The Ill Effects of
By Abu Mohammed Abdur-Rauf Shakir
The great need for discussion of
the Islamic perspective concerning the issue of television is clear
to us all. Since television has entered the homes of people in every
corner of the earth, the rich and the poor, the educated and un-educated,
Muslim and non-Muslim it has become a necessity to address
the issue and explain the problems and dangers of television in
a clear concise manner for the benefit of every Muslim who is seeking
to please Allah, the Most High, and earn His reward.
The Definition of Television
The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines
television as follows:
The electrical transmission of pictures
in motion and the simultaneous electrical transmission of the accompanying
The Encyclopaedia International explains
The unique feature that distinguishes
television from radio is the conversion of an image into an electrical
current, which is later reconverted into the original image
The Working of Television
The equipment consists of a camera,
which converts the image into electrical impulses; these are transmitted
by radio to a receiver which converts the impulses by means of a
cathode-ray tube into a corresponding image on the screen.
The illusion of motion in television
is produced by showing 30 still pictures, or frames, each second.
Through persistence of vision the brain retains each picture until
the next comes along. We are not aware of the fact that our eyes
are really seeing a rapidly changing sequence of a large number
of slightly different still pictures. Each still picture consists
of about 250 000 picture dots of varying brightness which appear
as if painted on the screen. This process is called scanning.
It should at this juncture be said
that the undesirability and the Islamic prohibition of this institution
of television is not based solely on the stand that photography
(picture-making) of animate objects is employed. Without minimizing
the importance and the decisiveness of the prohibitory factor of
picture-making it has to be said that a number of other evil and
un-Islamic factors accompany the institution of television. It is
this conglomeration of evil factors which make television illegal
in Islam although, in most cases, each single one of these factors
is sufficient to secure the verdict of illegality of TV. Insha'Allah,
we shall outline these prohibitory factors (Asbaabul Hurmat) of
television in the ensuing pages.
Picture-Making The Mother
Photography which is merely a method
of picture-making is the actual basis of TV. Without the institution
of photography television is not possible. Whether shows are"
live" or otherwise, the institution of photography is employed.
Now, according to the Law of Islam picture-making of animate objects
is severely criticised and banned.
Music and Television
We can consider music as an integral
part of television programs. No TV show is complete without music.
Islam has forbidden music in no unmistaken terms.3 For
the purposes of the present subject it will suffice to state that
Islam categorically forbids all types of music. Music in Islam is
regarded as a Kabirah (great) sin. With regard to music our Prophet
"There will be men from among
my Ummah who will consume alcohol, giving it another name (so as
to deceive themselves and others). Singing girls and musical instruments
will be playing to them. Allah, Ta'ala will cause the earth to swallow
them. Allah will transform them into apes and swine."4
It is reported from Abdullah ibn
Mas'ood (May Allah be pleased with him):
"Music shows hypocrisy in the
heart like water causes seeds to grow in soil."5
Allah says in the Qur'an:
they (the believers) hear what is futile they turn away from it,
and they say, Unto us our deeds; and unto you your deeds. Peace
be upon you. We do not follow the ignorant ones."
[Qur'an Al-Qasas 28:55]
The Female Voice
The female voice, according to Islam,
is also included in the category of Satar, ie. it has to be 'concealed'
and not 'revealed'. Since the female voice is an entity not to be
displayed or advertised, it is not permissible for males to listen
to women singing or even reciting the Qur'an
When necessity demands that they
have to speak to males then their speech should not be attractive,
gentle and alluring like the deliberate 'lure' put in speech by
'trained' women of the disbelievers. Recognising the danger of allurement
in the female voice, the Qur'an commands women thus:
"And do not
speak in alluring tones so that he in whose heart there is a disease
(of lust) desires."
[Qur'an al-Ahzab 33:32]
Van de Velde in his book Ideal Marriage,
"The tone-colour of a voice,
and the intonation of a single word and it may be a word
of no special meaning or association in itself may excite
incredible intensity of desire. The unique and precious significance
that a woman's voice can give to "you" can suffice to
overwhelm man's power of endurance and control
Islam has, hence, forbidden its women
to speak in a soft or "sexually" sweet tone. If anyone
is aware of the springs of sex-psychology he will clearly see the
justification for Islam's restriction in this matter.
