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Best Song…..EVER

Hena Zuberi

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By Hena Zuberi

Them: Hena Auntie – can you take us to the mall?
Me: “OK, get in the car, let’s go.”

A gaggle of girls in the car and they bust out A Capella style-

Tik Tok on the clock but the party don’t stop, no
Grab my glasses, I’m out the door, I’m gonna hit this city
(Let’s go) Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack

I almost ran into the landscaper’s truck ahead of me.

Cause when I leave for the night,
I ain’t coming back
I’m talking pedicure on our toes, toes
Boys blowing up our phones, phones
Drop top and playin’ our favorite CDs
Pullin’ up to the parties
Tryna to get a little bit tipsy.

They lowered their voices at tipsy, perhaps realizing who they were singing in front of.

Me: “Jaani, do you know what Jack is or tipsy?”
I was surprised. Honestly, I thought they would just say no, but they told me exactly what it was.

Awkward silence

One of them: “Why isn’t alcohol allowed?”

Another: “What does it do to you?”

At least they can talk to me I thought to myself…. and we did.

“We could halalofy the lyrics!” piped our resident bookworm and they spend the rest of the trip doing just that.

“(Let’s go) Before we leave brush my teeth, do wudu

cause when I leave for masjid school I ain’t coming back”

I Googled the rest of the lyrics, as soon as I got home. KE$HA – TIK TOK LYRICS

U huh! Lyrics of songs have gotten much more hard core since when I was a kid.

Katy Perry was another name I was hearing in this age group. So I checked her out on my own.

‘Go all the way tonight, just love – no regrets,’

Not quite the message I want to pass on to my children, with or without music.

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Check the lyrics of what they are listening to

Warning labels barely worked when the world used CD’s; now with instant iTunes downloads, there is nothing tangible to see before purchasing. Your child downloads songs and all you get is a $1.99 bill on your Am Ex Card.

If they are young, you can and should forbid them if you find them inappropriate; older teens need to hear your perspective and learn to be critical on their own on what they are feeding their souls.

I have two young boys ( 6 & 7). I want to be prepared for their teens and am rearing them in such a way that they don’t objectify women or treat them like toys and part of this is making them aware of the world around them that perpetuates these views, that includes the kind of music that is popular.

Many media studies show that sex is always the most popular theme in almost all types of music genres that are regularly listed in the top of music video charts and channels. This means that not only do these songs encourage profanity and sexual promiscuity through the lyrics; they also show it visually with the music videos. This leads to the socialization of the young adults who are watching them. Research also shows that the recurrent viewing of television and music videos is directly linked to the risk of increasing beliefs in sexual stereotypes and decreased body satisfaction like the obsession of gaining muscularity in boys and staying ‘thin and sexy’ in teenage girls in the hope of being recognized as sexually attractive.

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The words for the top rap songs for this year include calling women ‘hoes’, dreaming about bisexuality, and glorifying prison. Most songs on the top ten list take away all that is spiritual and magnificent about intimacy between a husband and wife, reducing it to an animal like gyration or glamorous fabrication. Even songs that contain ‘positive messages’ like staying away from drugs or corruption in the system are often so profane and have every swear word in the book.

 Song Lyrics across generations

We know how it works- this is not new. If it had a good beat most of us didn’t care (or don’t care) what the words were (are). When Akon started singing in Hindi movies, parents I know who listen to Hindi music didn’t realize they were letting a man in their homes, cars and iPods that glorified stripping and immorality and sang very sexually explicit songs. Side note: Akon says that he is Muslim (duas for his & our continued guidance).

When I was a kid, my friends and I listened to Tiffany and Debbie Gibson and their songs normalized dating and the hanging out with the opposite sex (both of them later went on to pose for an x-rated magazine, so Miley Cyrus’s recent act didn’t surprise me). Madonna and Cyndi Lauper messed with my mind in my teens. Research done in the nineties suggests that regular viewers of television programs (including MTV et al) featuring sexuality are more likely to be preoccupied with sex, will have a stronger belief that sex is more regular and popular among young people than it actually is, are more likely to be “sanguine about the sanctity of marriage,” believe that sex rarely has negative consequences, and are more likely to think they know more about sex, romance, and love than others. (Greenberg, Stanley, Siemicki, Heeter, Soderman, & Linsangan, 1993)

My dad’s generation listened to the Rolling Stones and Boney M which had its own misogyny and race issues. So each generation has their own demons.

One Direction- Capturing the Hearts of our Girls

One direction is a boy band. They sing about loving the girl regardless of how she looks or how insecure she may be feeling about herself. It sells.

1D fans who call themselves “Directioners”  crush over their favorite band members who “in turn cultivate their fan base minute by minute via social media, especially Twitter.” There are 1-D undies, jewelry, perfume in a pretty, pink bottle complete with a crown. Wattpad is filled with 1D fanfiction– stories written by fans with over 20 million reads each.

Why am I telling you this? If you have a directioner in your house you will  know that their lead singer is named Zayn Malik.
Let’s face it, he is ‘cute’ and tweets out La illah illalaha Muhammad ur rasulAllah. His name has made Zayn (and subsequently Zaynab) a ‘normal’ mainstream name here in the West, not an oddity. So Muslim girls feel a connection.

His being Muslim/desi interests girls who otherwise would not be attracted to celebrity of another or no faith. Sabby’s comments left on a website are classic.

Sabby:  it matters to muslim girls cuz we r muslim.. n we cant marry a non-muslim guy.. so am so proud he is muslim n he is keeping it up even thoh he grew up in UK! so am so proud and excited! … i guess u wont understand cuz ur not muslim.. so its like big thing for us!

………….

1d_futuremrsmalik_shirt.

Me (when I overheard her friends tease her): So you think you are going to be Mrs. Malik?

Daughter: Mama we joke about it but I really don’t, but I think my friend does.  She says he prays 5 times a day… but he does smoke … and he does have a girlfriend. I like his hairstyle. (UPDATE: since I wrote this he is now engaged to his girlfriend leading to the heartbreak of many a ZaynGirl).
This conversation a year ago was an ideal moment for some teaching time on judging, different sort of sins, huqooq (the rights) of Allah, and huqooq (the rights) of a person’s body over him or her. And we talked about that fact that yes, he is Muslim but that doesn’t make him her anything. We have had several conversations on what qualities make a good husband and most importantly about lowering the gaze. And we will continue to have them.

Fans were nutty when I was a teen too but this is seriously creepy. So if your child is a directioner, it would be a good time (since they have a movie coming out tomorrow) to have a chat about a ‘new kind of idol worshiping’, consequences of making threats online, the role of social media, and frankly, obsession.

All of us have had some sort of obsession at that age, so surely they will outgrow it. Many times crushes like these are opening the doors of sexual maturity. An important part of sexual exploration and growth takes place during adolescence, at which time young men and women begin to give thought to which sexual behaviors are enjoyable, moral, and acceptable for their cohort (LeVay & Valente, 2003).

