The holy month of Ramadan is here and as Muslims we are supposed to seek forgiveness from our Creator, read Quran whole heartedly and of course one should be grateful to the blessings from Allah Almighty in this sacred month. Ramadan is the most precious month in the Islamic calendar (Hijri) and it is obligatory for the Muslims to fast in this month. Muslims fast as an act of worship, a chance to get closer to Allah and a way to become more tender-hearted to those who are in need. Fasting is also seen as a way to learn patience and break bad habits. The important stance is to fulfill the responsibility of being a Muslim by paying back the necessities of Ramadan, to show Taqwa that is required during the fast and to pray Taraveh with great devotion. But what is the hindrance on the path of attaining the religious values?
One of the considerable reasons is the seasonal treat that we get in the form of Ramadan transmissions on our very familiar TV channels. Apparently, the purpose of these transmissions is to promote the teachings of Islam along with the blessings in Ramadan, but actuality is wholly different and incompatible. What we usually notice is a rat race for getting maximum ratings on the transmissions. These ratings reach topmost as it grabs the focus of public attention in the form of vulgarity, ups and downs and much stardom. The thing that catches the eyes of the audience is typically the free stuffs given by the hosts of the show and the way audience behaves like hooligans to grab it just for the sake of at least being at the show leaves a very bad impact on the ones watching at home. Spreading hands in front of the host simply to get freebies either for their children or husbands or brother; worth more than the self –respect! Is this about advertising the activities of Muslims after they break the fast or during Suhr? To forget the moral and religious values in the layout of such tasteless and exaggerated transmissions is worth watching? At the last minute of Aftar, it is likely considered that the family members sit around and ask for forgiveness, The Prophet ﷺ said, “When the fasting person breaks his fast, his supplication is not turned back.” Indeed Allah (SWT) grants the person with the blessings at this delicate time of the day as Muslims are prevented to eat or drink although sitting at the dining. But we turn on the TV channels waiting for Ramadan transmissions to end when immediately appears advertisements with vulgarity and avoidable loud music that fills the house with ruffle meanwhile the Azan from the masjid is heard as well.
We all have watched ‘Tom and Jerry’ cartoons in childhood and entertained us quite a lot. Now such entertainment is available for the adults as well on the Sahir Lodhi Ramadan Transmission, Ishq-e-ramazan, aired on TV One. He has introduced a new game segment in the show, pakro aur bike ley jao, where he is acting like jerry and the girls participating are all replacing tom. What has happened to the parents of such girls who willingly push them and teach them to beg in front of the host for the sake of only a bike? The audience now and back then when compared brings a great difference, today’s public is becoming uncivilized, dishearten, dispirit and profane. On one side the so- called Muslims are busy praising celebrities who are seen acting, singing or dramatizing the whole year and now hosting Ramadan Transmissions, simulating as very religious whereas on the other hand a few Muslims are praying Taraveh at the mosque and seeking forgiveness from Allah while availing the blessings of the Holy Month.
Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) issued a statement to TV channels to follow a set of guidelines for all Ramadan transmissions. The statements reads, TV channels should be careful with the subject matter aired, sensitive issues like sectarian differences and violence should be avoided. The PEMRA notice mentions that no orphaned children are to be handed away to audience members on any TV show. Dancing, singing and exercising have been prohibited as is the tossing of presents to audiences. No vulgar language, topic or subject matter should be discussed, and people who lack knowledge of religion should not be asked to appear as guests on shows preaching to the public. Viewing these statements, it is disappointing that no TV channel follows this layout in fact, are arranging opposite segments in their shows simply to get maximum ratings from the audience as possible.
Here the question arises, is Ramadan only about competing for ratings? Expectations for Ramadan transmissions are not being met as it has to be and if these immoral acts are not ceased then I am afraid our Muslim world is headed towards great fall. It is considered highly unethical to humiliate common people in such shows, like does Fahad Musafa in Jeeto Pakistan, speaking ill with some people as ‘abay’, ‘tu’, ‘chal’, ‘moti moti taazi taazi auntiyaan’, weighs them in, makes fun of their weight and then compensates with a free bike or a bike ride. Is this what Islam teaches to disrespect woman or embarrass a lower person in front of thousands? It is despairing when the audience laughs and appreciates such jokes and acts of the celebrities. So instead of laughing at their lack of manners and railing against these offensive displays why not use the power of the remote?
The real question raised by all of these incidents is why can’t channels think of more creative ways of programming than just game shows? How about opening up discussions on tolerance and learning how to deal with religious issues without extreme responses? This Ramadan can present the right time to open up discussions about moderation, appeasement and respectful dialogue by engaging with actual religious scholars. Such game shows and the begging of audience is not only dragging us into swamp of downfall but also leading us back into the shadows.
“And if Allah were to punish men for that which they earned, He would not leave a moving (living) creature on the surface of the earth, but He gives them respite to an appointed term, and when their term comes, then verily, Allah is Ever All Seer of His slaves.” (Fatir 35:45)