Often when we focus on the understanding of being good Muslims who are focused on the akhirah – we tend to think that all enjoyment of this world must be divorced from our lives. When we do find ourselves relaxing, we often have feelings of guilt that we are not doing ‘enough’ and we are not being serious all the time. The reality is that the Sahabah also felt this way and they were under the misconception that they had to completely divorce themselves from the joy that often comes when we relax with family and indulge in different forms of relaxation.
One day a Sahabi by the name of Hanzala (ra) in the famous story of his meeting with Abu Bakr (ra), he felt like he had turned into a munafiq – a hypocrite because he would be so pious and affected by the hereafter in the company of the Holy Prophet (S) yet when he would go home, he would relax and enjoy himself. Abu Bakr (ra) concurred with him, and they both went to the Holy Prophet (S) and they expressed their worry.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) then said, ‘By Him in Whose hand is my soul, if you were to continue at the same level at which you were when with me and in remembering Allah, the angels would shake hands with you when you are resting and when you walk about, but, O Hanthalah, there is a time (for this) and a time (for that).’ He repeated this phrase three times.(Related by Muslim)
Here the Holy Prophet (s) put this into perspective for us- in order to flourish as believers, we must inculcate a balance of relaxation as well as a focus on the Akhirah. We cannot divorce our need to relax and create moment of enjoyments as human beings from our need to learn and grow and focus on the hereafter. Hobbies are a great hikmah from Allah Ta’ala in that they allow us to grow and develop as human beings creatively, they develop our skills as well as our ability to integrate what we learn into our lives.
As we learn a new skill we develop ourselves and grow as human beings, but most importantly we have new and exciting skills and information to share with others. In a world that is focused on talking about others and getting involved in useless backbiting or gossip – hobbies stimulate the mind and allow you to speak about ideas and build beautiful conversations with those around you.
Often, we go to the mall or to a restaurant and find that we are looking to de-stress and relax, yet we come back home feeling incredibly tired and fatigued. Whilst there is nothing wrong with going out and enjoying a coffee with friends or a lovely meal at a restaurant – we have to undertand that in learning new hobbies we develop our minds and skills and create moments of destressing and relaxation.
We don’t have to be perfect at a hobby or do the hobby to make it a business opportunity. We also might try out a new hobby and not find joy in it – the process is to look for new learning avenues and developing opportunities to develop our skills and minds as we relax at the same time.
In living a life with hobbies, I have found that so much of my time that might have been spent scrolling mindlessly or watching reels or videos that create no impact in your life has been redirected to learning a new skill yet at the same time relaxing and finding joy.
Incorporating zikr or a beneficial podcast in the background, allows you to find calm and relaxation as you develop yourself.
In choosing a hobby, our focus is never to splurge and spend thousands of Rands to enjoy that hobby- all we really need to do is just start off with a clear niyyah. An intention to bring a form of joy that is halaal and tayiib – permissible and wholesome. An intention to completely move away from a life that has no tangible meaning and productivity.