I walked into a film rental one day…


I walked into a film rental one day

To pick up a movie to watch

And caught the end of a conversation:


“Do you like those real-life based dramas?” asked the customer.

“I used to like movies,” replied the Attendant-Cashier, “but can’t stand anything to do with real-life anymore. In whatever genre!”

So I looked up.

“Our own lives are depressingly boring. In life, there’s so much hardship already, and despair,” he continued, “So I prefer the world of online gaming, to be honest, where I can switch off and ‘switch on’ as I wanna be. Where I can get away, and say: ‘Here I am now, entertain us!’ It’s a freedom from life. This is the new nirvana I think……Oh and they were a good band weren’t they!”

“Shame the lead singer shot himself in the head…” the customer commented, “Oh well whatever, never-mind. Go on…”

“I was saying, the game play is so captivating, addictive. I know it’s completely unreal, but I love just living in those constructed narratives, that are so virtually real. I can spend days and nights on campaigns across galaxies and lose myself in those never-ending stories so far, far away. This is definitely the way of the future.”


The ‘Way’, I pondered, was synonymous in meaning to

both Sunnah1 and Deen2.

That was when I knew the Time had come.

The Gospel according to Self (via St Polonius) is now reigning supreme: “This above all: to thine ownself be true.”

Has now new meaning: the age old lie:


How humankind was tempted – not by Eve – but by the devil to eat the fruit from the tree.

(So don’t dare blame the woman but blame two-horned misanthropy,)

Told it will bring them power – the power of immortality.

The fools, we!

In heaven they were such. They were already – had been – eternally free.

But the sin of Adam and Eve was forgiven

by God

When they cried tears for heaven, repenting for He.

Doomed to jihad the dread life on earth’s grim reality

they were downcast,

And yet God gave us a way back in his rahma3, his generosity:

Live according to His Laws to prove your earnestness

and He will give back to us the greatest gift that IS, Will, ever have Been,

what no eye has heard, no taste has seen, no mind has lived, soul dared to dream.


But a heedless life amok in pleasure, vainglory,

is yet another fruit from this earthly withering tree,

presented us again…

The snake come softly, softly,

inviting reassuringly,

“Come here! Seek the virtue in your Self’s desire.

A virtual life is by far better than here’s reality.”

It whispers.

It whispers.


Break its soul despair!

Are we fools to risk losing the heaven’s gift yet again!

Again, I warn:

Do NOT forsake the grounded life’s working good for God!

Do NOT lose yourself fully from The revealed Way. Be free

and strive! Defy the devil your remaining breaths of mortality!


By Arif uz Zaman


Check out The Heights and contemplate.


1 Meaning ‘the way’ – but particularly, ‘the way of the Prophet’. c.f. The word Sunnah is Arabic and is derived from the root (sa-n-na) meaning smooth and easy flow [of water] or direct flow path. The word literally means a clear and well trodden path. In the discussion of the sources of religion, Sunnah denotes the practice of Prophet Muhammad that he taught and practically instituted as a teacher … and the best exemplar. From Sunnah.

2 Meaning ‘the way’ – but particularly, ‘the way of religion’. c.f. Dīn (anglicized as Deen) is an Arabic word commonly associated with Islam, but it is also used in Arab Christian worship. The term is sometimes translated as “religion“, but as used in the Qur’an, it refers both to the path along which righteous Muslims travel in order to comply with divine law, and to the divine judgment or recompense to which all humanity must inevitably face without intercessors before God. From Deen.

3 Mercy



Filed under Arif uz Zaman: Poetry, Poetry, Time Travel

15 responses to “I walked into a film rental one day…

  1. Julie

    The unplugging to plug in, the escapism, is everywhere, and it’s part of the reason I wanted to start up my blog – to remind myself and others of God’s Love, and to possibly, if just in a very small way, to try to balance the scales.

    This is one of my favorites of yours. You truly are a light on here. Thank you. jzk. 🙂


    • Jzk for your wonderful feedback, Julie 🙂 I know exactly what you mean about that feeling of wanting to ‘remind myself (and others)’ in a ‘small way to balance’ ourselves as we feel like (without the reminders – dhikr) we’re veering off from ourselves, from a sense of truth or peace, from the (straight-speaking) road [sirat al-mustaqim] – fearing to fall off the very edge of where reason and faith is [meant to be] central in a life of meaning in a meaningful world…

      And it’s funny how you mention ‘light’ – as I see yours as a space of hope and positivity, mashallah. A place to recharge ourselves from the cynicism of the now.
      Bless you sis 🙂


  2. Reblogged this on a foot on the threshold and commented:
    Awesome, mashAllah.


  3. Julie

    Thank you for that, Arif. mashallah. 🙂


  4. MaShaAllah its how all of us feel at some point. I started blogging to remind myself firstly beacuse I do have a tendency to get sidetracked easily. Alhamdulilah I have wonderful posts to bring me back to my Lord’s path.


    • Jazakallah, thanks for reading and spending time to comment 🙂 But you’re right. We are far from perfect and I use my posts to remind myself too – of the path we must walk. I take the view that I’ll never stop learning and that, I believe, helps to keep me going – grounded, inshallah 😉

      I pray Allah keeps you strong and in good iman. Ws


  5. maryamchahine

    It’s definitely a constant struggle, but through Allah’s help we can make it. Our ego is always trying to bring us to the dirt, but we got to step on our ego. The amazing thing is that the ego is bad but also necessary. If we know how to handle it, it can bring us to Allah. So many of us however are letting our egos lead us.

    Jazzaka Allahu Khayr for reminding us as God created us to be forgetful creatures. We constantly need reminders and your poem served just that.


    • Jzk for your comments, Maryam. I agree with you. I’m beginning to believe that the medicine for the arrogance or self-centredness of the ego is to become humble. And the best way to do that is to ‘give away’ the material things we may hold dear to those more deserving of them. But this is just a struggle (jihad) to do. And yet we’ve got to be careful that we don’t undermine the rights our own self has on us. That is probably not so hard. But Allah knows Best.

      And in terms of reminder – we’re constantly in need of them 🙂 So here’s to trying!


  6. Where you at? I need some good reading material, haha.


    • Sorry sis – had deadlines and stuff at my end. I had to force myself not even to sign into wordpress, otherwise, I’d get ‘sucked in’! Jazakallah for the compliment… although, hold up – judging by the “haha” at the end of your statement – were you being ironic! Ha ha. Only kidding.

      The feeling’s mutual by the way. 🙂 (Your statement, that is. Not the irony!)


  7. Hyde

    A Dream within a Dream is still a Dream. One could write a book on the absurd idea on how people think technology can do anything. More and more I see a future of A Brave New World.


    • You’re coming out with some good lines bro: “A Dream within a Dream is still a Dream.”

      I agree with you in terms of how the narratives of modern (speculative) fiction appears to be becoming a reality. Orwell’s novels (though from a different genre) are another case in point!

      They say science fiction used to be based on science. Now it’s the other way around: Science is taking ideas down from science fiction.


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