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‘Adhan being cheapened’ by Channel 4

26th Jul 2013

By Masuma Rahim

The month of Ramadan is well underway and a large proportion of the Muslim community will be observing the myriad practices associated with it. It appears the mainstream media is also keen to play a part and Channel 4 has announced that it intends to broadcast the call to prayer at dawn every day throughout the month as well as interrupting programmes four times on the first day to remind viewers that the time of prayer is approaching. Many may welcome this assimilation of Muslim spirituality into secular television programming but I take a rather different view.

Channel 4 is known for many things but most of all it has a name for provocative programming. In some ways this has been good – it used to be the broadcaster which made satirical comedy and hard-hitting documentaries. It used to commission drama designed to make you think. Unfortunately that reputation seems to have fallen by the wayside in the last few years and its priority now seems to be ratings based on programming which appeals to the lowest common denominator. These days, you’re more likely to see exploitative reality television than journalistic exposés and it certainly pulls in the viewers. It’s against this background that I am sceptical of the Adhan (call to prayer) being broadcast during Ramadan.

I think there is a place for spiritual programming in the secular media and I would welcome it, if I believed it was commissioned in the spirit of increasing understanding and tolerance.

In this case, however, I tend towards the view that it is simply designed to generate headlines and to create a furore amongst those less sympathetic towards theistic sensibilities.

Articles related to religion, and especially to Islam, are likely to attract vitriolic responses and there is little which is more deliberately provocative than broadcasting the Muslim call to prayer on a publicly-owned channel in a country which is strongly secular and in which many are fiercely anti-religion. There are almost certainly going to be accusation of the ‘Islamification’ of television, of the ‘creeping influence’ of Islam and of the ‘assault’ on British culture.

I have no objection to spiritual or religious programming but I feel that such programming should seek to inform, to educate and to entertain. I don’t think that it should be used as a vehicle for provocation and to provide ammunition where there is already so much. Any broadcaster could choose to make an intelligent documentary demystifying fasting but none, not even Channel 4, appears to have done so. That would have been a way to open doors through discussion and the exchange of ideas and I would almost certainly have welcomed it. As the situation stands, my call to prayer is being cheapened by Channel 4 executives and I don’t feel that the means justify the likely ends. I would like to be proved wrong but, once again, I find myself sceptical.

7 Responses to “‘Adhan being cheapened’ by Channel 4”

Julie SiddiqiJuly 27, 2013

I presume this article was originally written only based on The Sun and other headlines following the press release that Ch 4 did and the programmes hadn’t started? Would love to know the reaction now of the author of the article above. Because actually, the adhan film they showed from London was excellent! Artistic, beautifully made and showing how it can be done with expertise. They have since made one from Birmingham and the next one any day now will be from Bradford. The whole ‘4Ramadan’ series has been really good. Such a diversity of Muslims, all shapes, sizes, colours and ages. Showing the diversity of Muslim Britain in such a positive way. The fact that the weather man, Liam, calmly announces the sunrise and sunset times as part of his weather forecast is also a really nice touch. I say let’s be more positive and open minded instead of always looking for the bad side of things!

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Iftikhar AhmadJuly 27, 2013

Islam is undefeatable! You cannot extinguish the Light of Almighty Allah! educate yourselves on Islam before it’s too late. You have nothing to loose and everything to gain. Step out of your comfort zone and ask yourself why is Islam always being demonized by the media. Why isn’t anything good being told about Islam? Do you honestly think you know all there is to Islam.? You’ll find your
answers in Islam. The haters are mad because it is the fastest growing religion in the world. More women convert in Europe than men. Yet Islam oppresses women? Rather the opposite. Free yourself from the media and THINK for yourself.

To be honest, people are just attracted to Islam because of the sincerity in its pillars of faith. We aren’t invading. They just invited us over hahahaks. “If we judge greatness by influence, he (Mohammed) was one of the giants of history. He undertook to raise the spiritual and moral level of a people harassed into barbarism by heat and foodless wastes and he succeeded more completely than any other reformer; seldom has any man so fully realized his dream. He accomplished his purpose through religion not only because he himself was religious, but because no other medium could have moved the Arabs of his time. He appealed to their imagination, fears and hopes and spoke in terms that they could understand. When he began, Arabia was a desert flotsam of idolatrous tribes but when he died it was a nation. He restrained fanaticism and superstition, but also used them. Upon Judaism, Zoroastrianism and his native creed, he built a religion simple, clear and strong, as well as a morality of ruthless courage and racial pride which, in a generation, marched to a hundred victories in a century to empire and remains to this day a virile force through half the world.”
IA

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SouthLondonerJuly 28, 2013

I think it would have been wiser if the columnist had watched a few programmes first and then commented. I have found them to wise and inspiring with a good selection of participants. 99% of the contributors have made me feel proud to be Muslim and have really helped enhance my Ramadan experience. The children in my family really look forward to seeing these programmes. I am especially pleased that the Ramadan programmes have NOT been exploited commercially with advertisements. My only criticism (made by a friend too) is that the pictures accompanying the adhan (beautiful!! by the way) don’t make a lot of sense but that’s just our opinion. Well done to Channel 4 and to all the contributors.

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Masuma RahimJuly 28, 2013

Because of copy deadlines (this piece also appeared in the print version of the newspaper) it was necessarily written before the programmes began and I wholly agree that they have been far more thoughtful than I expected. The adhan film was very well-made and I think the 4thought shorts have removed much of the mystique from Ramadhan, bringing it to a wider audience. I agree that it is particularly nice that Liam Dutton quietly notes the times of sunrise and sunset during his forecasts. My initial scepticism has certainly been allayed.

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ScepticalJuly 29, 2013

‘I think there is a place for spiritual programming in the secular media and I would welcome it, if I believed it was commissioned in the spirit of increasing understanding and tolerance.

In this case, however, I tend towards the view that it is simply designed to generate headlines and to create a furore amongst those less sympathetic towards theistic sensibilities.’

What a ridiculous article. On what basis does the writer conclude the second statement and not the first? Just her own feelings? The adhan is being cheapened how exactly – because more people get to hear it? If this article waws written before why bother putting it up when you realise you’re in the wrong. Just re-inforces the complaining whinging victim mentality that so many Muslims adopt these days.

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SyedJuly 29, 2013

I think channel 4’s adhan is quite good….it shows Islam integrating with British life and I think it’s very current.

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Julie SiddiqiJuly 31, 2013

Masuma, that is nice to hear and well done for mentioning it, not everyone would have come back to this to clarify :-)
My first Huff Post blog is on the same topic and mentions the C4 programmes along with some other great initiatives throughout Ramadan. Hope you like it:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/julie-siddiqi/ramadan-britain_b_3658318.html

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