Rainbow in the Grey Sky recently wrote on her blog about her struggle to decide whether or not she should have a television in her home.
When my husband and I moved into our first home together seven years ago we thought we should do one good thing that we could stick to in our new life. We decided that this would be not having a television. As my life previous to marriage revolved around school and home only, and my only entertainment was books and TV, this was something very different and (curiously) exciting for me.
I had a number of reasons at the time for deciding this and there have been a number of outcomes.
I felt that a lot of things that are haram – nudity, bad language, music etc just didn’t bother me, because I had gotten so used to them by seeing them on television all of the time. This was despite my parent’s reaction of spluttering and jabbing away at the remote control every time the littlest bit of skin was on show and all of us suddenly finding the ceiling or carpet or our dinner very interesting.
In contrast, my better half grew up in Pakistan and TV was peripheral to his life. TV in Pakistan at that time (Zia al-Haq’s era) also had very strong restrictions against pop music, dealing with taboo subjects, obscenity etc (a woman could not come onto TV bareheaded at that time, nor did male and female actors touch each other), although this is not the case now at all.
Because of this he did not become inured to some of the things I did. Even now these are things that do not bother me in the way that as a Muslimah they should, but do offend him. I worry that this is a dent in my iman.
I believe in this way I have been socialised by the TV to an extent, without my parents even realising. I don’t want the same thing to be thrust upon my children, for them to feel ok about what is haram. Now we have an age where the media in this country has taken to scare-mongering against Muslims at every turn. Sometimes obviously, but more often insidiously in the guise of fly-on-the wall documentaries and programmes with biased editing. I don’t want my children to grow up thinking Islam is bad or it’s weird, that Mum wears hijab, so she can’t be cool or she must be oppressed, that Daddy has a beard so I have to embarrassed around him.
There is also the issue of hayah (modesty). As hubby asked me “Do you think a brother and sister or a father and daughter can sit together and watch TV, even the Pakistani channels, for an hour and not see something that embarrasses them?” I had to agree with him, for those with any sense of hayah; this would likely be difficult - short of watching only Baby TV (addictively watchable actually).
I do worry that they will miss out on part of their childhood/cultural heritage as for my generation TV was big part of that, with the decline of the cinema in the 80’s/90’s and before the internet phenomenon. My age group relate to the A-Team, Punky Brewster, Transformers, He-man and the like, which is incidentally a link I don’t have with my husband.
At the same time I don’t believe in banning something (and making it more attractive perhaps?), but replacing it. Offering an alternative. So we go for long walks most evenings, read lots, go visiting and invite people over to share meals two or three times a month (despite my unpredictable cooking). We also talk, over our meals, during our walks, whilst we cook and I find myself concentrating a tad better during prayers because I don’t have the latest Bollywood song running through my brain in techni-colour. The children spend more time in the park, where they and hubby get exercise, their grandparents make friends and I can read some more.
My children still watch cartoons like demons when they are at my mums and love to see old MGM cartoons on Youtube as a treat. When they are older they may make choices to watch TV, but I hope by then they will have iman strong enough to recognise and withstand what is haram inshallah.