Ramadan Live Transmissions Or Vile Entertainment?

on Monday, July 29, 2013

Prior to the beginning of the holy month ”Ramadan”; the month of only blessings and forgiveness, we see almost every channel on our television welcoming it in its own way. It feels good to watch a change for a while, or an Islamic change, to be particular, on the channels that are crowded with nonsense. I admit part of the excitement I felt towards Ramadan nearing us in the last days of Sha’ban credit to the anchors promoting and advertisements of the Iftar/Sehr live shows, we all must be watching nowadays.

Today, we have a very good topic to talk about; in fact a very serious issue which needs discussion and conclusion from public, since it is the audience who has encouraged these live transmissions for over, what, four years? Let me put the basic question of my article first, and then I would proceed to my opinion and thoughts about it: Are these Sehr/Iftar live Ramadan transmissions for a good cause to help the needy? Or are they yet another way to promote products and humiliate the population? What do YOU think?

Now, let’s begin from the start. There are almost ten news channels, and four entertainment ones, where I have seen live transmissions this year particularly (could be more, but according to my count). If not all, then half of the said above number invite a huge mass of people from all over Pakistan to sit in their shows and go away with their hands full of gifts and awards. It sounds good to hear that; but is it really pleasant to watch the scene?

I truthfully don’t know who invented the idea, but whoever did, I believe it was for a good cause. I started watching GEO where Dr. Amir Liaquat Hussain, a famous politician, broadcaster and religious student, was hosting it. From approximately 3:00, the two major entertainment channels, ARY digital media and GEO entertainment, start their programs and stretch it till the time of Iftar. Similarly, for Sehr transmission, it begins from 2:00 till 4:30 at night. During such a long period, there are several segments from Islamic discussion forums to encourage young children having their first fast. I must admit the very first show I’ve mentioned above impressed me, because it did solve many Ramadan related issues with our own scholars. People asked questions, and they could get their answers then and there. I also appreciated the panel discussion where I learned a lot, and got inspired towards religious duties, as well.

This year or the last one, however, flipped my views back. Apart from the less popular Ramadan transmissions on other news channels, let’s talk about the two major ones, which all of us must have watched, and which, in fact, creates the main issue.

True, there is encouragement for youngsters, there is religious competition with prizes that motivates, there is an open forum for all to solve any misconception, and there is a religious discussion that inspires. Nonetheless, there is also pure entertainment. Now, there is no harm in a little entertainment for our fiery public, is there? But you and I both know, the type of entertainment these two channels are giving for TV viewers is least not respectable.

They have roomful expensive products, and they make that as bait for people. I particularly condemn ARY’s which is hosted by Junaid Khan and Waseem Badami as they treat their audiences like a crowd of hungry cats. It is good that you get an award when you answer a question right, but it is least not good when you humiliate and insult them publicly. This year, I see, these shows have crossed their limits. While those of Sama News Channel, and Hum TV network focus on religious talks and making people learn maximum in these few days, the said above particularly upset me with their way of treating public and women. It is a public channel, for God’s sake. And it is your own audience; your population that makes your work move.

Their way of treating the audience apart, these shows have corrupted our Muslims. They are overwhelmed with the free products they get by answering questions right, and no doubt the prospect of Ramadan would be welcomed only for hoarding things instead of learning something worth in the future. In short, the urge to know more, to learn about Islam in-depth would soon vanish and the greed to win worldly materials would be more favored. Who doesn’t know the first battle of Islam, anyway? It was really disturbing to see our elder citizens not knowing the quantity of Muslims in Badr, but insistent on winning a motorbike all the same. The crowds in religious forum where the highest scholars are in front of their eyes are ironically silent, but when the time to get materials comes, the mass is on their feet. What does that represent to the outside world? Needless to state, it easily screams that Muslims today are focused soul and mind towards the world and its luxury, instead of calmly sitting down and learning, and getting problems solved.

Coming back to our beloved hosts, they have the sole responsibility of organizing the excited crowd, and of representing a good Muslim for not only the people there to learn from, but for our the outside world to see, as well. They address the women without respect, and they humiliate the one standing to answer their question. It is saddening to watch our public fighting off each other to win something worth ten thousand. It is remorseful to see the people forgetting Islamic manners and their own self-esteem just to get a cash prize. It is even more infuriating to watch our own fellows enjoy the upper hand they have over the crowd, and provoke them to their extreme with a mere expensive product. What is all this? Why are these shows playing with their feelings? Why humiliate them without any brotherhood sentiments?

If I say that the embarrassment aside, it is a good platform to help the needy and lend a hand in a poor’s distress, then I admit it indeed is. They needy get their hardships solved out; unless all the helping calls and offers from institutions are a hollow shame, but I doubt we Muslims could stop that.

Nonetheless, it does not solve the blatant insult of the Pakistani public. If these shows really are sincere in spreading happiness among people, then I say the particular segment should not be broadcasted live. To help Muslims, solving their misunderstanding and making them learn more about Islam and the duties entrusted to them through Islamic scholars is the best way. The idea of giving worldly possessions without cost would inevitably arouse love for the world, and the extremist urge to gain it all, and this is not what Islam teaches. Many objectives are fulfilled behind all these Ramadan transmission, one of which includes corrupting Muslims. We need our Muslim nation full of knowledge and weapon of Islamic education to hunt the enemies down, not a car or a fifty thousand watch, which is all temporary. If I could make my message reach across, I’d say kindly stop making fun of the Pakistani public, and arousing their love for the world. If anything, award them with a book of Qurani Duas ”prayers” that would help them in hereafter. I found a beautiful Hadith that sums up what this article was about:

“Whoever seeks knowledge that should be sought seeking the Face of Allah, but he only seeks it for the sake of some worldly gain, he will not smell the fragrance of Paradise on the Day of Resurrection.” (Hasan) [The Book of Knowledge: Sunan Abu Dawud]

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