It’s not Bad to be Sad

sadCo-authored by Umm Isam

We often aim to escape from a phase of sadness, assuming that it’s not a ‘good’ or ‘normal’ state to be in. We feel sorry for people, who are undergoing certain sorrow or distress. Have we wondered why we are feeling this way? We often fail to realize that sadness is an emotion just like any other emotion in our life. Why do we feel so bad about being sad? How did we come to this conclusion that sadness is bad and happiness is good? Let’s look into some reasons which we fail to acknowledge.

It is important to note that we live in a capitalist structure of society, which was initiated in the era of industrialization. Capitalism defines the society in a way that everyone seeks happiness in a certain object or material product. It has designed the media, products, schooling system, movies and dramas in a way that depicts a constant search for material happiness. Media is a powerful agent of the capitalists. They use it to condition humans in a way that their subconscious mind is engraved into attaining worldly or material products in order to gain happiness.

A prominent example is the common ad of skin whitening creams, which always show two main scenes: the first scene with a girl who looks dull, dark and ‘sad’; the second scene shows a girl who looks fresh, fair and ‘happy’. Our mind is way smarter than we perceive it to be; hence, it catches even the slightest details and stores it in our subconscious memory. Next time, when we face a similar situation, we tend to pick what’s available in our subconscious mind. In this case, the media has fed us to look for happiness in a simple skin whitening cream.

Another common example of imposed happiness can be seen on Facebook. Have you ever noticed on Facebook any pictures of your friends crying or looking dull? I am sure not or very rarely. Even if people are feeling gloomy and sad, they pose with hugs and smiles when someone brings out the camera. It is obvious that they are smiling merely for Facebook and do not feel the actual happiness of that smile. This happens because of the basic concept that we have to be happy all the time, which is neither necessary nor natural.

Media perpetuates products and ads, which depict humans fetching happiness all the time, or it tries to provide steps of gaining ultimate happiness. Movies and dramas are filled with ‘they lived happily ever after’, happy endings and successful protagonists, giving us a message that we have to avail happiness in the same way, and if we don’t, then we are not normal.

Furthermore, the system of capitalism has also initiated many diseases, for example, depression, bipolar disorders and even eating disorders. It depicts and defines ‘happy’ for us, and then we develop a feeling of Hasad (envy) trying to seek that happiness for ourselves; hence, we increase the risks of such diseases as depression and anxiety. The societal pressure to look happy weighs people down so heavily that they often need to seek professional help.  People experiencing depression visit psychiatrists, who prescribe anti-depressants. These drugs are highly priced and require to be taken for a long time. Pharmaceutical companies are making millions out of them, so they rope in doctors, who at times are not even qualified to prescribe these drugs. Furthermore, the chemicals in these drugs prevent the self-correctional process of human body that Allah (swt) has granted, thus throwing everything into disarray. Sometimes, all a sad person needs is counselling from another wise person or friend, instead of antidepressants.

The pressure to feel joyful is so immense that when a child falls or a teenager fails at something, parents don’t even want to acknowledge their sorrow. A child is told that all is okay and he must not cry. The adolescent is admonished to display bravado and not immaturity. In contrast, psychologists strongly advise to acknowledge these distressful feelings and emotionally empathize with these kids. This is to ensure that they will trust their feelings the next time. If we muffle them, they would eventually become desensitized and won’t respond to anybody’s pain, assuming it to be wrong. If we cut our finger and do not acknowledge it, we can actually bleed to death unknowingly. It is Allah’s (swt) mercy to feel hurt in order to recover and survive.

Allah (swt) designed everything with symmetry. If there is hot, then there is cold, too. Too much of anything makes survival difficult and can eventually destroy the system. Similarly, Allah (swt) designed happiness and sadness together, complimenting each other and giving symmetry to our life.

