As a Muslim, I disagree with Channel 4’s decision to broadcast the ‘Adhan’ during Ramadan

As a Muslim, I disagree with Channel 4's decision to broadcast the 'Adhan' during Ramdan

I understand Ch4’s noble intentions, to ‘educate’ those who associate terrorism with Islam, and to even ‘provoke’ them. However, I oppose the decision because a) I really don’t think Ch4 (or any other mainstream TV channel) will be having many Muslim viewers and b) will it really educate people? (or simply frustrate them as many responses have shown).

I know as a Muslim myself that I probably won’t be watching any TV throughout the entirety of the month, let alone Ch4. In fact, many practicing Muslims intend to stop watching TV excessively and engage in more productive things during the month. Such as helping out in the community and setting a challenge to complete the Quran during the course of the month. Some even see it as sinful to watch TV. Also, there is already an abundance of Islamic channels which broadcast the Muslim call to prayer, there is the particular launch of Ramadan TV which serves the needs of Muslims throughout the month. It would be more likely that Muslims will be engaged in these channels as opposed to Ch4 or the BBC for instance.

The ‘provocation’ aspect of it also worries  me. Because people are provoked already. The anti-Muslim bigotry responses to news articles can show you that alright. Will it further anger those groups who believe that the Western society is always presented in favour of Muslims? Is it an incentive to further (and ridiculously) ‘prove’ that the ‘Islamification of Europe’ is an actuality? Many argue that to impose the Adhan on non-Muslim viewers is only alienating them, others simply argue that if they don’t like it, turn the TV off. Simple.

A lot of people find the call to prayer beautiful, others less so. In terms of educating, the call to prayer translates to this:

God is greatest
I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except for Allah.
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
Hasten to the prayer
Hasten to success.
Allah is greatest.
There is none worthy of worship except Allah.

I would hope that a lot of people already knew that the God of the Muslim’s is Allah and the final Messenger is Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

However, I’m sure this decision by Ch4 will open the hearts of many. Some indeed fall in love with the prayer and will truly feel the spiritual phenomena Muslim’s experience.

The point is that Ch4 has made an independent decision to broadcast the Adhan, they were not impelled by a bunch of ‘Islamists’ of such. Which speaks for itself. We can only respect the decision they have made, which I sincerely do. But whether it will have the effect they say is a different story.

I will leave you with one individuals comment, I agree with a lot of what is said:

“I doubt most people who will be fasting are going to be watching the telly to get their prayer timings.

It’s a gimmick designed to provoke a reaction from people who aren’t religious or Muslim.

The British media needs to grow up when it comes to community relations. Getting Anjem Choudhry to speak on behalf of the Muslim community and then make a big thing about the call to prayer being broadcast on the telly are examples of exploitative and cynical behaviour designed to anger, rather than educate.”


Two questions and thoughts about the lovely EDL

Two questions and thoughts about the lovely EDL

1) What do they actually stand for?

Sometimes he appears as if he wants to deport every single Muslim ‘back ohm’ and at other times he specifies his target at ‘Islamic extremism’ only.

You say, Tommy, that you have Muslims friends (and even invited a few to your wedding), but you express your frustration at the number of mosques built in your home town, Luton. I’m sure some of your Muslim bezzies enjoy praying in these dozens and dozens of mosques! So what’s the problem?
And who’s your opposition aimed at:
Muslims or Islamists (if such a word should even exist)? Islam or radical Muslims? (Or dare I even suggest) Pakistanis?

2) What is your agenda, your strategy?

Yes, we know how much you damn well hate Mr Choudhury (although he’s no better than yourself). But what are you going to do with all these extremists, actually what are you going to with all these Muslims? I recall you saying that the grooming incident, where Pakistani men exploited young white girls, was a ‘Muslim issue’. What does that imply Stephen? Tommy? Those are dangerous words if you ask me. Because Jimmy Saville’s actions were a ‘Muslim issue’ too, right?

I hate to say, but your lingo reminds me very much of Adolf’s vile and fascist references to the Jews, as a scapegoat.

Andrew Marr’s golden advice on ‘How to be a Columnist’

Andrew Marr's golden advice on 'How to be a Columnist'

For the benefit of myself as well as others, I have simplified Andrew Marr’s advice on ‘How to be a Columnist’ into concise, numbered steps (for all those who cannot be bothered buying/borrowing the book and reading through the section!)

  • ‘My Trade: A Short History of British Journalism’ (mind you, its History seemed pretty lengthy to me).

All references are cited from Marr’s above book, pages 369-375.

First of all, there are no rules (Marr himself states this!). As the saying goes, ‘know the rules but break them’.

“…the creative and clever columnist will break any rule…”

1) It’s not just about opinions, but reporting too. In other words, you must have some facts to make your column appear credible, if it’s bombarded with opinion after opinion then it is not plausible in the eyes of a reader. “Facts are the essence of a column, the fibre that makes the thing more than a dribble of opinion.”

