Academic journal article International Journal of Islamic Thought

Use of Media as an Indicator of Modern Trend of Female Pakistani Dakwah Groups

Academic journal article International Journal of Islamic Thought

Use of Media as an Indicator of Modern Trend of Female Pakistani Dakwah Groups

Article excerpt

In a world which is defining the meaning of literacy anew in terms of computer literacy, the application of latest information and communication technology has become a norm. The application and usage of modern ICT is a signifier of progress and modernity. Getting the message across effectively is the main purpose around which the whole activity of media revolves, and we find the same at the heart of all prophetic activity as a messenger of God to the mankind. Especially Muslims believe Dàwah (dissemination of Islam's message) obligatory for every Muslim as a religious duty which is not gender specific. According to Holy Qur'an (9:71): "and the believers, men and women, are protecting friends one of another; they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong" (Pickthall 2001; Shandler 2009). In the early times of Islam, women equally contributed in calling others for Islam despite anticipating dire consequences.

The explosion of advanced media technology in the latt er half of the twentieth century gave rise to an acute digital divide among North and South of the globe. As the South largely comprised of the Muslim World which was underdeveloped and colonized, scholars like Mustafa Masmudi (1978) and Hamid Mowlana (1985) showed their grave concerns over the situation. The gap widened in the case of traditional religious circles in Muslim societies who generally tended to resist new media for its Western roots. While the socio-historical situations were in dire need of adopting newer forms of communication strategies for religious propagation, Muslim preachers and popular leaders continued to eschew modern trends.

At the same time, there was a gender based divide regarding dakwah within Muslim societies, especially the organized and institutionalized dakwah became a predominantly male territory. Women were generally perceived as exempted from this religious duty by virtue of their natural and biological obligations of motherhood and wifehood. A gradually increasing general trend of non-acceptance of female religious scholarship to speak for religion of Islam itself (An-Na'im 1995) in Muslim societies with time also seems to contribute in the waning of female dakwah activism, as the two areas grow in concurrence.

In Subcontinent, it was as late as the middle of 20th century that the need for an organized and educated form of female dakwah was felt by the religious circles. After the creation of Pakistan, Jamaa't e Islami's Women Wing commenced its organized dakwah activities among the women of educated class and make difference in their lives regarding their common perceptions and practices of religion. Following the footsteps, some other female groups emerged i-e female wings of Tanzeem e Islami, Jamaat u-dda'wah and Tehreek Minhaj ul Qur'an were the prominent ones. A new wave of organized female dakwah started with the emergence of Al-Huda some twenty years ago, that altered the existing female dakwah scenario in Pakistan to a great deal, gradually giving rise to the emergence of few more similar groups. A major distinction of Al-Huda was the aggressive use of selected forms of media prevalent at that time for its purpose including Television, VCR, Audio cassette players, FM radio followed very soon by computers and internet.

As the two selected groups claim to be non sectarian with members from heterogeneous following, they refer to original sources of Quran and Sunnah for guidelines. In contemporary academics this can be termed as an Islamist's way who 'attempts to propagate and purify Islam and gets actively involved in organizations which aim to transform society along Islamic lines ' (Maumoon 1999). The rationale for this study comes from the same definition; there is a need to know the realization of such groups for an appropriate use of media and its reflection in their policies and practices in the way of their cherished mission of transforming society along Islamic lines. The researcher had been participating in the assorted sessions of both the groups for last many years. …

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