The importance of television programs,
like the importance of all the mass media of the disbelievers, hinges
on maximum exhibition of the female body and the female voice which
have been subverted by the bestial culture of the unbelievers, to
pamper the inordinate sexual desires of men who have no belief of
Allah in them of men who have no fear of Allah left in them.
Serials, Romances and Stories
What is Islam's attitude to fiction,
novels and romantic stories? Allah Ta'ala says in the Qur'an:
mankind are those who purchase idle tales (lahwu'l-hadith) so as
to lead astray (others)
from the Path of Allah. And, they make a mockery of the Laws of
To them, there is a disgraceful punishment. And, when our verses
they turn away in pride as if they did not hear,
as if there are plugs in their ears. Give them the news of a painful
[Qur'an Luqman 31:6,7]
These verses of the Qur'an were revealed
to prohibit, according to the Mufassireen and Jurists, music and
the stories of romances imported from Persia. Since these things
divert man's attention from the remembrance of Allah and transport
one into the realm of illusion and imagination the Qur'an outlaws
them. Islam strongly discourages fiction and encourages one to live
in reality and not in illusion which has the tendency to make one
negligent and forgetful of the prime purpose of man's creation which
is to gain Allah's Pleasure by fixing the gaze on the Akhirat (Hereafter)
and not on the TV screen. Islam, therefore forbids the wasting of
time in listening to idle tales and fiction or false stories.
Nudity, Immorality and Television
The most glaring evil propagated
by the television media of the world is the crime of nudity and
sexual immorality. Commercialised nudity and sexual immorality under
the camouflage of "educational" pictures are accepted
and necessary features of the world of television. The Western world
is haunted by the obsession of illicit sex, and it is this carnal
obsession of illicit sex coupled with the unbeliever's god of materialism,
which makes capital of the female body on TV as well as all other
The Islamic concept of morality and
modesty is the very antithesis of the immorality and lascivity dished
out to the world via TV. Islam demands the concealment of the female
body. The Messenger of Allah (saws) said:
"Woman is an object of concealment."6
TV is an institution, which is widely
used to exhibit the female body. Islam has banned all forms of immorality
and immodesty, but TV exhibits immodesty and immorality in their
crudest forms by depicting the actual sex acts and, above all, it
audaciously and shamelessly passes these off as "educational".
Television as a prime agent of immorality is very well known
The Messenger of Allah (saws) said:
"Shamelessness (immodesty) is
vice, and vice will be in the fire."7
Television As An Agent of Zina
Allah says in the Qur'an:
not near to zina."
[Qur'an Al-Isra 17:32]
The term, come not near, means stay
away from all such things and practices which lead to zina
which are stepping-stones to fornication.
All practices, things and institutions
which aid and foster fornication and immodesty are forbidden by
Islam. There are different categories of this abominable crime of
zina. The Messenger of Allah T said:
"The zina of the eyes
is the gaze (at that which is unlawful, eg. Nudity); the zina
of the ears is to listen (to talks of nudity which excites the
carnal desire); the zina of the tongue is to speak (what
is evil); the zina of the hand is to touch (the female which
is unlawful to you); the zina of the feet is to walk (towards
immorality); the zina of the heart is to desire (what is
unlawful), and it is the private parts which either commits
or shuns the actual act of fornication." 8
In this hadith the Messenger of Allah
speaks of the zina committed by the various parts of the human body.
Thus to look at the nudity and evil portrayed on the television
screen constitutes the zina of the eyes. To listen to the
immodest and illicit sex talks of the television is zina of the
ears. Lust which is aroused by the display, discussion of nudity
and lascivity and perversion on the TV screen constitutes the zina
of the heart.
Television, therefore, is without
any doubt a powerful agent and a stepping-stone for fornication
We find today the whole family
father, mother, sons and daughters sitting huddled together
around the TV screen. Together, in a display of stark shamelessness,
the whole family is committing zina of the eyes, zina of the
ears and zina of the heart, and Allah alone knows how many multitudes
of men and women indulged in the final act of fornication
as a result of watching and being aroused by the evil on the TV
Islam lays great emphasis on modesty,
so much so, that our Prophet (saws) said:
"Modesty is a part of Iman (Faith)."9
But TV with its emphasis on illicit,
depraved and bestial immorality is the very negation of the Islamic
concept of modesty and shame. Mother, father and children together
viewing the zina the fornication and vice on the TV screen.