I would talk about her feelings so she can handle and control them. Your guidance is crucial.

If she gets depressed because she can’t meet them or can’t go to their concert or imagines that she really knows them and if they are the only topic she talks about with interest, talk to her about that too. If her obsession, or any behaviors related to it, start interfering with salah, home, school or family responsibilities then there is a very serious issue.

Let her know that she lights up your world like nobody else.

I, I want to save you, save you, save you, tonight

Hiding from the world doesn’t help. Many children and youth listen to music whether their parents know it or not.

I hear this a lot:
“My child goes to Islamic School”
“We have a strict environment in our house”
“My children don’t have an iPod.”
Unless you live on a secluded island with no one around you for a 1000 miles, you are being delusional if you think that your child is not being exposed to this at some level.

This is Us

We don’t listen to instrumental music in our house and do not have cable but my daughters were still exposed to it enough for me to be having these conversations with them. I moved from Los Angeles and now live in one of the most conservative Muslim communities in North America (most women and girls over the age of 13 wear abaya, strict segregation etc), and all I can say is teens are teens, in an abaya and hijab or t-shirt and capris. Being informed and updated, along with communicating with your children and dua are the best shields that a parent can have in this world. There simply isn’t enough being said to counter the exaggerated and misleading sexual images that is shown to our boys and girls on a daily basis.

So we Play, Play, Play on the same all Games

This is what I wish I could say to girls between the age of 10-18: Uploading a picture of One Direction in their undies on your phone is just as bad as your brother posting a poster of Selena Gomez in a bikini on his wall in your house. #realtalk

If that is not acceptable to you then stop sending emails of Harry stepping out of the shower to your friends. Just stop. (True story)

Little things add up to you.

I’m praying that your heart will just turn around

I just pray their hearts could be so consumed by the Love of God- this same burning desire to listen to/tweet/facebook/tumblr/instagram Zayn’s (insert object of crush) every word would be replaced by the words of Allah and his Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

Gives “I think We’re Alone Now” a whole new meaning.

 

This post is not about whether music is halal or haram. Best Song Ever and other subtitles are the names of  One Direction songs.

Some good blogs to read:

Here is a man blogs about the need for fathers to sons about Robin Thicke (the man with Miley Cyrus).

Here a mom talks about Miley Cyrus and teaching our daughters about body image.

Here a mom talks to her son about the misogyny in rap music.  

This article teaches you how to delete songs off a child’s iPod.

Hena Zuberi is the Editor in Chief of Muslimmatters.org. She is also a Staff Reporter at the Muslim Link newspaper which serves the DC Metro. She serves on the board of the Aafia Foundation and Words Heal, Inc. Hena has worked as a television news reporter and producer for CNBC Asia and World Television News. A mom of four and a Green Muslim, she lives and preaches a whole food, organic life which she believes is closest to Sunnah. Active in her SoCal community, Hena served as the Youth Director for the Unity Center. Using her experience with Youth, she conducts Growing Up With God workshops. hena.z@muslimmatters.org Follow her on Twitter @henazuberi.

44 Comments

44 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Good POV

    August 29, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    But then how do non-muslims in corporate, science and technology manage to excel inspite of being exposed to such distractions? Muslims kids are always asked to check if the distraction affects their school/job responsibilities? Non-muslims never seem to be fazed or distracted by any of this, be it a minimally clothed colleague, or a girl friend, or other things which muslims label as indecent. Non-muslims always seem to be able to keep focus and complete their allocated tasks in spite of the distractions.

    • Avatar

      Walid

      August 29, 2013 at 11:14 AM

      It’s important to understand the true Islamic definition of “excel”. I do not think non-muslims excel as much as you claim. Look at the divorce rate in this country…70% divorce rate, their kids are more likely to be promiscuous (go ask any college student), etc. etc. So who really cares if they get an A in Science?!

      And the reason why they can “keep focus” is because they are more likely to engage in these “distractions” i.e. party/sex/drink/etc on nights/weekends.

      Again, I would not call that “exceling”.

      • Avatar

        salman

        August 29, 2013 at 12:08 PM

        Its so true Walid. They excelled in the making money, failing in their life and more importantly the Hereafter.

        • Avatar

          salman

          August 29, 2013 at 12:09 PM

          Reminds me of Surah Takathur in the Noble Qur’an.

    • Avatar

      mezaan

      August 31, 2013 at 1:57 PM

      Yea. I had a similar observation from a friend. This is a post hoc fallacy. You can excel in a domain, but it does not absolve anyone from engaging in deviant behavior nor does it explain why one is successful in science, technology etc. The Pharoah’s were extremely advance nation. They also engaged in slavery, abuse, and all sorts of malice. The Roman’s likewise were the same. They all seemed successful while engaged in deviant behavior. It too bit the dust eventually.

    • Hena Zuberi

      Hena Zuberi

      September 4, 2013 at 1:04 AM

      Good POV Assalam alaykum. First may I request that you use your name or kunyah on MM as it helps you own your thoughts.

      Formalities aside. Good parents of any faith check their children for distractions. I have many neighbors and friends who share similar concerns about their children’s upbringing.

      When I mentioned an obsession with a crush on a celebrity, that was just good parenting advice and if you spoke to any good counselor they would also suggest the same thing, that if a child become obsessive about something to the point where it start interfering with school or work whether it is a sport, a game, a friend, a hobby then the parent needs to intervene.

      Additionally many Muslim children also excel in math and science despite these distractions so please excuse me but I don’t understand your point.

      The brothers have already addressed the Islamic values of excellence above so I will not go into that again.

      I hope that these points have answered your question.

  2. Avatar

    Muslim13

    August 29, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    Salaam,

    Good POV, you make an excellent point. Could the writer address this question?

  3. Avatar

    Walid

    August 29, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    Great post! I remember my little cousins (ages 8-10) going around saying, “Courvoisier and my 21 inch rims”. Of course copying from some rap song. The sad thing is/was my uncle/aunt had NO idea that “Courvoisier” is a type of alcoholic drink. I believe the “modern lingo” disconnect between 1st gen and 2nd gen “desi” (or any foreign) family is/will cause lots of problems.

    Music is the most popular way these shaitanic corporations infiltrate and program youth. I remember growing up (I’m 35), I NEVER remember listening to a “boy band”. Only singers I remember growing up were Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, etc. But this whole idea of “boy bands” didn’t exist. There was no 16 yr old Justin Beiber “singer” etc. Now it’s completely FLIPPED. There are nothing BUT boy bands. All music nowadays are marketed to your kids. When was the last time you saw a 2013 Michael Bolton or Phil Colins?

    Warning to parents: PLEASE, PLEASE do what Hena does and look up ALL/EVERY lyric for EVERY song your child mentions. Do not even wait to have them come ask you….you should be asking them! If you hear them singing lyrics to a song ask them what song is that and go look it up! Teach your kids, be patient, patient and more patient.