We, as Muslims, are well aware of the fact that nothing can stay forever. How can we expect happiness or even sadness to stay forever in our lives? A common example is going on a vacation. We enjoy ourselves and experience great happiness; however, if the vacation gets too long, we eventually start getting homesick. This is because nothing can keep us happy or sad forever. The system of Allah (swt) is flawless and everything is balanced with both positives and negatives.

Allah (swt) is the One, Who makes us happy or sad. In a state of sadness, we are not permitted to utter the words of Kufr, fall into disbelief, pose threat or harm to others, and doubt the existence of Allah (swt), or whether He has forsaken us. Some incidents in life cannot be explained through reasoning and seem very unjust, but Duniya is not Dar-ul-Jaza (a place where we will be rewarded). It is imperfect. It is a place of test for a believer, so he can score well with Sabr and Salah and attain the most exquisite bounties of Paradise, which will be perfect. Good people may be afflicted with severe hardships. Sadness should be a means to draw closer to our Rabb (swt) and ask for forgiveness.

If you remember Allah (swt) in times of joy, He will stay close to you in times of distress. A strong believer never forgets his Creator and always invokes Him alone for strength in sadness.

Instead of looking for happiness all the time, we should consider the perfect system designed by Allah (swt) and realize that no matter which emotion we experience, it should be treated well. Research has shown that crying can actually make people feel better and relieve the stress that was accumulating in their body. Therefore, it is better to let your sadness out and feel it completely; however, we should not let it overpower us and influence our lifestyle. We should learn from life events and move on. Don’t allow the media to condition a definition of happiness for you; rather, develop your own happiness. Be adventurous, take risks and always trust Allah (swt).

Preparing for Eternal Happiness

Eternal Happiness

We all want to be happy! Alhumdulillah, as Muslims Allah (swt) has provided us an opportunity to attain eternal happiness that is in Jannah, of course.

While we are mentally prepared to go to Jannah and experience Allah’s (swt) exquisite bounties, many of us are not prepared for the transit journey, leading to our final destination: death.

How many of us talk about death or even think about it? Death is often discussed. We attend funerals and watch death depicted in the mass media. However, this is not the accurate depiction of what we as Muslims believe about death. As a result, many different misconceptions have taken root in our minds; a few common ones are discussed below, Insha’Allah:

I am a Muslim, so I have a free ticket to Jannah

Many of us believe that just because we were born into a Muslim family and belong to some lineage of pious ancestors, it automatically guarantees our entry into Jannah, regardless of whether we pray or fast or perform any good deeds. Nothing could be further from the truth! Allah (swt) is not impressed by titles. We need the right deeds and mindset to get to Jannah, Insha’Allah. The Qur’an dispels this myth in the following manner:

“That was a nation who has passed away. They shall receive the reward of what they earned and you of what you earn. And you will not be asked of what they used to do.” (Al-Baqarah 2:134)

I’m too young to die

This commonly repeated phrase is heard in countless action movies. When faced with a deadly situation the protagonist dramatically exclaims, “But I am too young to die!” And then he/she struggles to cheat death, proving to be successful and you see them triumph, living “happily ever after.” So, is there really an age when one can be considered too young to die? As Muslims we must remember that death can come any time regardless of the person’s age and you cannot cheat death.

When I die that is “The End” of my story

The mass media causes us to believe that while we are on this earth, we have all the time to enjoy ourselves, and be successful and happy. When we reach the grave that is ‘the end’ and nothing happens after that. My loved ones will weep over my grave, and then everyone will move on – end of story.

In reality, Islam tells us that when we are lowered into our grave, two angels Munkar and Nakeer will come and ask us questions. This period is called “Qiyamat As-Sughrah” or minor resurrection. In the grave, our judgement begins and based on this our place in Jannah or Jahannum is decided. We don’t sleep in our graves as many of us are led into believing. We bide our time and wait for the actual Day of Resurrection.

The most direct way of cultivating the quality of Ihsan and Khushoo in any worship we do is by remembering death and reminding ourselves that the ultimate goal is Jannah for which we are striving each time we pray, give charity or recite the Quran.

