Contemporary Issues

Turn OFF TV, Turn ON Life

After a gruelling first year in the Faculty of Shari'ah, I came home to Canada where I spoke to a friend whom I hadn't spoken to for over a year. In the conversation he said, "Last night on TV Seinfeld said ... " I was puzzled and realized that for an entire year I had not heard anything other than Imam Ash-Shafi'i said, and Imam Abu Hanifah said. It was an ignorance that as Shaykh Abdul-Muhsin al-'Abbad would say "that we ask Allah - the Most High - to increase us in it's ignorance."

Some people argue that TV is just a harmless avenue of entertainment and that there should not be a big deal made about it. It is interesting however that we see in shari'ah that what is more deadly than haram is bid'ah. Why you ask? Because when someone does haram like eating pork, he knows it is haram and that one day it is hoped that knowledge will lead him to fear Allah and refrain. Bid'ah - on the other hand - is something a person does with the hope of reward from Allah, something that the person considers to be 'harmless'. It is deadlier because the chances of this person correcting the situation are less due to the ignorance which causes lack of motivation.

Other people will say that we have a TV for the news and Islamic or educational programs? Dear brothers and sisters, is there no other avenue to get the news? Is there no other means by which a child can be educated and stimulated to learning?

Didn't anyone ask why we get all this 'FREE' TV? What does the TV sell? No it doesn't sell Coke or Nike or McDonalds burgers, it sells the AUDIENCE TO ADVERTISING COMPANIES! Why do you think they charge $1 million for 30 seconds of advertising in a Superbowl game?

Consider these facts:

  • Brand loyalty starts at age 2 - they can snatch a child into a lifetime of allegiance to their product from that tender age. How old were you when you started loving Coke or Pepsi?
  • On average, a viewer watches 20,000 commercials each year. If we repeated a page of Qur'an to you that many times, do you think you would memorize it?

This is just for the products, what about the 'aqidah that they are being taught, a whole stack of beliefs that gets fed to them every time they sit to listen to their third parent. Where are the horrific stats for that?

To give just a simple example that we all know, go to a lecture where the Imam is talking about women's rights in Islam. Listen to the Muslim males and females debate with the Imam. Where did they get their points? Where did they become so hostile to anything that contradicts the Western view of women's rights? Why is there no hostility to the Western view? Most of it was learnt on TV, the rest was learnt in the public school curriculum.

If this is the programming, the brain washing of our youth, then where shall they be reprogrammed when they prefer the TV over anyone else. Dear brothers and sisters, it is a fact that more than half of American children would rather watch TV than spend time with their mother or father.

After surveying a lot of young children and asking them what is the one thing that they would sacrifice their favourite TV shows for, many replied that if there were some sort of outside activity they would give preference to that. Meaning, if someone took them by the hand and organized some after school activities they would embrace the idea.

Here are some other things that you can do instead of being shackled to the TV, the option is yours:

  • Play outdoor games;
  • Build extra curricular skills, such as martial arts or calligraphy or sewing;
  • Visit the library;
  • Take on a job where they one can become serious about life and work;
  • Do acts of worship such as reciting dhikr and wird, salah, reading Qur'an, fasting, and thinking about the signs of Allah in His creation;
  • Adopt an Islamic cause in the place where you live, and take part in it, such as teaching Muslim girls;
  • Support an Islamic magazine by sending articles, statistics and useful information of interest concerning Muslims in the West;
  • Take part in charitable projects to help Muslim orphans, widows, divorcees and elderly, or joining a committee to help organize social programs and celebrations for Muslims on 'Eid;
  • Find righteous friends to meet with and good neighbours to visit;
  • Read Islamic books in particular and useful stories in general;
  • Take part in da'wah activities, men or women's activities and preschool programs in Islamic centres;
  • Listen to tapes and lectures, write summaries of them, and distribute the summaries to anyone who could benefit from them;
  • Do arts and crafts;
  • Cook items to be sold to raise funds for the Islamic centre;
  • Take an interest in computers and computer programs. This is a vast field that can fill a lot of time, and the computer can be used to do a lot of good things as well as providing entertainment in the form of permissible games;
  • Spinning, weaving, cutting out and sewing;
  • Gardening; or
  • Exercising outside or at home.

In conclusion dear brothers and sisters, today is the beginning of a new day. Allah gave us this day to use as we will. We can waste it or use it for something good and beneficial.

But let us know that what we do today is important because we are exchanging a day of our life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; and in it's place shall be something that we left behind ... let's let it be something good and something beneficial.

Be Mindful O Mankind!

There are three things that cannot be acquired by means of three other things: riches by means of desire, youth by means of khijab (dying of the beard) and health by means of medicine.
Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (d. 13H), may Allah be pleased with him