Saturday, April 23

Shariah TV

I just watched two of a series of eight televised discussions involving an audience of young British Muslims asking a panel of three Islamic peers various questions regarding the Shariah.

Overall they were pretty sensible even if they were only able to scratch the surface of the issues, and they did choose to stick to common sense issues that shouldn't really need to be asked in the first place (and I'll suggest why this was in a while). Example questions include:

  1. Are we allowed to cryogenically freeze ourselves in the hope for a future cure to any ailment we may currently have?

  2. What does the Shariah say to the guys who decide to marry back home in order to find a younger and subservient wife?

  3. Would a women who has been forced to have an abortion be liable for it on the Day of Judgement?

  4. What would Islam say about us finding aliens on Mars?

I could see the panels trying (sometimes in vain) to explain the more abstract principles of Islam and how these can and should be applied to any general question rather than the quite specific (and sometimes clearly redundant) ones above. They failed in this, of course, and you could see the signs of exasperation (and sometimes sarcasm) as they gave up and gave concrete answers anyway just to move on to the next topic ("Aliens on Mars? No problem; we'd treat them like any isolated community and tell them about Islam, convert them, start building mosques there and establish an Islamic state". Superb).

It's actually something I've noticed in the unusually high number of debates I've been witnessing over the past few weeks. The people in panels are often super great - they know where they are and where they are going, and most importantly what they think. For me, it's the confused audience that lets the whole show down. Of course I realise the irony of such a statement and that I was as much a part of the audience as anyone else there. It reminds me of something a wise man[1] once said to me about individuals being intelligent while people carry on being stupid. But still I often wonder how much wasted potential there are in these things and how powerful they'd really be if used correctly.

I guess if the audience reflects the current fabric of British Muslims, then programmes like these will be necessary. Unfortunately that doesn't really console me.

Although the current series has ended, you can usually find Shariah TV on Channel Four at the insane time of midnight. Having said that, it's probably not something I will make too much effort in catching.

[1] Well ok, not quite. It was only Niall from Risk, although he is smart.