By: Mahnoor Arif
Is that even a word? Can entertainment really be halal?
In a world where we are mostly surrounded by lots of weird forms of entertainment that are not permissible because of religious or ethical reasons, it is very difficult to comprehend the word halal with entertainment. We, as a Muslim society, have this combined responsibility to delve deeper into the acts that spark joy, that make us relaxed from our daily grinds and motivate us to do better.
Research shows us that if the content of the entertainment and its context is positive, it reaps many positive results such as improved social behaviors, improved hyperactivity in kids, and improved ways of getting an education.
Let us explore some of the Sunnah inspired, very healthy forms of entertainment that were endorsed even in the earlier times and resulted in positive individuals who had a sound body and a sound mind as is said by our beloved Prophet S.A.W.W.
“The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although both are good.” Muslim (2664)
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Racing as a physical exercise or as an entertainment sport is highly encouraged. Not only does it improve one’s physical health but it also gets those endorphins moving to bring an instant uplift in one’s mood. Pair it up with one’s creativity and we find the perfect recipe for halal entertainment. This incident from the Prophet’s life is a practical example.
‘Aa’ishah said: I went out with the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) on one of his journeys when I was still young and had not put on weight. He said to the people: “Go on ahead.” So they went on ahead, then he said to me, “Come, let me race with you.” So I raced with him, and I beat him, and he said nothing. Then when I had put on some weight, and I had forgotten about it, I went out with him on one of his journeys, and he said to the people: “Go on ahead.” So they went on ahead, then he said to me, “Come, let me race with you.” So I raced with him, and he beat me, then he smiled and said: “This is in return for that.” Abu Daawood (2578) and Ahmad (26277)
Such a light-hearted way of enjoying with one’s spouse!
That rush of achievement when the arrow hits its target! Not familiar with it? Well, not many are. Many wouldn’t have even done it all their lives maybe. While archery as a sport is challenging and reward worthy at the same time, it also has surprisingly positive effects on coping with stress. Sadly, its a very underrated entertainment activity but the effects on health and mood are profound. Endorsed by Prophet S.A.W.W., here is an example from Sunnah:
The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) passed by a group of Aslam who were competing in shooting arrows. The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Shoot, O sons of Ismaa‘eel, for your father was an archer. Shoot, and I am with the tribe of So-and-so.” One of the two groups stopped shooting, so the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “What is the matter with you, why are you not shooting?” They said: O Messenger of Allah, how could we shoot when you are with them? He said: “Shoot, for I am with all of you.” Saheeh (3373)
Always misunderstood with something to be done by those involved in fighting, riding is a sport that not only builds one’s physical strength but is fun to do with friends as well. It is practically difficult to get a horse and have it at home for such purpose but one can always access such places that teach riding and offer to do it in a family-friendly environment. Our Prophet S.A.W.W. always used to organize camel races and participate in them himself as well. Research shows that riding has improved the physical, emotional, and social health of autistic children, showing that it is equally or even more entertaining in the case of normal people.
Also read: Five Sunnah Foods
Many universities now offer separate pool timings for their female students. This sport has gained wide popularity among teenage boys but it is equally important for girls to learn it and use it for health and recreational purposes. A comprehensive study done at the University of South Carolina highlights the health benefits of swimming as compared to a sedentary lifestyle.
We can see that all of these forms of entertainment highly encourage us all to get out of our beds where we stay glued to our screens and instead adopt healthy lifestyles.
“Everything in which there is no remembrance of Allah is idle play, except four things: a man playing with his wife; a man training his horse; a man running between two lines (as in a race); and a man learning how to swim.” – Muhammad S.A.W.W. Saheehah (315).
 Rauterberg M. (2004) Positive Effects of Entertainment Technology on Human Behaviour. In: Jacquart R. (eds) Building the Information Society. IFIP International Federation for Information Processing, vol 156. Springer, Boston, MA
 Stickney, Margaret Ann, “A QUALITATIVE STUDY OF THE PERCEIVED HEALTH BENEFITS OF A
THERAPEUTIC RIDING PROGRAM FOR CHILDREN WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS” (2010).
University of Kentucky Doctoral Dissertations. 40.
 Chase, Nancy L.; Sui, Xuemei; and Blair, Steven N. (2008) “Comparison of the Health Aspects of Swimming With Other Types of Physical Activity and Sedentary Lifestyle Habits,” International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education: Vol. 2: No. 2, Article 7.