Tag Archive | jihad an nafs

Shab-i-Barat: The Night of Forgiveness*

Shab-i-Barat: The Night of  Forgiveness*

Faithful on Thursday night observe “Shab-i-Barat” with great religious reverence and fervour across the country.

With the setting of the sun, the faithful started gathering in mosques to offer special prayers for peace, progress, and prosperity of the country besides seeking forgiveness for their sins.

An illuminated view of Badshahi Mosque decorated with colorful lights on the eve of Shab-i-Barat.

 

Women release oil lamps and candles in the water of Ravi river, seeking forgiveness and repentance.

 

The people also organised several gatherings and Mahafil-i-Naat to achieve Allah Almighty’s blessing in the world and the life hereafter.

Religious scholars in their sermons highlighted the teachings of Islam and various aspects of the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) so that the followers could lead their lives in line with the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Family members light lamps and pray at a grave of their relative. —AP

 

A woman reads the holy verses besides a grave of her relative at a graveyard in Karachi. —AP

 

Special prayers were offered to get rid of the menace of terrorism besides showing the right path to disgruntled people, playing in the hands of anti-state elements.

On this occasion, houses, streets and especially mosques were decorated with colorful pennants and bunting whereas at night these were well illuminated by means of electric lights, candles or even oil lamps.

People read holy verses near the graves of their relatives to mark the night of forgiveness. —AFP

 

Besides, people visited graves of their near and dear ones, seeking Allah’s blessings for the departed souls.

Special security arrangements were made for peaceful observance of “Shab-i-Barat”.

People attend a sermon at a mosque in Karachi.

 

Source*

Related Topics:

Layla-tul Bara’at

Prophet Muhammed (SAW) on Ramadhan

Ten Ways to Prepare for Ramadhan From Now*

Ramadhan Journey Across the Desert of the Sinai*

Freedom in Ramadhan*

Working and Staying Sane in Ramadhan*

Trust in Yourself

Trust in Yourself

Related Topics:

The Journey Beyond Yourself: On Welcoming Who You Truly Are*

How to Hold Space for Yourself*

When You Stop Wishing Yourself Away*

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

How to Break out of a Spiritual Rut by Finding your Passion*

How to Move Forward after You’ve Hit Rock Bottom*

Maya Angelou’s 3 Word Secret to Living Your Best Life*

Singing Your own Song – A Source of True Joy and Belonging*

How to Resist From a Place of Love: Self-Care for the Long Haul*

As I Began to Love Myself…*

The Delusion ‘I Am Not Responsible’*

The Quiet Miracle*

The Quiet Miracle*

By Jennah Adam

It was one of those days, uneventful, moody, and inert enough to let the tempest of flames rage freely in my chest. Those days where, without knowing why, everything is wrong, and I’m often on the brink of tears with nothing tangible to account for it.

I felt small. Smaller than small. Disposable. Insignificant. Even my miseries were contemptible. The world was suffering on a colossal scale, and here I was thinking about my broken wings; those appendages of spirit that have been tethered and crippled. But I felt the world’s suffering, too. I also felt tortured, when I heard news of an abused child. I also felt bereft, when I saw another grieve. I felt sick to my stomach and despaired too when images of bloody innocents assaulted my eyes. I felt their suffering, as well. I was a girl with broken wings and the burden of Atlas on my back.

This day, I remember clearly. It was a snowy winter’s morning, colder than neglect, but not bitter. I had climbed into the backseat of my mother’s car and thought, with a sickening twist in my stomach, how the rapid shivers I was suppressing in my arms and legs would eventually abate, but not with those who have to stand outside in the snow, dependent on man’s imagined generosity. This day, I was wondering where God’s grace was, to help us wretched humans, who hour after hour grow more unfeeling. This day, I saw no beauty in this world of miseries.

After the shivers slowed to a slight tremble, I leant my forehead on the hazy windowpane and gazed, unseeing, outside. It had been snowing all morning, but the sun was out and the snow was light and downy – almost cheerful. I should have been buoyed by the jocund surroundings, but it was one of those days. As my unfocused eyes followed wayward lines in the mist, I blinked suddenly when a snowflake blew across the windowpane and settled in a corner.

