Entertainment – Editorial

entertainment

When we compare reality with the fantasy world of entertainment, our real lives seem as different from reel life as chalk from cheese. The real life seems like drudgery with hours of work, stress, miscommunication, boredom, unfulfilled desires, broken dreams, restlessness, fearsome futures, etc. Thus, it is no wonder that we are too happy to escape into the virtual realm of fun. It grants us solace, merriment and whatever the heart desires, at least for a couple of hours, just as opium helps us forget the lows of life.

Ekta Kapoor, an Indian drama serial producer, states: “People want to have a sense of belonging. This comes with close family relationships. Because the familial connections are fast deteriorating, they feel a vacuum, which is then filled by the myriad of soaps on air. Each and every one of the audience can relate to a particular character in it and hence, imagines it to be his/her story.”

Similarly, the lyrics and the melodies of music are the unsaid expressions of many individuals, who feel this is their only means of communication and self-expression. With the justice and merit system crumbling worldwide, we love watching on-screen heroes setting the world in order. Consequently, sermons on morality and modesty are as welcome as a skunk at a lawn party.

It is important to remember that Islam does not espouse a morbid outlook. Instead, it offers plentiful opportunities to have purposeful fun without having to escape reality. The problem begins when we use the wrong lens to view our own arenas of entertainment. A globalized idea of enjoyment has been generally enforced, which is in direct conflict with our faith. The point to be understood here is that our Deen has no room for immodesty or frivolity, no matter how trendy and acceptable it becomes. We are concerned if a source of entertainment is detrimental to the social values of the world and not just to the Ummah.

As practicing Muslims, we can stay well within our turfs and be romantic, excited, thrilled and humorous. Our Prophet (sa) was as human as anyone can be. We need to learn from the Sunnah. The real challenge is to improve the real life that we lead so we do not have to frequently disappear into an imaginative den or draw happiness by pretending to look and become someone we are not.

Putting up a constabulary will not prevent unchecked leisure. We will have to set our relations right with Allah (swt), and learn to like ourselves and others the way we are. The nature of globalized fun is extreme whether it is celebrity following, self-projection through the social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, or the mall and cineplex culture of consumerism. It becomes the centre of life instead of being a part of life.

Entertainment should be pleasing to nature, and nature (Fitrah) is always pure. Only fleas thrive on filth and spread diseases. In stark contrast, bees seek sweet nectar that heals and drips pure ecstasy. The more we shop for Fatawas to legalize or to advocate the forbidden, the more we are likely to invite Allah’s (swt) wrath upon us.

In a world where 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty and 16,000 children die of hunger daily (one child every five seconds), how can we justify spending USD1.5 million on making a Bollywood film and USD47.7 million on a Hollywood movie?

Rekha Shetty, corporate doctor and acclaimed writer of “Innovate Happily”, talks about screen time. Her top happiness mantra is: “Too much TV is ‘tele-visham’ (tele poison). Too much stimulation, a mind space crowded by fantasy, people and events, distracts you from focusing on your own mind space, your home, your backyard. Whereas service to others makes the blood flow with serotonins – the happiness chemical.” This is another idea for purposeful fun.

Muslims will have to actively participate in creating fresh and innovative ideas for fun. For far too long, we have left it to those who are, for the most part, unguided and wandering. They may be good people with pure designs, but they are attempting to raise a structure on a crumbled foundation that will eventually fall. This is why we see sports plagued with gambling, talk shows with slander, movies with nudity, and so on.

Muslims are not monkeys. We don’t just do what we see others doing. Instead, we question the promos and cons, and submit only to reality. This issue of Hiba is an attempt to highlight the ideas and efforts of a few such Muslims who have blazed a new trail. May Allah (swt) inspire more to come forward with original and Shariah-friendly ideas. Ameen.

Culturally Yours

culturally yours

By Tasneem Vali – Architect, Academic Coordinator and Freelance Writer and Umm Amal – Freelance Writer

Wikipedia defines ‘cultural Muslims’ as being religiously unobservant: “People who identify themselves with the Muslim culture, because of family background, personal experiences or the social and cultural environment in which they grew up.” They are born into a Muslim household, but do not tread the path of self-discovery. The world is alluring to them, and they think it is not worth their while to explore why they are Muslims.

