Born as Mark Hanson, Shaykh Hamza Youssef grew up practicing Greek Orthodox Christianity; however, after a near-death motorcycle accident, he strove to know more about the afterlife; and after reading the Quran, he eventually converted to Islam. He is now an American Islamic scholar and a co-founder of Zaytuna College, the only accredited Islamic college, in Berkeley, California. On the muslim Malaysia Tour 2014, he gave “thought-provoking and inspiring talks that provide clarity to why we are in the midst of such intense turmoil and tribulation and how the the process of healing and achieving peace rests on the individual struggle for education and self-purification,” exploring mainly: television and film, music, video games, satanic symbols, dress, pornography, and food.
Shaykh Hamza Youssef begins the lecture explaining the devil over history has been dragging mankind into the disaster, or “fitna,” that we nowadays live in. He also explains the means by which this disaster providing research on the statistics in the United States. He states, “ media violence has increased in quantity but it’s also more graphic, more sexual, and more sadistic,” and also offers the Bonnie and Clyde landmark film as an example of the devil’s slow steps, for “before it graphic violence was not permitted, but now it looks tame compared to what they have out.” And then he states, “if you watch movies from the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s you could see it’s slow.” And finally before beginning states that “the devil wants violence and sex because they’re very powerful to the human psyche, and these are the two ways that he can really corrupt the heart.”
Television and Film
He begins with TV and Film statistics, referencing the September, 2000 Federal Trade Commission report that showed that of “ ‘R’ rated movies, 70% of restricted video games, and 100% of music with “explicit content” warning labels were being marketed to children under 17.” Then, he explains how the marketers are aware of this and calls them “the devil’s minions.” Whether conscious or not of their actions (Quran verses: “but they don’t feel they’re wrongdoing”), and if told of their wrongdoing, they would reply “we believe in freedom of speech and artistic expression; we’re not so in corruption.(Quran verses: “indeed they are the corruptors”) Then, he states that “by time the average child in the US is eighteen years old, he or she will have witnessed 200,000 acts of violence and 16,000 murders,” mainly from movies and TV shows, and then everyone why the United States is such a violent country. Not only Shaykh Hamza Youssef explain that children are being “programmed to be violent” but also the American Pediatric Association warns that “children under the age of 3 should not see any television” a compromise to that “they should not watch any TV at all” because the evidence that “media violence is damaging to young children because they cannot easily tell the difference between real life and fantasy” proves so, and even Scientific American proved that “ television is a low grade addiction;” television is indeed addictive. Speaking of specifically the worldwide known Disney, American child psychiatrist told Shaykh Hamza that “he had many children who had Disney film trauma” mainly because every movie character has a dead mother or a mother who dies throughout the film, and Shaykh Hamza states that “they know what they’re doing” and emphasizes that Disney is an “evil empire.”
Shaykh Hamza uses this video in his presentation as an example of today’s commercials and comments saying, “you know people nowadays think that that’s a joke trust me it is no joke.” Then on to continue with the statistics that “2 out of 3 Hollywood films released in 2001 were rated R,”and then he explains that” in the 1940’s it would have been rated X, but now people are becoming used to the violence and the sex, and what is pg-13 now used to be rated R” epitomizing one of the many steps of the devil. Then, he shows how prevalent and watched those movies and shows are by explaining that “5:11 hours on average is spent watching TV daily in the United States” and “2.24 number of TV sets in the average U.S household. He, then, proves that the solution is no longer raising awareness, for “ of the 56% of american who pay for cable TV 49% say that they watch too much TV.” And that this “disease” spreads even to the young, for “34 hours per week average Americans over the age of 2 spend in front of the TV,” “24 hours per week children of 2-11 spend watching TV,” “54% of 4-6 year-old who, when asked to choose between watching TV and spending time with their fathers, preferred television,” annually, and “average american youth spends 900 hours in school and 1,200 hours watching TV,” absolutely nauseating numbers. Finally, corporations having the United States as a consumer country on average have “16,000 number of 30 secs TV commercials, ‘now called an important message,’ seen in a year by an average American child.”
