TV and You:
12 Alternatives &
By Abdul Malik Mujahid
Many of today's most popular youth and family programs include varying
degrees of sexual promiscuity, profanity, coarse joking, and antifamily
plots and subplots. Violence, materialism, inhumane, un-Islamic and
anti-Islamic material are also found in a huge percentage of Hollywood's
offerings on TV. Now more than ever, discretion is essential for parents
to help their children achieve the best of this world and the best of
Hereafter. Here are some options if "taqwa" is in your mind
1) Get Rid of Television:
No, it's not a radical idea. 73% parents, a survey says, would like to
limit their children's TV. Hundreds and thousands of families are actually
doing it. About 3 million homes in America have no TV. It saves time.
Once you actually do it, believe me, you will not miss it. One father
says (he works for Sound Vision) that his children got rid of TV when
he was on a Sound Vision trip. It has been more than 16 months since.
No one misses the thing at all. He hasn't heard any one asking for it.
interaction, books, computers, and internet have taken up TV's place.
TV has a lot of haram programming. Children on an average watch more than
27 hours of TV a week exposing themselves to hundreds of acts of sex and
violence in our own homes each and every week! Is it worth it? If you
cannot resist, then living without TV is better.
Think hard about this option, though. Both parents much agree first. If
you have grown up children then it will be better if they are part of
the decision making process. If they will go somewhere else to watch then
it is better that they watch in your home.
2) Tune Out TV, Turn On the Computer:
More and more parents are discovering that computers are a good hook to
get children out of the TV box. Most children already prefer computers
over TV. If you still do not own a computer, buy one. A new powerful computer
may be priced $1,000 or less now. A used one may be as cheap as $200.
Now there are a number of computer programs available for Muslims which
complement an ever-growing number of educational and entertainment products
in the market which are halal and productive by any standard. Al-Qari,
the world's first Islamic multimedia program, is helping Muslims of all
ages learn how to properly read Arabic and recite the Quran from any PC
3) Web Surfing is Better than Channel
Surfing: TV is passive. Web is interactive
and more informative. Although web offerred its own set of challenges, it offers far better educational choices than TV. However, parents must filters to control access for children. According to PEW Research 53% parents already use filters on internet.
4) Encourage Islamic Programs:
There are organizations like Sound Vision which are
developing Islamic programs for Muslim children on video and computers.
The world is not about to abandon TV. TV itself is not bad. It is the
programming which is by and large bad.
Children watch an average of more than 27 hours of TV a week, exposing
themselves to hundreds of acts of sex and violence in our own homes each
and every week! In a study of 450 sixth-graders who watch cable, Oklahoma
State University professor Godfrey Ellis found that a staggering 66% of
the children watched at least one program a month that contained nudity
or heavy sexual content.
Where do children develop their weakened moral ideas? A substantial blame
can be attributed to poorly managed television. A child may attend Sunday
School for two hour a week, Masjid for two more hours, and never really
hear about Allah's prohibitions regarding premarital sex. But when a child
has unlimited access to the un-Islamic perspective at the rate of 25 to
30 hours per week, which ideas can we expect to have the most influence?
We cannot let millions of TV sets, thousands of satellites and TV stations
broadcast an un-Islamic way of life, ideals, and images as the most charmful
product of this civilization. Islam and Muslims have a responsibility
to produce and promote a God-conscious way of life, ideals and images
using all means of communications possible. You can help Islamic productions
by purchasing them, by promoting them, by investing in them. By supporting
the development of Islamic media organizations, we are in fact ensuring
that succeeding generations remain connected to Islam.
5) Develop Your Islamic Programs:
With trillions of dollars being spent today on fiber optic networks, compression
software and hardware and low orbiting satellites, the world will have
a good size bandwidth available to them pretty soon. With communication
technology becoming more digital, cheaper, faster, and more powerful,
soon you will be able to produce a video and multimedia program on your
own and broadcast it the way you publish a web page today. Who will use
all these broad bands? Those who have programs available now will have
an advantage. What about you and your family learning the art of production?