2) Read up on the background (of the topic/story you are writing about). Make sure you speak to “relevant people”, Marr advises that the main reason for this is “to avoid the deadly, airless circularity of so much opinion.” (linking back to the first point)

3) Do your own original work rather than entirely feeding off other columnists work, “a columnist who does no original work is a dud.”

4) You are writing an argument. If the argument or proposition cannot “be expressed in a single headline-sized phrase or sentence…the column will be confused”.

5) In terms of structuring your column, this is the classical way:
-state argument
-run through the pros and cons
-put your case strongly
-conclude why your argument is right

6) Your writing style is important. The arguments of those you disagree with can be “brutally simplified and then exaggerated in the most ludicrous possible manner” (this is the art of writing).

7) Originality is the key. Linking to the above point, good writers should have their own “personal rhythms”.  “…any powerful columnist will be easy of the ear and eye.”

Journalism is never about simply reporting bald facts. It is about assembling them into a coherent story , which in turn often tells us to feel some emotional reaction. pg375.

5 Reasons to Love Ramadan

With less than a month left for the arrival of Ramadan 2013, I give you 5 (of many) reasons as to why you should be looking forward to such a month. I have briefly  mentioned some of the main benefits I personally feel Ramadan brings (the range of extravagant dishes and fresh fruits and dates are not included!)

1) It increases your productivity:

With food being a no-no for hours and hours, you realise how excessively you relied on it and wasted time eating unnecessarily too. You also become time-conscious.

2) You appreciate food more…and life:

After hours of no food, that glass of refreshing water becomes precious to you. The abundance of food on your table for Iftar fills your breast with guilt as well as an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. You feel you’re actually ‘well-off’ in life. The impoverished are always in your prayers.

3) You focus on yourself…your spiritual self:

When avoiding the futile things in life, such as unnecessary and excessive TV watching, you feel spiritually satisfied. Your prayers become lengthy and your God-consciousness awakens.

4) You spend more time with family:

Due to the nature of Iftar, you help your mother prepare dishes (which is also deed-worthy) and invite family and friends over to open their fast with you. To feed another person is immense in reward. With all the food spread out on the floor and the family huddled together, you really feel like you’re reviving the Sunnah.

5) You attain self-discipline:

Due to being cautious of what you see, hear and say you begin to discipline, shape and change your character for the betterment of yourself and others around you.

Series 2, BBC Free Speech: My thoughts

If you haven’t yet watched the most recent programme then you can so here via BBCiplayer! BBC Freespeech

My focus will be on EDL’s respectable leader, Mr Robinson. One, he’s controversial and two, he happens to have expertise on a faith I believe in. With additional comments, I’m going to explain why I felt Akala’s statements were spot on.

The main topic of discussion was ‘Are we getting more racist?’. It included the discussion of Islamaphobia due to the rising anti-Muslim attacks in Britain as a result of the tragic Woolwich incident. In the audience was the respectable leader of the EDL group, Tommy, who spurted out the same content (or rubbish) in every other interview or show he happens to be on.  He demanded Saira Khan, a TV presenter, who was one of the panellists to explain how he was a racist. I think it’s self-explanatory Tommy, there’s no need for anyone to even answer such a question. The host, Rick Edwards, hit the nail on the head, although it was just a subtle remark, this same issue has always puzzled me. He mentioned his recurrent use of the words, Islamist, Muslims and Islam interchangeably when they all entail different connotations.  To this very day, I am perplexed on what the EDL actually stand for. Of course, there’s the general reiteration of opposing  the ‘Islamist ideology’, Tommy desperately tried to justify his tolerance of everyday Muslims by mentioning his invitation of four to his wedding. Brilliant. The problem is, as comedian Grianne pointed out was his generalisation of Muslims. The ideology of a radical few, a fringe group, should not be blown out of proportion presenting them in the same light as every Muslim. Because that is the impression we’re getting, believe me.

I have no idea why Saira kept exclaiming, “Because you’re a racist”, he’s not a racist at all. I would’ve chanted fascist instead. Being racist is one thing, but being racist and inciting militant and violent behaviour rings a bell of fascism I’m afraid. Worse still, he denied the blatant and obvious fact that his demonstrators’ were explicitly racist in their chants. Here’s one sickening example.

Moving on  to hip-hop artist Akala. I pretty much agreed with everything he had to say. From his mentioning of how the media did not determine Jimmy Saville’s actions according to his race, to the crucial reminder that enlightening the nation about different religions, races and cultures is needed. The latter really touched me because I have personally felt the ‘dire’ need for education. This lack of education is essentially what leads to bigotry, thus racism. Not education in the sense of Maths, and Science, we’re pretty good at that as a country. In Akala’s words, he wants a “campaign for a worlds study curriculum…[including an] accurate education of all these different groups of people” which have contributed to Britain today.  The compulsory Citizenship lessons we had in High School were ineffectual, many just ‘pratted’ about and there was no real discussions at the heart of the subject (in my High School anyway). I felt we didn’t really touch upon important topics such as race and religion, and the fundamental differences between them. People walked out of their five years at High School not knowing that a ‘white Muslim’ did not mean a ‘white Pakistani’, in other words (as bizarre as it sounds) that being Muslim and Pakistani were two completely different things! Although this should typically be ‘common-sense’- I  hate to say that from the experiences I’ve had when encountering people’s lack of understanding on simple topics such as race and religion differentiation, it has shown the need to teach the youth about diversity and understanding of other’s creeds. For me, to be ignorant of another’s faith or race especially if it is a ‘predominant’ one in a multicultural society is utterly shameful. It is an issue Akala picked up on very well.  We need to re-educate the youth, because some embittered identity-seeking teenagers will look for a scapegoat, and groups like the EDL and even Anjem Choudhury’s  mass of an organisation (well Tommy thinks so) will feed this ‘need’ of theirs.

