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Monday, February 13, 2006

Turn OFF tv, Turn ON Life

It’s 7:58 PM. You glance down at your watch and leap from your chair. Your Chemistry notes scatter as you dive into the couch. You grope for the remote. You flick the tube on . . .

American Idol, your favourite show flashes across the screen. For fifteen minutes, your eyes remain glued to the screen as you watch scantily-clad women and men sing about love, lust and the luxuries of life. You bob your head in time with the catchy rhythms and smile.

“Dinner time!” your mother calls. You rush into the kitchen, heave something hot and edible onto your plate, and hurry back to the couch. You scarf down your food while commercials for McDonald’s and LCBO flicker across screen.

You glance down at your watch: 1:06 AM. “Just one more show”, you say to yourself. You grab the remote and flick from channel to channel. You settle on the Movie of the Week, Gladiator. Your eyes, still riveted to the screen, watch Roman soldiers stab and impale each other. Your eyes drift close.

Quality Family Time? Television is a big part of society today. 98 percent of homes in America contain at least one TV set, and a third of all homes contain two or more television sets. Parents come home after a hard day’s work and sit down in front of their TV, in lieu of sitting down with their families. Hour after hour, day after day, this endless cycle of “TV therapy” continues. Kids learn these habits from their parents. In a year, the average child spends 1023 hours in front of a TV—more than the 900 hours they spend in school!

‘Action-packed fun’ or Violence? The content of TV lends itself more and more towards violent shows and movies. Children who watch TV are more likely to be aggressive and commit violent acts.

Many TV shows and movies encourage the use of violence to the exclusion of anything else. The heroes exalted after they annihilate the “bad guys”. The selective media coverage of murders and catastrophes leads us all to constantly fear that something bad will happen to us.

Females who watched more than the average amount of violence tend to throw things at their husbands more often, and men who grew up watching violent TV shows are more likely to be violent with their wives.

Obesity & Laziness. Extended periods in front of the television can be detrimental to your health. The time spent vegetating on the couch could be spent exercising or playing sports. While they’re watching TV, people tend not to notice how much they shovel down their mouths. Obesity, due to over-eating, affects one third of Canadians.
Allah (SWT) says in the Quran, “Eat of the good things we have provided for your sustenance, but commit no excess therein, lest my wrath should justly descend on you, and those on whom descends my wrath do perish indeed” (Taha 20:81). Two hours of TV a day—just four TV shows—are linked to a 23 percent increase in obesity.

Attention Span and Reading. The seven-minute segments of TV content condition children to such an extent that the children’s attention span drops to seven minutes. Children who watch a lot of TV find it more difficult to read. This is because reading requires children to move their eyes back and forth across the page, as opposed to fixing their eyes on one spot—like when they watch TV.

Fuel for Lust. It is impossible to lower one’s gaze while watching Television. Channel after channel, program after program, and even during commercial breaks, TV bombards us with indecently dressed men and women and sexual innuendo, if not outright pornographic content.

Even seemingly-innocent programs, such as news, have begun to follow this trend. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) says, “The furtive glance is one of the poisoned arrows of Shaytan, on him be God’s curse” (Al-Haakim).
Most television programming does not promote modesty (Haya) in men and women. A study shows that an astounding 55-65 percent of content contains sexual content in word or deed, yet only 10 percent of those make any reference to being faithful to one’s life partner.

TV Abuse. TV obsession is no joke. Like substance abuse, TV can cause dependency and addiction. You may find yourself channel surfing when you’re bored, or watching TV for longer than you intended to. Ironically, watching more TV leads to enjoying TV less, yet many are unable to stop watching or even cut down on viewing hours.

Nine Tips To Dealing with TV

It’s tough to escape peer pressure when your friends keep talking about the clothes, the music and the stars. Today, Television defines teen culture. With its barrage of alluring advertisements and captivating shows, it tells you what is cool and what is ‘in’ and ‘out’. Let Islam, not the media, decide your dress code, morals, and values.

1. Watch what is Halal. Stick to the most “clean” material you can find. TV should be used with discretion to watch educational and insightful programs or decent entertainment.

2. Remove the TV from your room. Having a TV set in your own room encourages you to watch it more. You are less likely to be tempted by Shaytan to watch something indecent when you have a parent, a sibling, or a friend watching with you. Remember, Shaytan loves attacking people who are ‘bored’, sitting idle, or in a company of bad people. Keep the TV in the main room, where it won’t distract you.

3. Protect your heart from hardening. Frequent sinning through consuming violence, profanity, and pornography on TV hardens and blackens the heart. It may reach a point that the heart may no longer respond to reminders of death, Allah (SWT), or the Quran. Fear of Allah (SWT) may completely vanish. This is the worst thing that can happen to you!

The Prophet (PBUH) said: “The heart will be subjected to trial after trial, and there will appear a black stain on any heart that is affected. The stain will spread until the heart is completely black and sealed, to the point that it will not recognize any good deeds or denounce any evil, except whatever suits its own desires” (Sahih Muslim).

4. Adopt and support Islamic media. Hundreds of educational or entertainment multi-media products crafted by Muslim artists, writers, producers, and singers hit the market every year. These cartoons, movies, and songs could be enjoyable for the entire family!

5. Limit viewing time. If you have to watch TV, limit yourself. Write down a number of hours per week and stick to your limit.

6. Resist the urge. Are your fingers twitching to press that remote? Stop, step outside and do something. You don’t have to play sports, but do activities that make you happy.

7. Keep the box off when you're doing other things. Whether you’re eating dinner, doing your homework, or reading a magazine, you don’t need the TV to be on at the same time--keeping it on simply encourages you to watch TV more and neglect other activities.

8. Use a VCR to screen material. Fast-forward dubious content, blitz through commercials, and stick with what’s good.

9. Have a TV free get-together with friends. Make the following rule: no one will watch TV or movies in the living room. If you want to go further, make it a rule that the topics of conversation cannot revolve around the latest twist in a soap opera or the most recent plot on a sci-fi show. Play basketball, go for a walk, do anything but watch TV.

And remember, Allah (SWT), your best Friend! He is there to help you. The Prophet told his close companion: “By Allah! Whoever gives up something for the sake of Allah, Allah will replace it with something better than it!”



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