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To Amir Liaquat Hussain about Taher Shah & the big snake

Mr Amir Liaquat Hussain

Assalamualikum.

You have done a lot of things in the past that have scandalized, traumatized and shocked people. More evolved people, at least. But you have a huge fan following of naive masses who still are head over heels over you. You know very well, sir, how to win them over. You are very entertaining to some. And so you have been going on.

As someone who is always the devil’s advocate and likes to see the good side in people, I have always liked to think that you, like all of us, are a combination of good and bad. Secondly, no matter what, you talk with love and reverence about our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw). And so I always try and give you the benefit of doubt.

But this time, Amir Sahab, you have pushed it to far. And it is better that I say it to you directly as an open letter, rather than back-biting about you.

In yesterday’s Amaan Ramzan transmission of GEO, aired at Iftar time on 25th July 2013, you publicly humiliated and insulted this singer called Taher Shah who sang the viral song “Eye to Eye”. You made fun of him, embarrassed him, touched the grown man’s hair and brought attention to it in an offensive manner, cut short his song as he tried to sing, and you put a huge snake on his shoulders.

To Taher Shah, I digress and give a very short message: Sorry that this happened, Taher. But you should have known what you are getting into. And for the record after seeing you insulted like that, I am feeling remorse that I laughed about your Eye to Eye, although it was hard not to, but I accept I should have done better than mock.

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Coming back to Amir Liaquat Sahab. Well, sir, this has nothing to do with Taher Shah really, or about one particular show. My worry and concern is at deeper levels.

The first and foremost is that people call you, for reasons best known to them, an Islamic scholar and as a member of clergy. And that places HUGE responsibility on your shoulders. Because you are the most prominent pop tv cleric as they are calling you, people associate everything you do with Islamic scholars. We, the human race, love to stereo-type and pass sweeping generalized statements. We make people heroes too quickly and write them off too soon. And so I have heard friends say “ALL Islamic tv shows, specially in Ramadan, are drama. They will do anything for ratings. Look at Dr Amir! They are ALL the same.” Fact is, they are not! I have heard humble and peace-loving Muftis and Aalims on tv imparting their knowledge, some of them not there for money or ratings but simply because they feel they must share the knowledge they have. It is disturbing to see that they are being doubted because of something that someone else might be doing.

Secondly, I have honestly and sporadically respected you for the fact that your love of Rasool Ullah (saw) is so intense. When you initially became a celeb, your naats and the way you talked about the Sunnah of Rasool Ullah (saw) and his life and times was very motivating. But what’s happening now, sir, is that in the same sitting you are mocking people which is against the Sunnat of my beloved, may upon him be peace, and you are also reciting durood. Yes, we all make those mistakes at times. And we shouldn’t. But with honour comes responsibility. You, sir, represent a lot more than the average man. Your voice is heard by millions and your sentiments are echoed across the globe. You need to be more careful with the trust people have vested in you.

Many feel that your current way of distributing gifts in your shows when they answer questions is unethical. I don’t think so. “Neelam Ghar” is legend in Pakistan, and you are filling that gap. So good for you. But how come people respected Tariq Aziz sahab so much but you are under such tough scrutiny? Because it all depends on HOW something is executed. You need to re-think how you are doing it.

Other morning shows have also been known to have orphan or abandoned children given to couples who wish to adopt. Why did it make to the international media when you did the same? Why did it hurt people so when you gave that baby away? Again, sir, its the way you did it. On one side lawn and motor bikes were given away and on another a human baby! That is simply in bad taste.

There is nothing wrong if media persons, to encourage people to take parent-less children as their own, with legalities and background check, have such things on their shows, though it’s debatable if such private things should be done on media in the first place. But if the element of respect and decorum is missing, it even makes a good act unsavoury.

Please re-think all that you are doing and the precedent that you are setting. Otherwise you may be the most watched anchor person but not the most respected.