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By Samana Siddiqui

I've decided to take up the challenge.

Third week of April every year marks the TV Turn-off week.

The aim of TV Turn-off week is to reduce the amount of television Americans watch and to focus on activities that watching television displaces like reading, creativity, productivity and healthy physical activity.


Television isn't just a technological object, or a medium. It's a lifestyle.

According to TV-Free America (TVFA), since 1995, over 12 million people have experimented and thrived with a TV-free lifestyle. 

Many of us can benefit from this kind of a “fast” from TV, even if it is only for a week. It will give us time to rethink the role television really plays in our lives and how much of an impact it has on a practical level.

The idea of not watching television, at one point, seemed very strange to me. Even now, while I am more aware of the amount of time often wasted by television, as well as its sexual and violent content, never watching television again seems strange, since it has been such a staple of my life for so long.

Growing up watching Sesame Street and Looney Tunes, then the A-Team and WWF (World Wrestling Federation) wrestling in elementary school, spending my teen years watching sitcoms like the Cosby Show and Family Ties and my 20s watching more “intelligent” programs like the X-Files, Oprah or documentary programs indicates just how much television has been part of my life.

TV was how I related to my friends at public school, and my Muslim friends.

It was how I often spent dull, Sunday afternoons, not putting much imagination into what else I could be doing with my time.

So a break away from the glowing box of charms which has been a fixture in my living room for years will be interesting.


There's also another reason I want to turn off the TV this week.

There used to be a time, way back when, when I could comfortably sit and watch some television shows, at least the news, with my parents.

Today that is practically impossible.

Even when watching the news, I usually take the responsibility of the remote control, since the commercials and even some news items (i.e. Monica Lewinsky's graphic descriptions of her White House escapades with Mr. Clinton) are no longer suitable.

My poor father, who likes to “take charge” of the remote control, often doesn't know what's coming and sometimes ends up pressing the wrong button on the remote.

As a more “experienced” television viewer, I have learned to pick up the nuances and signals that something's coming up that I shouldn't be watching. I prepare myself by precisely placing my thumb on the channel changer of the remote. It's like getting ready to fire a missile and wanting to make sure it hits its target.

But many times, the inappropriate material (and that's putting it lightly) flashes by in a matter of seconds, so that even if you do change the channel, you've still seen what advertisers or television show producers want you to see to get the message across. It's a lose-lose situation.

While there are definitely programs that are informative and useful, frankly speaking, and especially if you don't have cable, they are the minority.

Most of what's on television today is not suitable for Muslims, young or old.


I would also like to take up the TV turn off challenge to observe how I fill my TV-free time. Maybe I can finally read the collection of Islamic books I've borrowed to read and eventually return “one day”.

Maybe I can start memorizing the Surah I've been putting off doing for ages.

Maybe I can clean out the junk in my room.

And the list goes on.

These are some of the reasons I'll be taking the TV turnoff challenge. I encourage you to do the same. What have you got to lose?

TV Turn Off Days

  • 2012 - April 16-22
  • 2003 - April 12-21
  • 2014 - April 21-27

Your Comments

brachie strauss, chicago - wrote on 4/26/2006 7:37:26 PM
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Comment: omg ive been wanting an anti-tv watching campaign to launch forever i think its a great idea watching tv is the most passive activity i can think of yet we all spend hours doing it.

Mikki, N.J, - wrote on 2/18/2006 9:04:22 AM
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Comment: At first I thought that T.V turn okk week was dad but after reading that I think it's great.

SAL, CANADA - wrote on 4/17/2004 2:47:03 PM
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Comment: Salaam Mansha allaah ..It's good idea and like it. Please keep up the good work and GOD will reward you insha allaah .. Salaam

Sownara, UK - wrote on 4/29/2003 8:45:29 AM
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Comment: Salaams, just wanted to say it a great idea insha'allah many people will take part. My husband & I just moved into our new home & decided not to buy a TV it now been a month without our 'enterainment' & it has been so good we've had time to read talk to one another & also we use out dinning table to eat at & not infront of the TV which we used to do. We don't miss the TV & have so much time to learn more about the ISLAM allaham'dullila. Wassalaam Sonwara:-))

Abu Saima, New York - wrote on 4/2/2003 1:06:46 PM
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Comment: Turning TV off is not enough on it's own you have to make sure there are enough activities for yourself and your family to fill the void. Unfortunately we have been so used to it that we don't realise how else to spend our time. The best thing that happened to me was when my wife moved the TV to the store room. It was hard specially when the kids demanded it, we had to tell them that the TV is off limits but let's pick up a science project we can do together or let's read a book, go to the park... Allhamdulillah no body misses having the tube on. Wa Salaam Abu Saima

sadia, canada - wrote on 4/2/2003 9:51:06 AM
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Comment: good idea and i will participate.insha alaah.

saima, uk - wrote on 4/2/2003 6:38:17 AM
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Comment: i think its really good that there is a TV turn-off week. i think that muslims all over should be made more aware of things like this. but... TV is so addictive, it is like a drug-you start off watching the news and get sucked into the next time-wasting, 'inappropriate' programme and the next... i am definitly going to try and stop watching TV for this week, i pray Allah (SWT) gives me and all the other muslims who choose to do this the strength to even get rid of it once and for all. AMEEN.

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