Whenever you want to make a big decision, you might think about what would be the right choice; which one is better and going to lead you to the right way. When the choice is made and you have followed one way or another, again thousand thoughts appear. And one of those thoughts or questions is: “Was that predestined? Is it me who is making the choice or it was made for me before? What is my will in it?
Once a man asked Imam Sadiq (AS), “Does Allah make human beings to do or not to do a thing?”
He answered, “Allah is More Just to make a person do a thing and then punish him for that” .
Imam Reza (AS) also replied to a similar question with this phrase, “Allah is More Just and Wise to do such a thing” .
Divine wisdom and justice do not allow Allah to decide about good and evil acts of human beings, who are created to have a free will and the right to decide for their own fate. He directly refers to the fact that human beings are responsible for what they do and He just shows them the truth in the Holy Quran. They are to choose which way to take and what to do.
“and say 'This is the truth from your Lord. Let whosoever will, believe, and whosoever will disbelieve it.” (18:29)
“Indeed, We have guided him to the path, he is either grateful or ungrateful” (76:3)
So, none of the things we do in this world is the result of divine determinism. But we know that Allah has the ultimate will. He makes decisions, which no one can change. Where does His Will stand regarding human being’s will?
Are human beings the final decision-makers and Allah has no role and consideration in the decisions they make, or Allah makes the final decision and human beings have no part in the things that happen to them , and they have no free will? None! They both work together. For everything we do, both our will and Allah’s will play their own parts. 
Let me give you an example. Imagine a person who is in a terrible financial state and decides to go to his neighbor’s house to steal some money from their strongbox. The moment he decides to do such a thing, he knows that the money does not belong to him and might put the neighbor in trouble. He knows that stealing is not a good thing to do, and it’s against the laws of humanity, Islam, Christianity, and any other faith. At the end of the day, he decides to steal the money and goes to his neighbor’s house.
Well, the guidance is given by Allah, in the holy books, in one’s heart and thoughts, but it’s the person who makes the final decision. One might think that “Well, Allah could stop that man from stealing that money. Why didn’t he?”
The answer is that he surely could, but it is against his greater will to praise the ones who do what he commands them to do and the ones who decide to harm themselves, others, the earth, or the whole world. That is where the difference is made.
To sum up, one should know that Allah wanted us to decide and to choose, and that makes the difference between human beings and other creatures. Allah decides about certain things and guides us to the right path through signs and words He had sent to us. However, we are the ones who choose the way we want to take.
Which way is yours?!
Having the major themes that were mentioned in the previous article in mind, while going out for fun in Islam, we can realize if the sort of entertainment that we are up to, is lawful or not. Now, let’s have a look at a few lawful (Halal) fun activities:
In Islam having a good relationship with relatives is an obligation even if that relative is not Muslim . Therefore having gatherings with friends, family and relatives is not even lawful (Halal) but also recommended, keeping in mind that in all sorts of gatherings we must avoid gossiping, backbiting, humiliating others, and using bad words, as they have prohibited in Islam [i].
In chapter (Surah) Mu’minoun when Allah is describing the features of a real believer, he says: “And those who avoid vain talk” (23: 3)
Although we have many verses with the content mentioned above, it does not mean that Muslims should be charmless and moody. Therefore we have to find out what vain talk really means. The vain talk could be a sort of talk that can annoy other people [ii]. However, telling jokes that have no bad content or have a sort of humorous attitude that can make the listener laugh and make him/her happy and energetic, is recommended in Islam. It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (AS) that “among the most precious actions in the eyes of God is to bring joy and happiness to the heart of a believer.” 
Having fun in Islam with the non-Mahram opposite sex is forbidden. Instead, getting married and enjoying a relationship with the spouse is highly recommended. It is narrated from Imam Baqir (AS) that, “the fun of a believer is in three things: enjoying his/her spouse, joking with friends, and the night prayer.” 
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says: “Travel so that you stay fine and healthy.” 
Going out to nature, being only a few hours in a park or camping in the woods overnight, or traveling to other cities or countries is not only a change of mood, but there are also lessons and edification in it for a believer [iii].
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) used to encourage people to necessarily learn sports such as horse riding, swimming, and archery. There are many narrations concerning these three specific sports as well as other sorts of fun in Islam that our prophet (PBUH&HP) used to get involved in at his time. For example, it is narrated that he used to take part in camel riding races and he was really good at it.