    Once again, great article Hena!

    • Hena Zuberi

      Hena Zuberi

      September 4, 2013 at 1:08 AM

      JazakAllah khayrun for your supportive words. I know you are a very involved father MashaAllah.

      I know growing up I think Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for as far as music went marketed directly to children- now little toddlers know lyrics to the most atrocious songs. I can’t imagine what our grandkids will face YIKES.

  4. Avatar

    hammadanwer

    August 29, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    Now you know why all forms of music are Haram!!

    • Avatar

      Walid

      August 29, 2013 at 11:18 AM

      @hammadanwer, Yes to an adult “all forms of music” can be haram. But to a child’s mind, it’s not. A parent MUST be patient and teach the kid as to WHY that particular type of music (mainstream pop music) is not good. TEACH them the WHY. Otherwise, they won’t listen to it at home, but first time they get an opportunity….they’ll listen to it. Educating them is key to LONG term success.

  5. Avatar

    hammadanwer

    August 29, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Allah made music forbidden for reasons.!!!

    • Hena Zuberi

      Hena Zuberi

      September 4, 2013 at 1:13 AM

      Assalamalaykum Hammad,
      JazakAllah Khayr for reading and commenting.
      If that is all you are going to say to a young adult you will not get through to them- they hear the haram word so many times that it has lost its meaning.
      Talk to them so when they have question or are faced with an issue they know they can come to you without fearing the haram police.

  6. Avatar

    Mohammed

    August 29, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    A seriously worrying issue that corrupting this generation behind the scene! i’m glad that Sister Hena Zuberi has written this article on most relevant and dangerous issue that leading this generation destruction. unfortunately new parents have no idea about whats happening. If we don’t wake up now one day we will!!!

    • Hena Zuberi

      Hena Zuberi

      September 4, 2013 at 5:30 PM

      JazakAllah khayr for your kind words

  7. Avatar

    Ali (@Ruh_shu)

    August 29, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    When angels take the souls of those who die in sin against their souls, they say: “In what (plight) Were ye?” They reply: “Weak and oppressed Were we in the earth.” They say: “Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to move yourselves away (From evil)?” Such men will find their abode in Hell,- What an evil refuge! – An-Nisa Verse No:97

    Allah knows best.

    • Hena Zuberi

      Hena Zuberi

      September 4, 2013 at 1:14 AM

      Assalamalaykum wa rahmatulah, JazakAllah khayr for sharing that.

  8. Avatar

    Ali (@Ruh_shu)

    August 29, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    Why are u guys refusing to approve my comment in this article. Posted two times already. It a verse of the Qur’an which i think is appropriate for this article. Am i breaking some sort of rule?

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      August 30, 2013 at 9:47 AM

      Dear Ali

      Moderation Team is unfortunately not present 24/7. Often it is once or twice a day that the comments that are stuck in moderation are reviewed. We apologize for the dealy. There was nothing wrong with your comment and it is now approved.

      Best Regards
      -Aly

  9. Avatar

    Mohammad Syed

    August 29, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    Excellent post Sister, well written and to the point! As a young Muslim teen male growing up in the west (who also went to Islamic school for the majority of his academic career), it is safe to say to no matter what restrictions you place on your child, whether it be taking your child’s iPhone, blocking cable, moving to a different neighborhood, your child will be exposed to these things regardless. Not saying that these measures are completely useless, as they do have a lot of benefit, but we can’t be the uncle/auntie who lives in a mental bubble thinking their kids are angels in a perfect Islamic environment all the time.

    The important thing to note from this article is knowing HOW to approach our kids at these moments. You don’t want to be stereotypical Uncle guy who says “VHAT!!? MUSIC IS CUSSING AND SEX, HARAM!!!” (excuse the extreme example). Rather, be patient and understand where your child is coming from. Do what Br Walid said in the comments “A parent MUST be patient and teach the kid as to WHY that particular type of music (mainstream pop music) is not good. TEACH them the WHY. Otherwise, they won’t listen to it at home, but first time they get an opportunity….they’ll listen to it. Educating them is key to LONG term success”

    Subhanallah, I know many kids whose parents had restricted them so much when they were young and never really explained why many of the things they did/listened to were Haram that when they became of age, they went berserk. I remember at one point in my life, I would listen to a LOT of music (Drake, lil wayne, Eminem, etc.), but Alhamdulilah, Allah helped me dropped ALL of that and allowed to focus on better things. Your child will eventually grow out of it, but nevertheless, be patient and teach them the WHY. Jzk.

    • Hena Zuberi

      Hena Zuberi

      September 4, 2013 at 1:22 AM

      Thank you for your wonderful insight. And trust me I am a very involved mom,
      creating the road blocks to open access is important too because children need rules and need to know that there are consequences for breaking the rules. I do believe in tying my camel but also have a very real approach to parenting where I know that my children have souls just as old as mine and they will have their own struggles and will make their own mistakes. I can just be a guide as they navigate this world and keep bringing their moral compass back to the straight path.

  10. Avatar

    Kirana

    August 29, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    This is a pretty good article.

    I tend to be in favour of parental controls, but I think we should remember that its aim is not to completely insulate the children from the world – because eventually they grow up and have to enter it. Rather its aim is merely to limit the influx so that the bulk of images and habits that build up are positive rather than habituating the children’s growing brains to addictive and unhealthy neural pathways when they have not yet the control developed to resist it. That influx is a tsunami today; the mainstream culture does not hold back to protect children’s and teens’ development years nearly as much as it used to.

    But in order to develop parental controls, parents need to understand what is in popular culture, and that you can’t really simplistically draw a line with a marker pen and say, this group of stuff is all bad, this group of stuff is ok. I’m shocked that so many parents don’t actually know pretty basic things like Ke$ha concerts are not child-friendly – I mean, no duh!

    In the long term, it is better for the child to have developed a core set of ethics to keep away from big stuff, even if they may listen to some music or make some mistakes or whatever that isn’t totally legit, but went through the experience of weaning away from it (this may be well into adulthood) – that experience of judgment, choice, responsibility and willpower is invaluable, and may never be learned if the child is never exposed to the possibility of error. Over-protectiveness creates people who assume that their religious adherence is the responsibility of other people or external conditions, and who are unable to have the empathy, wisdom and sense of timing to deal with moral gray areas they will encounter in life. Ironically this insular focus on ‘correctness’ actually renders them unable to contribute positivity to the culture. Nobody listens to advice from someone who obviously has no idea what any kind of life experience and the human emotional response is like.

    OR, it produces people who just suddenly go off the rails when they suddenly have to enter the real world (and they will have to), because they never were coached through the thought process for working out which things are Bad Ideas and why. if they survive that phase without dying, trapped in substance abuse, being jailed, contracting incurable diseases, damaging other people’s lives, or killing their illegitimate baby, then – by God’s grace – the experience may be good for them without too high a cost. but note the operative word “IF”. i think parents should NOT set their children up to fail like that, no matter what good intentions they may have for protectiveness.

