Monday, December 17, 2007

“Make me a Muslim”

Here we are in the season of Advent, looking forward to celebrating once again the birth of Jesus: to hail the Messiah, to adore Christ the Lord, to worship the Prince of Peace. And Advent is not only about the coming into history of Jesus as a baby born in Bethlehem; it is also about his coming in the present – being born in our hearts today; and about his Second Coming at the end of time to reign forever. It is, needless to say, a very special time for Christians all over the world.

And what does Channel 4 bring us during this blessed season?

Make me a Muslim.”

It is about a subtle as screening Jesus of Nazareth in Indonesia during Ramadan, or proclaiming the need for conversion over a full English breakfast in Regents Park mosque at Eid. And if Trevor Phillips is to be believed, Cranmer doubts there are many British Muslims who will be happy with the gross insensitivity displayed by the timing of this documentary.

The three-part series asks: ‘Can Islam help repair the moral fabric of British society?’ The only sensitivity to the season of peace and goodwill is that this is phrased as a question. Cranmer can hardly wait to hear the answer. And one can only guess at what the 70% of the nation who identify themselves as Christian will make of the alleged presumption of the 3% who profess Islam.

Six volunteers in Harrogate have agreed to live according to aspects of Shari’a law under the guidance of Imam Ajmal Masroor. They include a young male gay hairdresser, a female soft-porn star, and an overweight, loud-mouthed lout rather too fond of his beer and bacon sandwiches. They could not be more unsuited, yet the objective is to bring them into submission to Allah by forced adherence to the Five Pillars of Islam.

But what the participating Muslims have failed to understand is that this makes their religion look absurd: it is about what you wear, how you speak, how you pray and what you eat. Either they were unaware of this emphasis, or this truly is what they believe Islam to consist of, and their egocentric desire to propagate their belief system on prime-time television proved a temptation too great.

This may, of course, have been a purposeful decision by the programme makers to convey Islam as a superficial system of outward obedience, intentionally showing the volunteers as being completely incapable of fulfilling the rigorous and burdensome demands of the Islamic law. And this is all about Sunni Islam, by the way: there is no mention of the different strands of the faith, and the volunteers are left ignorant of the more subtle, meditative and heartfelt Sufi interpretation which those who are genuinely searching may find rather more appealing.

If this programme establishes anything, it is that religion, true religion, is of the heart. The Law was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and man is thereby liberated from slavish obedience to it because ultimately he is incapable of attaining salvation through works. It is the cry of God that hearts be circumcised, not the flesh, for it is the heart that must be in submission before the flesh can even begin to follow.

In this final week of Advent, it is more appropriate to meditate upon the wonder of the immanence of God who became incarnate in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, to reflect on the divine indwelling of man through the blessed work of the Holy Spirit, to be grateful that through this redemption man may live for evermore; rather than fruitlessly whistling in the wind in pursuit of a transformed heart by attempting to slavishly follow a media facade of a faith which veritably has all the spiritual worth of a stuffed bear called Mohammed.


Blogger Sir Henry Morgan said...

And I don't have a television - wont have the lobotomy box in my house.

I'm utterly heartbroken to be missing this wonderful revelation.

I'm sure I am.

(Sir HM has managed to pick up an imposter, so I'm having to post with my full blogger profile). It will be thus from now on. Ignore anything by 'Sir HM' - it may not be me.

17 December 2007 at 10:17  
Anonymous King Kong said...

Since many Muslims have been and still continue to be attracted to come and live in Britain, it should be the clearest act of hospitality and charity that His Grace considers it an imperative to support and to organise a similar programme in which Muslim volunteers are shown the love and kindness of Christianity and the richness of Christian values.

It would also be desperately important for world peace and understanding that His Grace embarks on a mission with Channel 4 to Saudi Arabia to seek volunteers there for the said programme.

I remember once upon a time in my school lessons, that when one is in Rome, one should do as the Muslims….

17 December 2007 at 10:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as a muslim i am absolutely shocked by this programme and the timing at which has been aired..many muslims including myself enjoy the xmas festivities.
I find myself, for once agreeing with "his holiness" on the fact the programme makers and indeed the muslim participants have missed the whole point here!
for example youl find many muslims who do not pray five times a day...professional life makes it hard!

Anyway i thought "The retreat" was probably a better effort at portraying a different aspect of islam...sufism!