What is now left of humanity? May Allah Ta'ala protect us and our
children from the filth and depravity of the Western world sunk
in perversion and immorality.
Day of Qiyamh) we shall seal their mouths and, their hands
(the evil they committed); and their feet will bear evidence as
to what they practiced."
[Qur'an Ya-Sin 36:65]
TV in Stride Terror of
The horror of a TV rape came true
for two women. They were attacked only days after the screening
of a documentary "Cry Rape" on British TV.
The maniac who broke into their homes
at Reading, Berkshire, acted just like the TV rapist.
He struck by day, threatening his
victims with a knife. He robbed them and stacked his lot in a neat
pile ready for a quick getaway. The police chief leading the hunt
for the rapist said: "He may have seen this program. It could
have stimulated these attacks." Now police may ask ITV for
a private screening of the film to seek possible new clues.
Sunday Times, 8th February,
Television and Crime in General
Television besides being a powerful
agent of immorality generally fosters various types of crime. Violence,
aggression, robberies, murder, etc, are crimes, which the young
readily learn from TV shows. Much of the delinquency and youth crimes
being perpetrated in the Western world could be traced to the TV.
In an article entitled: TV Shows
Blamed For Crimes, Los Angeles judge, Mark Brandler, blasted a TV
crime show recently as the cause of a "seven-hour nightmare"
in which two teenagers taped shotguns to the heads of hostages and
extracted a huge ransom from a Californian bank.
Television Encourages Acceptance
The regular and continuous shows
of violence and aggression slowly, but most certainly, claim their
victims. Viewers are 'brain washed' by the perpetual scenes of violence
to such an extent that violence and aggressiveness becomes accepted
as a mode of behaviour.
Television Encourages Imitation
Research has established that TV
exercised a very strong influence on the minds of people causing
them to imitate and enact the crime shown on the TV screen. Dr.
Robert Liebert, a child psychologist who was a leading researcher
in the United States Surgeon General's investigation into TV and
social behaviour, says: Violence on home screens encourages 'an
acceptance of aggression as a mode of behaviour
children will imitate anti-social behaviour they see on television,
not out of malice, but curiosity
In showing displays of violence
and criminal acts, the media is 'teaching', people are 'learning',
The Brainwashing Action of Television
Television is here and its biggest
fans are children. Overnight they've become instant pundits, immediately
recognising personalities who are still just faces to the rest of
It's the kids who grab the TV guide
and plot their viewing with military precision; the kids who know
every cop and cowboy and exactly why it could not have been the
butler who did it.
Will reading become a forgotten art
only necessary to decipher the basic English of the TV guide or
the secret message flashed on the screen by Agent X who has seconds
to read the scrawl before it self destructs?
Researchers have established that
the young minds of children are readily susceptible to being brainwashed
by TV. In America organisations have been formed in scores of cities
in order to fight the evil effect of TV on children. The President
of the Organisation, Action For Children's Television, a Boston-based
parents' organisation with branches in 60 cities says:
"At present, from Monday to
Friday, children are subjected to 16 minutes of commercials an hour,
and 12 minutes an hour on weekends."
"Television advertisers in America
are pouring unprecedented millions of dollars into the child slots
for the autumn season, despite a storm of public indignation over
'brainwashing' on children's shows."
Television Stunts Intellectual
An eminent American educationalist,
Professor Lowell Little, claims that TV raises ignorant students.
At an education seminar in Florida he said:
"Today's youth are so used to
plopping down in front of a television set and not having to put
their brains to work that when they come to sit in a classroom of
a university all they are capable of doing is day-dreaming and vacantly
watching the clock."
"As the first generation of
youngsters all but raised on television has now reached college
age it is abundantly clear that the boob tube (ie. Television) has
destroyed any curiosity they may ever have had."
"Their level of communication
is just at the sixth grade level."
"Television has more influence
on them than parents, teachers or clergy and that is a disgrace."