    • Hena Zuberi

      Hena Zuberi

      September 4, 2013 at 1:26 AM

      I’ll take pretty good ;)
      Thanks for the awesome comment. Like my good friend says hold on tight but let them breathe.

  11. Avatar

    Muhammad Siddique

    August 30, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    As a 23 year old Indian muslim reading this from UAE …..I must say my head begun to ache as i read through the first few lines. As someone who was born and raised in the gulf, its very very difficult for me to comprehend the lifestyle of muslims living in the west.

    And its suffocating to see how easily Muslim parents are losing their children to the satanic western culture . SOmetimes i wish i could wrap up every muslim living there in a huge bundle and bring them all here.
    Can someone please explain to me Why the western muslims don’t even try to make hijrah to muslim lands ??

    • Avatar

      Walid

      August 30, 2013 at 7:26 PM

      If you are an Indian muslim living in UAE…you must be oblivious to how the “Kings/Princes” live in Gulf countries. The amount of “satanic culture” that they imitate makes the west look good. I’m not saying ALL of them..but surely some of them.

      The point isn’t to make “hijrah” anywhere, THIS (America) IS our home. Born and raised. We need to learn that we cannot “run from our problems”. Learn to educate ourselves and raise our kids with dignity. That does NOT mean once they are 18 THEN teach them…NO. That means every single waking minute from the day they are born until they are well beyond the age of reason.

    • Avatar

      ZAI

      September 1, 2013 at 12:43 AM

      It’s not that easy for all of us Brother.

      #1 Many of us are from lands ravaged by intense oppression, war, or poverty. My parents are from
      Afghanistan for instance. We cannot go back.

      #2 As for “Muslim” countries aside from our ethnic homelands…well brother, most Muslim nations have racist citizenship policies. They will not let us immigrate. Once the iqamah(work permit) runs out, where are those of us who can’t go back to our homelands supposed to go? Add to that we’d be treated like 2nd class citizens with no protections or rights.

      It’s not as simple as you make it sound.

    • Hena Zuberi

      Hena Zuberi

      September 4, 2013 at 1:45 AM

      Assalam ‘alaykum Br Muhammad,

      Which emirate in the UAE do you live in? Born and raised in the Gulf and you never heard pop music or rap? It plays in every mega mall there. If you haven’t, you truly must be blessed.

      This false dichotomy of East vs West is perpetuated and I don’t agree with it. The same cable channels play in homes there as they do here- (side note) at least we have parental controls here; I know my cousins who live in Dubai do not have any parental controls on TV.

      Perhaps you can acknowledge that kids there listen to the same stuff and share how you and your family was saved from the effects of the satanic culture.

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  13. Avatar

    Good POV

    August 31, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    Thanks mezzan….your point makes sense….

  14. Avatar

    RCHOUDH

    September 3, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    Assalamu alaikum,

    Great article mash’Allah and one that’s worth spreading around! I pray that all the Muslims currently absorbed within the world’s entertainment industries (Hollywood/Bollywood/etc) are able to get out before completely destroying their souls and chance for salvation in the Hereafter. After thinking about what perils await those who enter such industries, I can’t help but feel like all the widespread fame, riches, and glory can’t possibly make up for all the depression, anxiety, fear, and misplaced love of the Dunya that becoming a world-renowned entertainer entails.

  15. Avatar

    RCHOUDH

    September 3, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    I have a question now related to this article in regards to obsessed fans. While hopefully In sha Allah most of these kids will someday grow up and out of such teenage obsessions, what if you had a daughter/son who seemed particularly obsessed about their favorite celebrity and who behaved similarly to those fans spoken about in that documentary linked above? Could simply forcing them to stay away from any coverage re: their favorite celebrity be enough to stop them from obsessing over it or should some more things be done? I realize that as Muslims we should also teach them how to cleanse their heart of the Dunya (through perfecting their ibadah constantly) and return to Allah. I’m also wondering though if a handful of them will still also need special psychiatric care to overcome their addiction/obsession? Thanks and I look forward to hearing from anyone about this matter!

  16. Hena Zuberi

    Hena Zuberi

    September 4, 2013 at 2:09 AM

    Assalam alaykum wa rahmatulah,

    They may. This is what I read from a professional counselor:

    “It is only by internalizing socially appropriate rules, due to the admonishments of his/her parents and other authority figures, that the child learns the acceptable norms for thinking, feeling, living and interacting.

    Of course no culture or parent is perfect, nor can any parent offer the exact conditions that a growing child needs to feel completely fulfilled, so there is bound to be friction as he begins asserting himself as a separate being. The ways that parents and other authority figures deal with this friction has a great deal to do with whether a child develops a character neurosis. In general terms, we usually find that safe, loving, happy environments where the rules are clearly defined and the child is given freedom to be himself within those rules is fertile soil for healthy development and functioning. When a child knows that he is loved, is given the opportunity to express his true nature and try on many ways of being, and has predictable and fair consequences for going outside of agreed upon rules the outcomes are generally positive.

    On the other hand, a hostile, scary, uncertain environment where rules are not clearly defined and a child is not given free room to develop his real self is fertile soil for the creation of a character neurosis. In this setting a person starts to repress who he really is because of the tremendous anxiety present. He receives mixed signals on which thoughts, emotions, and behaviors will offer the highest levels of safety and security, and unconsciously decides upon a plan to try to make his environment seem more stable. Many character traits, abilities, ways of seeing the world, and emotions fall by the wayside as a person decides upon a compulsive way of living. Most people have their own neuroses to one degree or another because the environment in which a person grows up can never perfectly match that person’s needs and constitution.

    Whether a neurosis develops or not, being a fan is a great way to project unwanted or unrecognized characteristics onto another entity while getting to express many emotions, usually felt as dangerous, in a socially sanctioned environment. ”

    Until it becomes borderline pathological or intense-personal and then counseling is recommended.

    Allah knows best.

    • Avatar

      RCHOUDH

      September 4, 2013 at 4:55 AM

      Wa alaikum salaam wr wb,
      Jazakillah ul khair for your answer Sister Hena!

  17. Avatar

    Afzaly

    September 4, 2013 at 5:40 AM

    Im a teen, and i like One Direction. Especially Zayn Malik! i want to know, what is wrong in having a celebrity crush? plus, anyone can be a muslim but only a couple can be believers.

    • Avatar

      ashrafh

      September 5, 2013 at 8:14 PM

      @Afzaly, the guy has a girlfriend–do you know what that means? It means he has had relations with this girl, and probably numerous other women. I find it despicable that you don’t find that repulsive, and still are crushing on this guy. If you don’t have respect for our deen, then at least have some respect for yourself. You are better than this person and you don’t need him or his fornicating ilk.