17 December 2007 at 10:27  
Blogger haddock said...

Your Grace,
anonymous 10.27 says,
"many muslims including myself enjoy the xmas festivities."
I wonder if this enjoyment of Christmas by the Muslims in our country is pandered to by the BBC. This morning we were regaled on the Breakfast Programme by a very camp asian by the name of Aqeel Mohamad who is, by all accounts, a 'guru' in the world of Christmas present purchasing. One of the gifts he highlighted was a pig money box....
it is difficult to imagine how the BBC could annoy more people in a minute long film clip. Perhaps the BBC do just see Christmas as a shopping experience, and no more.

17 December 2007 at 11:21  
Blogger AethelBald, King of Wessex said...

it is about what you wear, how you speak, how you pray and what you eat

My understanding is that the US military successfully addressed its former institutional racism by by implementing a policy that could be characterised by the above snippet. Racist language was forbidden. Racial preference was forbidden, except where it advanced institutional goals (e.g. officer training, Colin Powell).

Conditioning is one way to change a culture and it seems to work. It should not be dismissed as absurd, although it may not travel well.

17 December 2007 at 11:39  
Blogger dmk said...

With the quantities of alcohol and pornography on display in the programme, never mind pride and intolerance, 'Make me a Muslim' was as much a commentary on how depraved this 'Christian' country has become, as it was on the inability of rules laws to change the heart.

17 December 2007 at 12:36  
Anonymous nedsherry said...

The three-part series asks: ‘Can Islam help repair the moral fabric of British society?’

From the corruption evident in Muslim countries, I doubt it.

The only sensitivity to the season of peace and goodwill is that this is phrased as a question. Cranmer can hardly wait to hear the answer. And one can only guess at what the 70% of the nation who identify themselves as Christian will make of the alleged presumption of the 3% who profess Islam.

You won't find 70% of the people running the media identifying as Christian, even by ancestry, particularly at the very top. Jeremy Isaacs ran Channel 4 initially, then handed over to Michael Grade, whose good work in the secular cause earnt him the nickname "pornographer-in-chief" from the Daily Mail. From the look of the paper today, they seem to have decided that wasn't such a bad thing after all.

17 December 2007 at 12:52  
Anonymous ceej said...

I do not think that the timing of this programme is inappropriate at all. Not only is Christmas being celebrated but also the important muslim festival of Eid.
It is true that many muslims don't follow the pillars of Islam strictly just as there are non-christians who celebrate Christmas.
The programme was not about muslim individuals and their choices (and we do have and make choices) but about the laws of Islam and what it takes to live a life within such guidlines.
The makers of the programme cannot inject faith into the hearts of the participants but they can educate people about the daily life and duties of a devout muslim.
As for when in you really believe that a person should denounce their faith because they live in a country where their religion is a minority??
I found the programme interesting and somewhat amusing at times - must we really take ourselves and eachother so seriously??!!

17 December 2007 at 13:02  
Blogger Man in a Shed said...

I watched part of the programme and what worried me is the type casting of the majority of the population and pandering to prejudices that seems to result.

C4 no doubt picked the people most likely to rub up the wrong way with the Muslim preachers.

Of course no true Christian could ever take part in such a programme.

17 December 2007 at 15:02  
Blogger Tony said...

I am wondering when they will get these subjects to try out Christianity and see how that can help the fabric of our society.

17 December 2007 at 15:37  
Anonymous King Kong said...

Very much my thoughts too, as written at 10:27, Tony!

17 December 2007 at 17:03  
Blogger Seraphic Single said...

When I first read of this travesty, I was appalled. England has a Christian heritage dating back (at least) to St. Augustine of Canterbury, and now it is expected to watch in amusement as Englishmen and Englishwomen play dress-up with a foreign religion in the middle of a Wahaabist take-over?

I have a brilliant suggestion. Why doesn't a TV station take four ordinary English people and show them being instructed in the Christian faith as it was taught in 1945 and film them living their lives according to those principles? They still get to drink--but they'll drink a little less. I'm afraid the costumes won't be as exotic or offensive, but they might be quite natty.

17 December 2007 at 17:14  
Anonymous Mike H said...

Tony 15:37 "I am wondering when they will get these subjects to try out Christianity and see how that can help the fabric of our society".

I think it's already been done with a very similar group of people. 'The Monastery' was a series shown on BBC 2 a couple of years ago. There was a follow-up series called 'The Retreat' which took a similar approach, this time with Islam.

