Thanks and praises are due to the Almighty Allah who created us for a purpose. Peace and blessings are upon the best man who observed his purpose in life, Sayyidina Muhammad, his household, his companions and all those who follow his guided path till end of time
This article discusses Pokemon GO. Pokemon GO, the gaming app that has sparked a global fever since it was launched last month (July 2016). The objective of this article is to help players think before they decide to play the game. Although life is a matter of choice, our choices must be worthwhile ones. The assumption is that once you’re a fan of computer games or game apps, you’re likely playing the Pokemon GO already. Thus, this article discusses when to avoid playing the game.
For the sake of my readers who are unaware what Pokemon GO is, let me give a brief introduction to the game.
What is Pokemon GO, the Name and the Game?
The word “Pokemon” is a contraction of two Japanese words, “Poketto” and “Monsut” or “Pocket Monsters” in English. According to Reference.com, the combination of two words to make a single name is a popular way for Japanese titles to transition into English, especially when they’re long or similar to trademarked names.
According to the Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, Pokemon GO (Pokémon GO) is a free-to-play, location-based augmented reality game. It’s developed by (a Japanese company called) Niantic. In the game, you use your mobile device’s GPS capability to locate, capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokemon (the pocket monster), who appear on the screen as if they were in the same real-world as your location.
From the name and the nature of the game, we understand that the creatures you play with or try to ‘catch ‘em all’ are actually monsters, even if they happen to be virtual creatures.
Although Pokemon GO is free to download and start playing, players have the option to use real money to buy in-game currency called PokéCoins. (Between $0.99 for 100 PokéCoins and up to $99.99 for 14,500.) According to Lifehacker, those PokéCoins are used to purchase Pokéballs, the in-game item you need to be able to catch Pokémon. If you don’t want to spend real money to buy PokéCoins, that will mean that you need to pay with your time and energy to move around to ‘catch ‘em all’.
Since its launch in selected countries in July (2016) and later in many other countries the following month, Pokémon GO has emerged to be a global phenomenon and is currently one of the most used mobile apps, as its downloads have surpassed a 100 million downloads worldwide.
Multiple governments have expressed concerns over the game’s security. As a result, some countries have passed legislations regarding Pokemon GO. We see that Iran has banned the game. On religious grounds, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have also banned it.
As you play the game, you realize that the monsters (pokemons) tend to appear in odd places including the dashboard of cars, and even intersections, as well as cemeteries and even police stations. In fact, historical buildings and religious centres were not singled out from Poke Stops. Moreover, pokemons can literally appear on the person next to you, and you have to point your phone to the person to catch the monster.
This is the nature of Pokemon GO. You may have your own reason for playing it. But there’re times you should avoid playing it. When should we avoid playing Pokemon GO? Here’re six situations to consider.
When to Avoid Playing Pokemon GO?
The following are situations to consider. If any of them happens to be true in your situation, then, you’re advised to abstain from playing Pokemon Go at that situation.
#1: When There’s a Tendency of Invading Others’ Privacy
Pokemon GO has caused a numerous of problems throughout the world. The most common is invading others’ privacy. The latest (at the time of writing this piece) is the death of a teenager who broke into a house to pursue a pocket monster (Pokemon). When you break into others’ house without permission or invitation, don’t expect to be treated as a guest. Some of your fellow Pokeplayers may consider you as a guest (if not Poketrainer), but others may mistake you for a burglar or an intruder.
You have the freedom to choose what to do (play) and what not to. But that freedom stops the moment someone else’s freedom is going to be affected. Furthermore, personal privacy is something that not many people would compromise. This is to say, if you take your privacy lightly for the sake of a game, others take theirs seriously for the sake of security. In other words, if you have the right to Pokemon GO, others have the right to safety and privacy.
#2: When It Exposes You and Others to Danger
Among the problems Pokemon GO has caused so far, is that it exposes its trainers and others to danger. Reports from Taiwan show that about 350 drivers have been fined for playing Pokemon GO (of course, on their phones!) while driving. The behaviour of using phones while driving exposes to danger, not only to the driver, but also other motorists and pedestrians. If this is true when the phone is supposedly used for a good cause while driving, what more when it’s used to play a game?!
To that effect, the Singapore Police Force has issued a statement to guide and advice Pokemone GO trainers on their safety and the safety of others.
Similar to the police, the Singapore Army also issued a warning to Singapore Pokemon catchers. Perhaps, this means, although you are free to play, green zones remain green zones and they are out of your free boundaries.