It was perfect. Miraculously unbroken, and just large enough for me to make out its details if I squinted a bit. I marveled at its precise symmetry and geometric designs reminiscent of the patterns on the walls of the Martyr’s shrine. I watched it with ardour, admiring its delicate architecture, but it didn’t remain long. First it broke then melted under the sun’s jealous gaze, leaving, momentarily, a shadow of itself in water form.

I sat back in my seat and mused, “Who is this for?”

I looked out the car window, now clearer after the mist had dried off, to the snow outside and thought again, “Who is this for?”

This one little snowflake, miraculous in its perfection, was one of countless others, all beauteous and unrepeated. I saw them everywhere; over lawns, branches, rooftops; packed into ice underfoot and turned into sludge on the streets. How many were there? Could anyone count them? Does anyone care? He counts them, certainly. He counts them even before they fall.

I thought, “Why?” and this word flurried in my mind like a drifting snowflake. Why? What for? No one could see them. I could barely see the one that landed on my window, and that was by chance. What of the bazillion others that are created just to break or melt or be stepped on mere seconds after their existence?

Who is this for? Who is all this beauty – this perfection – for? Who can see it and enjoy its beauty? Humans? We only begrudge the snow. Why does He fashion such breathtaking little things and grace the blind world with it, then let them pass from existence before one of the blind could begin to see what they truly are? Why create things so small, so insignificant, and make them so utterly beautiful?

I began to fight back tears. He was so Good, so Kind. Even that snowflake was Loved by Him who gave it symmetry and grace. He Loved it enough to make it, and let it fade from this world but not from His Love. He loved it, and created it and gave it from His Beauty, and that is no insignificant thing at all. Merely to exist is to be Loved. And to be Loved is to be Beautiful.

How much like snowflakes we are, I thought then. How much we are Loved.

Source*

Related Topics:

The Charity of Love

Einstein’s Letter to His Daughter about the Universal Force of Love*

The Shift -The Age of Heart*

A Small Act of kindness Disarms anti-Muslim Protester.*

Mother’s Love brings Life back to her Son Two-Hours after Pronounced Dead!*

Al-Biruni’s “Economy of Nature” in Modern Biotechnology

Austrian President calls on All Women to Wear Hijab in Solidarity with Muslims against Islamophobia*

Austrian President calls on All Women to Wear Hijab in Solidarity with Muslims against Islamophobia*

President Alexander Van der Bellen

 

The Austrian President has called on all women to wear the hijab in solidarity with Muslims to counter “rampant Islamophobia”.

President Alexander Van der Bellen, the former left-wing Green Party leader who just about beat a far-right candidate to take office earlier in January, said freedom of expression was a fundamental right.

He told an audience of school pupils that,

 “It is every woman’s right to always dress how she wants, that is my opinion on the matter.

“And it is not only Muslim women, all women can wear a headscarf, and if this real and rampant Islamaphobia continues, there will come a day where we must ask all women to wear a headscarf – all – out of solidarity to those who do it for religious reasons.”

President Van der Bellen’s comments were in response to a question from a schoolgirl who argued for a hijab and niqab ban that she believed would reduce women to their physical appearance and isolate some out of the labour market.

The comments which were made in March amid debate in Austria and neighbouring Germany about “burqa bans”.

The President’s office said he supported bans in specific circumstances, such as for female judges, where religious attire could raise concerns over their professional impartiality.

Mr Van der Bellen would apply prohibitions to all religious symbols, including Jewish kippas and Christian kippas.

But the coalition-led government also agreed to prevent judges, magistrates, public prosecutors and police officers from wearing the hijab in the interest of appearing “ideologically and religiously neutral”.