“O You who believe! Enter perfectly in Islam and follow not the footsteps of Shaitan (Satan). Verily! He is to You a plain enemy.” (Al-Baqarah 2:208) Allah (swt) commands that we commit ourselves totally to the way of life that Islam preaches. It does not allow us to deliberately reject an aspect of Islam, because we think it is outdated or rigid, only to accept another part we like and think is easy to practice. Entering Islam absolutely means that we have to follow its teachings without any exceptions and without any reservations.

The culture of Islam is universal. It means if adultery is a sin in Afghanistan, it is a sin in Germany, too. If gambling is prohibited in Saudi Arabia, it is prohibited also in Las Vegas. On the Day of Judgement, all people will be judged by the same standards. There won’t be a separate code of conduct for Muslims and non-Muslims. But Allah (swt) also celebrates diversity in many ways. For example, we all look different, speak in various languages, and possess unique abilities. Muslims all across the globe fast for 29-30 days but may enjoy their Iftar with Samosas or Hareesa or pancakes, etc. All are Halal and culturally relevant to Muslims belonging to different parts of the world. Where they unite is when they all pick up dates first at the call of the Adhan to follow the Sunnah to break their fast. This is the best amalgamation of Islam’s universal culture and a Muslim’s indigenous roots.

Similarly, Allah (swt) says: “O You who believe, eat of the lawful things that we have provided you with, and be grateful to Allah, if it is indeed He Whom you worship.” (Al-Baqarah 2:172) In this verse, we receive an important guideline about our sources of income: We must ensure our source of income is Halal (permissible) and blessed and it does not come from a prohibited (Haram) source. Thus, if we think as cultural slaves that an income earned through Haram activities, which might make a person wealthy and famous, is acceptable, we need to remind ourselves that the line between Haram and Halal is clear. There is no concept of Robin Hood in Islam; the end does not justify the means.

A trendy practice for show business stars is to thank and praise Allah (swt), and hold Him responsible for their successes, glory and honourable standing in society! Experience and common sense tells us that the lifestyle of entertainment contradicts most of the Quran and the Sunnah, in terms of illicit relations, drinking, shameless talk and attire. These are the signs of the transgressors, not those of the true believers.

Nevertheless, the road to Allah (swt) remains open: “And (commanding you): ‘Seek the forgiveness of Your Lord, and turn to Him in repentance, that He may grant You good enjoyment…” (Hud 11:3).

We have been invited to move from the darkness into the light. There are numerous examples of people giving up a disbelieving lifestyle for Allah’s (swt) pleasure. We have the examples of Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) and Junaid Jamshed, the owner of a clothing line and in the process, a trendsetter in his own right. When he advertised his clothing line, he did not use models; a year later, other fashion houses emulated his concept. The latest ‘cultural Muslim’ coming of age is Shiraz Uppal, who tweeted, “There is only one success: to be able to spend your life in the way your Creator wants it to be spent.”

If we admire any celebrity or icon, we can email or send them inspirational and informative write-ups as soft Dawah. Who knows? Maybe they have never had a conducive environment or access to the truth, and we become their means to salvation. Allah (swt) always has a way out. We must recognize that we have a serious crisis of self-esteem and should use Islam to improve our understanding of the ‘approved’ way of life. It is crucial that we enshroud ourselves with Islam, step out of the cultural enslavement, and become one of those who submit to Allah (swt).

“[Our Sibghah (religion) is] the Sibghah (religion) of Allah (Islam) and which Sibghah (religion) can be better than Allah’s? And we are His worshippers.” (Al-Baqarah 2:138)

The “Fun-damentals” of Entertainment

entertainment

By Rana Rais Khan – Editor, Hiba Magazine

“And it is He who makes (one) laugh and weep…” (An-Najm 53:43)

Islam is all about human nature. That is why it works in moderation, avoids extremes and takes into consideration the Fitrah (of connectedness to Allah (swt)). This ensures peace and harmony at the societal level rather than serving individual interests popularly known as human rights today. Any trend or inclination that is temporary in nature and may jeopardize people in the long run is never endorsed in Islam. Because it is here to stay till the Hour strikes, Islam is the means through which Allah (swt) has secured mankind’s ultimate success.

How Merciful our Rab (swt) is to have sent us a Prophet (sa), who was purposely granted a tender disposition. Had Muhammad (sa) been harsh, the people around him would have run away and no one would have been able to experience Islam’s true spirit. Our Messenger (sa) also set examples for the Ummah to enjoy their lives in private moments with family or public gatherings with friends. He would race with his wives, swim and wrestle with his companions, allow girls to sing and play the tambourine to announce a Nikah ceremony or to inspire soldiers going to war, joke with the young and the old light-heartedly and have the most smiling countenance. He was playful with little children.

