Visual Dhikrâ„¢
returning to remembrance

Down With The Psychological Barrier Between Islamists And The Arts

By Nabeel Shabeeb
Islam Online, Cairo

A psychological barrier has grown between the arts and myself. It is a long story that I intend to discuss only in as much as it relates to the current debate on the views of Islam on theatrical acting and other related types of arts and entertainment.

There are two things that prompted me to write this, after having abandoned the subject for years. The first are the shows broadcast during the holy month of Ramadan, when we were inundated with shows that claim to represent Islamic views and Islamic events. The other is the statement made by our respected Sheikh Yousef Qaradawi, stating that he sees no problem in women acting under "certain conditions."

His opponents, as usual, were quick to attack, without concerning themselves with the nature of these "certain conditions." Rather, they debated the issue of prohibiting women from acting without even bringing any proof. It is a continuation to the same line of thinking that has been going on for the past 50 years at least. Some Islamic media even intentionally refrained from taking part in the discussion.

I am also very troubled at the lack of response to the great cinematic projects proposed by the able actor Hassan Yousef, who was forced to go into cartoons because there is no Islamic framework for actors to follow. There is no framework among Islamists so that they may take part in such great projects that will eventually promote the cause of Islam. Satellite TV is also complaining about a lack of Islamic participation and a shortage of values-oriented movies. Iqra and Sharjah Satellite TV station have pleaded for such contributions.

The point I am trying to make here is that the Islamic movement committed a strategic mistake when it abandoned some professions, leaving them for non-Islamists who poisoned societies and distorted their values. Professions involving women, such as teaching, medicine, arts and entertainment are among the examples of this phenomenon. These professions were left to non-Islamists without any competition. The only effort Islamists made is to condemn movies with women in them and orchestrate boycott campaigns on certain occasions. The result was a generation of Islamists that grew up without media skills, leaving them without the ability to produce movies, documentary series or any other related entertainment material.

I am also troubled to see many Islamists adopt the same views on the Internet. Therefore, instead of employing the latest technology to advance the causes of Muslims all over the world, we are engaging in unproductive discussions on whether the Internet is lawful or prohibited. Day by day, I am becoming more convinced that this generation should rebel against the restrictions imposed by the previous generation on the issues of arts and entertainment.

Our societies are facing serious problems in this area. We have no option but to engage actively in the media, the Internet, the arts and entertainment. We cannot isolate ourselves anymore. We cannot pretend that these types of technologies do not exist.

Yes indeed, the psychological divide between Islamists and the fields of arts and entertainment is great. However, we will be able to bridge it. In order to bring about our renaissance, development and prosperity, preserve our values, advance our causes, defend our rights, express positive images about us and spread our message, we have only one option. That option is to break the psychological barrier and overcome the mistakes made toward the fields of arts and entertainment


This entry was posted on Thursday, October 19, 2006 at 4:04 PM. You can skip to the end and leave a response.

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At 4:19 PM, Anonymous Aisha Khan said...
I am in total agreement with what you're saying. Denying the existence of powerful tools like the visual arts and design is doing the Muslim world no favours. We are trailing behind the world because of stubborn traditional and counterproductive attitudes towards art. We should be encouraged to go to art schools and learn skills that can be used to help spread Islam. After all in the early days, Islam spread to non arabic speaking countries through trade and visual arts, a language that everyone understands. There is so much negative visual communication out there today, in the form of advertising and broadcasting, we should be using media and the arts to spread positive messages.    

At 5:20 PM, Blogger Bob-ul-Islam said...
Though I agree with the sentiments expressed in the article I think that we should be careful that in order to embrace all media we don't fall into the haram. By all means use the tools available in a halal manner.

As for things like having muslim women acting, well this poses a lot of issues, most are to do with freemixing, which leads to many problems. For example, if we were to represent real life in a drama, an actress cannot do that wearing full hijab as that is not the case in our homes.

In front of their mahram, the minimum required to cover by women can be as little as navel to the knee (This is a legal minimum with limitations as to who this can be in front. No muslim woman would feel comfortable with that). We certainly cannot represent that!

The internet presents a great many difficulties by giving easy access to stuff that is Haram. But I think that reflects the real world and it is up to us to prepare good places for muslims to go to.

Alhamdulillah this is happening more and more. Use all media, but use it wisely, use it in a manner that does not go against your deen.

Stay within the boundaries and everything is good inshaAllah.

I really dislike the term Islamists. It makes it sound like a problem or something.

At 7:29 PM, Blogger visualdhikr said...
Couldnt agree more Bob. There is a limit as to what we do and how we do it.

The term Islamists should not be used, it has very negative connotations to it these days.

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