As we clear our minds of these common yet deadly misconceptions, we need to also learn why remembering death is a key element of our spiritual well-being and existence.

The first and foremost reason is the need for preparation. This test is greater than any other worldly examination for which we have prepared. Do you think it’s a wise thing to avoid or delay preparing for such a big exam coming up? We know that death is certain to come. Allah (swt) says in the Quran:

“Everyone is going to taste death…” (Al-Anbiya 21:35)

Striking the right kind of balance

When we constantly remember death, we are able get our priorities straight.  One doesn’t burden oneself too much with the temporary goals of this world where one only finds short-lived happiness in materialistic luxuries like the latest cars or designer clothes. Rather, he/she only gives as much attention as is necessary for the smooth running of his affairs but his heart yearns for Jannah and Allah’s (swt) pleasure and that is his true goal.

The Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever has the hereafter as his goal, Allah makes his heart rich, makes his affairs focused, and the Dunya will come to him whether or not it wishes to. And whoever has the Dunya as his goal, Allah will place poverty before his eyes, make his affairs scattered, and nothing from the Dunya will come to him except what was decreed for him.” (An-Nasai)

The sign of an intelligent believer

A man came to the Prophet (sa) and asked: “Which of the believers is most virtuous?” He replied: “The best in character.” He asked: “Which believer is most intelligent?” “Those who remember death the most, and are best prepared for what is coming after it. They are the intelligent ones.” (Ibn Majah)

The wise thing to do is to remember death and prepare for it. To avoid thinking about it and kidding ourselves will only lead to our loss, not only in this world but in the Akhirah too.

Remind ourselves that we do not have a lot of time

Once, the Prophet (sa) heard his wife, Umm Habibah (ra), praying: “O Allah, allow me to enjoy my husband, Allah’s Messenger (by prolonging my life), and my father, Abu Sufyan, and my brother Muawiyah.” The Prophet (sa) responded, “Truly, you have asked Allah about time spans which are designated, days which are already numbered, and provisions which are already divided. Allah will not hasten something before its time or postpone something after its time. Had you asked Allah instead to save you from the punishment of the fire, and the punishment of the grave, it would have been better for you.” (Muslim)

Further, it is mentioned in the Quran: “And on the Day when He shall gather (resurrect) them together, (it will be) as if they had not stayed (in the life of this world and graves) but an hour of a day. They will recognize each other. Ruined indeed will be those who denied the meeting with Allah, and were not guided.” (Yunus 10:45)

Alhumdulillah, in the Quran, Allah (swt) tells us the true meaning of ‘success’ and how one can attain it. 

Imagine the extent to which individuals will regret their actions on that day if they spend all our lives in useless endeavours, running after temporary enjoyment and gains, and end up with no good deeds to make the scales heavy in the Akhirah, by means of which they can attain Allah’s (swt) mercy.

Cultivating the quality of Ihsan in our worship

At times, we complain that when we stand to pray Salah, we easily get distracted. When we extend our hand to give charity, we find our intentions tainted with motives other than Allah’s (swt) pleasure. The most direct way of cultivating the quality of Ihsan and Khushoo in any worship we do is by remembering death and reminding ourselves that the ultimate goal is Jannah for which we are striving each time we pray, give charity or recite the Quran.

A man came to the Prophet (sa) and said: “Oh Messenger of Allah give me advice and summarize it.” The Prophet (sa) said: “When you stand to pray, pray as if it is your last prayer, don’t speak with that which you would apologize for tomorrow, and be hopeless for that which is in the hands of the people!” (Ahmad)

Be amongst the successful ones

“Who believe in the Ghaib and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and spend out of what we have provided for them [i.e. give Zakat, spend on themselves, their parents, their children, their wives, etc., and also give charity to the poor and also in Allah’s cause – Jihad,]. And who believe in (the Quran and the Sunnah) which has been sent down (revealed) to you (Muhammad [sa]) and in that which we sent down before [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel), etc.] and they believe with certainty in the Hereafter. (Resurrection, recompense of their good and bad deeds, Paradise and Hell,) They are on (true) guidance from their Lord, and they are the successful.” (Al-Baqarah 2:3-5)

