I have sinned. I defied a fatwa decreed by our wise religious scholars. It all happened last weekend.
It was a Saturday morning and I decided to sleep in. About 8.30am, I heard shouts outside my bedroom. I rushed out only to find my two kids walking about in the living room, eyes glued to their handphones with huge grins plastered across their faces.
“Ma! We just downloaded Pokemon Go!” my daughter exclaimed.
“Let me help you download it into your phone, Ma,” my son volunteered.
I knew Pokemon Go was declared haram and forbidden by a few Islamic Councils around the world, including our own Mufti of the Federal Territories. The ruling by the Mufti made at the Federal Territories Islamic Legal Consultative Committee meeting on Aug 1 agreed that the virtual world of Pokemon characters and the reality game of Pokemon Go promoted the power of deities and would lead Muslims to harmful consequences. ( The Federal Territories Mufti has since denied that he declared the game haram and blamed some media for misquoting him, saying he only advised Muslims to avoid playing the game.)
I decided to give the game a try anyway.
The first thing I did was to follow my kids as they walked around our home.
“Keep your eyes on the screen, Ma. You never know when ‘they’ will appear,” my son cautioned me.
Just as he warned, a weird-looking fish popped up on my screen. It was squeezing itself on my couch. I screamed, “I got one! I got one! What do I do? What do I do?”
“Calm down Ma. Use this ball and hit the Pokemon,” my son guided me.
Just like a five-year old learning to cycle for the first time, I felt my heart pounding as I guided the ball on my screen to hit the weird fish-like creature. “Gotcha!” – the word popped on my screen, officiating my first Pokemon catch.
“Yes! I killed it! I killed it! Woohoo!”
“Ma, get off your high horse. You are a Pokemon hunter, not a Pokemon slayer.”
I continued to sin the whole day. I hunted for Pokemons in the house, in the parking lot, in the car (I wasn’t driving), in the mall and even in the loo (sorry for that mental image). At the end of the day, I caught 53 Pokemons, five eggs and discovered two Pokemon gyms around my neighbourhood. I had slipped, quite unconsciously, into a pattern of addiction – I even almost started a midnight hunt after my kids went to bed.
On Sunday morning, upon waking up, I realise I had spent far too much time playing Pokemon Go in the past 24 hours. It consumed so much of my time that I had procrastinated doing my chores and some writing which was due in a few days. So I did what any normal human being would do – I deleted the Pokemon Go app from my handphone.
It was easy enough and I suffered no adverse side-effects. I wasn’t addicted to it as it was easy to give up. Yes, I was only hooked for one day, but like most addictions, all it takes is to stop ourselves from being fooled into thinking we are having fun when in fact we are merely engaged in a highly repetitive pursuit.
I find Pokemon Go no different than Candy Crush, Flappy Bird, Angry Bird, Mario Brothers, Tetris and Pac Man. They are all games invented to steal our precious time. Come to think of it, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are all the same – they make you waste hours scrolling around. Funny though, our religious scholars have yet to issue any decree forbidding these.
Anyway, since I sinned last weekend, I have vowed to repent and spend my next weekend recharging myself – instead of getting better at hunting weird species, I need to get better at resting and doing absolutely nothing. But wait – that does not sound Islamic, for wasting time and lazing around is forbidden in Islam. Why then haven’t the Muftis agreed to sanction ‘the act of doing nothing’ as haram, I wonder.
Okay fine. Perhaps instead of not doing anything, I shall do something better – I shall catch up on my Game of Thrones series. But wait, ravenously consuming thrash TV is also not so Islamic – except when you watch third-rate Malay dramas titled Suamiku Ustaz or Isteriku GRO.
Oh God, what satanic trickery is this – looks like everything I have done in my past isn’t very Islamic, although our wise Muftis remain silent over it. Sleeping in, going to the mall, watching movies, bowling, karaoke-ing, sightseeing, lepak-ing at mamaks, taking additional naps – if we start thinking like the Muftis, these activities are all directed towards bringing out the immorality in society and harming our sense of Aqidah, is it not?
Well, I guess since I have sinned all this while, playing Pokemon Go isn’t going to make me any more of a sinner than I already am. Time to re-install Pokemon Go!