Source*

Related Topics:

Middle-aged White Men Like Me Have no Right to Tell Women not to Wear the Burkini*

Silencing the Expression of Faith

Kenya overturns Hijab Ban*

Hope for Womanhood as Non-Muslims Sympathize with Attacked Pregnant Muslimah

Why a Christian Woman is Wearing Hijab For Lent*

Major UK Department Store to Sell School Hijabs*

E.U.:Employers can Ban Wearing of Visible Religious Symbols*

International “modest clothing” Firm to Launch Brand in Debenhams Birmingham*

Burkini ban in France Sparks Worldwide Sales, even among non-Muslims*

European Company sells Miswak for £3.90 Calling it a ‘groundbreaking’ Raw Toothbrush*

Practical Steps to Empowering Ourselves against Moral Fatigue*

Practical Steps to Empowering Ourselves against Moral Fatigue*

By Fatima Muhammad

When the Panama papers broke, social justice activists rejoiced. They thought there would be a huge, sustained reaction, a real movement. Surely, people would be so outraged, that they would stand up for their rights! But they were wrong. There was little outcry. Instead, there was sarcasm, resignation, weariness, and cynicism. “Corrupt leaders are corrupt. So what?”, sums up the reaction.

Global violence and bloodshed triggers similar exercises in shoulder shrugging, and the reason is the same – we’ve given up. People feel they can’t make a real difference because they can’t physically stop the violence, or because, other than the occasional donation, they can’t stem the flow of misery coming out through the wounds on humanity. We feel powerless. We’ve accepted the script, and we’re fatigued. Clickbait that makes us chuckle is easier on our minds than being obliged to think about how we’re slowly losing our freedom, our rights to privacy, our natural resources, and our expectations of safety for people in other parts of the world.

This fatigue has more malignant an impact on our morality than the sum total of all the evils being brought to bear on us. It’s a kind of moral obesity – it makes you want to sit on the sofa and stuff your brain with junk food rather than roll your sleeves up and take the world on. Even worse – it makes you exhausted to the point that it becomes difficult to fight temptation. Here are some ways to tackle that fatigue, and keep our sense of outrage alive and pure…

  1. Don’t give up on people – give up on corrupt social structures

“People are corrupt.” “Don’t trust anyone.” “People from that background are always like that.” These are loser concepts.

Sure, always operate with caution, but know where the blame lies – at the doorstep of unusual circumstances. In extreme situations, ordinary people wind up dehumanising both themselves and others. To combat this, we should celebrate humanity on every level. It has become so easy to objectify and strip agency from real human beings.

Labels do no favours, instead they distract from the real issues. This is what people in power have always done: they demonise immigrants; people of other faiths; people of different skin colours, they know better than we do this kind of thinking is critical to keeping the power imbalance alive and well.

Rather than resigning ourselves to that way of thinking, we should be true revolutionaries and embrace everyone’s potential for goodness – and be properly outraged at injustice… not accept it as inevitable.

  1. It wasn’t always this way. It can get better again, but only if we see the value in ourselves and stop dismissing the things we do as “small.”

No era in history has been perfect, but matters have never deteriorated on a global level to the extent it has today.

Most crucial to having a vibrant, energetic resistance is to realise evil is temporary. Allah (SWT) says in Surah Bani Isra’il, verse 81,

surely falsehood is a vanishing (thing).”

We usually attribute this to the advent of the Mahdi, or to the Day of Judgement, but what we fail to realise is that in this verse Allah has given us a clue to the nature of evil – its time runs out eventually. Prod it with the truth, and it’ll curl up and die.

We can never embody the full power of Haq that is present in the Mahdi, but even our attempts to live the Truth in our daily lives on “minor” levels, will obliterate injustice on all levels. When Haq or Truth is brought out into the battlefield, injustice cannot remain.

This can’t happen if we don’t value ourselves and our moral decisions. If we truly value ourselves as individuals, as humans, as people who trust in a higher power, we must be convinced that every good action we do, no matter how small, will have that ripple effect.

  1. Understand the value of dismantling systems

When we campaign for women’s rights or the rights of minorities, it’s usually with the focus to grant them the same rights as everyone else. This overlooks a glaring problem – becoming just as good a prop as everyone else in the real problem – an inherently broken system. A system that will always find someone or the other to oppress.

Instead of realising that giving vulnerable groups a place at the table is only the first step towards true equality, we think that it’s the entirety of the struggle. We don’t explain to ourselves and to others how that table is just a bad table to be at in the long run. A table that will invite you to sit at it if you make enough noise, but then expects you to engage in the same oppressions as were inflicted upon you.

