How a Distraction Becomes an Obsession
As Muslims we believe that the true purpose of our lives is to know and worship the one and only Creator. Numerous Qur’anic verses point to the fact that life was not created without purpose:
- Human was created to worship Allah (Qur’an 51:56)
- Life was not created without purpose (Qur’an 38:27)
- Humans were created to be conscious of themselves and Allah and become righteous (Qur’an 2:21, 49:13)
All of the verses mentioned above, and several more, refer to the fact that the purpose of our existence is to attain righteousness, become God-conscious, and to understand life and be aware of one another.
We can conclude that humans are capable to reaching the heights of righteousness. It would be pointless if the purpose of creation was God-consciousness, yet humans did not possess the capability to do so. However, Allah (SWT) also says in the Qur’an that humans are created weak; consequently, He (SWT) has made the path very clear and removed the obstacles (Qur’an 4:28). This does not mean that we will not face any challenges. What it means is that the challenges that we are given will be according to our strength (Qur’an 2:286).
Islam is about balance. It does not dictate that we live a life of isolation and complete austerity. Islam is not into the business of making our lives difficult and miserable. The prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
Do not overburden yourselves, lest you perish. People [before you] overburdened themselves and perished. Their remains are found in hermitages and monasteries. (Musnad of Abu Ya’la)
The prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) always disagreed with excessiveness. He, may peace and blessing be upon him, once said to Abdullah ibn Amr, ‘Have I heard right that you fast everyday and stand in prayer all night?’ Abdullah replied, ‘Yes, O Messenger of God: The Prophet said, ‘Do not do that. Fast, as well as, eat and drink. Stand in prayer, as well as, sleep. This is because your body has a right upon you, your eyes have a right upon you, your wife has a right upon you, and your guest has a right upon you (Bukhari, Muslim)
Islam does not stop us from amusement, having fun, or enjoying ourselves. It actually encourages physical activities, competitions, and gatherings; all within the Halal limits. But we are not perfect. We make mistakes; we commit sins; we neglect our duties and forget the purpose of our existence. We get distracted, and then we overcome and move on. Nevertheless, sometimes these distractions can morph into something more; more than just a momentary disruption.
There is no such thing as good obsession even if the object of the obsession is something good. The fact that it becomes an excessiveness makes it harmful and against the teachings of Islam. However, when a distraction becomes an obsession, it is a greater problem because it should not last long enough to become a potential for an obsession.
Are you obsessed with your handheld devices? A lot of us are. There is a wealth of useful and worthy information that you can now hold in the palm of your hand; but at the same time, there is the possibility of misusing it for vain and useless activities. Assume you are reading an article on your iPad and then there is a game ad. on that page. It distracts you. You become interested in the content of the ad, the game that it was advertising. So you hop on to App Store and find the app for that game and buy it. Minutes later you find yourself playing the game. A few hours later, you realize that you are playing at the expense of work or study. Days later, you find yourself playing it every single chance you get. This is how a distraction becomes an obsession. The ad on the page was only few seconds long, but now you are losing precious time playing the game.
We cannot avoid distractions all the time, but we can control them and make sure they do not turn into obsessions. It is in our nature to like amusements, whether it is by watching TV, browsing the world wide web, going out with friends or any other type of entertainment, but we need to take a balanced approach. Excessive amusements has the potential to murder our soul and we need our soul to reach the purpose of our lives.