In this world, everyone seems to have a different definition of success. Alhumdulillah, in the Quran, Allah (swt) tells us the true meaning of ‘success’ and how one can attain it. This success is the means through which we can live lives of eternal happiness, the kind of happiness we have never experienced before. So, if we remember death as we live through each day, we can rid ourselves of the love for this world and diligently work towards attaining eternal happiness in Jannah, Insha’Allah.

Transcribed from a lecture that was part of a workshop titled “Quest towards Happiness” conducted by “Friends of Allah- Al-Wali” in 2013. Email:

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Passive Reception or Active Participation?

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Passive receptionBy Zainub Razvi

Almost without any real effort on their part, ordinary individuals of the information age are exposed daily to a sheer wealth of information. It is a huge task to separate valid facts from speculative or downright false information. The Internet, around-the-clock cable television, newspapers and mobile communications combined offer so many avenues for disseminating of information that often news is spread wide and across, before it has even been properly verified.

Although journalists are expected to ensure a higher standard of authenticity than an over-avid SMS user, who forwards any rumours he/she comes across as potential health and security warnings, even the news media often sidesteps important journalistic protocols to cash in on sensational angles or breaking news value. Not only do such practices compromise important journalistic ethics but, more crucially, in a country like Pakistan, where the majority of the viewers and readers comprise less educated, gullible audiences, they mislead people and start a vicious cycle of utterly baseless rumours and gossip mongering, which ultimately becomes so pervasive that it is nearly impossible to separate the facts from the fiction.

A brilliant recent example was the mobile virus hoax propagated in 2007. The mystery virus could allegedly do anything from simply messing up your phone device to downright killing you! What started off as a relatively harmless chain email and SMS message, which originated out of a practical joke, eventually ended up as breaking news health warning on certain news channels. It was only days later, after a full blown education campaign by the telecom regulators, that all needless hysteria finally subsided. Thus, ordinary news watchers cannot trust the news providers to give them the correct information.

A fair deal of the responsibility lies on us to confirm any news we hear or read. It is not only a common sense practice but also a religious obligation, as described in Surah Hujurat: “O you who believe! If a rebellious evil person comes to you with a news, verify it, lest you harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful to what you have done.” (49:6) Although this verse refers specifically to news brought by a rebellious and evil person, scholars suggest that believers should verify any news brought to them by any source, before believing it and passing it on to others. Here are the top three questions to ask ourselves, whenever we read or hear a news story:

Source: Where is this news coming from? It is vital to determine the authenticity of the source of any news. We shouldn’t just assume that because a certain report is appearing on TV or in a newspaper it will necessarily be correct. We should further check to see, if it’s an original report or news syndicated from another source. If it is an original report, do a background check on the reporter or correspondent breaking the story. In case of a syndicated story, check if it comes from well known news agency. Some newspapers and channels do have a reputation of being more sensationalist than others, and almost every news source has certain inherent predispositions (a liberal or conservative slant, for instance), which should also be kept in mind, when ascertaining the credibility of any source.

Balance: Is the news too one-sided? Every news story has two sides, and any news story that gives you just one side is not balanced. So if you’re tuning in to watch election coverage, and the state television is showing you one government official after another testifying to the fairness and transparency of the balloting process, but does not include any opposition members, let alone their views, you know something’s fishy. Balance is particularly important in news stories about crime and politics. View with suspicion a report, which logs only one aggrieved party’s grievances. Watch out for the bias that editors and producers sometimes deliberately create via selecting and emphasizing some facts and figures over others, strategically placing certain news in headline or front pages and by using specific tones or names to refer to certain incidents or people (for instance, a new report that describes a staunch scholar as a ‘radical cleric’).