Inevitably when let down even after being part of the same structures we aspired to, we are afflicted with disappointment and weariness. It makes it feel as though injustice is inevitable.

It isn’t. We just need to build a better table.

  1. Don’t contribute towards glamourising power

We all remember those halcyon days when our only exposure to Trump was via “The Apprentice.” The show had a lot of followers and fans, and was in a similar vein to “American Idol” and other shows that were enamoured of the Simon Cowell habit of degrading and bullying others.

Today wherever you see glamour, it’s most often built on the backs of someone, somewhere being oppressed. Keep empowering those people and that mindset, and watch how quickly orange faced angry toddlers fill up the White House.

Part of our complacency in being oppressed is because we know we will always be, in some way, complicit in aiding those systems. Why? Because we can’t see ourselves distancing our hearts from ostentatious power. It’s the physical worldly companion of what we often hear will happen on the Day of Judgement – everyone will be raised with the people they love. This isn’t just a metaphysical scare tactic by some invisible man in the sky, it’s a permanent reminder that we sink or swim with the people we invest in emotionally. The more we adore those who oppress on one level or another, the less we will be moved to call out their injustices. On the contrary, seeing through this facade will keep us alert and less liable to give up on resistance.

  1. Don’t encourage fear

Society will always reward people who bow to fear. They lead trouble-free lives. Even within our communities, when we see domestic problems, we sometimes see people giving advice to submit to the situation rather than rock the boat. This mentality tries to teach us that if you submit to oppression you will be rewarded in other ways. The irony is, having absorbed this belief, victims often find justifications to become oppressors themselves later in life.

To such minds primed to accept and glorify hurtful behaviour at a household level, it is only to be expected that the higher up the ladder you go, the greater the scale of oppression. Resisting tyranny not only seems laughable – but even wrong. This leads to more complacency.

  1. Keep educating and being educated

Fatigue is only inevitable when the knowledge of problems isn’t translated into actionable solutions. The Prophet has a brilliant saying extremely relevant to social justice:

Whoever of you sees an evil must then change it with his hand. If he is not able to do so, then [he must change it ] with his tongue. And if he is not able to do so, then [he must change it] with his heart. And that is the slightest [effect of] faith.”

We have so many platforms today where we can talk out about injustice. There are so many specialised areas with an assortment of related issues that impact all of us, yet unless those from our community who are knowledgeable in those areas create a platform, or write or speak about those issues, we won’t even know. People who are educated in areas like technology, medicine, education, journalism and meteorology are more aware of critical issues in that particular realm that will impact the rest of world. They should blog, write, bring those issues to us in terms we can understand.

When we see injustice, when the “truth becomes alone and sad,” we’re encouraged to remember Imam Hussain ibn Ali. This isn’t simply an act of reverence, it’s a refresher on how if, in the climate of our own time, we see social injustice, then no matter how bad things get we are expected to have a response – and that it will ultimately have an impact.

We must remember resignation to the sadder facts of life is antithetical to real change. When we give up on the idea of a better world, evil digs its roots in deeper.

Source*

Related Topics:

How to Resist From a Place of Love: Self-Care for the Long Haul*

The Disappearance of Silence*

We were Made for these Times*

Men tired of Gang Stereotypes Launch cook for refugees’Campaign*

How One Small Tribe Beat Coal and Built a Solar Plant*

Nepal’s Military Set to Use Transcendental Meditation to Relieve Global Collective Stress and Stop War*

This shameless western power Legalised Colonial-era Child Torture – and its Citizens have had Enough*

U.N. Praises Iran’s “Exemplary” Leadership in Hosting Refugees*

Citizens Fight Back, Move to Impeach Judge for Letting Paedophile Cop Off Easy*

Immigrant Designer Goes From Homeless to Wealthy, Then Sells Everything to Help Others*

They Lost their Jungles to Plantations, but these Indigenous Women Grew them Back*

Swedish Developers offer a Way to Delete Yourself off the Internet*

U.K. Judge ‘being driven from the public service’ for Backing Natural Marriage*

One Man’s Quest to Save the Forests of Tanzania*

Unity on U.S. Hands Off Syria Coalition*

 

