Deen-o-Dunya: one year on
By: Durdana Najam
It is now one year since Deen-o-Dunya began its transmission from Business Plus, Lahore. The programme was designed to understand religion in the context of everyday worldly life. The idea has been to show that religion is all about lifestyle and unless we integrate the message of Islam into our daily routine, we cannot balance our life for a peaceful existence. Much of the religious bigotry is due to the practice of seeing religion as a set of rules and regulations that need to be followed blindly without applying one’s mind. Deen-o-Dunya drew its inspiration from Salmaan Taseer, who had paid with his life for being a good human being. He had reached out to the victims of religious bigotry and sought a relevant interpretation to certain Islamic values and tried to make people understand that our prophet, Muhammad (PBUH), who is a blessing to the humankind, could not be a reason for their suffering.
It is for this very reason that Deen-o-Dunya has discussed all those subjects that have been misunderstood by the masses. Every religion becomes hostage to extremism when its scholars make it a tool for personal aggrandisement. Hence on the one hand we have scholars mired in greed and on the other the masses knowing nothing about their religion.
Deen-o-Dunya is on air twice a week; on Saturday and Sunday at 7pm. Maulana Tahir Ashrafi hosts the programme. Known for his moderate views, Ashrafi enjoys the reputation of a scholar who is not given to rigidity in Islam. He has been the sole voice defending Salman Taseer for his views. When he started Deen-o-Dunya, he had aimed to make it different from all other religious shows telecasted in Pakistan. Fearlessly, he ventured into sensitive areas such as rights of minorities, sectarianism, interfaith harmony, terrorism and extremism with direct bearing on Islam. He talked about the true role of women and went as far as discussing how Islam has been distorted in the recent years in the name of Islamisation itself. He criticised the government for its laxity against the perpetrators of terrorism and for not bringing them to justice, hence creating more space for such acts. Though carrying a pure religious undertone, Deen-o-Dunya talked about political developments in the country as well.
Ashrafi believes that politics and religion cannot be separated. He keeps reminding to the politicians the necessity of following the true spirit of Islam because that would help them become good human beings, and hence good leaders. To him, a good Muslim is first a good human being, one who empathises with others, a quality lacking a great deal in our politicians and leaders.
Deen-o-Dunya has been very particular in bringing forth issues and problems confronting Middle East today. Some elaborative shows were telecasted with a panel of experts on Middle East such as Abdul Ghafoor, head of International relations wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, Dr Farooq Hassanat, expert on Middle East, Farrukh Goandi, scholar on Middle East affairs. The issues discussed ranged from political developments in Middle East to the imperialist agenda and the role of Israel in the turmoil of Libya and Syria. Reaching out to his brothers in the war-torn Muslim countries, Ashrafi appealed to Muslims to come together in this hour of need to defeat the imperialistic designs against them.
In this one year, Deen-o-Dunya has touched on almost every perceivable issue with an idea to make the masses realise that Islam does not exist in isolation and that a Muslim is someone who is conscious of his surroundings and knows how to relate with his environment in a dignified manner. On the issue of forced conversion, which has recently been another black spot on Muslims, he vehemently opposed this practice and conducted a number of programmes on the issue. In one of these programmes, he brought Christian, Hindus and Muslim scholars together to discuss the issue in the wake of some Hindu girls’ conversion to Islam by force in the rural Sindh. Supporting his argument with the holy Quran and Hadith, he blamed those forcing Islam on others as a bane to Islamic values.
He has urged the people who have taken up arms to defend Islam to renounce violence. He has appealed to those who have made Islam a bunch of rituals to develop insight into the depth of Islam so that they become good human beings.
The reason why Deen-o-Dunya was started in Ramazan was that as a month of piety, sympathy and rejoices, it has the power to make people bury their differences and become good at heart and mind. This is the message of Deen-o-Dunya that irrespective of one’s religious values and following, unless a person is a good human being, he is not worth living. Deen-o-Dunya would not have been possible without the support and courage of the Taseer family, especially Sheharyar and Aamna Taseer. It is the channel’s moderate policy towards Islam that this programme has been a success in the religious, social and political circles.