      The kuffar are so hypocritical. When a person wants polygamy in marriage, then all hell breaks loose. But when a guy like Zayn has a girlfriend, these infatuated girls don’t mind him having multiple girlfriends if they can be one of the gfs…

    • Avatar

      gunal

      September 6, 2013 at 12:04 PM

      Afzaly and Good Pov, I understand where you two are coming from. Someone earlier used the term ‘Mental Bubble’. I think if anyone ignores or rejects your comments they must be such people (with a mental bubble that everything can be and will be controlled). Perhaps for those people it will. Through genuine understanding of the problem, and through vigorous praying, only then they can find guidance and help from God.

      The reality for the rest of us; media makes people how to think, how to feel and how to behave. Whether Muslim or non-Muslim a young human brain is very susceptible to media advertising. Music is a powerful tool in advertising by itself. Different melodies instigate different moods. Musicians study this and use these effects to benefit themselves. Unless you are a ‘strong’ believer there is no way you can realise how and in what ways others controlling those emotions (your emotions). You are not in control of that love towards a girl/boy band for eg.

      Hena Zuberi’s comment made on 4th Sep. Outlines conditions for good and bad upbringing. All of which are common sense in my opinion. I am hoping that everyone will agree on that… Common sense right? Then please tell me why “uncertain environment where rules are not clearly defined” (Hena Zuberi’s comment 4th Sep.) are still allowed by any society (regardless of Muslim or non-Muslim societies)? Can no one realise “Don’t do as you see it but do as I tell you” is the current message out there. It is a messed up message. I cannot justify to my child when I say no one is allowed to swear, yet we allow successful music companies allow to make music with swearing in them. They are the celebrated individuals of our society. Our children look up to them. We look up to them for our flourishing economy?

      Someone earlier asked a question –so much changed from my childhood to now I wonder what it will be like for our grandchildren? Well! I can say that my grandchildren will not have much luck! I cannot do this on my own. I cannot take the media on by myself. And with people on MM blaming me for not controlling, not being patient, not properly understanding my kid, I sure can see where this is all going with my kid let alone worry about my grand kids.

      I am not so lucky as some of you who are able to send their children to Islamic school. However, I don’t think the Islamic schooling matters much. Because, Christians once upon a time were not allowed girlfriends (sex outside marriage). I feel today’s Christians are the product of a society where rules/common sense environments are ignored; Rules are not clearly defined and been confused by people who doesn’t give a toot about rules – it is okay to play with children’s emotions as long as they make money out of so called music. I am angry to read that I will be blamed when my child doesn’t turn out right but no one is pointing any fingers to the wrongness of the society in general. More importantly; not done anything about THEM. Without them nothing will ever change. Parents can’t do this alone! Come out of your bubble!

      • Avatar

        RCHOUDH

        September 9, 2013 at 2:45 AM

        Gunal,

        I agree with you so much re: society’s massive influence upon our children. I also hate when people are quick to blame parents for how their kids turn out, as if to say that if only the parents had “turned off the TV” kids wouldn’t be getting such terrible messages from the greater pop cultural landscape. What they don’t want to realize or admit though, is that these messages are so pervasive nowadays that even if you’re able to completely control every single media device within your own home (a feat that gets harder and harder to do as kids get older and as media technology evolves) you can never completely shield your kids from being influenced once they step outside the home (and this goes for every part of the world now, not just the West).
        The only things we can do right now as parents is keep doing our best to shield our kids from the media’s influence inside our homes, as well as try to educate other members of society about how damaging such media influences are, not only for ourselves but for the greater society. Teach people how to critique the racist, sexist, misogynistic, classist messages brought forth by these images. We also have to make these billion-dollar industries accountable for what they do. Here’s a really good article from The Guardian about this new disturbing phenomenon about the media’s influence upon today’s teenagers: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/sep/08/beeban-kidron-inreallife-interview-teenagers

        • Avatar

          gunal

          September 9, 2013 at 8:56 AM

          Thank you RCHOUDH. Wow! (The streets of London!) I know how easy for my son to get exposed to those harsh absurdity. He, probably, has seen and heard quite a lot of it already.

          • Avatar

            RCHOUDH

            September 10, 2013 at 5:13 AM

            You’re welcome gunal!

  18. Avatar

    Hyde

    September 21, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    This is the difference between men and women. No man, especially a practicing Muslim man or even a boy would ever say [openly] that he has a celebrity crush on any of these “famous stars”.

    I just say Nicki Minaj latest video. Did not know who she was, but after watching the latest video, I can honestly say there is so much occultish satanic overtones that it is difficult to to even listen to her gibberish nonsense. This is NOT music anymore. There is a reason in the year 2013, “a muslim” is a lead singer of a boy band.

    Keep believing in serendipity folks, until it catches up to you.

    (Ironically all these young girls that are manipulated into listening to these songs and wasting their childhood become ardent feminist down the path and want to change the mosques and whatnot)

    • Avatar

      mahmoud

      September 23, 2013 at 9:09 AM

      @Hyde, you nailed it

  19. Avatar

    Brenda G.

    June 10, 2016 at 9:01 AM

    I like another song by Ke$ha “Animal” http://lyricsmusic.name/ke-ha-lyrics/animal/ from Lipsha album

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Bring Your Own Spoon To Dinner – 8 Lessons from Ertugrul 

Abu Awad

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Ertugrul (died c. 1280) was the father of Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman Empire. According to Ottoman tradition, he was the son of Suleyman Shah, leader of the Kayı tribe of Oghuz Turks, who fled from eastern Iran to Anatolia to escape the Mongol conquests. According to this legend, after the death of his father, Ertuğrul and his followers entered the service of the Seljuks of Rum, for which he was rewarded with dominion over the town of Söğüt on the frontier with the Byzantine Empire. This set off the chain of events that would ultimately lead to the founding of the Ottoman Empire (Wikipedia).

Like his son, Osman, and their descendants, Ertuğrul is often referred to as a Ghazi, a heroic champion fighter for the cause of Islam. In 2014, a Turkish TV series by the name of Diriliş: Ertuğrul was launched on TRT 1 which took the Muslim world by storm. Diriliş: Ertuğrul is a Turkish historical adventure television series created by Mehmet Bozdağ, starring Engin Altan Düzyatan and Esra Bilgiç Töre in leading roles. It is filmed in Riva, a village in Beykoz, Turkey. The show is based on the history of the Muslim Oghuz Turks and takes place in the 13th century. It centers around the life of Ertuğrul, a fascinating character and inspiration to today’s Muslim youth. 

Earlier this month, I sent out a mass message to a group of friends who are die-hard fans of Diriliş: Ertuğrul to ask what they thought were the biggest lessons from this unique TV series. Here is the list I compiled below:

1.          Bring your own spoon to dinner

One of the most intriguing occurrences in the series is when the tribal chiefs of the Kayı tribe get together for feasts and pull their own personal spoons out from the inside of their robes. Many fans of Ertuğrul have deliberated the rationale behind this and the most likely explanation is that the spoon, unlike the bowl, actually goes into the mouth of the individual. At a time when water was scarce (and detergent non-existent) it probably made most sense to bring your own spoon rather than the host having to scrub oral bacteria off a number of spoons. The lesson learned is that one should think about the ways on how not just to be a gracious host but also a gracious guest. What can we do the next time we are invited to dinner to make life easier for the host and not be a burden for our hosts?