"If I get through to four students
out of 30 and arouse their interest that's the best I can expect."
The Addictive Influence of Television
The addictive influence of TV over
its viewers is a serious malady, which has reached alarming proportions.
Viewers become so addicted to TV that it becomes most difficult
for most viewers to live without TV. Research in this field of the
'addictive influence of TV' has established that if those who are
addicted to TV are deprived of television they became increasingly
nervous, short-tempered and unhappy.
In an article captioned: Millions
Addicted To The Box, the Eastern Province Herald of the 23rd
October, 1975, reports:
"Television's addictive grip
was emphasised some months before when three socially varied 'guinea
pig' families agreed to try a switch-off for a month. The lowest
income family could stand the deprivation only a week; the other
two lasted for four weeks, hating every minute of it. They said
they felt as if they had lost a friend, were depressed and thought
their work was suffering too."
"In an earlier psychological
experiment 185 West Germans volunteered to try to give up television
for a year, with the inducement of payment as long as they kept
off. One brave family stood the strain for nearly six months
till they wanted to watch a crime serial. The first volunteer, a
bachelor; failed after three weeks. Others became increasingly nervous,
short-tempered and unhappy
Television Diverts Man's Attention
from the Remembrance of Allah
The Prophet (saws) said:
"Every sport or amusement that
a Muslim occupies himself with is Baatil (baseless, null
and not permissible) except three [the three types being]
his practicing with your bow (and arrow); his training horse and
his playing with his family."10
Allah says in the Qur'an:
of this world is but play and amusement,
and the abode of the Hereafter is best for those who fear (Allah)."
[Qur'an Al-An'am 6:32]
The above stated Hadith and verse
of the Qur'an, as well as many other verses of the Qur'an and Ahadith
make it quite clear that Islam does not tolerate futility, idle
sport and amusement. This is so because amusement and entertainment
divert one's attention from the remembrance of Allah Ta'ala. It
also interferes with one's worship causing neglect of Salaat (in
general) and the congregational prayers (particularly for the men).
Amusement and entertainment which Islam describes as Lawh, la'b
make a person indolent, negligent and irresponsible. Hence, we find
the Messenger of Allah T condemning very strongly even such play
as chess and backgammon etc., in the following hadith:
"Whosoever plays with chess
and backgammon is like one who has dyed his hand with the flesh
and blood of swine."11
Research on Television has shown
Research studies on the effects and
influence of television on society has shown that:
- The average American child stares
at more than 11, 000 murders on television by the age of 14.
- Most American children spend more
time before a set than with their teacher in any one year.
- In a national survey many young
viewers claimed to watch television for up to 46 hours a week.
- Television takes one away from
- TV has created a "vast tribe
of mini-stars, pop-idols, schmaltzy gurus, talking-heads, telegogues
and cardboard 'personalities'" whose only achievement is
to be on the box.
- TV causes lethargy in children.
- Television is responsible for
the falling standard of literacy.
- Millions of dollars are spent
by advertisers to 'brainwash' children by means of television
to increase demand for consumer goods.
- Television makes viewers insensitive
to violence perpetrated by others.
- Public apathy and failure to respond
to a victim's cries for help is blamed on television.
- Television is detrimental to the
physical and mental health of children
What They Say About Television
"The Church of England General
Synod, in a report to a Government appointed committee deplores
scenes of heavy drinking, chain smoking and casual use of obscene
language and blasphemous language on TV."Eastern Province Herald,
23rd October, 1975
The psychiatrists, Dr William Tompkins
of the George Washington School of Medicine, and Dr Paul Fink of
the East Virginia Medical School, have been engaged in intensive
research into the effect on people of television advertising. They
say that during commercials "encourage belief in mysticism
by making viewers believe they can get what they want almost by
Dr Tompkins says:
"Television advertising gets
us to accept nonsense and leads us to go looking for a fantasy world."
The FCC (Federal Communications
Commission) was ticked off by the House and Senate Appropriation
Committee and told to report on fresh measures to curb video violence
or face 'punitive action'."
Mr Tindall, Director of the Audio-Visual
Centre of Sydney Teachers' College said:
"Children were learning that
violence is not only rampant but frequently justified."