Ibn Umar (rta) was asked: “Did the Companions of the Prophet (sa) laugh?” He replied: “Yes, and the faith in their hearts was like mountains.” It is quite evident that laughter was a part of life even for the pious.

The rule was simple. Whatever was a source of pleasure to Allah (swt) in the name of fun was approved by Muhammad (sa). Therefore he never partook in pleasures that served the Nafs but defied the Shariah. And vice has been around all along. There were people who drank as lords, and liquor was available in abundance. Women were used as an object, and prostitution and adultery was rife. Gambling dens operated for games of chance. Singing and playing of musical instruments was present. Poets wrote poetry of Shirk and celebrated pagan festivals. Very little has really changed in the world of forbidden temptation. The only difference is the medium through which we are accessing it in the 21st century. Unfortunately, the culture of entertainment in general remains as perverse, frivolous and fleeting as ever.

Earlier, physical presence was a condition to be part of frolic. Now we can access everything quickly, freely and cost-effectively through cyberspace. Tragically, in spite of the strides in technology and virtual animation, the content and character of the entertainment world has plunged. Our avenues of entertainment have a direct connection with the social values in which we believe. Since the presence of practicing Muslims is next to non-existent on this front, naturally, we have people with a different set of values who are actively involved in churning out entertainment for us. Then we either endorse it by enjoying it with popcorn or we sit back and criticize it while fuming like a bull. Some boycott it in disgust and anger. But why can’t we fix it or at least, open options for those who wish to have decent and mindful fun? Certainly, Muslims have the means and minds to do it but maybe not many have thought of working in this area.

Muslims will have to work very long and hard, firstly to make valuable contributions and next, to make any impressions at all. This can mean a pleasant and welcome change of out of the box ideas that are pleasing to human nature and yet, decent in their content. The sex and violence filled productions of media and entertainment have killed diversity and creativity to the extent that it feels we have nothing better to offer.

It is sad but true that most of the fun dished out to us is in direct conflict with our basic faith. And we cannot endorse it or accept it for a couple of hours of merrymaking. This is because the impact is far deeper. The obvious and subliminal messages dictate our lifestyle and are a major source of taking us away from Allah (swt). The following are only some of the major issues that arise while indulging in today’s fun:

  1. 1.      Hypocrisy

Adulterating the truth is a very serious sin in Islam. We are commanded to call spade a spade.

  1. 2.      Disrespect for women

Amusingly those who claim to be the champions of women’s liberation abuse her the most. They sell her the false idea that her honour either lies in behaving like a man or using her feminity for immodest show casing.

  1. 3.      Humour

Muslims are required to cautiously pick their subject of humour. It is absolutely forbidden to make fun of our faith in any way and for anyone.

  1. 4.      Ridiculing others

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “I am not of those who indulge in amusement. Those who indulge in amusement are not of me.” (Bukhari) It is quite clear that turning someone into a laughing stock and disgracing him is not permissible.

  1. 5.      Falsehood in jokes

Allah’s (swt) Messenger (sa) said: “Woe to him who tells things, speaking falsely, to make people laugh thereby. Woe to him! Woe to him!” (Abu Dawood) Prophet Muhammad (sa) had a unique sense of humour. He was truthful even when he joked and that is exactly what he recommended to others. But the comedy that we watch to laugh is hurtful, immoral, and very shallow.

  1. 6.      Addictive

We find occasional incidents of purposeful fun in the lives of our beloved Messenger (sa). That doesn’t mean that it was the centre of his life. Today, music, soap operas, movies, fashion shows, and Facebook can eat up a greater portion of our day. Forsaking them becomes impossible.

  1. 7.      Satanic in nature

As discussed earlier, contemporary entertainment revolves around a disbelieving culture which has been unleashed upon us. Muslims regretfully behave like the sheep which follow their shepherd, not realizing that they cannot become a part of the world where they don’t belong. It is denting identities and fueling insecurities as most Muslims unquestionably accept these satanic forms of fun, and comfortably sponge it up in their lifestyle.

It is not just merrymaking for a couple of hours. It changes their entire perspective of life. They begin to see the world from the eyes of a disbeliever. And hence, when the same Muslims are urged to steer away from the source of this misguidance, they become reactive and skeptical, casting aspersions on those who wish to preserve their identity as a Muslim and help save the Ummah.