Accuracy: Are the facts in this report logically consistent? Make use of your common sense to read and watch between and beyond the lines and tapes. If a news channels is broadcasting something it claims was shot in the Northern Areas, but appears like it could easily have been taped elsewhere in the country, view it with skepticism. A good way to determine the credibility of a report is the amount of citations it has – the more experts or other credible sources it quotes, the higher is the likelihood of accuracy.

By following this simple guide, we can ensure that we are not misled ourselves and prevent the propagation of false or speculative news to others.

Role of the Media

By Huma Imam


What is the first thing Allah (swt) created? Pen. (Abu Dawood)

What did Allah (swt) say to the pen? Write. (The decree of creation)

What is the first word revealed in the Quran? Read (i.e. Iqra, Al-Alaq 96:1)

Congratulations! We should be proud to be a civilization of the pen. Pen, to this day, remains a potent instrument of communication, giving life to today’s influential modern media, i.e., TV, the Internet, and the print media.

How significant and effective are these mediums of communication? Phenomenal! People like you and I have the power, by Allah’s (swt) Will, to bring about great changes. The motivation to bring about changes is fueled by awareness. This is where the might of the news media plays a vital part. History has witnessed well-informed ordinary people, with the indispensable support of their media, managing to pressurize their leaders into ending futile wars. The initial coverage of the Vietnam War supported the US involvement, but following the Tet offensive, it changed its frame. The bold and uncensored TV coverage helped to turn the public opinion against the war. The ensuing anti-war movements were also given wide media support and eventually led to success.

Another reason for the media’s significance in our lives is its power on influencing social ideals and values, thereby shaping individuals and societies. Today, in the name of globalization, Muslims are threatened by cultural and intellectual invasion through media. As intangible and harmless as it sounds, in the long run, this war and enforcement of ideas is far more deadly than any war in the battlefield. Such invasion leads to the enslavement of a free mind, rendering it aimless, robbing it of its identity, and instilling inferiority complexes. The desperation Pakistani public exhibited at the ban on Indian entertainment channels is a sad but stark example of our society’s enslavement and defeat through media’s control.

Does this mean that we, as Muslims, should shun the media? No.

“Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Maruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful.” (Al-Imran 3:104)

Since the modern media has a far reaching power and a great potential to influence, so why not use them to enjoin Al-Maruf and forbid Al-Munkar? Why not use it to put the correct Islam on the forefront? Why not use it for the wellbeing of Muslims? Why not use it to spread the word of Allah (swt)? Why not use it to wage intellectual Jihad?

“So obey not the disbelievers, but strive against them (by preaching) with the utmost endeavour with it (the Quran).” (Al-Furqan 25:52)

This verse orders us to wage Jihad by proclaiming the truth. We can use media to do just that, i.e., proclaim the truth, defend Islam and Muslims from criticisms and insults of the disbelievers. If Islam and Muslims are attacked physically, then we should also respond through physical might in the battlefields. But if we are attacked on an intellectual level, then it is wise to retaliate with mighty but similarly intellectual defense.

A book, blasphemous to Islam, was recently published. As a result, people went out on the streets protesting with swords in their hands. Did they accomplish anything? The swords were useless there. The attack was with the pen, thus, the defense should also have been with a pen – pen of Muslim intellectuals that would have rebutted their baseless writings.

Thanks to the media, we daily witness the atrocities committed against our brothers and sisters in Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Darfur, Chechnya, etc. By default, we become participants of this violence, as we simply cannot take the position of oblivious viewers.

“The believers, men and women, are Auliya (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another.” (At-Taubah 9:71)

The least we can do for them is voice our condemnation and repulsion through our media. It is better to protest than to accept injustice.

Pen is mightier than the sword

This saying holds true, if the user fulfills the following conditions: good and sincere intention; correct knowledge; training and proper organization on a community level. Alhumdullilah, TV channels, the Internet and the print media are all open to our comments and feedback. Whenever we come across an evil action within these mediums or in society in general, we are duty bound to denounce it. This can be done by contacting the newspaper/channel or writing directly to the author of the offending article/program.

