Losing our religion one Ramazan transmission at a time

Published: July 20, 2014
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These insane quizzes are not what Ramazan stands for. This beautiful month calls for sharing and feeling for others, not answering nonsensical questions and winning material products.

These insane quizzes are not what Ramazan stands for. This beautiful month calls for sharing and feeling for others, not answering nonsensical questions and winning material products. These insane quizzes are not what Ramazan stands for. This beautiful month calls for sharing and feeling for others, not answering nonsensical questions and winning material products.

While browsing through channels after iftar yesterday, I realised that my TV screen had been taken over by multiple Ramazan transmissions airing on different (read: every) channel. Although the ‘shows’ have been airing questionable content for some time now, this year they seemed to have taken it up a notch.

Previously, such transmissions comprised of learned religious scholars who would discuss Islamic issues and answer audience questions pertaining to religious teaching. This would be followed by a recitation of a naat or a dua, and the transmission would be over by iftar time.

No shenanigans, no games, no quizzes – a simple programme on religion.

Now, some might argue that these shows were too plain, boring and lacked excitement but I believe the content back then was much classier and more fit for our religion than the ‘game shows’ we have started to indulge in today.

Ramazan shows today provide very little knowledge of anything, let alone religion, and there is no inspiration that can be drawn to douse our curiosity regarding religion. In fact, the effect is quite the opposite. These transmissions inspire crudeness, an extreme level of greed and lack of empathy.

Show hosts are seen making fun of people, exhibiting uncultured humour and making personal comments – all in such bad taste – and all in the name of Ramazan! Why? I feel like I am watching some backwards, cheesy theatre show or movie rather than a religious programme.

A typical Ramazan transmission today begins with a discussion between a deranged host and a bunch of maulvis, who are clad in colourfully embroidered kurtas. Discussions on these shows amount, to little or, no religious knowledge being dispersed to the audience and before you know it, the host eagerly moves towards the ‘fun and games’ segment.

These transmissions start before iftar, continue during and go on way past iftar time! But it is after iftar that the quiz-show begins (a modern day version of Neelam Ghar but is not nearly as good). Here I must say that at this point along with the hosts, even the audience exhibits extremely uncouth behaviour. To win a mobile phone or a designer lawn dress, the men and women both try to up the other in acting in the most ridiculous manner possible; self-respect, dignity, modesty, humbleness, and all other Islamic teachings, go out the window when it comes to winning a mere bottle of Rooh Afza.

In pursuit of these little ‘gifts’ people are willing to go to any length and in doing so exhibit to the world just how entertainment starved and greedy we can become. We are willing to do anything and everything to win, even if that means stuffing our faces with mangoes, standing on one leg or hanging from a monkey bar – we will do it all. On national television might I add.

Where has the spirit of Ramazan gone?

These insane quizzes are not what Ramazan stands for. This beautiful month calls for sharing and feeling for others, not answering nonsensical questions and winning material products. Why can’t sponsors and channels donate their gifts and money to orphanages and hospitals or NGOs and have live shows with them?

The companies that sponsor these shows are at fault as well. I understand that advertising and marketing is important for any business but why can’t they think of other creative and more socially responsible ways to make their brands standout?

I agree that there are very limited entertainment avenues for us, and middle-income groups in particular, but there can be other ways to make TV shows more appealing and tasteful. Or in the very least, the producers of these shows could make sure that the content is less repulsive.

It is the responsibility of TV channels and multinational companies to put their efforts and money together and come up with creative, quality content – content that educates the masses, not stuns them back into ignorance.

We have seen many well thought-out CSR campaigns before, that have proven to be very effective for the goodwill image of a company. We have also come across many quality shows that interact with the public in a constructive manner.

Why can’t we make TV shows like The Oprah Winfery Show or like Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate from across the border? We have had good television shows even in Pakistan – the Ariel Maa show being one of them and this too was powered by an FMCG company. Why can’t all our programmes be like this one? These shows have also worked wonders for their sponsors; they have generated very high viewership, TRPs and established credibility without robbing the audience of its morals. More than anything else they have made a difference in people’s lives and have changed mindsets.

In a society like ours, our media enjoys great power and shape our society’s moral fabric. Instead of producing mediocre, run-off-the-mill TV shows, our media industry must assume the role of a mature and responsible medium and work for, both, the entertainment and education of our society. We, the audience, do not want to be shamed any more.

