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Ramadan Sin-O-Meter: The Results


Now that Eid has come and gone, I thought it might be worth briefly revisiting my recent Ramadan: The Ultimate Sin-O-Meter post with a post-Ramadan self-assessment.

Ever since publishing the entry – first to a small, intimate audience on my personal blog, then to a much larger one here, on MuslimMatters – I have experienced such pangs of fear and dread; truly, I have never felt such a burden with any previous article, as I have with this one. All because I must take my own advice, else subhanallah, my punishment will be doubled: once for returning to the sin that I only temporarily gave up during Ramadan, and the second for my blatant hypocrisy.

So, to help prevent me from committing such a gross act, I have compiled a short list of things to definitely stay away from, or at least minimise, in relation to my behaviour during Ramadan, i.e, my own “what I didn’t do during Ramadan” list.

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What iMuslim Didn’t Do During (Most of) Ramadan – and Should Not Do From Now On (insha’Allah):

  • iMuslim didn’t watch TV, except for the odd bit of News.
  • iMuslim didn’t check her e-mail 50 times a day, only to find junk mail/no e-mail.
  • iMuslim didn’t check her feed reader 60 times a day, only to find no new entries/entries worth reading.
  • iMuslim didn’t check her Facebook 70 times a day, only to… well, c’mon… it’s Facebook! Self-explanatory.
  • iMuslim didn’t write ridiculous, self-indulgent blog entries on her personal blog, that waste other people’s time, as well as her own.
  • iMuslim didn’t do several other things, that she will keep between herself and her Lord; May He envelop her in the Veil of His Mercy, in this life and the next. Ameen.

iMuslim also made many, many mistakes, which she prays will be forgiven. Ameen.

Returning to the first person narrative: the summarised version of my post-Ramadan resolution is to not waste so much time with TV and the net, insha’Allah.

The “no TV” thing is not as strict as it may sound. My TV watching habits were already limited to “family-friendly” viewing prior to Ramadan – though that is virtually impossible due to the lewd nature of far too many TV adverts, no matter what time of the day it is. Pretentious perfume ads are one of the worst culprits; does anyone actually buy these overpriced brands after watching their inane ads? I wonder if they are intentionally made to be the stupidest, twenty seconds of television ever dared to be broadcast? I think the producers compete in how lame and incomprehensible they can make them, as part of one massive industry in-joke that’s all on us, the viewers at home: “Nya-ha, they actually take in this rubbish!”.

Okay, mini-rant ends here.

My point is, TV is dodgy in its content, yes. But for me, the main problem lies in the fact that it is the hugest time-waster; even when I pretend to myself that what I am watching is really ‘educational’. Yeah, cos witnessing two grown men blow up a cement truck with a load of TNT teaches me a lot about life, the universe and everything (classic MythBusters).

Unfortunately, as is usually the case when trying to break free from addictions to mood-altering drugs, I have to come to rely on the TV in order to unwind my mind, thus making it harder to quit ‘cold-turkey’ under normal, non-Ramadan circumstances.

But I know I can live without it. I have done so in the past, at least for several months (a previous post-Ramadan resolution which eventually lapsed). And the thing I best remember about that brief period was all the time that suddenly became available to me – I didn’t know what to do with myself as first! I don’t think I was even blogging back then, or very internet crazy.

I am always claiming that I am “far too busy”, or “I don’t have the time” (sound familiar?); but previous experience has proven that I have a huge treasure trove of time at my disposal, if I simply choose to cut out the “shaytaan box“, as my dear mum calls it!

I mean, let’s look at the facts.

During Ramadan, I spent at least a couple of hours at the masjid each night for Eesha and Taraweeh prayers, masha’Allah – where did that time come from?

TV Time!

And I spent a few more precious moments engaged in reciting Qur’an, masha’Allah – where did that time come from?

TV Time!

And I found myself listening to more beneficial talks and reading several inspiring articles, masha’Allah – where did that time come from?

{waits for the audience’s response}

Yup, you guessed it: Shaytaan box time!

Perhaps folks are so used to hearing pious ‘uncle-gees’, and somewhat scary-looking mullahs (who most likely are the sweetest men around), telling them that “TV is haraam, TV is haraam, astagfirullah!“, it is immediately assumed that these well-meaning people are overreacting – as they always do – with the added thought: “Yaar, don’t you know I am a grown-up? Stop patronising me!”.

But maybe we are not as grown up as we’d like to think. If we really sat down and thought about such matters for a few minutes – without letting our egos get in the way – we’d come to a similar conclusion: if we dare. Just without so much of the dreaded finger-wagging (a humble note to the respected uncle-gees and mullahs who like to exercise that forefinger a little too much outside of the tashahud! hehe).

I can’t promise TV is gone forever from my life, as it is still in my house… waiting… ready to tempt me into its deadly, mind-numbing snare, as the wretched siren sweetly summons the weary sailor to his doom (erm, I got a little too poetic there, methinks!). Insha’Allah, I do hope to one day live in a TV-free zone. But then, clamping down on my internet time-wasting is also a goal that must be pursued. It’s all part of a bigger picture. But the good news is, it can be done!

