Winning Hearts

As-Salaam Alaikum everyone!
Hope you’re all doing well! In this post I just want to share something interesting that is happening at my local college campus!

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These past two days as I have been walking to and from my classes at my university (UC Irvine) I noticed that the Muslim Student Union on our campus is having this great initiative called Ask a Muslim.

Basically they have members of the MSU standing there and asking people if they want some sort of treat to eat. They have a tent set up and they have an Ask a Muslim sign up as well. Yesterday they were offering cupcakes and this morning they were offering breakfast sandwiches. If a student wanted a treat they would not only get a treat to eat but they would also be given a chance to ask any questions they had about Islam and Muslims!

I greatly commend the UCI MSU for taking this initiative and quite frankly I think this is an absolutely wonderful idea. College students love to eat and most of them are open minded and willing to learn about different ways of life.
Hopefully, more Muslim Student Associations will take this and/or similar initiatives (if they haven’t already). Even if you’re not a college student you can still take steps as an individual, or as a group (with your friends and family) to contribute to your local community.

Many Muslims, including myself, often argue that the mass media, at least here in the United States, is doing more harm than good because they often give inaccurate portrayals of Muslims in the media. These sorts of problems lead to the general public having a negative portrayal of Muslims as a whole.

However, it is impossible to change the entire mass media overnight. However, we can all do our part by starting at our local communities and trying to make a positive difference and showing our local non-Muslim neighbors that Muslims are completely normal and genuinely kind and peace loving people! (Although many non-Muslims are aware of this fact it’s still good to contribute positively to our local communities.)

If we start off at the local communities we can Inshallah win the hearts and minds of the majority of people one heart at a time.

Religious Leaders on Social Media

Yesterday, March 19th, 2016 Pope Francis made news by personally joining Instagram. As social media has become widely popular many religious leaders including Imams have joined these social media sites in order to better connect with their followers and of course to spread their message.icon-set-1142000_1280

As a Muslim I am very happy to see that many Imams are joining these sites. Two of the Imams that I personally follow are Sheikh Yasir Qadhi and Sheikh Musleh Khan.
I personally think that the presence of Imams on social media can be very beneficial in countering terrorism and in connecting to a large number of Muslims, especially the youth, on a platform that they already use extensively.
Nowadays, we see many inhumane terrorist organizations such as ISIS using social media to recruit more people to help them in their perverted and completely un-Islamic goal. However, the presence of Imams is absolutely crucial in helping people realize the true peaceful message of Islam. The Imams are the ones who are educated in true Islamic theology and they are best suited towards countering the messages of terrorist organizations.
Furthermore, regardless of its benefits and harms social media is becoming increasingly popular amongst many different age groups. Without a doubt social media is very prevalent among the youth. Like many other things in life social media is filled with both positive and negative messages. However, the presence of Imams on these social media sites can ensure that Muslim youth are exposed to some  positive messages as well.
Furthermore,  many of the youth and young adult Muslims find social media as a very convenient means of communication. Perhaps it’s safe to say that many young Muslims spend more time on social media than they do at their local masjid. Therefore, the Imams on social media are potentially able to reach a group of people who may not otherwise be exposed to the Imam’s peaceful message and words of wisdom.
Basically by using social media the Imams are doing young Muslims a huge favor by communicating with them on a platform that is most near and dear to them.

 

TV Drama Series



Image by Korry Benneth via Openphoto

Disclaimer: This post is purely my personal opinion and it was not written with the intention of offending anyone. This is primarily targeted towards readers living in predominantly Muslim nations and perhaps even channel broadcasters working in these nations. This is in no way a reflection of my opinion on any particular ethnic group.



Nowadays with the widespread use of computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets a wide range of entertainment options are at the tip of the fingers of users. However, in many parts of the world the television is still the primary means of entertainment for those of us who are blessed with the financial means to purchase one. 


Based on one’s geographic location many different entertainment options may be available on local TV stations. Perhaps one can say that in many majority Muslim nations in the Middle East and other parts of Asia currently Turkish Drama series’s are one of the most popular forms of entertainment. In the last few years these Turkish drama series’s have become extremely popular and they have almost completely taken over a market that was once largely dominated by Indian drama series’s. 

Before stating my personal opinion on this change I would like to point out that many of these nations such as Egypt, Pakistan and Iran (among many others) have and continue to make drama series’s that are widely distributed on a local and even international level. However, unfortunately, I have not seen enough of these dramas to form an opinion on them so this post will primarily focus on Indian and Turkish drama series’s. Furthermore, any particular Islamic issues regarding watching TV or spending time watching these drama series’s are beyond the knowledge and scope of this humble writer. Please be warned that this is only an opinion peace and you are highly encouraged to contribute your opinion in the comments below. 

As a big fan of both Turkish and Indian drama series’s I have watched a number of different series from both of these great nations. Based on one’s particular tastes one may prefer one type over the other. The majority of both Turkish and Indian drama series’s are primarily focused on some sort of a love story and the difficulties that the characters face as a result of their families, society’s or other factors. Overall, Indian drama series tend to strongly adhere to normal cultural and religious traditions whereas Turkish shows aim to reach an increasingly wider audience thus they tend to be more “westernized” but they do adhere to some lovely Turkish customs such as showing respect to their elders by kissing their hand. Moreover, these dramas can be a great way of getting a glimpse of the beautiful natural scenery and historical sites present in Turkey and at the beautiful cultural traditions of the Turks especially their hospitality and delectable cuisine. 

Overall, Turkish drama series’s tend to be much more liberal than their Indian counterparts. They usually contain their fair share of somewhat explicit intimate scenes. Aside from this overall liberal nature the problem with Turkish drama series’s is that they very blatantly and on a consistent basis show their characters drinking wine and other alcoholic beverages. Furthermore, premarital relations are also very common in these shows. 

Premarital relations does exist on Indian TV series’s but they are often no where near as explicit as they often are on Turkish drama series’s. Also, alcohol is usually rare on Indian series’s and when it is consumed it is often on rare occasions, completely accidental, or consumed by the evil villain whom nobody likes.  Perhaps one of the greatest negative aspects of Indian drama series’s is that they, as mostly Hindus, often show their characters worshiping an Idol/s. 

My Opinion 
As mentioned earlier in many Muslim nations these Indian dramas have been largely replaced by their Turkish counterparts. There could be many reasons for this transition. For example, in Afghanistan many religious scholars asked the TV stations to remove these drama series’s because they blatantly showed people committing shirk by worshiping idols. In my humble opinion I think that this transition has not been for the better and with due respect to everyone I truly feel that Indian dramas are the “lesser evil” or potentially less harmful. Please don’t get me wrong I fully agree and understand that shirk is a great zulm and it is an unforgivable sin.  However, any mature somewhat learned Muslim viewer will most likely not be tempted to commit shirk (Astaghfirullah) after watching these series. However, after spending a significant amount of time watching Muslim characters engaging in premarital or even extramarital relationships and constantly drinking alcohol as if it were water the viewer is likely to view these sins as not being such a big deal or in the worst case the viewer may even start committing these sins themselves. 
I know that these may sound like exaggerated claims. However, as a student of Psychology I also know that watching specific content on TV for a significant amount of time can have an impact on the viewer especially for the young child or adolescent viewer.  In short, I believe that between the two if a channel has the opportunity they should broadcast more Indian shows and perhaps censor or delete the scenes that show any act of shirk. 

Once again, these were just my humble views on this topic and I certainly hope that I have not offended anyone!