TV and Sexual Content In The Light Of Islamic Morals
compiled by Yahya Abdul Rahman (S. Smith)

A recent study found "that 56 percent of TV programs - and 67 percent of prime-time shows - contained sexual content in word or deed over the course of one week. Yet only one in 10 such shows mentioned contraception, safe sex, or the possibility of delaying sexual activity, the study found." Forget about them even mentioning the pre-matial sex is a sin! This is considered a joke by today's moral standards.

My questions is "Where are you children learning about the correct Islamic perspsective regarding sex and other moral issues?"

Did you know that American children watch, at an average, three to four hours of television daily? I am sure is is true here also in Canada as our cultures are very similar.

Television can be a powerful influence in developing value systems and shaping behavior. Unfortunately, too much of today's television programming isn't used to shape children in the mold of a good child.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated regarding Television issues:

"TV is an important influence on child development and behavior. It is essential that parents help their children use TV as a positive, creative force, and help them avoid TV's negative influences.

Time spent watching TV could be better spent on constructive activities.

(Source: AAP Committee on Communications.)

* The AAP recommends that parents limit children's television viewing to 1 to 2 hours per day, and spend more time on activities such as reading, athletics, physical conditioning and alternative hobbies.

* American children view over 23 hours of television per week.

* Teenagers view an average of 21 to 22 hours of television per week.

* By the time today's children reach age 70, they will have spent 7 to 10 years of their lives watching television.

* Television contributes to obesity. Children who watch a lot of television are less physically fit, because television takes time away from physical play. (Source: AAP brochure: Television and the Family, Committee on Communications.)
 
 

Advertising

(Source: AAP Committee on Communications.)

* TV advertising and programming can adversely affect learning and behavior of children and adolescents and detract from time spent reading or using other active learning skills.

* American children have viewed an estimated 360,000 advertisements on television before graduating from high school.

* American children view nearly 2,000 beer and wine commercials per year on television. Beer, wine and liquor companies spend over $2 billion per year on advertising and promotion.
 

Sex and Violence in the Media

(Source: AAP Committee on Communications)
 


There is a nice web site called "Limit TV." This site seeks to inform parents, educators, and children about the ways excessive TV watching can damage a child's development and education and offers alternative things you can do with your child instead of placing them in front of a TV set. I invite you to visit this website.

I especially invite you to read the essay on "Your child's brain wasn't built for all that TV"  which argues that "TV trains the brain. It impacts neurological development. It seems so harmless, and sometimes even marvelous, but it is not a neutral force in your child's life. This page discusses how TV can hamper a child's ability to learn." The article can be found here.

Paul Ruggieri, a Catholic writer and broadcaster, has this to say in his book "Answers For Troubled Times":

"Imagine that every place you could live, every house or apartment in this world, is built with a box in one of the rooms. The box plays enjoyable music, and a little ballerina pops up and slowly spins around when the lid is lifted. The problem is that each box has a demon inside. Every time the lid is raised to hear the music, the demon  challenges you and your moral values and always succeeds in breaking down those moral values at least a
little bit. If this scenario were true to life, do you think anyone would lift the lid? Parents would certainly put a Mr. Yuk sticker on the box and tell their children to stay out of that room.

Yet, it is true to life. In every home there is at least one box. It's called a television. There are very few people who think twice before turning it on, and even fewer who decide not to for the sake of their morals. People readily take on the characteristics of the television they watch. This is evidenced in many ways. In the 70's, boys dressed like Fonzy and girls like Farrah Fawcet. In the 80's, twenty year old males sported the semi-shaven look of Don Johnson. The late 80's and early 90's brought green, pizza-eating sewer turtles and Power Rangers into our lives and children began side-kicking and talking in a "totally gnarly" way."

He goes on to say that the four main themes found in television and all mass media are:

Sexual Promiscuity (Lust), Materialism (Greed),Violence (Hatred), and Drug and Alcohol Abuse (see: http://www.catholicity.com/Cathedral/answers/Chapter1.html)

All these things are in direct opposition to our Islamic values, but we insist on feeding ourselves and our children with this trash. How many times have we stayed home to watch "the game" or that "must see"  movie or documentory instead of going to Ishaa prayer? What example are we conveying to our children when we make such decisions? If we are feeding them a daily diet of filth and setting NO Islamic example for them whatsoever, then do not be suprised when little Fatimah or little Muhammad comes home one day and tells you she or he is gay! Yes, it is happening in our community, and it is is our fault too. They were fed the message "it's ok to be gay" day in and day out, week after week, year after year via that little black box that sits prominently in your living room right beside a dusty Quran that has not been touched in weeks.

