Some of the Companions of the Prophet (peace be on him) attained great spiritual heights. They believed that in order to remain at such a spiritual level they should always be serious, engaged in constant worship, turning their backs on all the enjoyments of life and the good things of the world, neither playing nor relaxing but keeping their eyes and their minds fixed on the Hereafter and its concerns, away from common life and its amusements.
Let us listen to what this great Companion and scribe of the Prophet (peace be on him), Hanthalah al-Usaidi, has to say about himself: Abu Bakr met me and asked, ‘How are you, Hanthalah?’ I replied, ‘Hanthalah has become a hypocrite.’ He said, ‘Subhanallah! What are you saying?’ I replied, ‘When we are with Allah’s Messenger (peace be on him), he mentions the Fire and the Garden until it is as if we can see them. But when we leave the Prophet’s company and play with our wives and children or busy ourselves with our properties, we forget much.’ Abu Bakr said, ‘By Allah, I have experienced the same thing.’ He and I then went to visit the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him), and I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, Hanthalah has become a hypocrite.’ He asked, ‘And how is that?’ I replied, ‘O Messenger of Allah, when we are with you, you talk about the Fire and the Garden until it is as if we can see them. Then we go out and play with our wives and children and deal with our properties, and we forget much.’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)
As ProductiveMuslims, we should heed this advice of our Prophet and give ourselves time for leisure and time for work, moreover, we should try and invest our leisure time in activities and hobbies that not only help us relax, but develop ourselves by pursuing interests and passions that stimulate our creativity hence making us ‘sharper’ more ‘active’ Muslims.
“The truth is that spending our leisure time in satisfying pursuits, “fun work,” will refresh us far more than a non-stop marathon of playing Call of Duty. Hobbies can bring you joy, increase your eye for detail, keep your mind sharp, expand your creativity, and help you meet friends and learn valuable skills. They add interest to your life and help you become a more well-rounded man. If you’ve been feeling depressed, restless, or apathetic, the problem may be the lack of having something in your life you feel passionate about, something that brings you needed fulfilment.” (ArtofManliness.com)
Here are 21 hobbies we can engage ourselves in; some are a bit outside the box, (not the typical Muslim hobby I would say)… others are more ‘traditional’. It’s not an exhaustive list, and I’d love to know what other ‘halal’ hobbies you can come up with:
Unfortunately, Muslims today just don’t read. I wrote an article a while back called “Developing a Habit of Reading” urging the Ummah of Iqraa (read) to start reading, and not just read once, but read quality books regularly. Reading is one of the few relaxing pursuits that truly inspire you, and helps stretch yourself to new heights. If you need some ideas on what to read, visit the ProductiveMuslim online shelf
Taking the time-out to travel and really take a “break” from the day to day tornado of life – This can be a hobby you can pursue! Although it might seem like an expensive hobby, but if you think about it, traveling does not necessarily mean a flight ticket and 5 star hotels, it can be as simple as cycling to the outskirts of the city or driving to a nearby village. Anything that gets you out of your comfort zone/area, can be constituted as traveling and a hobby worth pursuing. Seriously, when I think about it, how many of us know the cities/villages/valleys nearby our homes? How many breath-taking sceneries that are not far off from where we live that we haven’t explored yet?
3. Journal Writing
Go to your local stationary shop, find a beautiful journal (Pocket sized or A4) and a mechanical pencil or comfortable pen, find a nice spot to sit (at home or outside), and start writing. Welcome to the world of journal writing! A hobby that will teach you more about yourself and what goes inside your mind, than 10 hours with a psychiatrist. Write anything, absolutely anything that crosses your mind and heart, and watch ideas, emotions and new understanding surface from nowhere.
Here’s a great description of blogging (and the same goes for podcasting):
“A blog can be an outlet for sharing something you’re passionate and knowledgeable about with other people. You can meet people from all over the world that share your interest, and you can start great discussions and online friendships in that way. Or you can use your blog to update friends and family on the goings on in your life (moms love their kids’ blogs). Or you can use your blog as your personal journal, a permanent treasure trove of musings and photographs that you can look back on in the years to come. You can also use your blog to boost your professional career, network, and build your personal brand. No matter what reason you start a blog, it can also teach you a bit more tech savvy- how to upload pictures and videos, web design, online marketing and so on. It’s the kind of thing you may not understand the appeal of before you start, but becomes addicting once you get into it.”