The importance of media in today’s age is obvious. With the help of technology, various media have transformed this vast planet into a global village. The media has played the most important role in keeping people informed at all times. However, the problem of present times is not the lack of information but the excess of it. Also, the media has become a much more widely used tool for propaganda, mind-shaping, and specific purposes. The noise of the media has made it difficult to distinguish between truth and falsehood. Thoughts and minds are subdued under news, debates, and fascinating programming. Due to the onslaught of domestic and foreign media, we today face the scourge of obscenity, westernisation, and, above all, secularism in Islamic society.
Un-Islamic rituals are becoming commonplace while our cultural traditions are in decline. It is the influence of the media that has made our youth fond of western lifestyle and ideas. The devotion to mosques and worship has declined and children have been introduced to irreligious ideas and practices. In this day and age it is not possible to get rid of the media. What is needed is awareness of the nature and role of the media.
If we want to achieve the goal of social development, we have to make friends with the uncontrollable Jinn of the media. The media, too, needs to adapt to society and traditions. There is a need to provide information about the role of the media in the curriculum. Only the knowledge of how the media changes societies, its methods of propaganda, etc, can protect people from its effects.
Like many other subjects, basic knowledge of the media needs to be included in the syllabus of madrassas. This is the class that has dedicated itself to the service of religion. Millions of children attend religious schools in our country for promotion of Islamic values and culture. In this day and age it is not common to be attracted to religious education. There is no shortage of people who prefer worldly luxuries to the severe tests of faith. The purpose of those who turn to religious schools is to dedicate their abilities to the service of almighty Allah. Therefore, it is important for such a sincere and selfless class to be aware of the modern ways of communication, which can be used to make the work of Da’wah more effective.
Knowledge of communication can be very useful for Da’wah and students graduating from religious schools can play a better role in society by being familiar with the media. Media invasion is the biggest challenge that has affected the students of madrassas, like other sections of the society. Today’s children use electronic media for hours at a time, which means that they are fully aware of the use of media. Our generations are being changed in the name of entertainment. The only way to stop this flood is to make these innocent minds aware of the propaganda in the name of entertainment. If the curriculum includes media-related subjects, these students will be better able to protect themselves from the invasion of Western and other non-religious culture and will at least be aware of foreign propaganda and conspiracy to deceive.
Enough talk of calling the media the root of evil; now we must plan to use this technology for Da’wah. If the students of madrassas and religiously conscious people start using the media professionally for religious preaching, then surely the invasion of obscenity and nudity and infidelity and atheism can be stopped to some extent. This same media, which is spreading social catastrophe, can also be made the custodian of Islamic culture and traditions. We have to tell our young generation how misguidance is spread under the guise of entertainment and neutrality. We need to be aware of the real role and objectives of foreign channels which are engaged in fulfilling a specific agenda and are influencing our society.
The different theories of mass media and the research done in this field need to be explained to everyone in simple words. All this is necessary so that our people do not become mere innocent users and also so that others cannot use media for nefarious purposes. Only those who understand the content of the media can be safe from its propaganda. Who can deny the fact that in order to compete with infidel and secular minds, the students of our first batch of madrassas need to learn this skill the most. The consumption of is not a bad thing at all, but in doing so, you must act wisely so that you are not deceived. That is why media education must be included in the curriculum. In this advanced age of technology, we now need to strengthen community journalism. This small-scale journalism is the real force that brings about social change. FM radios are an example of community journalism.
To this end, we need conscientious people who can better represent our community. The content of this small-scale journalism can be provided by ordinary citizens. If our students are aware of the uses of media, it will be easier for them to do all this. After graduation, and even during their studies, these students will be able to do their part to run the media in an Islamic way. They will be able to clarify the Islamic point of view on any global or national issue. They will be able to comment on print, community, broadcast and electronic media.
There is, thus, a need to recruit mass media experts in madrassas so that students are aware of the current situation. These experts should provide information to students on all important domestic and foreign issues. They must teach about the role of the media and the effects of the media. They must teach students the art of writing and presenting opinions on any issue. Only in this way can students be made aware of national and global issues that will surely lead to better changes in them.
Students can use social media the most, which is the cheapest and fastest way. With the rapid advancement of mobile and internet technology, messaging has become extremely easy and news of any event happening around the world reaches you within seconds. These new types of media have made a great impact on society, and in terms of providing information, print, electronic and broadcast media are far behind. The main reason for this is that mobile phones are now becoming a necessity for everyone.
TV or radio will be able to communicate only when you go to the place where these devices are available and watch or listen carefully. You have to buy and read it carefully to benefit from the newspaper. The scope of social media is very wide in this regard. It provides information all the time through the mobile phone in your hand while internet is now available on most mobile phones. Social media is thus ahead of other media in providing information. Its biggest advantage is that it can be tailored to your liking. However, media education is of paramount importance when it comes to social media. It is a very powerful weapon that cannot be given to the ignorant. Young people need to be made aware of where their video or photo can reach and what goals can be achieved through it. If children are not made aware of the repercussions of a video shared online, it can have devastating consequences. A video made in jest can take the life of someone or defame a respectable family.
Young people need to be made aware of how social media can affect their lives. This is possible only when such issues are discussed in educational institutions. Madrassa students can also use this form of media. They should know the importance of video clips and what preaching and religious purposes can be achieved from them. Beautiful recitations, poems, ringtones, instructive mobile clips can have a positive impact on society. Similarly, students with good reading and speaking skills should pay attention to electronic media and broadcast media. Today, there are local FM radio stations in almost all major cities. Their programmes are produced locally. Madrassa students can also create programmes for FM radio that will be listened to by a large number of people. Scholars’ speeches on debates and important issues within madrassas should be disseminated through social media so that other sections of society can know how much potential there is among religious students.
Success is possible only by preparing for every exam. Media is like a technology that you need to know the basics of before using it. For better use of media, experts should be consulted to teach the general public on how to use media better. The lesson of recognising propaganda should be taught through examples and facts. Workshops and seminars should be organised for madrassa teachers also to make them aware of the media’s challenges. We have to do all this to save our society.
—The writer is a research scholar. [email protected]