We are so careful to teach our children to keep away from those things which defile their clothing (ie urine and all that is nejus), but what about those things that defile the heart and mind? Are we bringing up children that have an outward shell of being Muslims with all the "trappings" of Islamic culture, but who inside are full of sin and utter corruption, and do not even possess a basic understanding of the Islamic aqeedah?  Even as in the physical sense we are what we eat, even so in the spiritual sense we are the products of what we feed our hearts and minds.

The prophet (PBUH) reminded us that when a human being dies, all his actions come to an end, except in one of three ways: a continuous act of charity, or a contribution to knowledge which benefits mankind, or a good child who prays for him. So, if we are not bringing up or children in the ways of Islam and teaching him/her to fear Allah, then we are not even doing ourselves a favor. If they do not pray now, why will they pray after you are gone? You will also be the loser.

My dear fellow Muslims, Allah says in His noble book:

"Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet: Women and sons; Heaped-up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence); and (wealth of) cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world's life; but with Allah is the best of the goals (to return to). (3:14)"

and

"Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors. (3.110)"

and

"Many of them dost thou see, racing each other in sin and transgression, and their eating of things forbidden. Evil indeed are the things that they do.(5:62)"

Please read the following article below in the APPENDIX and honestly ask yourself, "Do I want my child to be exposed to this?" Even the Christian community is concerned about this, so what are we doing? There are probably over 7 million Muslims in North American society. What kind of impact are we making on this society in a positive way so that the cause of Allah becomes supreme over all other false and ungodly systems? Our message is found in the words of the creator, Allah, when He the exalted and supreme says:

"83. Do they seek for other than the Religion of Allah? - while all creatures in the heavens and on earth have, willing or unwilling, bowed to His Will (accepted Islam), and to Him shall they all be brought back.

84. Say: "We believe in Allah, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the Prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to Allah do we bow our will (in Islam)."

85. If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost. (Chapter 3 Quran)"

and

"And vie with one another to attain your Sustainer's forgiveness and a Paradise as vast as the heavens and the earth, which awaits the God conscious, who spend for charity in time of plenty and in time of hardship, and restrain their anger and pardon their fellow men, for God loves those who do good. (3:133-134)"

One essay on Islamic Morality sums up the goals of Islam this way:

"A major goal of Islam is to provide mankind with a practical and realistic system of life based on good by which he can conduct his life. It calls upon mankind not only to practice virtue but to establish it and to eradicate all that is harmful. It seeks the supremacy of one's conscience in all matters, so that what is harmful cannot gain the upper hand in either an individual's or a society's life. Those who respond to this call are known as Muslims, which literally means those who have submitted to Allah. The sole object of the resulting community of Muslims (the ummah ) is the undertaking of an organized effort to establish what is good and to fight and eradicate what is evil and harmful."

As for my wife and I we do not have a TV nor do we ever plan to buy one any time soon. It is the best decision we have made. After reading this information to hope to hear that many of you will make a similar choice. I am sure your life will be enriched, inshallah.
 

APPENDIX:

Survey finds half of TV shows refer to sex, few responsibly By Don Aucoin, Globe Staff, 02/10/99
 
 

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Survey finds half of TV shows refer to sex, few responsibly
By Don Aucoin, Globe Staff, 02/10/99


As any regular television watcher knows, sex is not exactly taboo on TV.

But one subject seems to be largely off-limits, according to a major new study released yesterday: the ''risks and responsibilities'' of sexual activity.

A survey of 1,351 randomly selected shows by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that 56 percent of TV programs - and 67 percent of prime-time shows - contained sexual content in word or deed over the course of one week. Yet only one in 10 such shows mentioned contraception, safe sex, or the possibility of delaying sexual activity, the study found.

After narrowing their focus to only the 88 scenes in which sexual intercourse was either ''depicted or strongly implied,'' researchers discovered that not one program in the smaller sample ''made even a passing reference'' to safe sex.

With teenage pregnancies reaching 1 million per year and sexually transmitted diseases annually striking more than 3 million teenagers, the sexual messages sent by TV are a matter of growing significance, according to Vicky Rideout, director of the foundation's Program on the Entertainment Media and Public Health.

''Surveys indicate that TV is one of the top sources of information for young people about sex,'' Rideout said in an interview. ''Obviously, parents and sex-ed classes in schools are important, but TV is a part of the sexual socialization of young people. It shows how men and women relate to each other, and what the norms of sexual behavior are.''

Just in case anyone was still in doubt, the study makes clear just how preoccupied television has become with sex. Fully 85 percent of soap operas were found to contain sexual content; TV movies, 83 percent; talk shows, 78 percent; dramas, 58 percent; news magazines, 58 percent; sitcoms, 56 percent; reality shows, 23 percent.