 

 

Muslim Minds Remain as Colonised as Ever*

Muslim Minds Remain as Colonised as Ever*

By Sheikh Walead Mosaad

As I sat in the main hall at an Islamic conference hosted by a large national organization I had difficulty making out what the speaker was saying.  Perhaps it was the alternating purple and red strobe lights, or maybe the replaying video of a mosque from Shiraz or Isfahan projected on an enormous screen situated some twenty feet behind the speaker.  It felt similar to what I felt when I toured the Dolmabache palace in Istanbul this past summer, a 19th century European style place of residence for the last Ottoman sultans, replete with lion sculptures adorning manicured gardens, and English chandeliers towering over French style ballrooms within its halls. And not so dissimilar from a mosque I sometimes attend that has placed in its foyer a collection box for mosque improvement, zakat, and one labelled “Imam fund”, presumably to go towards the salary of the yet to be hired full time imam.

While all three experiences appear dissimilar, the common thread between all was a sense of alienation.

Offensiveness and tastelessness rather than entreaty and allure.  Dispiritedness rather than restoration.  Ugliness rather than beauty.

Beautiful, endearing, and appealing

Islam – and everything connected to it, even by the most remote of connections – should be beautiful, endearing, and appealing to both body and soul.  The Prophet Muhammad was the embodiment of such beauty, both outwardly and inwardly, from the softness of the palm of his hand, to the mercy shown to his adversaries, but it is as if the community has in some fashion detached itself from this profound and penetrating truth.  The means and mode should be as beautiful as the ends.  Or as one of my teachers remarked: the means are the ends.  Utilitarianism is anathema to the pristine Prophetic teachings.  Noble ends cannot be achieved except through noble means.

Sultan Ahmet Mosque

 

Muslims created civilizations that projected this beauty, from the acoustic balance and perfection in the Sultan Ahmet mosque, to the melodies of the Andalusian muwashshaḥ (form of poetic litany). No aspect of human endeavour was left to a worldview alien to Prophetic inspired paradigms.  Yet, here we are.

Oversimplification of tradition

Our inability to retain and transmit the aural imperatives of the Prophetic teachings, that is, what is the purely human element of the Islamic tradition, has no doubt contributed to such a lack of refinement.  The sacred texts themselves, as well as the corpus of scholarly literature, including all of the Islamic disciplines such as tafsīr, fiqh, theology, and so forth, are widely available and are no further than a keystroke. In earlier periods, a costly commission of the warrāq (manuscript copyist) would have been necessary to obtain a manuscript of Saḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, or the Risāla of Imam al-Shāfi‘ī.  Yet, despite the unprecedented ease by which the texts can be obtained, shallow and vacuous representations of the Islamic intellectual tradition persist.   The oversimplification of this tradition, as enforced by some via their unwritten endorsement, has led to a paralyzing lack of appreciation for the sophistication of the Islamic teachings.  Many are the dilettantes who troll social media querying those with whom they disagree for the all-powerful dalīl (textual evidence) that will sanction a particular devotional practice or point of view, not knowing that the understanding of textual evidence is not so simple as citing a single Qur’ānic verse or ḥadīth, but requires trained experts to properly invoke and interpret.

Loss and humiliation

Hence, one is forced to conclude that the transmitters of these texts – the ‘ulamā’ – are the lone variable that must account for the shortcomings.  The dismantling of the institutions and systems by which scholars were trained during the colonial era no doubt played a large part in contributing to this situation, but the colonization of the Muslim mind perhaps reveals the greater story.  In the reaction to this colonization, or perhaps as a direct result of it, Islam became an ideology, where the main objective became the capturing of power, whether political, or otherwise, in order to reinstate Islam at the top of the intellectual, social, and cultural pyramid. The formation and proliferation of the “Islamic group” often in direct opposition to state power, attests to this new reality.  These groups were often at odds with one another, but they shared a common genealogy predicated on the notion of solicitation of power and influence as a means to reform a community that had lost its way, evidenced by the ease in which colonial powers had humiliated them, and the perceived ease by which they had installed puppet despots to preside over them.

