Tackling the allure of celebrity atheism

What’s the solution to atheism in the media?

 

In surah Ghafir, Allah Almighty mentions the story of Pharaoh, Pharaoh said,:

 ‘Leave me to kill Moses, and let him appeal to his Lord. I fear he may change your religion, or spread disorder in the land.’ (40:26)

If you read this with the name Pharaoh deleted, you would assume he is a great reformer, a guardian of public interest concerned about the well-being of his people. Yet when you insert his name you realise the statement is being made by the one who murdered thousands of babies, tortured and enslaved people, imprisoned them without reason, punished them without trial.

Allah Almighty stated in the Quran, whenever you have power you have responsibility. And whenever you have power, you also have corruption.

In fact, man oversteps all bounds. (96:6)

When he considers himself self-sufficient. (96:7)

Pharaoh saw a rising power challenging him in the form of Musa (peace be on him) and he was powerful so he tried to stop him using the media he had available at the time – his personal influence and authority and the power of his personality.

The power of social media

Nowadays social media is the rising power, invading every home. Insidious and inescapable, it follows us into the bedroom; it follows our children; it’s over-ground, underground, it’s omnipresent. We have no control over it whatsoever. Stealthy and subtle, it has the power to spread opinions, promote messages and manipulate thought.

Pharaoh was twisting reality and manipulating the public, pushing his agenda unilaterally. He was persuading his people that he had their best interests at heart. Social media is similarly dominating current thought. It is a form of thought-control, filled with subtle, indirect and hidden messages, pushing agendas.

Atheism is cool

One of the messages seamlessly streaming through the media is atheism. Whenever atheism is stereo typically portrayed, it is shown as the choice of the educated, kind and compassionate. Conversely whenever faith is portrayed, and in particular Islamic faith, it is unfailingly represented as uneducated, ignorant, violent, lacking dignity and responsibility. It is the dogma of the extremists. These two images are standard.

Celebrity atheism

Films, ads and short clips promote doubts and misconceptions about religion. Life without religion is the life of celebrity culture. Success and luxury is equated with an atheist life.

Yet these celebrities are role models, whether we like it or not. They influence society, and society  follows mindlessly in their footsteps. Our children aspire to be like them.

Whenever a religious person or Shaykh is given airtime, he is shown to be uneducated, lacking in humanity, violent and extreme. The perception is that those who follow a religion are backward. Out of sync with progressive society.

Science is god

Atheism has done away with God and replaced it with science. There is no longer need for God or religion in our life.

Life has been reduced to a by-product of science. There is no space for God in science. And in fact, science has become God. The message across the board, and in our universities is that it is cool to be atheist.

Following the trend

Yet, it is not following religion that is mindless. Following the trend is mindless. When Allah Almighty asks the people of jahannum why they are in the lowest part of jahannum, they reply they were following the trend.

‘What drove you into Saqar?’ (74:42)

And we used to indulge with those who indulge. (74:45)

This is one of the main problems we have. We need to be careful and read between the lines and be aware of the media machine.

What is the solution?

Allah Almighty always teaches us to find the solution to our problems. In the ayah on riba, He says:

Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden interest. (2:275)

So we see that when Allah Almighty says He made trade halal but forbid riba, He showed us the solution before the problem – riba.

Our solution is that we need experts on board – in social media, technology, film making, script writing, short films, we need these specialities working in tandem with shariah experts, to deliver the right message, the balanced message.

A short clip can change the mind of people across the board. A research paper or thesis will not change minds. People haven’t got time to read anything long. Our youth has a short attention span, so we need to reach them through the means which appeal to them. Though short clips that are authentic, attractive and straight to the point.

We need to learn how to craft fast, concise messages, that get the point across in one minute. It’s an art and we need to master it to tackle this problem, because it is affecting our children and so many of us.

It’s make or break. It is not something we can ignore.

We should encourage our children not just to study medicine and accountancy but to advance in new areas and in the media.

We need them to protect our rights and we need to defend our self.

Anas bin Malik narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said:

‘There shall come upon the people a time in which the one who is patient upon his religion will be like the one holding onto a burning coal .’ (Tirmidhi)

These are our challenges we need to have patience and prepare the plan to face our reality. We ask Allah Almighty to enable us to deliver our message in the prophetic manner. Ameen.

Khutbah delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim at the UKAMCCC, London on 14th June 2019.

Transcribed by Ayesha Khan

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001.His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College).He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.

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