Sameea Zafar

Sameea Zafar

Sameea likes to blog about her favourite things to do, wear and eat in the city. She tweets as @SameeaZafar (twitter.com/SameeaZafar)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Sami

    I could understand that why the Picture of Amir Liaquat is missing from the Above Caption as Every media outlet wants to protect their own interests and anchors . Since Amir Liaquat is affiliated with Express News so we could understand the obligations.Recommend

  • Bilal

    Ummm… Someone missing in the title photo?? Recommend

  • Mir

    I quite enjoy Aamir Liaquat’s show. It’s entertaining watching people beg for bikes and mobiles while Aamir Liaquat continues to mock their physique.Recommend

  • Amna Rizvi

    The picture does NOT do justice to the article! Recommend

  • A Khan

    Despite being “progressive” in views I still agree with you. The uncultured humor and pomp and show etc. as you have pointed is ruining the core values of the religion!Recommend

  • https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=8559594100366660134#allposts Supriya Arcot

    Here’s wishing all of u a happy ramzaan . Recommend

  • astonished2010

    Spot on. Most of the Ramazan transmissions are disrespectful, disgraceful, and condescending. The greed and lust focused ‘game’ shows are as distant from spirituality as it gets. The boundaries are being stretched to the point where Ramazan’s sanctity is now in the hands of the some real shady characters.Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    very very well done. It is high time someone spoke up about this garbage being broadcast during the holy month of Ramadan.
    It also projects the image of a nation which has lost all dignity and self respect and will will do anything to get some cheap prize. The antics of the hosts and the audience is so cringe worthy that i am amazed they get the ratings that they do.
    Slightly off topic: Neelam ghar was the best game show in the history of Pakistan, It had the vibe of being a great source of entertainment, the games were classy and the whole show was a spectacle to behold, even the audience was very large ( i remember tariq aziz going up and down the long flight of stairs). while these shows have 2/3 hundred people and they show the silliest, most unintelligent games.Recommend

  • farhan

    The title picture do not include the famous “Dr”. Why? Has it something to do with Express group’s financial interests?Recommend

  • Ali Javed

    Very well crafted….:)Recommend

  • hareem

    I totally agree!! They show illiteracy on the tv nowadays ! No knowledge passed to the audience watching it. Recommend

  • tariqraza

    I wonder why there is no pic of Aamir Liaquat ?
    Because he is doing show on Express TV ?Recommend

  • http://futurecmo.org/ Babar Khan

    Its convenient how there’s no reference to Aamir Liaqat’s show, your President. And then when terrorists shoot at your HQ, some idiot wonders why.Recommend

  • Rashid

    Ramzadan is all commercialized here as well. Same like in the west they have commercialized their christmas, etc. so it is now only a commercial event, and lost what ever spiritual value it had. So they have set the same trend in Pakistan, and behind it must be all the BIG BIG corporations i.e. Nestle, Coke, Pepsi, etcRecommend

  • Ibrahim Ahmed

    Where is Âamïr liaquat their is no mention of him in this blog
    Actually Âamïr liaquat started these transmitions now he is in express therefore u r not mentioning him Recommend

  • Sanober Zakir

    Very true. The cheapness in these shows have crossed limits. A boy asking to tear his kurta and the host saying kindly do it. And then censoring on the live telecast. But what aboit the people watching on the sets. Making people lying down and makung them snore cheapness at its peak.Recommend

  • Asad N

    100% agree with the author. Excellent observation, comparison and articulation.Recommend

  • BlackJack

    Why watch TV at all when these programs cause you so much pain? Or can you not bear that someone else may enjoy a program that you dislike – and you want everyone to follow your rules and interpretation of how to behave in this month.Recommend

  • Shield

    When TVs were first invented intellectuals in the west thought that TV shows would host debates on important issues of the day. Instead we have reality TV and inaam ghar.

    A computer in every pocket has long been a dream for those passionate about technology. It didn’t turn out like we imagined. Instead of using these devices for productive purposes people use them for chatting and playing games.

    This is just the way people are. It’s like handing a microscope to a baboon.Recommend

  • A M

    Agreed! Thanks to the author for bringing this up.Recommend

  • Kappa

    @ Author: Why are you so ashamed of ill manners and greediness of public exposed in these programs. This is our real face. This is what we are. I am thankful to media for exposing us rather than hiding. Dont be scared. This is probably the first step towards civilization for our population.Recommend

  • KM

    Great article! and yes – that’s so apt – the Ramzan TV shows have turned out to be such a joke, and completely despicable.Recommend

  • Asad

    One prominent face missing from the picture above. Mr. President. The lewdest of all, who started this trend.Recommend

  • SH

    If you’re talking about Jeeto Pakistan, that show started before Ramadan and is not a part of Ramadan transmission. Also, it isn’t like no Ramadan transmission discusses religious topics. Almost every transmission begins with talks, Q/A and discussions on religious topics followed by some quizzes and fun. Many shows are also highlighting charitable causes and collecting donations to help the needy.