Amidst this changing landscape and redefining of Islamic polity, the state of the Muslims prior to colonization was often cited as the culprit, and more specifically the state of Islamic understanding and practice in these pre-modern communities.  The community had slipped into decadence and forgotten the pristine teaching and practice of the Prophetic and early period.  Terminologies, pedagogies, and devotional practices that had developed since the early period were dismissed as reprehensible innovations that summoned God’s wrath and led us to this pitiful state.  As such, Islam had to be cleansed from these innovations and purged of all its egregious representations.  An accompanying demonization of the “other” also ensued, as their corrupting influences were also to blame.

Yet, here we are, nearly a century removed from physical colonisations, but the Muslim mind is as colonised as ever, burdened and embossed by the quest for validation and a seat at the table of influence.  But how successful are we if the price for such a seat is if all we are is a mirror reflection of those sitting to the left or right of us? I agree with the reformists that Muslims are in need of a return to its apodictic foundations. However, this return cannot be the recreation of an epoch firmly planted in the past, but rather the resurrection of timeless foundational imperatives that have been abandoned in favour of pragmatism and expediency, retaining only a simulated outer shell.  The Muslim mind must return to the Prophetic model in the manner that it observes and interprets the book of creation, to discern its signs, and abide by its prompts and commands, to see the divine attributes manifested in all that is, was, and ever will be.  Our epistemological system must be revived: verification and criticism in dealing with the khabar, the report of another one was not witness too, rather than seamless dissemination if the right identity dynamics are invoked.

Our theological system must be revived: acceptance of the divine decree, without despair, and the recognition of the direct correspondence between that which our hands sow and divine correction.  Our system of jurisprudence must be revived, recognizing the sophistication of the four schools, and the still relevant juristic tools that guide the qualified jurist to address the complex societal issues of contemporary life.  And perhaps most importantly, our ethical system must be revived, as it is our principal contribution to the world.  Ethics, morals, and just interactions with all our relationships are that which distinguishes us from our fellow brothers and sisters in humanity.  The Islamic tradition has a vibrant and time tested system for human development, i.e. for each human being to reach his or her full human potential, as this is manifested in their understanding of reality, their ability to follow the divine commands and avoid the divine prohibitions, and their morals and ethical behaviours.  A revivification of the foundational principles and their application and contextualization for our tumultuous times is what is desperately needed, but such a project cannot be carried out by self-proclaimed “mujtahids” and “reformists” who advocate simple realignment of Islam with tempestuous and ever-changing Western norms, or advocate literalist and vacuous interpretations of the sacred texts to justify sectarian agendas.  It can only be carried out by true Muhammadan heirs, who resoluteness is tempered by their mercy and desire for well-being for all of God’s creatures.  Perhaps many Muslims are not ready to hear their message just yet, but that does not change the pertinence and urgency of its significance.

Source*

Related Topics:

Saudi Arabia Abandons Islamic Calendar as Part of Cost-Cutting Measures*

Islamic Crypto-currency E-Dinar Coin Released*

Top Illuminati Grand Wizard: “We Control Islam and We’ll Use It to Destroy the West.” (WW3)*

Why Islam? The Story of Three Female Converts*

Islamic Spirituality and the Needs of Humanity Today*

Islamic Culture before Western Meddling*

Zionism and Organized Islamophobia – The Facts*

Wahhabism on Trial? How Islam is challenging Al Saud’s Custodianship of Mecca*

‘Fitna’ Movie Producer Converted to Islam and Performs Hajj*

The Inner Technology of Islam

Generosity in Islam

The Islam You Don’t Know!*

Jewish Odyssies to Islam

Islam and Politics

Reflections on Islam, Liberty and Development IV

22 Years of Fake “Islamic Terror”*

How the British Empire aka New World Order Sowed Seeds of Destruction towards Islam*

Top 10 Ways Islamic Law Forbids Terrorism*

The Relentless Jewish Campaign against Islam*

Captured Israeli Officer Details Israeli-ISIS Plan to Wipe-out all Islamic and Muslim Culture and Prevent Religions Coming Together*

70% of ISIS Recruits Don’t Even Know What Islam Is*

 

How Social and Popular Media is Desensitising our Youth*

How Social and Popular Media is Desensitising our Youth*

By Muntadhir Abbas

As we plunge deeper into a world full of innovation in technological entertainment and social media frenzies, I have recently found myself seriously questioning the effects many of these platforms are having on our youth, as well the naivety of parents in this fast-paced and ever changing society we live in. Don’t get me wrong, there are numerous advantages to so many new and diverse sources of communication and entertainment. However, we are often blind to the risks they pose to children and adolescents.