However, the study defined TV sex broadly, counting everything from passionate kissing to flirting to ''intimate touching'' to sexual intercourse depicted or implied. Only 7 percent of programs fell into the latter category.

Nonetheless, in detailing the extent of sexual content on TV, the study sheds a statistical light on the turnabout in recent years from the repressive attitude toward sex that characterized television's early years.

''On `I Love Lucy' in the '50s, Lucy and Ricky didn't share the same bed, even though they were married,'' observed TV historian Steven D. Stark. ''Sex on television was fairly nonexistent until fairly recently. In the '80s, with `Hill Street Blues,' it really opened up.

''Now it's everywhere. It's even in the ads and promos all the time. There are no barriers anymore.''
But television's preoccupation with the subject does not extend to sexual precautions, the study found. In general, the subject of safe sex is treated in a grudging and perfunctory fashion. For instance, even when shows did make references to sexual ''risks and responsibilities,'' half the time they were ''minor or inconsequential.'' In addition, only 1 percent of the shows with sexual content made sexual risks and responsibilities a primary emphasis.

Researchers did find that on shows with sexual content involving teenage characters, the shows were twice as likely to make reference to safe sex or delaying sex. However, that still amounted only to fewer than one in every five shows, and Rideout noted that many shows popular among teenagers feature young adults, programs in which safe-sex messages were rare.

''Unprotected sex in this day and age? Where are they coming from, with AIDS a major life-and-death disease?'' remarked Peggy Charren, founder of Action for Children's Television.

But the foundation's study also encountered some criticism yesterday within hours after it was released. Privately, some network executives complained that such studies apply a quantitative measure to a qualitative issue, that simply counting the number of sexual remarks or acts does not convey the subject's treatment.

In addition, Robert J. Thompson, head of the Center for the Study of Popular Television, said it is unrealistic to expect sitcom repartee to include safe-sex messages, and objected to what he saw as attempts to ''mandate what television ought to be doing.''

''As uncomfortable as I am that every time I turn on a sitcom at 8 o'clock there's an erection joke, we also have to look at the potential positive role television may be playing in sexuality,'' said Thompson. ''Some of the shows are beginning to talk about sex in a sophisticated way. It can be done crudely or very well; `Ally McBeal' is doing it very well, Howard Stern may not be doing it very well.''

Rideout emphasized that the Kaiser foundation, a California-based, independent philanthropy that has recently begun including the entertainment industry in its studies on public health issues, is ''not approaching this from a moral or ideological point of view.''

''We do not see ourselves as sex police,'' she said. ''We're not blaming TV for teen pregnancy. We're saying that when one out of every two shows is communicating something about sex, it's a great opportunity for people in the television industry to play a positive role, to inform at the same time they're entertaining.

''And there's a lot of people in the television business who care very much about the impact they have and are trying to incorporate responsible messages into their shows,'' she added.

For example, Rideout praised the WB network's popular ''Dawson's Creek'' for depicting two teenagers ''talking about wanting to be prepared with condoms if they have sex.'' She also lauded the UPN network's ''Moesha'' and the WB's ''Felicity'' for incorporating discussions of safe sex.

Researchers also acknowledged that sex is more talked about than consummated on most shows, citing racy banter on ABC's ''Spin City'' and ''Dharma and Greg''; NBC's ''Friends,'' ''Veronica's Closet,'' and ''Working''; and the WB network's ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer.''

Nevertheless, Rideout said the consequences of sex should be ''part of the picture'' even when it's just talked about, because ''the way people talk about sex is communicating important information about it.''

Among the 88 shows that depicted or ''strongly implied'' intercourse without any discussion of safe sex, the study singled out a pair of daytime soap operas, CBS's ''The Young and the Restless'' and NBC's ''Sunset Beach,'' along with TV's top-rated show, NBC's ''ER,'' and one of its most talked about, Fox's ''Ally McBeal.'' The study also cited Fox's ''Party of Five'' and CBS's ''Chicago Hope'' as shows that have tried to convey safe-sex messages.

There are signs that some in the TV industry have grown uneasy with the medium's increasing preoccupation with sex. Scott Sassa, the new president of NBC Entertainment, recently told TV critics he has directed NBC writers and producers to cut down on the amount of gratituitous sexual banter and situations.

CBS spokesman Chris Ender, while saying the network would reserve comment on the study until officials have a chance to read it, said that ''overall, we believe we're very responsible in our portrayals of sex.'' Spokes men for NBC, ABC, Fox, and the WB said network officials would have no comment until they see the study.

This story ran on page A17 of the Boston Globe on 02/10/99.)
Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company.

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