2.          People should know their leader – he should be like a father to the people

There are many instances in the series where we see the most “insignificant” pauper personally knowing and recognizing the Chief (Bey) of the tribe Suleyman Shah and vice versa. It is clear that in the old days, the leaders of the tribe were not only well known by their subjects but also had personal relationships with them. In fact, the relationship was so close that the Bey of the tribe had to give permission for every marriage to take place. When we compare that to our institutions now, from the smallest Masjid or charity to the largest federal Governments, it is as though leaders are only supposed to deal with the second line of command and no one else. We need to slowly start changing this and change happens starts from the self. Do you have a leadership position of any kind? Whether it’s at work, a committee at the masjid or anything else – do the people from the lowest rung to the highest know who you are? Maybe it can be as simple as saying “Hello/Salam” to everyone around and introducing yourself – the results are likely to be miraculous.

3.          Keep your eyes on the prize – ignore the noise around you

Engin Altan does an amazing job of playing the part of the inspirational Ertuğrul and one of his strongest characteristics is his ability to keep his mind clear of confusions and stay focused on the task at hand. At times it looks like there is a constant storm happening around Ertuğrul with oppression, injustice, deceit and evil permeating every corner, but Ertuğrul walks through unscathed never paying more attention to the deviants than they deserve. Especially in today’s world of constant bombardment of negative and sometimes “fake news” this is a skill which we all need to practice – ignore the noise and keep your eyes on the prize.

The victory is not ours, it belongs to Allah. As long as we follow Allah’s path, nobody can bring us to our knees. But if we start to believe victory is ours, if we forget our purpose and contaminate it with our desire for fame, then our Lord will shame us. —Ertugrul Ghazi

4.          Situations can be complex – try to get into the weeds on matters and don’t judge immediately

One of the main themes in the first 50 or so episodes is the deceit of Ertuğrul’s uncle Kordoglu. Kordoglu is the textbook two-faced hypocrite, pretending to be loyal at one juncture and stabbing his brother and nephew in the back at the other. At many instances Kordoglu tries to double cross and frame Ertuğrul and the people who fall into the trap are the ones who jump to conclusions. If the same people stopped for a moment and gave Ertuğrul the chance to defend himself and provide his evidence much confusion could be avoided. We are also prone to this type of haste and many times it is our nafs that is probing us to fall into intrigue. It is easy to fall into sensationalism and drama, and not as easy to restrain the nafs and take a step back without judging immediately. 

 

5.          If you are in love, get married fast but try your best to get the blessing of elders

Like many romantic series, the love interest between Ertuğrul and Halime Sultan is a major theme of the series and if you watch the show with Aunties you will often hear “Oh why don’t they just get married and get it over with.” LOL. The lesson learned reminds us of Rasool Allah’s hadith: “There is nothing better for those who love one another than marriage.” (Narrated by Ibn Maajah, 1847). Repeated experiences within our community show that where the blessings and acceptance of elders are taken, marriages tend to succeed more. As youth, we should make a concerted effort to gain the blessings of elders in marriage, while elders should make a concerted effort to expedite marriages and this is where the ultimate balance would be achieved.

Love will not bring harm to your bravery. Don’t be afraid. Love fortifies it. Protects it. — Dogan Alp

6.          Know the truth and you will know who is speaking the truth

I heard this saying many years ago and the person who shared this with me attributed it to Ali ibn Abi Talib (r.a.). The saying seems to apply very well with the Ertuğrul series and our personal lives in the current world. So many of us seem to be confused about world events, circumstances in the community and issues with their own families and many times it is because we haven’t taken out the time to seek the truth. Seeking and knowing the truth comprises many painstaking hours of research, taking naseeha from others, being humble and adopting a beginner’s mind. When one is equipped with a certain foundational understanding and knowledge it becomes easier to decipher honesty from deception.

7.          Women and men should know to fight, men and women should know how to cook

Examples from the great lives of Muslim leaders and their communities show that the Muslim world was not as segmented into rigid societal roles as one might think. Women would fight when needed and men would cook when needed and this is the lifestyle displayed in Ertuğrul. Nowadays it almost seems as though, even in a situation of life and death a woman in our society might not be equipped to defend herself and a man would starve if he was not served food in front of him. This might seems like an exaggerated view but the point is that we need to be much more balanced and equipped on both sides of the gender equation than we currently are. Men should not have to wait for a life and death situation to cook a meal for their families, and women should not have to wait for a moment of desperation to take on more physically strenuous tasks.  

8.          You will be trivialized, misunderstood and possibly stabbed in the back – warriors don’t pay attention to their wounds

As we all go through life we realize that everyone faces major calamities and hardships but the amazing thing about warriors, as we see in the T.V series, is that they are trained to only look forward and not allow life’s scars to distract them. This point also relates to the much larger concept of qadr (destiny) – the fact that whatever has to happen, happens and sulking over it cannot change anything. If having a medicine or dressing the wound is making it better, than alhamdulillah, but if it isn’t we just have to live with our ailments and there is likely some other good in it (bringing us closer to Allah, making us more humble etc.). There is a famous saying “If you sat around a table with a group of strangers and each person wrote down their problems passed them around the table, you would ask for yours back.” Everyone is facing difficulties of varying degrees, and there are two types of people in the world – those that accept and those that don’t – and that is what makes all the difference.

Write to the author at abuawud10@gmail.com 

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The Bilal Movie: Why It Still Reinforces The Slave-Narrative Of Black People

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By Gareth Bryant

The Bilal Movie is actually a Sucka-Emcee Production: Bilāl ibn-Rabāh (May Allah be pleased with him) actually was Arab via his father Rabah, from Banī-Jumah, one of the families of Quraysh, making Bilal raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) tribally-related to Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)(The Sealed-Nectar).

The mere fact that Rabah is neither casted, mentioned, nor even referenced in the film, truly says a lot as per the agenda of the producers of this film: to do exactly what the Pagan Arabs did to Bilal, which was to deny him his Arabness and replace it with Blackness. I’ll speak more on this—the Reason why Blackness was imposed upon Bilal is because as a slave (prior to his liberation) he had zero-rights, not even the right to lay claim to his own paternal Arab genealogy. This, of course, was due to the fact that the Arabs possessed immense disdain for Abyssinia/Ancient-Ethiopia and its people, resulting from the generational military-conflicts between them, based upon religio-political and socio-economic dominance in the region, which of course was imposed upon Bilal, by virtue of him having an Abyssinian mother.