In this, the first of two articles exploring the main social issues that stem from mediums such as TV, music, social media and console games, I hope to simply provide an insight into the reality of the effects of such media, coupled with my observations as a secondary/high school teacher.

It was the last day of term before Easter holiday, in particular, that prompted me to write this, as well as the exclusion from school of several Muslim children so far this academic year. Please note, I really don’t care whether children are Muslim are not, as I believe the welfare of EVERY child is important and the points I hope to raise apply to all demographics of society.

As it was the last lesson, deemed to be a ‘fun lesson’, I allowed the children, who are thirteen going on fourteen, to ‘chill on their phones’ as long as they didn’t use social media – the root of all disputes these days (a topic best discussed another time).

As I marked books, I noticed near on silence. When questioned, pupils almost unanimously said they were watching Netflix on their phone. Perhaps trusting my better judgement and not originally allowing them to use their phones would’ve been wiser, but now I was curious and felt the need to discuss things further. I asked about the phones they had, the contract they were on, who pays for bills, whether it was their own Netflix subscription, what they watch and so on. To my astonishment – and I’m still young and with the times – almost all pupils had the latest smartphone, with a fully paid contract, their own Netflix subscription and were free to watch whatever they wanted without any parental control. They were even viewing series that I watch – like Narcos, House of Cards and Top Boy – all of which have scenes I feel the need to skip! Furthermore, one of the girls said she was going to watch the infamous film 50 Shades of Grey film over the weekend. It was at this point that they could all see the concern and shock on my face, so we discussed things a little further. After some very tactful questions and reasoning on my part, the children – of various ethnicities and religions – all agreed and concluded that they are bombarded with so many scenes of violence, sex, drug and alcohol abuse that many of these social vices just aren’t, for lack of a better word, an ‘issue’ these days. Whilst I almost felt old fashioned, I think what really hit me was the acceptance and desensitisation that existed within these naive and somewhat vulnerable children – and they are just that, children!

“Do not follow that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed! The hearing, the sight and the heart — about each of these you will be questioned.” (Quran 17:36)

A study carried out by Dr. Steve Martino in 2013, published by research organisation RAND, discovered the following in relation to the links between media and psychosocial issues:

The more sexual content that kids see on television, the earlier they initiate sexual activity, the more likely they are to regret their early sexual experiences, and the more likely they are to have an unplanned teen pregnancy.

– There is a strong casual connection between youth exposure to violence in the media and violent or aggressive behaviour and thoughts.

– Kids are exposed to nearly 300 alcohol commercials per year. Similarly, more than 80% of movies depict alcohol use.

– The motives movie characters convey for smoking can adversely affect adolescents’ real-world smoking risk.

Furthermore, a study in 2005 by the notable pressure group the Keiser Family Foundation found the following in an intense survey:

– In 2005 there were 3,783 (sexual related) scenes in a 1,000-hour sample, compared with 1,930 in 1998.

– It found that 70% of shows had sexual content, ranging from a sexual reference to full depiction, with five sex-related scenes per hour on average.

As responsible adults, whether you are a parent or not, and whether you are religious or not, you don’t even need the studies above to tell you that there are real and alarming links between the mediums children and adolescents interact with and the types of behavioural and social issues they manifest.

To be blunt, consider the following areas of entertainment and their possible vices, remembering that everything about them is not bad, but if left unchecked, our youth are vulnerable.

