Muslim News Publisher, Rasheed Abubakar explains why the newspaper features stories/features about Muslim celebrities….
MN: What is the need for celebrity stories/features in Muslim News? It seems some of your readers aren’t comfortable with it, especially the Nollywood actor, Lateef Adedimeji’s nikaah story. Why the need for entertainment or Islamtaiment?
Rasheed Abubakar: Thank you very much for the question. I’ve read a lot of toxic comments from Muslims, whose religion teaches them to preach to people with wisdom. If you must correct mistakes, you have to follow the Prophet’s methods of correcting people’s mistakes. Our brothers on social media have neglected this teaching. Unknowingly, they’re making Islam difficult for people to practice, and conversely ridiculing themselves. Instead of asking questions as, ‘why did #MuslimNews feature the wedding of a Muslim celebrity?’ They started calling us out. Some even called us blogger, fake news and Nollywood gossip, etc, without asking us questions.
A true and loyal follower of our platform would have asked questions; why featuring celebrities on a Muslim News platform?
So the issue is, even if we explain today, like I am doing now, they will still come and call us names tomorrow. We already have standards for whatever we publish at Muslim News, Nigeria’s most authoritative Islamic Newspaper, which is also in line with islamic tenets. But, for the sake of clarification, we are trying to make moves to clear the ambiguity.
Muslim News Nigeria is a news platform that focuses specifically on the activities of Muslims, both in Nigeria and across the globe. There are Muslims in different professions – some are facing abuses, discrimination, etc, while others are achieving great feats. They all want to share their bitter and sweet stories, but without a voice to do so. The mainstream media write more about some Muslims who hide under Islam to commit henious crimes. That’s why we floated Muslim News Nigeria to change the narrative and serve as a mouthpiece for Muslims in all sectors, irrespective of their ideological leanings. I am a product of MSSN, but Muslim News is beyond MSSN. It’s for the Nigerian Muslims. It’s not only for the Ahlul Sunnah, it’s for all globally recognised Muslim individuals and organisations who are making the Ummah proud.
To be able to achieve this feat as a specialised news medium, we have to divide our reportage into hard and soft news, with sub-divisions into beats (segments). Hard news has politics, crimes, abuse/discrimination, legal issues, etc. We feature this on a daily basis. We also have segments for Fiqh, Hadith, Qur’an, where scholars analyse contemporary issues from the Qur’an and Sunnah. But, as for soft news (power), we dedicate midweek and weekends to report news about Muslims in the entertainment industry. We call it Islamtaiment, which covers movies, music, sports, model and art generally. We also cover Nikaah and other lawful ceremonies. I guess this segment didn’t go down with many people, which explains the reason they ignorantly called us out.
But, whether they like it or not, we cannot forget our brethren in the entertainment industry. They are Muslims like us, though some of us think we are better than them. Alas, these people have large fan bases and their actions or inactions have effects, directly or indirectly in the portrayal of Muslims and Islam. Many homes today watch their movies, including in the so-called “better Muslim homes”. So, what are we talking about?
Look at the case of Lateef Adedimeji. He got married to a Christian. Is it wrong for a Muslim male to marry a female Christian? Scholars said it’s allowed according to Islamic injunction. You can read that on Muslim News. However, some gave advice why male Muslims shouldn’t marry female Christians, which is reasonable to a large extent. It is however, sad that some came to our platform to start insulting the actor, make derogatory remarks about him and his wife. They equally started insulting us – calling us with unprintable names. May Allah forgive us all. Interestingly, many of them later regretted making such comments, when Lateef announced during the Nikaah ceremony that his wife had adopted a Muslim name, Rahmatallah.
Let me quickly correct one impression, the fact that the actor’s wife adopted a Muslim name doesn’t mean she embraced Islam. Someone can adopt a Muslim name and still be a Christian, since there is no public pronouncement that she has embraced Islam. There is no evidence also that she has said the Kalimah Shahada, which is compulsory for a revert; and scholars have argued that, conversion is not part of a condition of marriage in Islam. Our scholar has done justice to that topic already. You can watch the interview on this platform. So, some of the people that criticised him were bold enough to admit publicly, after they had wrongly judged the actor. We eventually reported the story online and even invited our in-house scholar to clear the air on it from the Islamic point of view. Many people later appreciated what we did. Alhamdulillah.
We did a similar thing in the reportage of growing indirect endorsement of Christmas by many Muslims, both in Muslim and non-Muslims dominated countries. Many people attacked us ignorantly, thinking we are also indirectly endorsing the celebration by reporting it. Some people loyal to Saudi Arabia also came for us, thinking we were ridiculing the Kingdom, whose defacto ruler, MBS is on the verge of modernising Saudi Arabia as part of his Vision 2030 agenda. We are only reporting what is going on in the Kingdom, the same way we reported other countries such as Egypt, Iraq, etc.
Anyway, we aren’t actually perturbed about those people who think the Kingdom is being perfectly ruled, because when we report good things/development about the Kingdom, they keep mum; when they read what they don’t like about the Kingdom, they cry more than the bereaved, whereas, most of the news we published about Saudi Arabia, were also culled from the Saudi Arabia media.
So, on Christmas day, we invited our in-house scholar, who presented a balanced Islamic position on relating with the festive of other religions. Everybody was happy and they appreciated us for going the extra mile to do this, despite the limited resources.
Less I forget, apart from creating a platform for Muslim celebrities in mid the middle of the week and on weekends, we also include them into our annual awards category, where we celebrate Muslim achievers in all professions, in Nigeria and across the world. We call it Global, Nigeria Muslim Personalities of the Year #MNAward and their category is Muslim Celebrity of the Year. We nominate and reward the best among them, in order to encourage them to do more for Islam.
Whether they are perfect or not, some of them are still representing Islam. Some of them have not denied the fact that they are Muslims. Muslim News is not meant only for the pious or ideal Muslims alone, we want the weak to feel free to read articles or news that will inspire and motivate them to be the best Muslims they can be in their own little way. Yet, we aren’t perfect. We are all working towards perfection and seeking the favour of Allah both in this life and the hereafter.
Watch out for full interview.
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