However it does not mean that in our time we should stick to archery, horse riding, or camel riding, rather we should find the types of sports that suit our time and are also required in life. We can say that these days driving replaces horse riding. Or even cycling, karate and running or walking are easy and useful sports.
World championship sports these days mostly serve international political reasons rather than health and joy.
These kinds of activities are fun and exciting. Some people enjoy these activities alongside activities such as bungee jumping. Some people have adventurous personalities and need a kind of entertainment like this, so they can gain energy and stability to go back to work on a Monday morning. Therefore there is no problem to enjoy them.
Reading is a calming and relaxing activity. Sitting by the fire on a winter’s day and drinking a cup of tea while reading, or on a summer’s day doing the same thing on the balcony would be so joyful. Most of our jurists recommend inserting reading into our daily lives. But we have to be careful about what we read. Reading all types of books is, not lawful (Halal) for a Muslim. A Muslim should be cautious about the contents of the books she/ he chooses to read. The book should help elevate the life and soul of the reader and not engage his/ her mind with useless information.
Playing computer games as long as there is no unethical content in the game is not forbidden. If people play computer games to rest, or change their moods, it would be fine. But we have all seen how some people are addicted to digital games that have no use for them and only waste their energy as well as physically hurting them. However, spending too much time on a computer game that may have no use for the growth of one’s soul is detestable (Makruh). The same rule applies to movies. When choosing a movie to watch, it is important to make sure that the content of that movie does not harm our souls.
Playing cards, especially when a group of friends comes together can be fun. However, any sort of card games that are known to be used for gambling, even if we do not bet on them, is forbidden. Imam Reza (AS) said: “God has prohibited His servants from all sorts of gambling (games with winners and losers), and commands them to avoid these games…” , as they are “abominations of Satan’s doing” [iv].
In conclusion, by keeping in mind that the entertainment of a believer should do no harm to him/her or others, but should also have some benefits for him/her, we can understand why Imam Ali (AS) says: “working is the greatest fun of a believer”. 
[i] “O you who have faith! Let not any people ridicule other people: it may be that they are better than they are, nor let women [ridicule] women: it may be that they are better than they are. And do not defame one another, nor insult one another by [calling] nicknames. How evil are profane names subsequent to faith! As for those who are not penitent [of their past conduct]—such are the wrongdoers. O you who have faith! Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicions are sins. And do not spy on one another or backbite. Will any of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it. Be wary of Allah; indeed Allah is All-clement, all-merciful.” (49:11- 12)
[ii]“Woe to every scandal-monger and slanderer” (104:1)
[iii]“Have they not traveled in the land and seen how was the fate of those who were before them? They were more powerful than them, and they plowed the earth and developed it more than they have developed it. Their apostles brought them manifest proofs. So it was not Allah who wronged them, but it was they who used to wrong themselves.” (30: 9)
[iv]“O you who have faith! Indeed wine, gambling, idols, and the divining arrows are abominations of Satan’s doing, so avoid them, so that you may be felicitous.” (5: 90)
- Mafatih al-hayat, p. 211
- Al-kafi, vol. 2. P. 188
- Mafatih al-hayat, p. 205
- Al-hadith, vol. 2, p. 145
- Mafatih al-hayat, p. 205
- Nahjulbalaghah, Hekmah no. 39
“Imam Hussain is the leader of humanity” Rabindranath Tagore
People have looked into the movement of Imam Hussain (AS) from different aspects throughout the history of Islam. Some see it as a historical trajectory, where the teachings of Islam were distorted and violated by the tyrant caliph of the time, Yazid, thus Imam Hussain’s movement as a revolutionary act and sacrifice to revive true Islam.
To some others, yet, the most important lesson we can learn from the event of Karbala is its moral or ethical dimension. As Imam Hussain (AS) himself puts: “I seek to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil and follow the traditions of my grandfather (Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP)) and my father (Imam Ali (AS))” .
One of the moral principles that Imam Hussain (AS)’s movement represents and emphasizes is the Golden rule. Based on this rule you should treat others the way you would like to be treated by them: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” .