As many a wise person before me has advised: the best way to give something bad up, is to replace it with something good. Thus I’ll be investigating such halal alternatives over the next few weeks, while the Ramadan spirit is still alive; any tips from recovering, ex-TV junkies are most welcome, insha’Allah!

So, what did you give up during this Ramadan? X-Box? PS3? Nintendo Wii? Doom (or whatever weird, crazed, first person, kill-everything-that-moves-type computer game is in fashion these days – I hate those things!)? You don’t need to share it here. Just take a brief time-out from all the rockin’ Eid festivities to think about what you’re potentially letting back into your life, now that Ramadan has passed.

Isn’t it time that you studied the results of your own personal Ramadan Sin-O-Meter?

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Dr Mehzabeen b. Ibrahim joined MuslimMatters as a blogger in late 2007 under the handle 'iMuslim', whilst still a struggling grad student. Since then, she has attained a PhD in Molecular Biology and a subsequent Masters in Bioinformatics, and now works as a specialist in this field for a well-known British, medical charity, masha'Allah. Somewhere in between she found the time to get married, alhamdulillah. She likes to dabble in photo and videography, a sample of which can be found on her personal blog:



  1. Nihal A. Khan

    October 4, 2008 at 12:46 PM

    there was once a time i forced myself not to watch TV for 8.5 months straight, alhamdulillah….i really miss those days :)

  2. sister_in_islaam

    October 4, 2008 at 3:22 PM

    assalaamu ‘alaykum

    i gave up facebook during ramadhan also and now that i’m back on ( it’s v. useful for islamic events and activism and keeping in touch with other sisters ) I only log in 1 time a day alhamdulilaah so that is a better habit! :-) alhamdulilaah!

    gave up t.v. and movies for good after ilm summit and the habit continued during and after ramadhan alhamdulilaah.

    improved my relationship with al-qur’aan because i read from an arabic/english one so each ayah i read in arabic, I read the meaning right after and could connect so well with what Allaah was telling me.

    jazaaki Allahu khairen for sharing your experiences!

  3. Reem

    October 5, 2008 at 12:58 AM

    we don’t even have a tv at our home!

  4. AbuAbdAllah, the Houstonian

    October 5, 2008 at 1:35 AM

    bismillah. alhamdolillah, after hurricane ike, we lost power and after power was restored we found we had still lost our satellite dish reception.

    alhamdolillah alaa kulli haal. until tonight. my sisters and their husbands were visiting our home, and their discontentment without TV was palpable. then Allah subhanahu wata ala gave the hours they spent trying to turn back on the dish success, and that evil has not been off since.

    may Allah guide my parents and my sisters, and their families, and those of all the Muslims to realize how evil it is to bring into their homes hundreds of channels filled with smut and obscene speech. and may He do so before they have great cause to regret it.

    anyone who has ever heard Shaykh Muhammad Alshareef’s khutbah “Regret” knows that the TV and music are causes for a Muslim to become so distant from his deen that he may die on other than la ilaha illAllah, and what good would regret be in that case? do the people of hellfire not “regret” their past lives when they realize the folly of it all?

    Allah Says in Surah an-Naba:

    إِنَّا أَنذَرْنَاكُمْ عَذَاباً قَرِيباً يَوْمَ يَنظُرُ الْمَرْءُ مَا قَدَّمَتْ يَدَاهُ وَيَقُولُ الْكَافِرُ يَا لَيْتَنِي كُنتُ تُرَاباً
    Sahih International: Indeed, We have warned you of a near punishment on the Day when a man will observe what his hands have put forth and the disbeliever will say, “Oh, I wish that I were dust!”

  5. AbuAbdAllah, the Houstonian

    October 5, 2008 at 11:05 AM

    and as much as i stay away from TV, a new “time-suck” in my life has been, of all things, this site. subhanAllah. :) audho bilAllahi minash shaytanir-Rajim. wa audho bilAllahi min shururi anfusinaa wa min sayyiaati amaalinaa.

    and may Allah Guide the authors of this site, and those who visit it. and may He forgive the Muslims among us for our sins and excesses (including excess time spent here), strengthen them (in all good things, including things not done here), and give us victory over kufr (including the evil of the sneaking whisperer). ameen.

  6. Ikram

    October 5, 2008 at 11:26 AM

    In the name of Allah,

    I do not have a TV and I do not listen to Music obsessively. But usually after an hour or two of work I listen to a piece of music by the composer Yanni.
    I do not think music in itself can be called haram. You can waste your time listening to music or browsing the web, so why is music haram while browsing the web not?
    Also, why is it not haram to watch a movie that stimulates an awful lot of negative emotions within oneself and contains murder while it is haram to listen to some peace-bringing and inspiring music?

    I think our scholars should first understand the thing they want to make haram. Most things can be used for good and for bad.

