Answered by Shaykh Farid Dingle
Is it haram to play video games that have no killing, murder, nudity, or adult themes such as Nintendo games?
To answer this question, we need to first understand a few things about life:
Having a Mission
A believer has a mission. He knows where he is, and knows where he wants to go. This colors everything he does and all the decisions he makes. The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “What do I have to do with This World! I’m in This World like a rider who sought shade under a tree, and then went leaving it behind him.” [Tirmidhi and Ibn Maja] This world means everything in this life that does not help fulfill our mission. He also said, “The wise is he who takes himself to task, and works for that which is after death.” [Tirmidhi and Ibn Maja] And as some of the Early Muslims used to say, “The Dunya is just a moment. So make it an act of worship.”
So as believers, we have a person and goal in everything we do, and we have to ask ourselves what use this game, conversation, job, or whatever it may be, is actually preparing us for death. People with such a mission actually thrive on the strictures that it entails and feel fulfilled in life. Those without such a mission, float around in life trying to find little things to amuse them, only to find boredom and depression as their only friends.
Sunna vs. Merely Not Haram
In light of this mission, the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “Every pastime that a Muslim man busies himself with is of falsehood, save but shooting his bow, training his horse, and playing around with his wife, for they are of the truth.” [Tirmidhi and others] That is to say that every game or pastime that has some kind of physical, financial, or social benefit is ‘of the truth’, and therefore part of one’s mission in life; and if it doesn’t have any benefit, then it is ‘of the falsehood.’
A believer then does not merely look for things that are not haram, but rather things that are ‘of the truth’ and that conform to the wide trajectory of the sunna. Some entertainment and leisure can indeed be of the sunna, as evinced by the aforementioned hadith.
Well, Is It Haram or Not?
In short, as long as there are no killing, murder, nudity, or adult themes, then it would not be haram in itself. This means that the games could be sold and bought and that one would not be obliged to command others, including one’s children, to stop playing them. But that doesn’t mean that one should play them or let one’s children play them, as we have already explained.
Play Real Games
My advice would be to play or have your children play real games. Do activities that exercise the body like sports, swimming, trekking, or bicycling; entertain yourself and your family with pastimes that stimulate and enhance the mind and build strong family bonds. Computer games have very little mental benefit in the face of the emotional and psychological detriment that they cause. (See this article for more details). Get out in nature, learn crafts, learn bird and tree names, and sing.
All of these activities should be done with the intention of enhancing your health, strengthen your mind, and/or bring you and your family members closer together, all with the deeper intention of earning Allah’s pleasure.
“O Allah, help us remember You, thank You, and worship You in the best way.” [Ahmad and others]
[Shaykh] Farid Dingle
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Farid Dingle grew up in a convert family in Herefordshire, UK. In 2007, he moved to Jordan to pursue traditional studies. Shaykh Farid continues to live in Amman, Jordan with his wife and kids. In addition to continuing his studies he teaches Arabic and several of the Islamic sciences.
Shaykh Farid began his journey in sacred knowledge with intensives in the UK and Jordan (2004) in Shafi’i fiqh and Arabic. After years of studying Arabic grammar, Shafi’i fiqh, hadith, legal methodology (usul al-fiqh) and tafsir, Sh. Farid began specializing in Arabic language and literature. Sh. Farid studied Pre-Islamic poetry, Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid, and Andalusian literature. He holds a BA in Arabic Language and Literature and continues exploring the language of the Islamic tradition.
In addition to his interest in the Arabic language, Shaykh Farid actively researches matters related to jurisprudence (fiqh) which he studied with Shaykh Hamza Karamali, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, and continues with Shaykh Amjad Rasheed.