To end, the EDL leader still happens to be clueless. Akala, on the other hand, was undoubtedly brilliant.

As usual, let me know what you thought about the debate, and It’ll be great to know whether I’ve got you disagreeing or agreeing with me!

Where religion offers emotional support, science can simply not.

The Problem of Evil argument is perhaps one of the biggest attacks on religious belief. Why would a God who is Omnipotent, Omnibenevolent and Omniscient allow such a thing like the Holocaust to happen? Why do innocent children have to die from cancer? Why do earthquakes and tsunami’s happen? Even religion sometimes puts it’s hands up and says we do not know, the wisdom of God is incomprehensible, and that is all.

But to me, this post is not an attempt to justify religious explanations for evil existing in the world, it is an exploration of what the alternative has to offer. The other god, and his name is Science.

Richard Dawkins adamantly believes that if religion no longer existed, the world would be a much “better place”. I disagree with this assertion for two reasons. 1) It’s a paradoxical statement, if Religion didn’t exist differing and controversial beliefs always would.  2) There would still be plenty of petty wars and disputes without religion. Does the ideology of nationalism ring a bell?
If religion didn’t exist we’d be killing each other for other reasons. And that’s not to say that atrocities against humanity are solely due to religion, to assume just that would be wrong.

To me and many others, comprehending a world without religion is nihilism. After all, it is religion that keeps the poor believing in hope that one day justice will be served. Religion compels people to endure calamities with patience. Religion gives  many of us humans an apparently purposeless life a reason and end worth living. To me, an eradication of all these positives will lead to a world of complete chaos.

Of course, I am not denying that the misuse of religion is a contributional factor to many problems in the world today. But so is foreign policy. Is it fair to constantly give the impression that religion is the sole cause? Mehdi Hasan attacks Dawkins for such an infantile assumption. Just because a nutter who happens to be a Muslim blows himself up ‘in the name of God’, is this the sole reason for such a barbarous act? What about foreign policy which is recurrently mentioned by terrorists? That is ultimately what frustrates them right?  The war in Afghanistan? Why is that never discussed? Apart from going slightly off topic, the purpose of mentioning this was to direct that pointing finger away from religion, religion, religion.

Richard Dawkins fails to give any credit to religion in his bestseller, The God Delusion. It’s a ‘virus’, a ‘plague’, a ‘disease’ echoes the ‘unholy trinity’ (a phrase used to refer to Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Dawkins). But really? Is that all it is? Say that to the Palestinians who cry out with prayers full of sentiment after Israeli air strikes have butchered children after children, and destroyed houses after houses. Say that to those of the Jewish faith whose ancestor’s died for what they believed in, and died with dignity. Say that to the mothers of children who have been abducted  or raped or assaulted in one way or another, and they still pray to their God for comfort, dependency and justice.

This is not about whether a transcendent being exists or whether God is ‘in time’ experiencing suffering with us, I’m not attempting to prove any of this. All I am trying to do is settle one simple statement, which is empirically verifiable. Religion is both helpful and essential to everyday life and this is seen through everyday tragedies. Even the everyday non-religious individual will perhaps invoke a secret prayer to God now and again when things aren’t looking too good. For a bit of comfort perhaps, for a bit of hope. This is why I feel Dawkins’ assumption is ridiculous, a world without religion would be “much better” he says. I really don’t think so.

On to Science. Yes, science does offer hope in medical advances and discoveries of such. I am not even going to begin to challenge this, it would be ridiculously stupid of anyone to! The thing is, science should not be dogmatic. Rupert Sheldrake argues this in his most recent publication The Science Delusion. And we know exactly who he’s hinting at. When you think of science, you think of objectivity, progression, findings and truth about the world. Not empathy, emotional hope or ultimate truths. Science itself admits it is not Omniscient and that it will make mistakes from time to time, we know this from the past. At one point, as feeble and mistaken humans, we assumed we knew everything about Physics…then bam,  the atom was discovered and opened a whole new world of science. Religious people have a unanimous faith in an Omniscient being, who caters for  their emotionality’s and will give them reward for their hardships. Science can’t say any of this. Science will tell you how an earthquake happened, how to clear up the mess and to bring life to survivors underneath rubble.

Religion feeds the emotional needs of a person, and reminds them why they should live on.To wish for the complete eradication of religion is to wish for the expulsion of hope. A lifeline to many.