Television is sinful & un-Islamic, says new fatwa

A radical Islamic seminary in Uttar Pradesh has issued a fatwa against Muslims watching television, calling the device “haram (sinful)”. The fatwa was issued by the Dar-ul Uloom in Deoband, near Muzaffarnagar, in response to a madarsa teacher’s plea to clarify whether watching Islamic channels and televised debates on religious issues was right.

The teacher, a resident of Saharanpur, had asked whether watching an Islamic TV channel showing a debate on religious topics was right or wrong. Dar-ul Uloom took the stand that in the due course of watching television, people inevitably browse through channels that show “immoral” and “vulgar” programmes.

“The Prophet said… you should see from whom you are taking your religious lessons,” the fatwa stated.

“Matters of religion should be learnt from authentic and pious people. Television is a tool of entertainment and enjoyment. It is most widely used for unlawful and prohibited things. If lawful matters are learnt from authentic people even then it is unlawful to listen to it through the TV, since it includes more or less haram things. And while watching religious programmes on TV a person slowly starts browsing through other programme as well,” the fatwa read.

The clerics clarified their fatwa was not binding. However, Islamic scholars slammed the interpretation.

“Is watching religious programmes, like the Haj pilgrimage, on television not acceptable, too,” one of them was quoted by The Telegraph, Calcutta, as saying.

Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangimahli, the youngest member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and Imam of Lucknow Eidgah, told Mail Today: “Jamat-e-Ulema, the highest body of the Dar-ul Uloom, itself invites TV channels to cover its programmes and then its members watch it themselves. They also demand live telecast of Haj procession. Many Islamic organisations themselves deploy video camerapersons to shoot their programmes and provide to TV channels for telecast. I strongly oppose such kind of fatwas which keep your young away from information and technology.”

Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, Shia scholar and vice-president of AIMPLB, said: “Such fatwas bring a bad name to the community. I would rather propagate the use of TV for good things. We come to know about entire world from TV only. How can we be aloof from our surroundings.”