Turn Off the Television

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Every year, more and more Muslim households are throwing out their television sets. While the reasons vary from family to family, a common concern among these families is that it is un-Islamic. In the last two decades, the type of programming on television has changed dramatically.

Even by Western standard, what was unacceptable twenty years ago has become a common place on prime time television today. Whether it is the evening news or other programs, the stories and images of shirk, immoral behavior and violence, to name a few, are some of the non-Islamic influences taught to be acceptable on television and absorbed by our youth. What is ironic is that they all suffer from the safety of their home. Furthermore, the statistics regarding television viewing are phenomenal. According to the A.C. Neilsen Co. (1998) the television set is on, for an average of 7 hours 12 minutes a day in the average American home. This is a lot of time for the absorption of un-Islamic influences on very impressionable young minds. Family who could not altogether throw the television set out, are limiting the amount of viewing time for their children.

The summer months present a unique problem for parents in regards to television viewing time. Children have a lot more time on their hands and often choose this passive form of entertainment in order to pass time. Basically, parents have two options. The first option is to totally throw away the television set. This the safest for their deen and their mind. And while this may create complaints from the children, it will force both parents and children to find other more creative activities in order to use their time. The second choice is to limit the amount of time and screen the type of programs watched by your children. Parents will need to be involved in finding alternative activities for their family. The following is a list of creative activities for families which conform to the guidelines of the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Explore the great outdoors

One of the main advantages of summer is the beautiful weather. The potential for outdoor activities is endless. Therefore, why should children be stuck inside during one of the most beautiful times of the year watching shows that hinder their Islamic development? Rather, send them outside – let them engage in creative play with other Muslim children. After all, learning appropriate socialization skills and Islamic manners is a very important part of developing your child’s Islamic character.

Encourage Reading and Acquiring Islamic Knowledge

Another alternative activity is to encourage reading and studying Arabic. Acquiring knowledge about the Deen is a major part of developing your child’s Islamic character. Summer is a perfect time to join a reading club at your library or to practice newly acquired Arabic language skills from the previous school year. Also, why not create a Qur’an memorization competition in your home? Each child can agree to memorize a set number of Surah over the summer. Each memorized Surah then could be rewarded with a special treat agreed upon by the parents and the child.

Enroll in Classes

The additional time freed by turning off the television lends itself for the perfect opportunity for your child to explore new interests and skills. Enroll your child in special interests classes such as swimming, archery, cooking, sewing, etc. Better yet, organize one within your local community so that other Muslim families benefit from the activity. Another advantage of creating your own youth classes within your community is that this avoids the non-Islamic practices such as mixing of the sexes and other negative influences.

Get to Know Your Family Better

Also create time for families to engage in activities together as a family. What better way to develop meaningful relationships with your children than participating in fun family-oriented activities together! Furthermore, close family ties and good communication between children and parents is a major factor for children developing the skills necessary to resist the un-Islamic influences in Western society.

In actuality getting rid of the television is an advantage for the Muslim family not a hindrance. Insha’Allah, families will discover with the increased time away from the television that the extra time can be utilized for socializing with other Muslims, increasing their knowledge of the Deen, activities that benefit the community.

Maysoon Zaza