No doubt, police and army in many other countries have done the same. Museums have banned hunting pokemons on their premises. Indonesia’s State Palace is the latest to have banned hunting pokemons in its premises saying, “the palace is the President’s office and it is not a playground. It must be safeguarded.”
#3: When It Wastes Your Time and Money
As a game, Pokemon GO’s mission is to engage you in a “catch ’em all” adventure. You have to do that by walking into more than 100 different Pokemon locations. Your activities are directed by creatures who used to be cartoons developed for kids 20 years ago. As an adult, why do you still remain engrossed with creatures meant for kids?
Nianticlabs shouts out to you saying: “Discover Pokemons in the world around you.” What after you’ve discovered these Pokemons? Additionally, once you get excited, you take to risk of paying real money for PokeCoins. Why should you pay money to get monsters in return?
Moreover, these locations you’re supposed to go to hunt for the monster are such that, the more crowded they are the more chances you have to ’catch ‘em’. What after you “catch ‘em all”? What if you fail to ‘catch ‘em all’? Don’t let your day be determined by virtual monsters.
#4: When You Do It Because Everyone is Doing It
When you make your decisions based on the decisions made by the people of your surroundings, you’re a victim of peer-pressure. If peer pressure results to positive attitudes, that can be acceptable, but not preferable. Parents whose children are victims of peer-pressure, need to help them to develop self-esteem based on their righteous convictions. Here, it’s worth saying, that even adults can be victims of peer pressure.
The bitter truth is that, many Pokemon GO players are subscribed to the game, simply because they believe everyone else is subscribed to it. It’ll be unfortunate if you are playing Pokemon GO just because everyone around you is playing the game. You can’t attain happiness by blindly emulating others. You attain happiness by doing what is in line with your purpose in life. Thus, if you play Pokemon GO because all those around you are playing, then it’s not worth playing. It’s not more than a waste of time.
Moreover, it’s a pity, that you’re having fun simply because your friends are having fun too. What next will you do, simply because your friends are doing?
#5: When It Causes You to Miss Your Prayers
Enough is already said on the importance of prayers in the life of the Muslim. Ṣalāh (Prayers) is the backbone of our religion. And that’s part of the identity of the Muslim. The only time a Muslim is excused from prayers is when a woman has her menses. Other than that, even in your critical illness, you’re required to pray, as long as you can reason.
Thus, anything that keeps you away from your prayers should be deemed as evil, and for that matter, it should be avoided immediately. A friend who prevents you from prayers doesn’t deserve to befriended. What more of monsters who prevent you from your prayers?
And… Because PokeStops can include any place, the Muslim Converts’ Association of Singapore was also dragged into issuing guidelines for Pokemon trainers after they realised their building was made a station in the game.
This is to say, if Pokemon GO leads you to the mosque, the Muslim is expected to shut down the game and pray, if it’s prayer time. If it’s not a prayer time, he should observe the sacredness of the place. A non-Muslim is always welcome to the mosque, to get to know the place is and what Muslim do in their houses of prayer . Yes. But not to turn the place into a playground.
#6: If It Renders You Negligent Towards Your Family Members
A couple was charged in Arizona after abandoning their 2-year-old son at home to play Pokemon GO. It’s reported that the poor toddler managed to wander out of the house and into a 96-degree heat. A neighbour called 911 and deputies found the child wailing outside his home, trying to get in.
Pokemon GO players can testify that they tend to live in their own world. They get not enough of the game. They become addicted to the game.
If Pokemon GO will cause you to neglect your ailing elderly parents, spouse or kids, how do you reason about that? What’s your excuse?
This article did not mention religious rulings pertaining to Pokemon GO. This is because, each of the instance indicated in this article has its own religious ruling. Thus the ruling of playing Pokemon is determined by the instance one chooses to play Pokemon GO. However, if you’re looking for a direct Fatwa regarding Pokemon GO, please check with your local Islamic authority or isntitution for Fatwa regarding Pokemon GO.
In conclusion, a family member or a friend who prevents you from praying does not deserve your company. Pokemon GO has the potential of doing you more harm. Does it deserve a download on your phone?
A friend who could expose you to danger, who takes your privacy for granted, who wastes your time for nothing, he doesn’t deserve your friendship. Pokemon GO has the potential of doing you more harm. Does it deserve a download on your phone?
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Allah knows best.
Allāhu Hafiz 🙂