I’m wary of imposing my own standards on others. Just because I choose a certain path for myself, I’ve learned not to expect likewise from all and sundry. It’s a lesson we can glean from the life of Prophet Muhammed (saw) – My brother, a first year student at the local Jaamiat al Uloom al Islamiya, University of Islamic Studies, a burgeoning institution housed within the premises of the Council of Muslim Theoligans that seeks to break the mould from traditional methods and curriculum at our local Dar al Ulooms by constantly adapting to the needs of the society its graduates will serve. So my brother, mash’Allah 3leihi, is something of a mine of information of late and he and I have taken to lingering yet longer at the dinner table engrossed in deep discussion and debate. I don’t recall how the topic came up but recently he cautioned me to be mindful of the difference in lifestyle RasulAllah (saw) chose for himself and what is expected from the Ummah. An example, RasulAllah (saw) slept on the floor, yet to his daughter Fatima (ra), he gifted a bed. Clearly, he did not impose his standards on the rest of us.
Not much of a movie buff, I am a tee vee junkee– I think it’s a sustained knee-jerk reaction to my mum banning TV on school days when I was a kid. In her defence, I did display an unusual deference for KTV, blocking out the sound of her voice as soon as the KTV theme song filled my ears- Earlier this week, I realised that even though I hadn’t watched any TV since the dawn of the month, I haven’t missed it at all. That realisation was liberating. Sub7anallah, the wonders of Ramadan! So when I called a relative a couple of nights ago, my little heart was tugged to something akin to bereavement when I heard the television blaring in the background and one of the kids shouting, ‘This is the best song ever!’ I sense I ought to issue a caveat here, yes, there are many social ills plaguing Muslims and a spot of telly may seem rather insignificant in the broader scheme of things. Yet, it is as George Bernard Shaw intoned, ‘Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.’ Also by no means am I intimating that anybody is any less of a Muslim for having watched television in Ramadan, Allah knows our true conditions.
My mind occupied thus, curiosity was stirred by a link on Global Citizen’s blog, ‘No more TV in Ramadan for me, what about you?’ Now Ramadan TV in the Middle East and particularly Saudia is something else. Out of Ramadan too, TV has this unique ability to unite so that when people are not watching a particular show, they are uniformly trying to imitate its characters. It is quite a spectacle in itself. Where else in the world are the streets literally emptied when a particular favourite is on air? Over there, networks choose Ramadan to bring out new seasons of old favourites and air new shows. Something of an advertising revenue bumper crop. A few years back, while in Saudia, I myself was hooked on the street emptier du jour, I don’t recall the name of the show, but it was about a man with four wives, one dies or something… my memory of it is sketchy… and he gets ready to marry another… What was it called? Can anybody help me here?
And Tash Ma Tash, enough said. The networks frustratingly play reruns all year only to oblige its adoring public with new episodes in Ramadan.
There’s something inherently wrong with that timing. Ramadan, a month of restraint, of sacrifice, of spiritual rejuvenation ought to be treated with more reverence. Another caveat, I’m not at all echoing the Saudi cleric who last night said the owners of television networks broadcasting “depravation and debauchery” may be killed. I’m distancing myself from that extremism. I’m just saying let’s all rekindle the spirit of Ramadan away from the TV, not just in Saudia, here too. That’s why I’m supporting the ad campaign.
My beloved Liverpool are playing Man Yoo in a bit and insha Allah I’m going to try to keep up the TV fast. But still, it’s only my choice.