Although it is often said that the term ‘Golden Rule’ first started to be used in the 17th or 18th century , we can also find it much earlier in the words and acts of Imam Ali (AS) and the other infallible Imams (AS). Imam Ali (AS) tells his son Imam Hassan (AS) in his last will that: “like for others whatever you like for yourself, and whatever you dislike happening to you, spare others from such happenings” .
Imam Hussain (AS) also advises people (as a general rule and a decent way of life): “If you do not believe in any religion, at least be free-spirited and honest in your actions” .
A newer version of the Golden rule also says: “act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law” .
So, for an action to be considered morally good, you should ask yourself whether you could always reason or defend it as a universal law. In other words, to be a good person, you must be good for goodness’ sake, no matter what.
Now let’s see how this ethical value was manifested in Imam Hussain (AS)’s conduct.
A question anyone might ask after reading about the event of Karbala is ‘why didn’t Imam Hussain (AS) take an oath of allegiance to Yazid to save his life? Why did he choose to be martyred?’ [i]
One clear answer to this question is that he was the perfect leader (Imam) and role model for the Muslim community. A role model is someone who serves as an example and whose behavior is emulated by other people. To be a good role model you have to observe all your acts so that you set proper examples for others to follow.
Now, if Imam Hussain (AS) had pledged allegiance to Yazid’s tyranny, would he be a good exemplar of resistance against injustice for people? Wouldn’t his compromise then make the tyrant ruler more powerful and dominant?
The answer is obvious. Imam Hussain (AS) chose not to follow the indecent tyrant of his time since he intended to act on that maxim he wished it would become a universal law.
On the other hand, some people criticize Imam Hussain (AS)’s decision, saying he could have pledged allegiance to Yazid while at the same time trying to fight him and his injustice over time.
This would also contradict Imam Hussain (AS)’s maxim and is paradoxical, too. In fact, Yazid’s deviations from true Islam and the moral norms were so many that Imam Hussain (AS) could not turn a blind eye to them.
Imam Hussain (AS) did not want to compromise with those so-called Muslims whose behavior and actions had nothing to do with Islam. Instead, he chose to do the right thing, which any free-spirited, wise and virtuous man would do. And with his movement, he invited us all to do the same and follow in his footsteps.
The other ethical lesson we learn from Imam Hussain (AS) is that he never disregarded human values on his way to achieve his purpose. And he always advised his followers to choose the right way in life. For him, the end did not justify the means. What mattered to him more than anything else was the values not the victory in its apparent sense.
As Imam Ali (AS) says: “The victory achieved through sins is not, in fact, a victory, the one who dominates with the help of evil is defeated” .
It is due to this ethical principle that Muslim ibn Aqil did not kill his enemy, Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, before the event of Karbala (before the enemy declared war against them), when he had every chance of doing so in his friend’s house.
He did not kill him because the Holy Prophet (PBUH) forbade any guile: “Verily, Islam became an obstruction of deceit and an obstacle of trickery” . Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions were seeking to revive the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (AS). So, killing even the most wicked person on earth through deceit, and before he has shown an act of hostility against you, is not compatible with Islamic teachings.
In another account from the event of Karbala, Zuhayr, one of Imam Hussain (AS)’s companions, recommended fighting the enemy when they were fewer in number and so easier to defeat. But Imam Hussain (AS) replied he did not intend to start a war; [he would rather defend if a war was imposed on him].
The examples mentioned above manifestly show the behavior of a great role model. Imam Hussain (AS) only wanted to restore what was right, the true teachings of Islam which had been distorted by the tyrant ruler of the time. He tried to preserve human dignity and values.
He could have saved his life as well as that of his family’s and companions’ by accepting Yazid’s allegiance. But this would have been at the cost of ruining their dignity and living a life humiliation. Never would he put up with such disgrace.
So Imam Hussain (AS) made the most of every opportunity to invite people to the righteousness and prevent bloodshed. However, when he was left with two options, humiliation or death, and war was being forced upon him, he chose martyrdom and bravely fought against injustice.
[i] In one of his sermons to people of Kufa, Imam Hussain (AS) said: “Beware! Now this illegitimate son of the illegitimate father (Ubaydullah bin Ziyad) has stationed me between unsheathing the swords or then bear the humiliation, and far be it that we accept humiliation” .