The political discord between the Arabs and Abyssinians occured as a result of the Abyssinians of Yemen, then a Colony of Abyssinia, wanting to divert commerce from al-Makkah to Yemen via making a church named al-Qullays, a Mock-Kabah, to draw Pilgrims to make al-Hajj/Pilgrimage in Yemen as opposed to al-Makkah. Once the Quraysh learned of this, a Man went to Yemen and desecrated this church, infuriating the People of Yemen, thereby inciting war…this became known as the War of the Elephant. After the War/Year of the Elephant, which an Abyssinian-Army with an Elephant-Cavalry failed to invade/conquer al-Makkah and were defeated (resulting from Allah casting upon them Flocks of Birds dropping Sijjīl/Firery-Stones [Noble-Qur’ān: Chpt.105; at-Tabarī; as-Suyūtī]), in retaliation, the Arabs of al-Makkah: the Quraysh and their many Allies in turn invaded Yemen. When this happened, countless Abyssinians were captured by the Arabs, including the Mother of Bilal, Hammāmah, of Abyssinian royalty, and human trafficked to al-Makkah. These people became slaves.(ibn-Ishāq, at-Tabarī, as-Suyūtī) And, this is actually why Bilal ibn-Rabah was referred to in a disrespectful way, by Abī-Dharr al-Ghifārī (May Allah be pleased with him)…by the way: the narration never states that he called Bilal “Son of a Black-Woman”…that was a translative add-on, as is commonly told concerning this story. Ironically, even Abū-Dharr al-Ghifārī is described as being darkskinned.(ibn-Ishāq, at-Tabarī, as-Suyūtī, Muslim, ibn-Sa`d, adh-Dhahabī, http://www.alajamwalarab.com)

This film also (subliminally) simply is a Muslim-version of 12-Years A Slave: it reinforces Subserviance, Destitution, Acceptance of Slave-Culture, etc. Why is it that Bilal is the only “Black-Companion” highlighted/depicted in film, Narrative, etc. as “the slave/ex-Slave”?! Why is it that none of Bilal’s military and statesmanhood accomplishments are ever highlighted/detailed in film/narrative?!!! For example, did you know that Bilal participated in all the known major-battles during the Lifetime of Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him); did you know that Bilal was the first minister of Bayt-il-Māl/Secretary of the Islamic treasury. He was also the Chief-Administrator responsible for the collection of az-Zakāh/Taxation and distribution of as-Sadaqah/Philanthropy?!!! (Battles Of The Prophet, Lives Of The Companions, at-Tabarī, as-Suyūtī)

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The only reason why Bilal is still inaccurately portrayed as being “Black” is because he was once a slave. Had he always been free, no one would’ve ever attributed “Blackness” to Bilal. Let’s actually take a look at what the skin-complexion of Bilal actually was. According to Ahādīth/narrations, recorded in various collections: Bilal really wasn’t any darker than any other Muslim/Non Muslim Arabs of his lifetime. In fact, it was common-place for Arabs to boast and laude their Dark-Complexions and ridicule the complexions of Non-Arabs described as al-Humrah (Reddish-White).(Lisān-ul`Arab: Lexicon of the Arabic-Language, ibn-Manzhūr)

However, ironically, almost every single portrayal of him in Literature, Film, etc. depicts him as “Shaka Zulu Black” and/or the Darkest-Person around. Like, in the Film “The Message” for example…the producers of this film (in both the Hollywood and Arab versions) purposely casted the Darkest/Blackest human being they could find to portray Bilal [ramhu] on screen…the question is why?!!! The answer is simple, to continue the Pseudo-Narrative of equating Blackness to slavery and servitude. Even in the Hollywood version of “The Message”, Bilal is emphatically called “Black-Bilal”…Word4Word…that alone should tell you something.

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The Pseudo-Narrative of Bilal is directly paralleled with the Pseudo-Narrative of Sally Hemings: the only Reasons why either of them are ethno-historically falsely-portrayed as being “Black” is because they were both Born-slaves and both their mothers were Black (Hammāmah, Betty Hemings: even Betty Hemings herself had a European-Father but cause she was a alave she was considered “Black”). The Father, Paternal-Grandfather, Paternal Great-Grandfather of Sally Hemings were all White-Men/Slave-Owners. Her Slave-Owner, Thomas Jefferson (who essentially used her as a sex-slave) was actually her brother-in-law (Jefferson’s wife, Martha Wayles and Sally Hemings had the same father: John Wayles).(at-Tabarī; Hayāt-us-Sahābah; Virginia House of Burgesses: British Coastal Colonial Law of Slavery, 1660)

Muslim Matters actually published a review of the movie. [This] film commentary of Bilal not only reinforces my point, as per the continuation of a Pseudo-Narrrative, predicated upon al-`Asabiyyah/aenophobia, but also the major-themes of Islām aren’t even highlighted. Once again, the important narrative of Bilal has been shamefully compromised, at the expense of wanting to capitalize on “Blackness” being at the forefront of World/US Politics via Libya, police-brutality, racial-profiling, human-trafficking, etc.

Originally published on Gareth Bryant blog, edited slightly according to MM style guide. Read more articles and reviews here.

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Why I Walked Out Of The Film, Bilal

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By Umm Muhammad

As a mother of a preteen, who gets easily hooked on cartoon characters and conventional superheroes, I not only wanted, I needed the movie, Bilal: A New Breed of Hero, to work. I desperately wanted the hero in the film to replace his constant chattering about Superman, Dragon Ball Z, and Ninjago. I was looking forward to the lively discussions that this highly anticipated, animated masterpiece would spark. It would be magical. My son, who has been fixated on Captain Underpants and Lego characters in recent weeks, would finally have something more positive to obsess about.

Before you digress to judging my parenting, rather than understand my review, I want to offer some points for clarity:

No, we don’t allow TV at home. Whatever my children watch is limited and monitored.

No, my son does not play videogames.

No, my son does not own a smartphone, or any phone for that matter. Neither does he have a tablet nor any type of computer. His computer use is for school assignments only, with parental controls in place.

No, he does not spend days and nights at strangers’ houses or unsupervised where he has access to these things. Mostly, he has learned about mainstream cartoon characters at Islamic school.

We consider ourselves a moderately religious Muslim family; we believe in the Oneness of Almighty God, we pray, we fast Ramadan and some extra, we give in charity, and insha’Allah we will go for Hajj when we can afford it. When I say moderate, I mean we try our best, but we don’t consider ourselves perfect and acknowledge that there is always room for improvement.

Now, with all this in mind, let’s get back to the movie, Bilal: A New Breed of Hero. It filled me with excitement to think about watching it with my family. As soon as I saw the trailer, some time ago, it sparked my interest. I was only slightly skeptical about what I felt may have been the deliberate whitewashing of Bilal ibn Rabah, with his character’s soft, flowing cornrows of hair, light complexion, and honey brown eyes, he didn’t seem to be what I had envisioned Bilal to be; but admittedly, I don’t know how dark or light-skinned he really was. I only assumed because of previous portrayals of Bilal in films I had seen and ahadith that I had read.

