By Iman Amin
Television is a huge vehicle of culture; one that has had an incredible impact on society and has become a basic necessity in every family home. What started out as a means of light entertainment with only a few channels available to choose from, has now become 24 hour access to hundreds of channels, with the average person spending a ridiculous nine years of their life watching it. And to all the Netflix users reading this, yes, I’m talking about you too.
With TV having such a central role and huge influence in society, this also means the norms and values of society are projected into the content, and so as these values change, so does the content produced. It’s safe to say thirty years ago, it wasn’t normal to have kissing/sex scenes in nearly every programme or movie, but it’s very hard to say otherwise now. From one night stands, to couples cheating on each other, crude and derogatory language, and nude scenes, these aren’t things that only occur on TV, they reflect the society we live in. They reflect the ideas pushed at us from all angles – Do what you want, say what you want, and wear what you want. Content that was once deemed inappropriate is now acceptable and endorsed, and it’s now seen as a necessity to include extremely inappropriate scenes, because “sex sells”. And its not just excessive sexualisation. The violence, gore and mature themes such as murder and suicide, casually being portrayed amongst other drama, intrigue and humorous content are trivialising serious issues and play a role desensitising those watching. People like blaming the news for showing graphic imagery of conflict abroad, but are quiet when its presented as entertainment in much the same way. And as much as we all love coming home from a hard day of work and spending an hour watching TV (yes, I’m guilty too!), we really need to pay attention to how much time we’re really throwing away, and what it is we’re watching.
As Muslims we’re brought up knowing it’s forbidden to do all the things listed above, but at the same time the TV we’re watching daily endorses the very same things. Eastenders, Game of Thrones, or your average US drama are filled with scenes that go against every Islamic principle we have, so why do we watch it? Does the harm have to by physical for us to recognise the damage it has to our iman? On one hand we’re trying to have Taqwa (consciousness) of Allah, and control our desires in order to achieve the pleasure of Allah and the ultimate success in the Akhirah, and on the other hand we’re watching these movies and having all our values conflicting with what we’re watching. It creates a battle of the nafs, because we’re combining our entertainment with things Allah has forbidden, and it softens your heart towards haram, the very thing you’ve been working so hard to harden your heart for. We spend so long building a fortress around us to protect us from the Shaytaan and our desires, only to have it slowly knocked down the more we entertain ourselves with these things. Every crude and inappropriate scene you watch, you become more lenient and accepting of it, and your heart then becomes softened towards things of that nature, making it harder to build the fortress again. It suddenly becomes okay to see a woman in a bikini, or a kissing scene because it was ‘only two seconds’, nothing the nearest cushion can’t cover.
The problem is not only the scenes themselves, but the ideas that are taken from them. It’s now common for kids who are maturing to be introduced to the topic of sex from the movies they watch rather than in a mature manner by adults. And the consequence of this is they are taught that it’s okay to fulfil your desires how and whenever you want, rather than disciplining yourself and observing the limits Allah has set. The sexualisation and objectification of women, the chasing of money and fame, chasing of ones desires so that they become his god – these ideas are all fed to your children, they’re fed to your nieces and nephews, they’re fed to your siblings, and none of us have a problem with it.
On the authority of Abu Sa`eed al-Khudree (may Allah be pleased with him) who said:
I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say, “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]
The Prophet (saw) is telling us, the weakest of faith is to hate something in our heart, so if we can’t do that, what does that say about our state? If the content we watch requires us to mute or change the channel multiple times, should we really be watching it?
We must always remind ourselves, if we want to have conviction in this deen and the values it teaches us, we must take the necessary steps to protect ourselves. Our taqwa of Allah is our fortress, and the more times we break it down, the harder it will get to build.
Abu Qatadah reported: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Verily, you will never leave anything for the sake of Allah the Exalted except that Allah will replace it with something better.”
Source: Musnad Ahmad 22565
So if any of the above relates to you, use this blessed month to make changes for the sake of your Iman