This direct technique becomes most effective, if a number of people take a collective stand. An example of this was BBC’s sacking of a former MP and a popular talk show host Robert Kilroy Silk, who was guilty of racist and Islamophobic comments. His censure was a direct result of active protests and condemnations by Muslims.

Newspapers and magazines

Did you know that after the front page headlines, the ‘Letter to Editor’ column is the most widely read section in a newspaper? You don’t need to be a journalist to write to them. This is a forum that we should read and write to regularly. Why? To show that Muslims have a voice. We need to be heard rather than just be talked about. To be effective and successful in writing to papers you need to:

  • be informed Muslims;
  • hold opinions based on correct knowledge;
  • keep abreast with current affairs and changing political scenarios.
  • This way, you will be able to:
  • bring the Islamic perspective on current affairs to the forefront;
  • persistently challenge the stereotypes of Islam;
  • show that there is a clear difference between Islamic culture and cultural Islam;
  • point out any wrong or injustice you see or experience in your society.
  • When penning your opinions, it is important to stay calm and polite, no matter how provoked, but communicate your feelings firmly.


TV elicits two extreme views from most Muslims. It is either a total and outright rejection by some, terming it as Haram or an unreserved acceptance by others, in the name of freedom of expression. However, the correct perspective is to be aware of TV’s pros and cons and make use of this avenue.

Some scholar has said:

“Every means that helps to achieve the goals of Dawah may be used, so long as it is not Haram.”

Prophet (sa) used to visit the market places of Kaafirs for this purpose. Just because TV has been used for a lot of vice, the knowledgeable people should not shy away from it. The scope of benefit any Dawah school or program offers is limited to the few, who are able to go out and attend it. But if such programs are telecasted, they will reach a million homes. Presented in attractive and modern formats, TV Dawah has an extensive potential to influence a diverse audience.

The Internet

According to Internet World Stats, there are approximately 1,094 million Internet users worldwide. Like TV, its potential for good and bad is unparalleled; however, unlike TV, this medium enjoys the benefit of instantaneous and two-way communication for all. The following are some of the ways that you can enjoin good and forbid evil on the Internet:


  • Report offending sites to your Internet service provider, asking them to block or censor them.
  • Do not forward chain letters that promise you some worldly benefit or miracles.
  • Never forward Islamic info emails without reference sources. Verify the authenticity of information.
  • Reply to chain letters and senders of wrong information asking for evidence or enlightening them about the dangers of spreading hype or legends that aim to take advantage of people’s gullibility.
  • Prepare and send short mails to acquaintances reminding them of Allah’s (swt) commands and timely good deeds.
  • Read and write letters and opinion pieces to local and international media.
  • Do not waste time and energy on debating on forums, which slyly aim to provoke Muslims in the guise of discussing religion and politics.
  • Set up and manage websites for social and religious benefit.


Primary Means of Communication

The spoken word or language is the most primitive form of communication. Contrary to the popular perception of the primary means of communication being only gestures and body movements, the first human beings Adam (as) and Hawwa (as) were taught language by Allah (swt) – they were taught the words of repentance and were given guidance from Allah (swt) to follow. As the human race grew, more languages evolved and Allah’s (swt) guidance continued to the different nations and tribes in their respective languages.

(Contributed by Naureen Aqueel)

Information Warfare

Absar H. Kazmi exposes the new tactics of 21st century warfare and suggests the ways of curtailing its effects on Muslim society

In approximately 653 Hijri, Halaku Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, attacked Iraq. He deposed and killed the Khalifah, plundered the vast resources of the Islamic State, massacred the citizens, and took complete control. For any common observer it was clear that a ruthless and powerful leader had taken advantage of his strength to conquer and oppress a weaker people. Halaku Khan himself would probably not have denied this.