Islam is not grim and grey. It will support everything that has a noble purpose, and oppose everything that appeals to the lower base and carnal desires that end up destructing us. As Muslims, we can blaze our own trails. Many have already made successful attempts.

Secondly, are we here in the world only to kill time and leave behind nothing? Even a dried autumn leaf buries itself to form compost for the new sprouting plantation. As responsible Muslims, the lives we lead must surely serve as the most valuable legacy we can leave to those who come after us.

May Allah (swt) guide us all and honour us with eternal glory and enjoyment in the gardens of Eden. Ameen

Box Feature

Are you knee-deep in contemporary entertainment and want out?

The Hadeeth about moving to a favourable climate and away from sins is really the answer which means we throw out all that corrupts us via entertainment: the TV, the friends, the cellular phones, etc. We stop going to malls, for movies, on Facebook, etc. at least for sometime, especially when we are weak and vulnerable and might get hooked back again.

Make Hijrat. Try ‘out of sight, out of mind’ strategy.

Head for those companions and places which support permissible fun. Hunt for new peers and new past times. Be in the company of inspiring and practicing Muslims via YouTube lectures, audio tapes, and live classes.

Basically, clean the closet of all the dust and cobwebs entirely before you re-decorate. You cannot heal if you are besieged with diseases. That is the bottom line. Once you have a greater control over your Nafs, then you can add some stuff back. Slow and steady doesn’t work.

Music in Islam

music

By Alia Adil – Freelance writer

Music has always topped the list whenever it comes to so-called ‘controversial’ issues. Some simply hush up anything even remotely related to it, terming it Haram, whereas others have declared it to be permissible. For a layman, there is always confusion as to what is right and what is wrong. In an attempt to clear the fog, let us take a look at what is mentioned in our Shariah regarding singing and music.

In Surah Al-Isra, Allah (swt) mentions the time when Shaitan was granted respite until the Last Day to misguide mankind. Allah (swt) allowed him to use all weapons he could for this purpose, including his voice, Sawt: “And Istafziz [literally means: befool them gradually] those, whom you can among them with your voice (i.e. songs, music, and any other call for Allah’s disobedience)…” (Al-Isra 17:64)

According to Ibn Abbas (rta), Sawt (voice) mentioned in this verse refers to every form of invitation, which calls to disobedience to Allah (swt). Ad-Dahhak said it was the sound of wind instruments. Mujahid interpreted Sawt as Ghina (singing to cause enchantment or sensual pleasure), Mazamir (wind instruments) and Lahw (distraction from important matters).

Then Allah (swt) says:“And of mankind is he, who purchases idle talks (i.e., music, singing, etc.) to mislead (men) from the path of Allah without knowledge, and takes it (the path of Allah, the Verses of the Quran) by way of mockery. For such there will be a humiliating torment (in the Hell-fire).” (Luqman 31:6)

According to Imam Qurtubi, this is one of the three verses, from which scholars have deduced the dislike and prohibition of Ghina(the third one being An-Najm, 53:59-61). The keyword here is Lahw Al-Hadeeth (idle talks).

Abdullah Ibn Masud (rtam) said: “I swear by the One other than Whom there is no god, Lahw al Hadeeth refers to Ghina.” Ibn Abbas said: “It means Ghina and the like.” Mujahid said: “It means Ghina and listening to it.” Hasan Al-Basri said: “This verse was revealed in relation to Ghina and musical instruments.”

Abu Malik Al-Ashari narrated that Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “There will be groups of people from my Ummah, who will seek to declare fornication, adultery, silk, wine, and musical instruments to be lawful.” (Bukhari)

Prophet Muhammad (sa) also said: “A people of my Ummah will drink wine, calling it by other than its real name. Merriment will be made for them through the playing of musical instruments and the singing of lady singers. Allah (swt) will cleave the earth under them and turn them and others into apes and swine.” (Ibn-Majah and Bayhaqi)

Moreover, it is recorded that Abdur-Rahman Ibn Awf (rta) reported: “The Prophet (sa) took my hand and I went with him to visit his (ailing) son Ibrahim. He was in the throes of death. The Prophet (sa) took him to his breast and held him until he breathed his last. Then he put the child down and wept. I asked: “You are weeping, O Messenger of Allah, while you prohibit crying?” The Prophet (sa) replied: “Verily, I did not prohibit weeping but rather, I forbade two sounds that are foolish and sinful: the sound of musical amusement and Shaitan’s Mazamir in time of joy and blessing; and the sound (of wailing) at the time of adversity accompanied by striking the face and tearing of garments. But this (weeping of mine) stems from compassion, and whoever does not show compassion will not receive it.” (Al-Hakim)

Ibn Taymiyah writes: “This is among the best Ahadeeth that are used to show the prohibition of Ghina.”