Instead of being a passive consumer of haram programming become a producer
of Islamic programs. You can do it as a profession or as a hobby. Either
way, believe me, it is going to be fun, insha Allah.
6) Basketball is Better than TV:
Encourage games, gardening and exercises. Children who should be outdoors
getting bruised, dirty, and exhausted, exercise only their blinking eyelids
as they sit mesmerized, hour after hour, in front of the tube. Evidence
indicates that television stifles the ability to express ideas logically.
Television viewing replaces essential play activities with passivity rather
than activity. A healthy and physically fit child will be able to achieve
more in life than otherwise. That's why the Prophet, peace be upon him,
encouraged sports and himself participated in them.
7) Go Camping Old Man!:
And take the young man with you. Outdoor activities are underrated among
Muslims in North America. Hiking and camping are great ways to enjoy life
and nature. There is whole healthy culture out there which Muslims in
America, especially the immigrants, have yet to discover.
Outdoor family activities can provide good time for family interaction.
This is something which TV takes away. According to one study, "the
average five-year-old spends [only] 25 minutes a week in close interaction
with his father [but] 25 hours a week in close interaction with the TV
set." Whose values will this baby adopt? of the old man or of a punk
in the tube?
8) DVD & VCR Alternatives: DVD players and VCR
give you control of TV time and program both. Many parents use more DVD & VCR
than broadcast TV . Without a doubt, Islamic media alternatives are vital
to our children's survival as Muslims. Sound Vision's Adam's
World DVD series is a big hit with children ages 3 to 9 years. The
series teaches Islamic akhlaq, adab and ahkaam in a manner that's fun
for them to learn.
Some Muslims from South Asia think Indian films, and Middle Easterners
think Egyptian films are relatively harmless. I think they are culturally
more capable of encouraging you to haram ways than any other haram film
which is culturally alien to you. Some parents think that cartoons are
okay. No, they repeat all the rubbish which is out there in feature films.
All the sex and violence is present there.
9) Visit a Masjid, Follow a Trail of Tears,
or Visit the Old Country: I was in a panel
discussion with Abd alHay Moore, Uthman Hutchinson, and Zeba Siddiqui
where we debated whether visiting parent's country of origin is a good
idea for Muslim children in America. I would like my children to grow
while knowing the good and bad of the Muslim Ummah. There is so much of
the world out there for them to discover for themselves. Within the US
you can follow some historical trail. What about the trail which native
Americans (Cherokees) were forced to follow from the Western North Carolina
to Oklahoma? And what about visiting one new masjid every month? The idea
is that there shouldn't be idle time available to "kill watching
10) Develop a TV Reduction Family Plan:
Develop a gradual plan
to reduce your daily TV intake. You may want to start off by giving a
Summer Break to TV this year.
11) Volunteer Time:
There is so much need in the society for volunteer time. There are many
causes in the Muslim Ummah. There are human beings without homes and food.
There are 30 million poor people in America. You can volunteer, along
with your children, to aleviate the suffering. I always look with awe
at those Christian missionaries who spend millions of hours (and dollars)
helping those in need. There is more organized help from Christians to
Muslims than Muslims to other human beings, or to themselves.
Once a friend went to help senior
citizens in an area which has a large Muslim population for last twenty
years, a beautiful masjid and two Muslim schools. People in that facility
were shocked to see him. Their volunteer coordinator finally overcame
her surprise and said, this is the first time in the history of our village
that a Muslim has come to volunteer.
12) Write a Book:
What about encouraging your children to write a book with a promise that
you will get it published. With desktop publishing around the block, why
not let her become the first published author on the block.
Today television literally stands between you and your children. And some
time it stands between you and Allah as well. TV addiction of parents
is not limited to the parents in Matilda. It is the story of millions
of homes across America. Unless you control yourself, there will be no
barakah in you trying to control children. "Are you ordering people
for right conduct while forgetting (to practice) it yourselves, even as
you recite the Book? Will you not use your reason?" (Quran: 2:44)