A few years ago, Iraq was attacked again. The leader was deposed and recently killed; the vast resources are being plundered; the citizens are daily being massacred and raped. However, this time, strangely enough, the conquerors are claiming that they are not oppressing the people at all; rather, they are liberating them.

In these strange days, when the so-called ‘civilized’ nations have united in war against ‘terror’ (all those, who would dare to oppose their system), we see a conflict – both physical and verbal. Many of us fail to see that contrary to the days of old, today the greater war is not the physical war with guns, tanks, and cluster bombs, and it is not limited to any particular geographic location. Rather, the greater war of today is an intellectual war – a battle to win the hearts and minds, a war, in which the weapon is information. The true winner in this war of information is the one, who manages to control the public opinion. The physical battles we witness are merely symptoms of this deeper and much more sinister conflict.

Why things have changed? The ‘Halaku Khans’ of today have realized something very important – it is much more effective to enslave a people psychologically than physically. A people enslaved only physically may not be ready for an immediate revolt, but hatred for their conquerors would always remain in their hearts. However, a psychologically enslaved people will come to regard the ideology and culture of their conquerors with awe and admiration, while beginning to perceive their own religion, culture, and even race as inadequate and inferior. Thus, they will willingly accept subjugation.

Living in the age of information, we may feel that we are somehow more aware of what is going on around us. We must realize, however, that often it doesn’t really matter how much information we can access but how that information is presented. Information presented incorrectly or selectively can literally make the good seem evil and portray the oppressor as the oppressed. The following are some of the manipulation methods used for achieving this:


If two unrelated objects are shown together enough times, eventually, people will begin to associate them. In the 19th and early 20th century, black people were often illustrated and described in the American media as ugly and stupid; therefore, they came to be regarded as such by the common public. Over the past few decades, the same media has helped to change this image by portraying the blacks as attractive, intelligent, and creative.

Outright Deception

An example of outright deception by the media is the recent uproar in Pakistan waged against the Hudood Ordinance. According to numerous local newspapers, many hundreds of women are currently serving time in prison, because they claimed they were raped but were not able to produce witnesses, as was supposedly stipulated within the Hudood Ordinance. The truth is that the Hudood Ordinance does not require any witnesses in the case of rape. Also, according to Mufti Taqi Usmani, a former chief justice, not a single woman was sent to prison for lack of witnesses, while he presided.

Playing with Words

In the media, people practicing Islam in its totality are often referred to as extremists, whereas those, who practice only selectively or do not practice at all, are referred to as moderates. The implication of this, of course, is that the Messenger of Allah (sa) himself was an extremist, because he brought these commandments and ordered all Muslims to follow them.

Another example is the recent war between Lebanon and Israel. For gaining public sympathy, the western media was constantly claiming that Israeli soldiers had been kidnapped by Hezbollah and Hamas. Soldiers do not get kidnapped – they are held as prisoners of war.

Selective Sharing of Information

There are numerous examples of half truths being used by the current American and British administrations in order to gain approval for their attack on Iraq.

The sudden exposure to western media coupled with such other factors as general lack of critical thinking, ignorance of Islamic ideology and history, as well as lack of Muslim role models, has had a devastating effect on Muslim societies. The Muslim youth have developed a major inferiority complex and have blindly begun to ape western culture. Many have also started calling for changes in Islam, in order to bring it more in line with western ideals. At the same time, these youth have begun viewing those working on promoting Islamic teachings as backward, naïve, and out of touch with reality.

It needs to be clarified that information, specifically the media, is a tool, which can be used for both constructive and destructive purposes. However, the way it is presently used, especially by the western powers, is clearly not in favour of Muslims or Islam. There are a number of things we can do to protect ourselves and our families from becoming casualties in this ideological war:

Learn History

Specifically, Islamic history. Attacks are already being waged against the character of our Holy Prophet (sa) as well as other personalities from Islamic history. We must arm ourselves with information, in order to defend our faith.