"For years, people have been
saying the good thing about TV was that it brought news to the living
room. But the survey indicated that few children, if given the option,
watched the news or current affairs."
"An almost unbelievable avalanche
of sex, perversion, pornography, blue films, sadism, masochism,
bestiality, murder, rape and brutality has flooded into the public
view through the modern "boob tube' of television, or the movies
and lurid novels."
"In British television, almost
unbelievable references to lewdness, perverted sex and depravity
are as open and unabashed as news reports."
Tomorrow's World, August 1971
Television and Time
Television undoubtedly dominates
the free time or leisure of millions who have become addicted to
it. Hours of precious time are daily squandered in the presence
of the TV set. This malady of wasting hours daily doing "justice
to the TV screen" is so serious that even necessary and important
work and activities are neglected, especially when the TV program
or serial clashes with the time when a particular work has to be
done. The Eastern Province Herald, dated 23rd October,
1975, states in a report"
"Briton spend more time watching
the television than with radio, books, theatre and newspaper combined."
"The average person watches
television nine hours and six minutes a week in winter and seven
hours 42 minutes in summer but these estimates seem conservative.
"Three-quarters of homes in
one British Midlands industrial area were found to have the 'telly'
on the entire evening everyday and in one national survey many young
viewers claimed to watch for up to 46 hours a week.
"When early in 1974 the Government
put a 10:30 pm curfew on television to save electricity for several
weeks the outcries were loud and long."
A recent survey conducted by the
Audio-Visual Centre of Sydney Teachers' College (Australia) revealed
that the average child watched over 21 hours of TV a week. Mr Tindall,
Director of the Centre asked"
"What does TV offer the child
in exchange for about 1,100 hours of almost undivided attention
Time in Islam is of great
importance. So important indeed is time that Almighty Allah in the
Qur'an takes an Oath by Time, and says:
By the Token of Time
[Qur'an Al-'Asr 103:1]
A Muslim is not permitted to waste
time, more so, when the wasting of time is a result of an institution
portraying vice and evil, and when the wasting of time on a practice
or 'past-time' involves interference or neglect with ones duties
to Allah and man. The addictive grip of television over its viewers
is so powerful that the viewer becomes a helpless victim wasting
sacred hours glued to the TV screen, thus neglecting his Salaat,
his family duties and his social duties. The student, undoubtedly
neglects his studies and learning. In a survey, teachers have said
that a direct link exists between television and the failing standard
of literacy, particularly among lethargic children continually sitting
up late in front of the "goggle box".
"By the Time
Verily! Man is in loss, Except those who believe (in Islamic Monotheism)
and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth,
and recommend one another to patience."
[Qur'an Al-'Asr 103:1-3]
Should Anyone Be
1 This appendix is a summary,
with slight changes, of an excellent and enlightening book entitled
Television and the Institution of Photography or Picture-Making,
published by the Majlis al-Ulama, of South Africa.
2 For an interesting and
comprehensive discussion of the technical functioning of Television,
refer to the original book, Television and the Institution of Photography
3 For further details
and full discussion of the evidences concerning the prohibition
of Music in Islam, refer to: The Islamic Ruling of Music and Singing,
by Abu Bilal Mustafah al-Kanadi.
4 Ibn Maajah, al-Bayhaqee
10/221, no. 20989. Al-Albaanee declared it to be authentic in Silsilat
Saheehah 1/136-139, no. 90.
5 Ad-Durru al-Manthoor,
by As-Suyootee 5/307-308, explanation of verse 31:6 of the Qur'an.
6 At-Tirmidhee. It was
declared authentic by al-Albaanee is Saheeh Sunan at-Tirmidhee
1/343 no. 1189.
7 Muslim 4/1375, no. 6309
8 Muslim 4/1397, no. 6421,
9 At-Tirmidhee. It was
declared authentic by al-Albaanee in Saheeh Sunan at-Tirmidhee,
2/195, no. 2094 .
10 Ibn Maajah. It was
declared authentic by al-Albaanee in Saheeh Sunan Ibn Maajah 2/132,
no. 2267 . See also Silsilah Saheehah 1/562, no. 315.
11 Muslim 4/1222, no.5612