The two programmes highlighted an interesting contrast between the two faiths. The group of people studied in 'The Monastery' were living within a community of Benedictine monks. The programme followed what was clearly a spiritual journey for one or two of the participants.

'The Retreat', on the other hand, seemed to be more about the rituals of Islam and less about an exploration of personal spirituality.

I saw the Channel 4 programme and was most disappointed. I had been hoping for something that would provide an insight into Islam in the UK. Instead we were shown typical reality TV.

17 December 2007 at 17:41  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

Yes, it seems this latest program will exhibit only a superficial, aesthetically hedonistic version of Islam that doesn't really exist in the real world.

This program is conditioning, people are being taught what in the world of the CIA is called a "slide" - a preprogrammed mental response to a certain stimuli.

They do this by showing Muslims as just friendly people who dress in a different way, and of course you would have to be a real pig to attack a smiling face, for this reason viewers of the program will be taught to associate all real life muslims with the friendly superficial figures portrayed on the programme. You can see the effects this will have by reading Robert Fisks article on his capture by Afghan militia men, he thought they were justified in beating him up.

17 December 2007 at 18:20  
Blogger John Trenchard said...

i note on BBC News 24 , that the Hajj gets a mention.

I wonder if they'll cover any of the pilgrimages to Bethleham that occur around this time of year. Probably not.

18 December 2007 at 00:33  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

your Grace

Your comments are just and fair.

However I think any helpful debate concerning the MSM in general and television in particular, should aways contain the following advice.

Its best for all concerned not to ever watch or listen to the devils own instrument, if at all possible, in the first place.

18 December 2007 at 00:56  
Blogger Chuck Unsworth said...

Your Grace

Sadly I was unable to watch this offering which, I am sure, would have added immensely to my seasonal feelings of love towards my fellow man - and woman.

I have often wished that I could 'make' a Muslim, but have found the ingredients virtually impossible to obtain, whilst the recipe is indecipherable.

18 December 2007 at 09:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Make me a Muslim

18 December 2007 at 10:33  
Blogger Stephen Gash said...

Stop Islamisation Of Europe - Now!

Islamic societies would be knapping flints if they were not able to ponce off non-Islamic societies.

In retrospect, they probably wouldn't be that advanced.

18 December 2007 at 12:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

all of you are luns!!!

18 December 2007 at 12:43  
Anonymous king kong said...

Can anyone explain the Islamic symbolism of the small lunar crescent; could it be something to do with darkness?

18 December 2007 at 16:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very funny mate, its about the mind bein clear and peaceful under moonlight as opposed to sunlight

18 December 2007 at 21:36  
Blogger Sarah said...

It never even occurred to me that this programme's timing might be inappropriate... one can hardly forget that Christmas is approaching with the commercial frenzy that goes on from November onwards. Besides, as others have said, it is Eid tomorrow and we are a multicultural society so why not?

As for the emphasis on outward adherence to rules, that was the whole premise of the programme! - for participants to adopt the lifestyle for 3 weeks and see what impact it had on them, without reference to beliefs.

It would be great if they made a similar programme about the Christian lifestyle, but since it doesn't involve such stark outward changes, there wouldn't be much of a programme. Besides, Christianity sadly isn't fashionable any more - even though originally it is every bit as much a foreign, exotic religion as Islam!

Anyway I was disappointed with the programme as it seemed just to look for drama and conflict, in the same vein as "Wife Swap" and reality shows, rather than getting on with what it proposed to do. It focused on the participants that didn't seem to really want to be there in the first place, while showing only snippets from the ones who were genuinely interested.

18 December 2007 at 23:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be nice to see the resverse, 4 muslims living a typical english christian life.

18 December 2007 at 23:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

real muslim attitude so dont pretend u come in peice

6 January 2008 at 23:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i thought make me a muslim was great it does make me laugh that muslims are hell bent on trying to convert us (they seem to think there way is a better way) this is a christian country hello and what is wrong with our values if you dont like it go back to your own country . I think Karla who featured in the show was great she is a christian and showed great understanding and she really stuck up for her christian values and british people unlike some of the inmans who think they way is the right way not in england we are okay as we are thanks

15 January 2008 at 13:57  
Anonymous The Stupid American said...

LOL! I love it! You guys are more intolerant than anything found in America.

2 September 2008 at 08:20  

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