Thus, it is clear beyond doubt that Islam establishes a general ruling of Tahreem (prohibition), when it comes to music. However, Islam, being a balanced religion, gives room for amusement and sport that is free from sin and evil consequences. There are some occasions, such as weddings and the days of Eid, where singing and use of Duff (one-sided drum without bells) are permissible (women and girls only). It is recorded that Muhammad Ibn Hatib (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “Duff and singing in weddings distinguish the permissible from the prohibited.” (Bukhari)

Likewise, singing is allowed in order to gain strength at the time of Jihad and to ease laborious work, as was done by Prophet (sa) and his companions, while digging the trench around Madinah, in preparation for the Battle of Trench. To determine all such occasions and the extent of their permissibility, one must refer to authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (sa).

Instrument-free singing is permissible by consensus, provided certain conditions are met: it must be for a rightful purpose, it must comprise pure, non-erotic lyrics, and one must not excessively indulge in it. Moreover, one can occasionally enjoy Islamic Nasheeds, as long as the content is wholesome, virtuous, and free from polytheism and use of musical instruments.

Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyah says: “From among the artful machinations and entrapments of Allah’s enemy (Satan), with which he has snared those possessing little good sense, knowledge and Deen, and by which he has stalked the hearts of the false and ignorant people, there is the listening to whistling, wailing, handclapping and song to the accompaniment of forbidden (musical) instruments. Such things block the Quran from people’s hearts and make them devoted to sin and disobedience. For song (to musical accompaniment) is the Quran (recital) of Ash-Shaytan. It is a dense veil and barrier, preventing nearness to Ar-Rahman.”

Later on in his treatise, he says: “Therefore know that songs have particular characteristics, which faint the heart, causing hypocrisy to sprout therein, just as water sprouts plants. Among its qualities is that it distracts the heart and prevents it from contemplation and understanding of the Quran and from applying it. This is because the Quran and song can never coexist in the heart, since they are mutually contradictory…”

It is often said that music leads to tranquility of the soul. However, the tranquility that one acquires from remembering Allah (swt) is entirely different from the one experienced through music. Allah (swt) says in the Quran “… Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.”(Ar-Rad 13:28)

Let’s Chill

chill

Compiled by Umm Ibrahim – Freelance writer

The world of entertainment is indeed unlimited – it is so easy to get lost amidst the myriad of movies, music, gossip, celebrities and so on and on! Facebook pages have made one’s interaction with all-things entertainment extremely easy.

In order to better understand the arenas of entertainment today, and hunt down the solutions, Hiba Magazine got in touch with the following individuals:

1)      Mr. Tayyab Abid – CEO of Little Deeds; COO of Role Model Institute, and CEO of Tayyab Enterprises,

2)      Imam Jawad Ahmed – O’Level Islamiyat teacher at Generations school, Karachi and Head of Dawah Hotline in USA, called Why Islam (www.whyislam.org).

3)      Dr. Humaira Iqbal – Administration, Fajr Academy and Project Manager for MAP (Muslim Awareness Programme),

4)      Mr. Samir Feroze – CEO, yello.pk.

Following are some of the questions that we asked them, along with their response.

How can Muslims relax and enjoy their leisure hours, without falling into forbidden realms? List top three Halal avenues of entertainment that have worked for you/someone you know.

Tayyab Abid

  • Marriage and all the fun it legalizes.
  • Playing with kids.
  • Hanging out with the right crowd.
  • Eating out.

Imam Jawad Ahmed

They can do so by using their leisure time in fruitful activities, which are enriching and, at the same time, relaxing in nature. They should avoid everything that might break the boundaries set by Allah (swt). Top three would be:

1. Going to a park and enjoying the atmosphere there, or any rides that might be available.

2. Going to a bowling alley, where there is no music and no smoking.

3. Going to the seaside and enjoying the recreational activities such as ATV rides, camel or horse riding, etc.

Dr. Humaira Iqbal

Muslim can do the following:

1. Read good books. (There is a lack of love for books in the Ummah currently.)

2. Shop and buy presents for others, instead of indulging in one’s own desires.

3. Work on self-grooming.

4. Prepare homemade healthy food.

5. Venture on more nature-centred outings, for example, Port Grande, beach, hiking in Islamabad, crabbing in Karachi, etc.