    I rarely watch movies because most are stupid or boring, or they contain Zionist propaganda.
    And alhamdulillah I have made it my personal rule to read one Juz’ of Quran everyday, no exceptions. And I think that everyone who calls himself/herself a Muslim should do the same or more. In Surah Al-Muzzammil there is a mention of how the Prophet (saw) and his friends used to stay up one third of a night, or half the night, or two thirds of it, praying and reading Quran. Who does that these days?

  7. sister_in_islaam

    October 5, 2008 at 11:43 AM

    Music was not made haram by scholars but rather by Allah azawajal. Please see here inshaaAllah, jazaakallahu khairan for your good intentions and willingness to learn about the Deen of Allah:

    The End of Music by Kamal ElMakki

  8. Faraz

    October 5, 2008 at 1:41 PM

    I don’t even know why I have a tv, except for watching hockey (which is only half the year). I went through seven years without one, and the one I have now rarely turns on for anything other than sports… news, weather, and anything else somewhat interesting and informative is all available through the internet now, so I really think it’s only a matter of time before I can break away from tv ownership again. Of course, internet is an even bigger waste of time if we let it be, so perhaps it’s not the medium that’s the problem but ourselves..

  9. Bint Bashir

    October 5, 2008 at 2:32 PM

    I think the main difference is when Ramadan arrives we think of what we are going to do to improve ourselves that month and Alhumdulilah we do it, but when Ramadan finishes we start to return to our old habis, although i have never been a big fan of TV, the fact it is there i should change.

    I would like to try to have it so that, not watching tv etc is not a new thing for me, but that i never do it, not that when ramadan arrives we change it but only for a short time, so that it becomes the norm!!

    May Allah make this easy for us inshaAllah.

  10. AbuAbdAllah, the Houstonian

    October 5, 2008 at 7:28 PM

    bismillah. so after thinking about my last post in this thread, i promised myself not to return to MM until i had done something good. and alhamdolillah, i did a few things including reading two pages from the mushaf.

    shaykh waleed basyouni mentioned in his friday khutbah at the end of Ramadan that one of the things that makes doing good deeds easier in Ramadan is that all the Muslims are doing good deeds at the same time. fasting is easier, for example, because everyone is fasting.

    alhamdolillah, we do not need to join the people of bidah who make difficult-to-fulfill pledges and burden themselves with ibadat that are not fard already. so i am not encouraging anyone to make bayah or to make a pledge to do extra fasts, etc. that would be wrong.

    but i will encourage everyone to think about the extra good deeds they did in Ramadan, and think about how to keep up with those good deeds now that Ramadan is gone. for me, for example, that means reading more Qur’an outside Ramadan. alhamdolillah, i am grateful to Allah that He puts it in my heart to read much more Qur’an in Ramadan. and i pray to Allah for steadfastness so that, even if it is less than in Ramadan, i still read a significant amount every day, inshaAllah.

    and i think that setting a personal benchmark each day would be good. as would increasing that goal from time to time.

    and i think that treating my time on this site as a reward for meeting my daily goals would be better than letting my time here delay me. and i will try to keep that in mind with other distractions, though i pray that Allah will keep me steadfast in avoiding TV and similar wastes.

    the difference between MM and TV as distractions is like the difference between a ripe and crunchy apple on the one hand, and a processed-milk-and-cocoa-byproduct-chocolate-bar sweetened with refined sugar on the other. one as they say will keep the doctor away, and the other is a prescription for diabetes.

  11. asad

    October 6, 2008 at 5:50 PM

    I sold my PS3 at the beginning of Ramadhan on ebay to stop myself from playing on it- its that addictive.

  12. Pingback: Ramadan Entry - Losing Track! « iMuslim

  13. Organica

    October 7, 2008 at 5:47 AM

    MashAllah! What an inspiring post :-)!

  14. iMuslim

    October 7, 2008 at 1:23 PM

    Thanks everyone for your interesting comments… I have to say, my personal problem now is how to prevent myself wasting time online. Most of my work is computer/online based, and so I don’t even know how to differentiate between useful and wasteful activities half the time!

    Plus it is so easy to be distracted by new e-mails, and people coming onto IM… argh. I think I should only have my necessary applications open – leave the Mail and IM apps closed until my dedicated “break” time. Plus I hate sitting in front of my laptop for so many hours straight… not good!

  15. Muju

    October 8, 2008 at 9:56 AM

    Mashallah its a great article!
    Subhanallah this article applies to me so well! I alhamdullilah used to watch enough TV and never realize how many I wasted away in my day just watching that devil box. Ever since I stopped watching TV, things like lowering my gaze have become easier, and I have become slightly more immune to the evils around me, especially at university. It also allowed me to find more time for quran and taraweeh. Now, that shaitan has been unlocked the challenge lies in if we can actually persist in doing these so obedient acts, and I have already subhanallah felt shaitans attacks at me!….”its ok keep sleeping, pray fajr when you wake up”, “its JUST sunnah salah”, “just sit and loaft around on the internet, its so HALAL, and CHILLING”.
    Like subhanallah, his attach is full fledged.
    May Allah make it easy for us to fight the dreaded shaitaan for the rest of the year, and maintain the taqwa and piety that we attained during ramadhan.

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