the saying of Al-Sha’raawi, “Al-Lahw is becoming distracted with something that is forbidden, or becoming distracted with permissible entertainment, keeping you occupied from carrying out an obligation.”
The Hukm Shari’ (Islamic ruling) on Distraction (Lahw)
There are some kinds of lahw, which are halal and mubah (permissible), like sports that achieve a result, such as target shooting (weapons training and hunting), swimming, racing (on foot), wrestling or the like. However, these lahw are halal; as long as it does not cause one to be unmindful of his/her obligations.
Imam Al-Shaatibi says, “Lahw, entertainment and vacancy from any work is Mubah (permissible), if it does not involve a forbidden matter, or occupy one from an obligated matter.”
And he adds, “But he is blameworthy, and the scholars did not agree with it (i.e. they did not like it), rather they would hate to see a man, who was not busy with either improving his livelihood or improving his Hereafter; for he had wasted a period of time which was not used to gain any good for this world, nor for the afterlife.”
And there are some matters of lahw, which are haram (forbidden). These include betting, playing dice (gambling), and being occupied with permissible lahw to the point where one neglects his/her obligations. The last example is haram because of the principle: “All that leads to haram, is itself haram.” For example, lahw that would keep one away from salah or from fasting would be haram. Also the lahw that distracts man from the obligation of carrying the da’wa, and re-establishing the Islamic authority (Khilafah) would also be forbidden, because it distracts man from this obligation.
Secular Aqeedah and Organized Distraction (Lahw)
The secular Aqeedah is built on the separation of Deen (religion) from life. Consequently, man is left to pursue his desires as there is no repercussion to worry about in the afterlife. Thus, it is in the nature of the secular Aqeedah to seek entertainment. The belief of secularism is a belief of recreation, distracting man from achieving his real goal in life, which is attaining the pleasure of Allah (swt). Instead, man is given the goal of achieving sensual satisfaction. So man strives hard to entertain himself and to seek his own pleasure in life, not worrying about what comes after life. Consequently, it is natural for secular societies to hold organized distractions, such as sports, where athletes play professionally on a national or international level. In addition, staff are appointed to oversee the activities of these athletes and competitors in accordance with their different levels. The events have specific times for training and for the games, each one according to its level and expertise. Television programs are scheduled and radio broadcasts inform the masses about the progress of sports games, until they become the talk of the town, city, region or even the world. The atmosphere surrounding sports has made it the biggest distraction for the sons of the Ummah, to the extent of becoming emotionally invested in a game or having a fanatical attachment to a particular team. Sports events are then played (in the Muslim lands), disregarding the Hukm Shar’i (Islamic laws) regarding speech, conduct and dress while playing, furthering the spread of depravity and bad manners across the Ummah. It has also been used as a way to promote the feeling of pride for the nation (assabiyah), even though there is nothing from in them to be proud of. The leaders use such emotions to distract the people from feeling the emotions that Islam seeks from them, which would naturally arise once they perceived the bad situation this Ummah finds herself in.
The same can be said about organized entertainment in the movie and music industries. They are constantly bombarding people with useless shows to keep them occupied and distracted from the worshipping of Allah (swt).
The Dangers of Organized Distraction (Lahw)
Organized distractions affect the entire life of a Muslim. These distractions turn the Ummah away from taking the Deen as the basis of her life, in belief, worship, in her manners and actions, and in her legislation and constitution, by weakening her reverence and respect for her Deen, causing her to live life without a purpose and walking without a path.
“This world becomes entertainment and games when there is no honorable, lasting purpose behind it, and when it is lived for what it has to offer, detached from the path Allah has set out in it…”[Sayyed Qutb]
The greatest danger in organized distractions is that they divert the Ummah from the correct political awareness, which involves analyzing the issues of the Ummah, as well as international issues, from the angle of Islam. For she no longer comprehends the value of Islam, so her situation only becomes worse as extinction nearly approaches her, and the danger of her massacre increases. These organized distractions divert the Ummah from the vital issues that are tied to her very existence and survival. The pinnacle of these issues is the establishment of the system of the Islam and turning all Muslim lands to Dar Al-Islam (land of the Islamic State).
The Duty towards Organized Distraction (Lahw)
1. The Ummah must realize the reality of organized distractions, and assume her role in facing this serious danger which is targeting the most valuable thing it posses - Islam.
2. She must become precisely aware of those who are behind it and know exactly how to struggle against them. The haram of organized distractions must be shunned, and those distractions that are mubah must be forsaken for the actions that improve his/her Hereafter. Muslims must strive, like the Sahabah (ra), with seriousness and thought, to return to ruling by that which Allah (swt) has revealed and to re-establish the authority of Islam. We should shun the frivolous pursuits, the organized distractions, the computer games, spectator sports, and the like. Instead, we must turn our attention to the return of this Ummah to its position of might, and above all yearn for the meeting with Allah (swt). Such a goal requires seriousness, continuous following up (perseverance) and patience.
The Messenger of Allah (saw) was most truthful when he said,
“The two feet of the son of Adam will not move from near his Lord on the Day of Judgment until he is asked about five matters: about his life, how he spent it; about his youth, how he took care of it; about his wealth, how he earned it and how he spent it; and about that which he acted upon from the knowledge that he acquired.”[Tirmidhi]
We ask Allah (swt) to make us among those who are aware of the importance of time and are serious about the pursuit of the Hereafter. We also ask Him to help this Ummah to rise to her greatest duty of being a witness on the mankind.
هُوَ سَمَّاكُمُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَفِي هَذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ
“It is He Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this (Revelation); that the Messenger may be a witness for you, and you be witnesses for mankind!” [TMQ 22:78]