6. Make an effort to socialize and move in the right circles.

7. Exercise regularly.

8. Take up gardening.

Top thee Halal avenues of entertainment that have worked for me or someone I know:

1. Eating out.

2. Speed boating and snorkelling.

3. Spas.

Samir Feroze

I believe Muslims can relax in the same way others can and do the same sort of activities. They just need to be careful of a few things while indulging in them. For example, if physical exercise is relaxing, one can play tennis or go to the gym. These activities would be more challenging if you live in a non-Muslim country, but assuming you are in a Muslim country, both should be reasonably ‘safe’ past times. Gyms can have music blaring, so you could take along an iPod and listen to some Quran, Nasheeds or lectures, etc. I personally do not do this, however, and just try to keep my focus off the music.

I believe playing video games which do not have objectionable content like car racing games, or angry birds, or some games on the wi-fi platform are relaxing and fun too.

Penetration of music is inevitable in our lives, whether we are in the supermarket or watching the news, etc. How can this be tackled?

Tayyab Abid

What can we do if we go to a place where there is music? Well, we can ask them to stop and emphasize that if you don’t, we might leave and not come again. Alhumdulillah, wherever I go, I do this. Alhumdulillah, 80% of the restaurants always listen to me and turn off the music. At the very least, they lower the volume. If they don’t listen, you can leave but before you do, fill out the feedback card with your complaint. Lastly, there are places in Karachi where there is no music (for instance, Snack Attack, Bovi Chic, Student’s Biryani, Biryani Centre, Mr. Burger’s certain outlets, etc.) or is turned off at your request.

Imam Jawad Ahmed

We can avoid in two ways: firstly, we move away from the place, where music is being played or ask them to turn it off. Secondly, we can put our index fingers or thumbs in our ears, where the music is being played, so that it doesn’t penetrate our ears, and at the same time, we try our best to get out of that area.

Dr. Humaira Iqbal

  • Recite Aoodhubillah.
  • Request restaurants to turn off the music.
  • Ask shopkeepers to switch off the music (especially if you are going to buy something).
  • Try going early in the morning, when most stores are empty and playing the Quran. I once gifted a CD of Qari Ghamdi to The Forum and they would play it for me in the mornings.
  • Avoid rush hours, because they always play music at such times.

Samir Feroze

Vote with your money by going to places which do not have music.

Editor’s suggestion: Try distributing a flyer on the position of music in Islam in these joints, and try to educate them. It is possible they are not aware of the admonitions regarding it.

Finally…

There you have it! There are plenty of solutions, if you want to have Halal fun! Entertainment is not restricted to television or radio! There are plenty of other avenues that can be explored as an individual or as a family! It’s all about being creative and exploring new options. And, of course, it is also about remembering that one’s Deen is not restricted to rituals. It features in everything, even entertainment.

The Fallen Stars

oscar

By Rana Rais Khan – Editor, Hiba Magazine

We have heard about the tragic deaths of many celebrities. They rose, they conquered and they shattered. They were gifted people. They had both ambition and opportunities. But when they reached the zenith of their success, their fate catapulted…

Whether it was John Lennon, Marilyn Monroe, Parveen Babi, Heath Ledger, Divya Bharti, Amy Winehouse or Michael Jackson – somewhere down the road, after achieving all that a person desires in this world, they all met a lonely, tragic death.

But why? These people were worshipped by millions of fans around the world. Why and how could they be lonely? Were they insecure, despite being the epitome of fashion and style? They had enough money to last a lifetime – what haunted them?

The truth is that the stars we admire and emulate are also people like us, and they have their own demons to slay. Leading a life under the public’s microscope, and pleasing millions across the world is not easy.

A news channel reporter once explained why Michael Jackson underwent countless painful cosmetic surgeries. The reason was that his father used to pick on him for being the darkest and the ugliest of all the siblings.

Reuters reported: “Whitney Houston, whose soaring voice lifted her to the top of the music world but whose personal decline was fuelled by years of drug use, was found dead in her Beverly Hills hotel room at 48 years of age.”