Think Critically

Don’t just take information for granted. Question what you hear, if it doesn’t make sense to you. Question this article! Learn to ponder and think about what has been said to you. Do not place teachers and scholars on such high pedestals that you are afraid to question them (respectfully of course). Imam Malik was once sitting near the grave of Rasool Allah (sa). He pointed to the grave and said: “You can accept or reject from anyone, except the owner of this grave.”

Verify Information

Allah (swt) has commanded us in the Quran to verify information, when it reaches us. Don’t just sit in front of CNN or FOX news, accepting everything you hear; rather, verify it against other media sources, such as Al Jazeerah and even Haaretz.

Minimize Television Viewing

Television is not a very interactive form of media, as we really cannot control, what we are viewing. Therefore, we must try to narrow down television viewing only to educational content and always accompany our children, while they are watching television.

Become a Role Model

There are very few Muslim role models in the world today. Thus, if we do not take the responsibility for becoming a source of guidance and inspiration to our own children, they will probably find some other source, which, most likely, will not be a source we approve of.

Finally, we must constantly pray to Allah (swt) as our beloved Prophet (sa) taught us: “O Allah, help us to see the truth as truth and give us the ability to follow it; and help us to see the falsehood as falsehood and grant us the ability to abstain from it.”

From the Pen of a Woman on the Other Side

closeup of fountain ink pen over white pages spiral notebookSome of you may be surprised by the kind of comments you get to hear, when people find out you’ve worked for television.

I’ve been working for television for about ten years. My first programme was when I was in class six, in which I recited a group of riddles in a children’s programme that aired on Pakistan Television. Back then it meant something to me, my friends and every child viewer. Maybe it was because there was no Nickelodeon, nor was there the overwhelming number of TV channels bamboozling the poor child. Or simply because watching TV was as much of a novelty then, as the latest version of play station is today.

I worked with Geo, ARY and FM 100 at a time, when debates about television being the greatest tool of Satan surfaced. Wars erupted among family, friends and teachers regarding the pros and cons. Those ‘pro-television’ thought nothing wrong with it whatsoever and saw it as a new feat of technology. People couldn’t travel on camels in today’s world now, could they? The ones against it argued from the stand point that pictures were prohibited in Islam, and that the West was using television as a medium to brainwash Muslims against the true and honest principles of Islam.

It was too much to bear at eighteen, when I was suffering from acute identity crises, worrying about what headgear would do to my permanent image and about brainwashing debates based on classical Aristotelian logic. But I did as much as I could. I turned down offers for music videos, dramas and soaps. I refused to let male make-up artists apply makeup before I went on-air. I refused to work with people, who did not have purely academic or knowledgeable programmes. Perhaps that is why I have somewhat stereotyped myself as a woman, who covers her head, and can only appear on Independence Day or Ramadan programmes, even though I have done a series on psychology (in which I am a post graduate student).

After watching constructive efforts of many authentic Islamic scholars, especially such as Dr. Zakir Naik, I have become confident. I have resolved the debate of right or wrong by coming to terms with a plain and simple logic of keeping it simple. Nudity, obscenity, profanity and useless programmes were out. Shows that spread awareness, appreciate

Islam and its wisdom, celebrate peace and good will, promote good and forbid all that is evil in the eyes of Islam, propagate a message that needs to spread faster in the world today than any other time, are agreed upon.

I have been stereotyped negatively so many times, in spite of the headgear and my strict policy on no-commercialism and no-pop-culture. It often makes me wonder, why we still have not resolved this issue, even though we all welcomed the famous singer, who gave up his pop career to recite Hamds and Duroods and appeared for Dawah on television channels.

Somehow I still find Pakistani society trapped in the question of what is good and what is bad. Once we grow out of this harassingly old dispute, may be we can move on to what is important and needed. It is not compromise; we cannot call science or media evil. It is what is inside that makes us Muslims.

So what do you think?

Is media good or bad?

The question is wrong altogether. Rather, we should say: “Media. What’s good in it? What’s not?”