We live in an era where being entertaining and entertained is exalted. Just knowing the investments made in entertainment industry worldwide is enough to see how far this exaltation has gone. This approach is considered unquestionable to a degree that it is not considered unreasonable when people of all ages constantly play and have fun, consume their lives in this way. Entertaining the child has become the most serious occupation of the parents. While permanent state of cheerfulness was once being interpreted as some sort of foolishness, now you are almost left alone if you happen to feel blue.
First, I should have specified this; the way of life I have tried to describe –one that is totally unproductive, unprofitable, only based on gains, always seeking joy- is not only the lifestyle of people who do not care about death, the life in the grave, the day of judgment and the Hereafter and who purge these concepts out of their minds. It is now a frightening situation where we see the examples in our closest circles, even in our own homes, and it is not limited to youth. There are all sorts of games and toys available for any budget to entertain any age group. Days pass by with play and entertainment. It is even becoming hard to find friends if you are not a fun person.
Well, what is wrong with having a good time, being entertained or joyful? Of course these are not wrong as long as the limits set by Allah are not transgressed. What is wrong is not to take a break in life, but to consider the whole life as a break. Our Prophet (pbuh) too has rested, walked around, travelled, sat down with his companions and chatted with them, let them play games, made jokes though in moderation, organized competitions, etc. However, he has not done all that by taking entertainment as a goal, but by taking it as a means to a higher purpose. This higher purpose was sometimes to strengthen human relationships, sometimes to prevent strife by diverting people’s attention, sometimes to facilitate communication by easing his addressee into it and sometimes to emphasize that the eminent person who is sent for a supreme goal too is ultimately a human being.
Making entertainment the purpose of life ends up making the nafs (self or ego) a measure of truth, so it is dangerous. Peace, inner calm and tranquility are not the reward of endless entertainment, but of a life where everything fits right in.