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The Role of our Mass Media
Social Issues
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

Our mass media exercises the most powerful influence on our society, as it actually shapes the trends and inclinations within it. The present day forms comprise a highly sophisticated network, which has progressively developed in congruity with the needs and requirements of a society. Various forms of mass communication in the form of public gatherings and festivals, congregations in village-pavilions and proclamations of town criers had always existed. But today, after the advent of radio, film, television, newspapers and magazines, the extent of influence exerted by a media could never have even been imagined a couple of centuries ago. A brief analysis shows that it is involved in somewhat circulating the following types of information:

1. Certain realities that are accepted in a society.

2. Propagation of a system of faith and beliefs as an obligation after a person adopts them.

3. Knowledge and information beneficial to mankind.

4. News about man himself and his world.

5. Creative ability and technical competence of a person that distinguish him from others.

These encompass all types of information that man has always aspired to transmit in a society. Though the internal mechanism of transmission may change, yet it is the media that has always been entrusted with the task. Each of the above mentioned categories is needed by man in one way or the other, and the Qur’ān and Sunnah have not prohibited their propagation in the absolute sense. In fact among them is a category whose communication and propagation is our religions obligation. Moreover, in this regard, the Qur’ān and Sunnah has not even discriminated between a man and a woman. They can discharge this religious duty through the written or the spoken word as well as through various forms of literary expression. Apart from Fiqh, there is no directive in the Qur’ān and Sunnah that imposes any restriction upon women in using these modes of propagation. But it is disgusting to see that all the agencies of the media are transmitting within our society some other types of facts and figures that violate all norms of morality. They openly commit an unforgivable crime against humanity and instead of being ashamed, consider themselves worthy of praise. Shamelessness has overpowered them and they don't care that these outrageous acts would lead them to negotiate the severest of penalties in the Hereafter.

Their first offense is that they seldom give any coverage to learned and accomplished women who have not only distinguished themselves in the fields of arts and science but also as scholars of Islam. Instead, they present women as objects of lewd entertainment. This lecherous display is in complete disregard to the injunctions of the Qur’ān which specifically enjoins all Muslim women to cover their heads and chests and to refrain from exhibiting themselves. Rather then setting examples of dignity and modesty they `sell' their honour and integrity by furthering the shameless trends of a shameless culture.

Their second offense is that through their courtesy the stories of romance and episodes of chanson de geste which everywhere in the world had been confined to the subtleties of poetry and literature, and whose recital and listening to was not disallowed in a specific age and situation even by the great Caliph Umar, have new invaded the everyday atmosphere of our homes. Such is the nature of this invasion, that the modesty in the relationship of a mother and son, father and daughter, brother and sister, upon which the poise and grace of a society so heavily depends, is becoming an episode of the past. Through the agency of our media a state has been reached in which our youngmen, like most women are seen perpetually involved in glamourising themselves with the latest flares of fashion. The older lot, may not be very enthusiastic about their clothes and appearance but show tremendous enthusiasm in shredding off any shame they might have originally had.

Their third affense is that they have promoted sports and other means of amusement to an unwholesome and unhealthy degree. Such is the nature of this patronization that our younger generation regards actors and sportsmen as their ideals in life. While our scientists an technologists, scholars and thinkers do not even receive posthumous recognition for their achievements, these merry-makers are kept in the highest esteem. The bewitching manner  in  which they allure young minds by depicting the daily routines of these celebrities effectively diverts them from the higher objectives of life, after which they can no longer be expected to become scholars and thinkers, and indulge in other intellectual pursuits.

Their fourth offense is that specifically among them radio and television show complete disregard to the mandatory hours of worship in a day when nothing except prayers are permissible.

These are the everyday offenses which the media commits and continues to flourish triumphantly in our society. If the ruling class of our country sincerely wishes to promulgate Islamic values and traditions in our society, it must develop an abhorrence against these offenses and cleanse the media from them.

(Adapted from Ghamidi's "Burhaan")

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