TV and Films

With so many more scenes of violence, sex, nudity, substance abuse and gore, even during family hours (traditionally 7-9pm), we need to censor what is appropriate for youngsters to watch. The people they watch will often become a source of emulation, and if that is a drug dealer or a beautified popular cheerleader (forgive the clichés) then their perception of reality and aspiration in life will be warped. To give a better idea of how sexual activity has changed over time, a fact sheet released in 2011 by the Family Planning Association, found that the average age of sexual intercourse for both men and women was 16. This is down from 17 years of age from a similar study carried out a decade earlier.

“And the right of your sight is that you lower it before everything which is unlawful to you. And that you abandon using it except in situations in which you can take heed in such a way that you gain insight or acquire knowledge by it. Indeed the sight is the gateway to reflection.” – A Treatise of Rights; The Right of the Eye (Ali ibn Hussain as-Sajjad)

Music

Aside from the traditional view of music being impermissible (haram) in Islam (and that debate is well outside the scope of this article) generally certain types of music are seen to be detrimental to society. In some cases they stereotype specific cultures and result in self-fulfilling prophecies of gang culture and substance abuse, and in other cases the raw sexual content is alarming especially when the age of the listeners are as young as five. For example, in 2008, the song ‘I Kissed A Girl’ by Kate Perry was number one in the U.K. charts for several weeks, with children of all ages buying the single and singing the lyrics. The song was in reference to a lesbian experience, which the singer romanticised and soon gained fame for doing so. Again, the discussion on homosexuality is for another time, but the point is, we need to pay attention to what children are listening to. Other genres consist of constant references to drug abuse, womanising and gang culture, and yet have become so popular amongst teenage boys in particular. And these mainstream themes show no sign of abating.

And the right of hearing is to keep it pure by not making it the direct pathway to your heart, except for noble words that establish some good in your heart or grant you a noble trait. Indeed hearing is the gateway through which various concepts reach the heart —whether good or evil. And there is no power but in God. – A Treatise of Rights; The Right of the Ear (Ali ibn Hussain as-Sajjad)

Video Games

No-one needs to be told how popular one particular video game is, but the statistics are scary. In late 2013 for example, when Grand Theft Auto (GTA) V was released, it took three days for it to generate over one billion dollars in sales, making it the fastest selling entertainment product in history. This game is filled with violence, seeking gamers to use torture tactics, featuring grotesque depictions of women and general bad taste. Yet, the sales figures don’t lie, and youngsters across the globe are hooked to a game which simply numbs emotion towards what are very serious and sensitive issues in the world we live in.

Social media

Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Tinder, Twitter…the list goes on. All these innovative social media platforms, some of which have fantastic uses, are also places of much controversy. From child sexual grooming to radicalisation, there is a plethora of issues that arise from social media platforms. On a more day to day basis, children are using these sites and apps to express emotions in very unhealthy ways. This also extends to it being a major source of e-bullying, and the unmonitored sexual freedoms that exist online. From my experience in dealing with teenagers and social media, there are far too many conflicts that emanate as a result of irresponsible use of social media. The vast amount of freedom teenagers have been afforded both by parents and the owners of social media has resulted in unprecedented exchanges of sexualised images. From pouting poses to ‘nudes’ (pictures of one’s self posing fully or partially nude), many girls, in particular, face increasing pressure to post revealing and risqué pictures of themselves. Coupled with sexualised advertising that bombards children on a daily basis, there is an alarming risk that children are interacting with sexual issue they can’t fully comprehend, and far too young an age. Social media ‘celebrities’ all too often romanticise a hedonistic, narcissistic lifestyle, setting concerning ideals for our youngest generation.

Tell the believing men to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts. That is purer for them. Verily, Allah is All- Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts and not to show off their adornment… (Quran 24:30-31)

1700 words of (unintentional) scaremongering later, it is my belief parents, carers, children, community members and society in general need to take a long hard look at the influence entertainment is having on our youth. As I have said, there are many advantages and developments that stem from these innovations, but we need to be mindful about the holistic effects they are having. As I once heard a scholar say, “a knife can be used to cut an orange or to inflict harm”, and if we responsibly nurture our youth, we will most certainly see the fruits in the future.

As for practical ways in which I believe we can nurture, safeguard and nourish children at various ages, I will be including them part 2 of this series.

And verily God is the all-Knowing.

Source*

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