Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

November 2005
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Channel Surfing
By A Staff Writer

Two new free-to-air, 24x7 Islamic channels will showcase “the true Islamic perspective.”

Islam is one of the brands which is fast gaining brand equity in the market. The New launch dailies in Mumbai, DNA and Hindustan Times have their fair share of stories related to Islam and the community. The same brand equity is now set to be exploited by the so called proposed Islamic channels to compete with the struggling Dubai- based QTV which has acquired the niche market. Two new free-to-air, 24x7 Islamic channels will showcase “the true Islamic perspective” on issues facing Muslims across the world.

The first channel is called “Kitaab” .The second channel, tentatively called Peace TV, will be launched in two months’ time by Dr Zakir Naik, a well-known preacher on QTV. The reason cited is quite obvious. “Biased and unfavourable portrayal of Islam on television”.

“Kitaab will not just counter anti-Muslim propaganda in media, but will also help cleanse Muslim society,” claimed Akhtar Sheikh, builder and the channel’s chief promoter. The programming for Kitaab will be entrusted to madrassa-educated Deobandi ulema. Markaz-ul-Maarif, a Mumbai-based centre of Muslim religious scholars, has already set the compass for the channel — remove misconceptions about Islam, highlight the sacrifice of Muslim freedom- fighters, debate issues of Personal Law like marriage, talaq, maintenance and purdah.

Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi, who is involved in Kitaab’s programming, says the ulema cannot deny the importance of visual media. Other members on the programming panel include Maulana Mehmood Madni of Jamiatul-Ulema-e-Hind and Syed Salman Nadvi of Nadwatul Ulema in Lucknow.

When we talk about Islamic channels, two major questions arise: is there any need for an Islamic channel in the modern world? How do we define an Islamic channel and is it equivalent to the religious programmes that have been prevalent in Arab television channels since their beginnings in the 1960s? The call for establishing an Islamic channel started following the launch of Arab satellite channels in the early 1990s. The need for setting up an Islamic channel was one of the recommendations of the 8th International Conference of Latin American Muslims in Brazil in 1994. Conference participants emphasized that establishment of such a channel was essential, especially for the benefit of Muslims living in non-Islamic countries as an alternative to non-Islamic channels.

There were incessant calls for an Islamic channel since then. The last of them came from the third conference of culture ministers in the member countries of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), held in Doha in December 2001. Whatever may be the objective or intention behind these so called Islamic channels, the fact is they have to produce quality programmess to persuade the viewers to watch them.