Islamic TV Channels

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TVWhen television was introduced in the middle of the 20th century, it caused unprecedented upheavals in the society, changing moral norms and corrupting social structures. After watching the destruction caused by the glamorous new toy in their societies for decades, and the apparently unstoppable momentum with which it surged forth, many concerned Muslims decided to do something about it; in increasing numbers they wanted to use it to promote Islamic teachings. This decision was based on the assumption that television is just a tool that can be used equally in the service of good or evil. It was further deduced that the problems caused by television were caused solely because it was in the wrong hands and the only thing needed to counter those problems was to have more broadcast power in the right hands. With television signals potentially reaching millions of people, such vast numbers could be educated as had never been possible before.

 

No Reflection

However, apart from the fact that television involves pictures which are forbidden in Islam, they did not realise the evil that lies within the television as a medium. The medium itself becomes the message. On television, the picture is the centerpiece. It dominates and controls the entire communication and everything else is subordinate to it. Little regard is given to the theory that is presented. Before you can begin to think deeply about an idea, there is another eye-catching picture on the screen to distract you. Thus television does not only not require reflection; it does not even permit it. It can bring images into our heart, not ideas into our mind. Therefore, it appeals to the emotions and not the intellect and is not the medium to teach concepts based on arguments. Television will not just communicate, but shape and distort the message it is carrying. It will mold it in its own image. By moving the religious discourse to the world of entertainment, it will make religious authority irrelevant.

 

Entertainment

Furthermore, the challenge in captivating the audience on a program on T.V. is far greater as more entertaining programs are just a tap away. Hence, to succeed in building and holding a large audience, there is a need to constantly attract people through eye-catching visuals and entertaining programs. If a camera is placed in front of a scholar engaged in some serious discourse, it is highly unlikely for such a program to have mass appeal. As a result, gradually even religion becomes a recreational pursuit. In short, the entertainment becomes the concern and not the message that should be conveyed.

 

Christianity and TV

Let us look at how television has affected the Christian world. Decades before us, the Christians also came up with the same idea of using the television to promote their religion. According to Christian critics it was not the promotion of Christianity as it was known before the advent of television. Instead, the audiences were attracted and held though the lure of entertainment. The effect was that people started expecting entertainment everywhere; in churches, preachers or anywhere else. In short, as Neil Postman would say, it was not that religion became the content of television but that television shows were becoming the content of religion.

 

Islamic TV

If we examine the ‘Islamic TV Channels’ that have evolved over the past few years, we will find exactly the same results. Their aim is to provide entertainment and to shun all serious talk. They provide a seamless connection to the usual programs on TV. This is because the medium itself has certain properties whose impact on the audience is the same, irrespective of the nature of the content displayed. What is more is that presenters who are totally ignorant of the teachings of Islam pass rulings according to their own whims and desires. Whatever judgement they pass is accepted by their audience because they have already charmed them with their personalities and charisma. There is no need to refer to any scholar for any ruling. In fact, Allah Ta`ala forbid, some of the basic beliefs of a Muslim are challenged.

 

Debates

As far as television is concerned, every topic is debatable. Or else it is not televisable. Controversies and exchanges enliven a program and serious talks drive away viewers. Therefore even the most fundamental and agreed upon principles, such as beliefs, etc, have to be opened up to debates.

 

The Result

The result of using television to preach our Deen will be that eventually `Aalims and Muftis will be replaced by actor `Aalims and Muftis. Instead of teaching people their religion, entertainment will be promoted. Fundamental issues will be compromised and subject to debate. People will be accustomed to entertainment and will begin searching for it in every aspect of Deen. Their ability to reflect will be lost. Very easily their emotions will be aroused.

 

The Way Forward?

It is evident from the foregoing that using the television to promote Islam is fraught with dangers. The entire essence of Deen is at stake. Therefore, it is not possible to use the television without causing great damage to the Deen of the onlookers. Thus, the way forward would be to go back to the original mediums of teaching Deen. In this there is protection as it is a tried and tested method of conveying Deen. People should be encouraged NOT to watch television, instead of trying to teach them through television.

(Adapted from an article written by Khalid Baig)

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