    Just because one or two hosts aren’t showing appropriate behaviour doesn’t mean all of them are doing a bad job. And if game shows are a concern, so what if people are putting their worries aside for few hours during Ramadan and enjoying some games?Recommend

  • Absar Khan

    I agree. With every transmission we are losing the core beliefs of our religion!Recommend

  • privali

    Where has the spirit of Ramazan gone?

    the answer is, it was never on tv … this month is about worshiping Allah through direct actions (ibadaat) read Quran, do more zikr, pray more salaat like salaat ul layl and above all make dua (pray) in your own words to Allah as you would talk to your best friend, except that in this case your best friend is All, Who can do all, solve allRecommend

  • Working woman

    Perfect write up!Recommend

  • laraib

    what is Amir Liaquat doing??Recommend

  • Abdullah Saeed

    Voice of many hearts! The hosts ridicule and tantalize people by throwing gifts at them. These shows should be completely banned.Recommend

  • Faisal

    Dr. Amir Liaquat show is not an Islamic show but its against many teachings of Islam. Men n Women sitting together where women r not wearing hijab, women doing things that they should not be doing in public, same goes for men. helping poor n needy on a live transmission where whole country is watching them where Islam says help them in private n even don’t look into their eyes while helping so they don’t feel ashamed.Recommend

  • Faisal

    Dr. Amir Liaquat show is not an Islamic show but its against many teachings of Islam. Men n Women sitting together where women r not wearing hijab, women doing things that they should not be doing in public, same goes for men. helping poor n needy on a live transmission where whole country is watching them where Islam says help them in private n even don’t look into their eyes while helping so they don’t feel ashamed.Recommend

  • Skeptical

    Games?? Really??Recommend

  • Working woman

    Sounds more like a comment for the sake of puttinga comment!Recommend

  • faizan

    When I was a kid there was this lone Ice Cream parlor in Lahore where they had this clown, waving to kids and distributing sweets. Today, you can switch on TV during Sehri or Iftar times and watch as many clowns as you like, waving hands to all and distributing mobile phones, lawn suites and juice makers.

    Dont blame the hosts. Its about all of us. Yesterday I went out for Iftar first time this Ramzan, and in a famous fast food restaurant, after all chairs had been taken, I saw families; men, kids and woman sitting on floors and stairs (read Everywhere) to eat the expensive treat. I am also guilty (although I got a chair, i was so happy). Its about all of us. We are crazy urban class out to spend our money and time on the most useless things.

    Ramzan (Read Crazy Shopping and Eating month) mubarik to all of us.Recommend

  • Dr. Shajee

    It’s not the fault of these channels only, they are showing it because “we” are liking it….as it takes two to tangoRecommend

  • Ullo Bata

    There is a fundamental ‘wrong’ in this blog, why at all you expect any thing other than “entertainment” on a “entertainment” channel?

    Religion has been and is being exploited for all sorts of material gains, be it a lust for power say you doing it for sake of Islam and you get passing marks, or you want to grab a piece of land to build a new housing society, burn the katchi abadi and proudly announce that you did it for the sake of Islam (remember, blasphemy law), or you want to kill your enemy, kill him and shout “gustakh gustakh” and you will become a HERO, and if you want to sell you Ghee or Shoes, or whatever, sell those “Islamic” way, sponsor few Moulvi’s and a joker (aka anchor) and you become a certified Islamic company…..Recommend

  • Abdullah Saeed

    I think it’s the quality of the things being aired on TV channels which bug us all. It’s just like making movies like “Maula Jutt”,”Badmash Gujjar” etc. If we criticize it, that doesn’t necessarily means that we want everyone to follow our rules and interpretation; it’s just everyone has a right to criticize. Now we all know why these shows are “famous” and it’s a shame to show all the world that whenever a free mobile/car/motorbike is offered to us, we simply put aside all of our self respect and start begging!Recommend

  • 2Paisa

    The usual TV channels can hardly show the ‘orthodox’ Islam because it would directly violate pretty much what goes on these channels 90% of the time and would be far too controversial. Also you are forgetting that the viewers actually prefer this washed-down/diluted version of religiosity too – perhaps, so as not to get bored – rather than a genuinely ‘Islamic programme’. Experiment: during the Iftar time, play the recitation of Quran with Urdu translation and play one of the televangelists show, I would guess that the viewership for the televangelist show would be much higher.Recommend

  • ptr

    lol’ highest rated show is broadcasted on express TV i.e. Amir Bhai’s ShowRecommend

  • Kappa

    Dont be so judgmental. First off blog is not written by ET management and also ET does not necessarily have to agree with the writers views.Recommend

  • Ruqqaya

    I do not understand why people are so backward and narrow minded. If some TV channels are bringing happiness on peoples faces by handing out free gifts what is the problem. Isnt this the spirit of Ramadan and Humanity to share happiness. Recommend

  • BlackJack

    Fair point. Thanks.Recommend

  • Baba Ji

    On the spot Sameea bittiya … the latest trend in Ramzaan programs shows the intellect and demand of this qoum !!!Recommend

  • Brother Aly (R.A)

    Typical hypocrisy, why must all you muslims only be ‘holy’ for one month of the year. Sounds like an excuse to try and be nice, what would you rather listen to? The likes zakir naikh might make you happy I guess, I guess you want to be showered in self adulation to get the feel good effect and pretend you are being good just for one month. Good job of blinding your self with the ‘holier than thou’ attitude :)Recommend