I knew that there would be fictional elements in the film. This movie was made for a larger audience and with a more generally acceptable theme of racial equality, a lesson we all need now during these controversial times. However, I did not expect it to be completely disconnected from Islam or the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, as it would be impossible to highlight the historical value and status of Bilal ibn Rabah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) without speaking about the very person who helped raise him to that rank.

Before purchasing our tickets, we read other reviews which provided some insight and fair warnings about the absence of the Prophet in the movie, and the benefit of teaching our children about the real history prior to viewing the film. I also knew that the film was rated PG-13, and I honestly thought that it was just due to the battle scenes, which were nothing new to us, after having already learned about and seen countless portrayals of famous battles between the Muslims and their opponents. Regardless of all of this, we were still amped to watch the movie because, whether Bilal stayed true to historical facts or not, it was still about Bilal, an unconventional Muslim hero of color.

After hurrying to buy our popcorn, pretzels, candy and drinks, we rushed to grab our seats, expecting a full house, but luckily, there were only a handful of people in the theater room for the 2pm showing. The kids knew that they may see things in the movie that differed from what they saw in the cartoon, Muhammad: The Last Prophet (Badr International, 2002), the movie, The Message (Akkad, 1976), and others. They were just happy to be at the movie theater and ready to see the famous Bilal from a whole new perspective. After enduring some grueling previews of mostly British family films, with some odd comedy which seemed inappropriate for children, it finally began.

My excitement turned into anxiety with the first scene. Huge, dark, red-eyed horses glared through a black night galloping wildly and viciously towards some unknown target. Their riders, ominous figures, clad in heavy armor seemed to have ill-intentions. It was an opening that I had not expected. I became uneasy and glanced at my children. They seemed fine so far. Then suddenly we got a glimpse at a young Bilal, pretending to be a brave warrior on a wooden horse. He and his sister play happily and their mother steps in when they get into a squabble. “Masha’Allah, just like my kids,” I thought, and I shot another glance at them, smiling. But then the shadowy horses took over the screen again, and the bright day became gloomy. Bilal’s mother instinctively runs and hides her children and then, we are given the impression, through sounds of her shrieking and the children’s looks of horror, that she is violently killed. Bilal struggles and breaks free from his hiding place, only to be snatched by the irate soldiers.

After this disturbing scene, we find ourselves in Makkah, getting a glimpse of the Arabian city in pre-Islamic times. We come to understand that this is a new home to a slightly older Bilal and his sister, where they are now living as slaves. The depiction of Makkah is darker than in other films, with demonic looking characters, and one of the things I found most thought-provoking was that some of the characters use wooden tribal masks, which resemble those used in African religious ceremonies. These masks are often used to represent spirits and demons, and to my knowledge, they were not part of Arabian culture. One character, apparently some type of soothsayer, is shown using one of these costumes with an evil-looking wooden mask and matching sharp nails, surrounded by the people in the marketplace urging them to give their money to the idols. His mysterious nature and eerie voice made me feel uneasy, and both my husband and I were convinced it was a representation of none other than Satan, himself. That was a turn-off.

Nevertheless, we endured, watching as they zoomed in on the Kaabah and its surroundings. Not surprisingly, it was encircled by the familiar idols we have all learned were revered during that time, but one stood out. It was a peculiar sight, for it stood not around or near the Kaabah, but on top of it. It was the most offensive thing that I saw during this whole experience. A statue of a bearded man, of muscular build, with the horns of a ram twisted around the sides of his head, sitting menacingly on top of the Kaabah, overlooking the city. The statue is very similar to what is known as Baphomet, a deity that the Knights Templars, better known as the Crusaders, were accused of worshipping in the 14th Century. It was, to us, a blatant and very deliberate Satanic symbol on what is the holiest place on Earth, the House of Allah. It is an utterly disrespectful image that I would not expect to see from an enemy of Islam, much less in a film produced by Muslims. As distasteful as it was, I continued to watch, hoping for something better to come, so as to outweigh the bad.

The straw that broke the camel’s back came when we were introduced to the character of a young Safwan ibn Umayyah, the son of one of the staunchest opponents of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and cruel slave master to Bilal ibn Rabah. Although he is a youngster, his appearance is sinister, and his personality is sadistic. His skin is pale and grayish and his eyes, black and full of malice. I found this to be offensive to the legacy of Safwan raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), who becomes a Muslim after the conquest of Mecca, and later lives on to wholeheartedly support Islam. Depicting him in his earlier years as a repulsive sociopath as this film does is detrimental to his reputation and character as a defender of the faith and an insult to any Muslim who respects the companions and their contributions to Islam. This is why scholars have warned against depictions of the companions, but unfortunately, we stubbornly continue seeking this type of halal “edutainment.”

When the young, gothic-looking Safwan and some of his friends, one of which is also wearing one of the mysterious wooden tribal masks, begin attacking Bilal’s sister for no apparent reason, Bilal steps in to help. A fight ensues and news of this reaches Umayyah, the father, who decides to punish both his son and Bilal. His words are severe and abusive to both children, which I also found very distressing and unsuitable. However, it was the physical punishment that finally led me to lean over to my husband and ask him if we could leave. The character of Umayyah throws Bilal to the ground in a manner so vicious and unexpected, that I had to look away.

I had hoped that the violence in the beginning minutes of the film would be the worst of it until they showed the torture of Bilal, something we were more familiar with, but unfortunately, it was only the beginning of the disturbing imagery that we would be subjected to. I find that 3D computer animated characters are so humanlike that our response to them is different than if they were a more traditional cartoon. It was almost as if I was seeing a real adult male brutally beating a young child, without being able to react. I feel like someone who has suffered through physical or verbal abuse or any childhood trauma may be sensitive to some of the content in this film.

When I whispered to my husband, “Should we go?” He immediately said, “Yes,” as if he had been hoping I would ask for some time. I looked over at the kids, and they looked pained and confused. This is what I had feared; they saw too much already. It was time to go. I quickly grabbed our belongings and told them to step outside. They followed us out of the theater, and when they asked us why we were leaving, we explained that the movie was too violent and it was not a good depiction of the companions. They didn’t complain.

I immediately wanted to warn others on Islamic forums not to make the same mistake I had, but I was met with resistance from families that have sat through the whole film and enjoyed it. As with all things in life, people have their own opinions and reasoning. However, all I can say is walking out of the movie was my own personal, quiet protest. I felt a sense of pride when my family and I stood together, mid-film, and walked away while others sat bewildered. Despite spending our money on tickets and popcorn, despite taking time out of our Saturday and driving all the way to the theater, and despite what anyone says about how great it may be to them, we could not sit through a movie that, just within its first 15-20 minutes, insulted the legacy of the companions and our beloved holy site, thus disrespecting Allah, the Prophet Muhammad, and Islam, itself.

And as the legacy of Bilal ibn Rabah’s life teaches us to never back down and to be proud of who we are, thus we celebrate our hero and stand to protect his honor.

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