Parveen Babi, the Indian actress, was found dead in her house several days after she passed away. When it was time for her burial, no one knew what rites to follow because no one knew what religion she belonged to, if any. Once loved by all, she was utterly alone when she died.

British singer, Amy Winehouse, was found dead at her apartment in London. She was only 27 years old. She had won five Grammy Awards and sold millions of albums. But before she died, she had drug and drinking problems and had taken a divorce.

Scores of books can be penned about the misery of these “stars”. Happiness has very little to do with how famous you are and how much money you have. Junaid Jamshaid, former singer, put it aptly: “The human soul has been sent from the sky by Allah (swt); hence, it also needs to be satisfied from things that are divine – the Quran, which was sent by Allah (swt). The body was made with clay, so it needs to be satisfied with what the soil produces in terms of food and water.” However, we indulge the body but leave the soul to starve.

Allah (swt) wants humans to reach a level of piety and goodness. He keeps offering them chances throughout their lives to turn over a new leaf. Satan, on the other hand, tries to lead us to the abyss of doom. No matter what justifications or theories any one presents, the rule is simple: if we obey Allah (swt), our hearts remain happy and content; if we obey Satan, our life becomes living hell.

Turning a blind eye doesn’t change the reality. Popular culture and comfortable acceptance of immodesty doesn’t alter the Fitrah that is here to stay forever. Show business demands Allah’s (swt) disobedience. Regardless of the charity work done and the donations collected for noble causes, the pain will not go away unless the root cause is addressed.

We should keep in mind that supporting people on the road to disbelief includes our patronage of all that they do. We, too, are partners in crime by creating a demand and encouraging them to keep up with the supply. Allah (swt) will question us along with those who actually practice disobedience.

Let us pray that all our extremely talented and gifted brothers and sisters across the globe learn to willingly embrace guidance, serve the Creator, and lead contented lives. “…Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.”(Ar-Ra’d, 13:28)

Life Without The Idiot Box

idiot box

By Naureen Aqueel – Freelance writer

Most parents are prudent when it comes to their children’s safety and upbringing. They go out of the way to ensure their well-being; they carefully select their school, and they teach them not to talk to strangers and to be careful about who they befriend. Yet, inside their homes, they often leave them at the mercy of a complete stranger – the television.

From serving the role of a babysitter to just being the ‘background noise’, while chores are completed around the house, the television today is like an additional family member. According to a study in the USA, an individual watches television for, on average, 1,680 minutes per week. That is equal to two months of nonstop television viewing per year.

It is heartening to see that some families are standing up today and refusing to let their homes be occupied by the TV. While some are limiting the amount of television viewing or moderating children’s viewing habits, others have taken the bolder step of throwing the television out of the house altogether. Life is possible without the idiot box, they say — and here is how:

“I read, blog, talk to friends and family on the phone, and read and play games with the children (to spend my free time),” says Umm Abdullah, a homeschooling mom of eight kids. “The children play games, (computer time on weekends) and they create their own play themes; they also go out on their bikes and play outdoors. There’s a lot to do to have fun; we can’t seem to find the time to do it all.”

Umm Musa’s family has not had television for the past few years, ever since they started gaining knowledge about Islam and observed that “almost all television programmes either contained immorality or stupidity and that apart from the content, television as a medium per se, was addictive and highly passive”.

Asked how she spends her free time, Umm Musa replies: “I believe that time/life has to be spent in attaining the purpose of our life. While doing that, one does have moments of tiredness and a natural need for recuperation. (Non-Muslims have a very different concept of recreation and entertainment, which we have widely imported.) The following helps me recuperate, as well as support my life-purpose: reading good literature, meeting nice sisters, and going to the park.”

The choice not to have a television at home was more coincidental for Mona Siddiqui and her husband, now parents of two children. “My husband and I were setting up our own place then, and we thought we’d buy everything else before we got a television. We were both working at the time, so it just got put off until we realized that we actually liked not having a television. And that’s it – we decided to just never get one.”

Mona feels not having a television allowed her and her husband more time to connect as newly-weds. “We spent our time more productively: cooking together, reading together and so on. Once we had kids, it was pretty much the same – more family time.”

Umm Musa says not having the television in the house has “helped preserve our Haya and Islamic values and has helped the children become creative and capable of entertaining themselves.”

As more and more families begin to realize the perils of having a television in the home, many are stepping up to limit, if not completely remove, its presence from their lives. Families like the ones above prove that life without the television is indeed possible.