Including TV and film, Family Guy, Scooby Doo, and The Simpson are examples given by Shaykh Hamza that manipulate your children’s minds with all their untied family relations, extreme aggressiveness, and Scooby Doo’s demons’ and ghosts’ symbols and characters. Statistics, also, showed that the level of violence during Saturday morning (20-25) cartoons is higher than the level of violence during prime time (3-5). The television industry knows what it’s doing; it knows that, as Shaykh Hamza said, “children imitate what they see” and that the children “are growing on this crap.”
Statistics showed that “2.5 average listening hours per day for teenagers” in the U.S. and more importantly that “1 in 3 of popular songs now contain explicit references to drug or alcohol use”; those are examples of the steps; for instance, if you go back to the early-mid 1900s, says Shaykh Hamza, “were innocent lyrics some of them had subtle things that people could work out,” but now “you can’t listen to the lyrics because it’s so disgusting, really they are so filthy.” Moreover, “ 35 per hour, 84 per day, 591 per week, 30,732 per year number of times an American teen is exposed to explicit substance references,” far from “Puff the Magic Dragon” that caused much chaos when published in the 20th century.
“References to drugs or alcohol in songs:
- Pop: 9%
- Rock: 14%
- R&B/Hip-Hop: 20%
- Country: 36%
- Rap: 77%”
“And you’ve got all these kids listening to rap…”
Titled as “the big plague” by Shaykh Hamza, video gaming, as everyone knows and still games, has many effects; of those many Shaykh Hamza categorized:
- Social Isolation
- Drop in School Performance
- Wasting of Time
- Violent Tendencies
- Financial loss
- Decrease in Empathy
He gave the example, and explained that although rare, of the “Japanese boy who gamed until he had a heart attack,” but this why it is forbidden in our religion Islam; our religion strives to aid everyone, even the ones with rare cases. Video gaming is not only prevalent among kids, as many presume; “35 is the age game players” in the U.S. Those numbers are by all means disturbing. In fact, of the gamers “25% are younger than 18 years old, 49% are 18 to 49 years old, and 26% are over 50 years old,” so this proves that minors are only quarter of the gamers in the U.S.
“Physical fights statistics:
- Females: 40%
- Males: 51%
- Females: 14%
- Males: 28%
Poor grades statistics:
- Females: 37%
- Males: 35%
- Females: 20%
- Males: 23%
Damaged property statistics:
- Females: 15%
- Males: 23%
- Females: 5%
- Males: 10%”
I guess that those numbers should tell you something about video-games and it’s creators; as Shaykh Hamza said, “it doesn’t need a rock scientist to tell you what’s self-evident.” He then explains the hate and aggressiveness to policemen by offering the famous GTA (Grand Theft Auto), a game actually created by criminals, as a paragon of what’s slowly affecting the upcoming generation. And it is evident by the fact that in the past policemen in the United Sates and England were not armed, but now every policeman has at least one pistol. It is, thus, that “89% of the top-selling video games contains violent content. Almost half of it is of a serious nature” is by all means no surprise.
Prevalent Satanic References in the
Shaykh Hamza then explains the satanic symbols seen today by worldwide celebrities; for example, the numbers they’re always doing such as 11 at rock concerts and the 666, which people nowadays use as an OK or perfect sign. He offers the example of Miley Cyrus, once a beloved Disney “Hannah Montana” with millions of child follower who idolize her, who now has become an almost naked girl wherever she goes and Marilyn Manson, lead singer of the band Marilyn Manson, who in his concerts asks the audience to openly denounce God and they do. “This is a huge problem,” or rather an upcoming catastrophe. Shaykh Hamza then conveys how in many of today’s media the one-eyed appearance of the “Dajjal” is depicted in movies like Despicable Me, Monster Inc., and one-eyed Dark Messiah, or rather “Dark Christ,” claiming that they are preparing our children to Dajjal’s look.
Shaykh Hamza states that “people,” especially celebrities, “used to dress modestly but now” most of their dressing:
- Immodest dressing
- Breaking dressing norms
- Squandering wealth on dressing
- Dressing for drawing attention”
He explains that this might be part of a “plan,” trying to drag people into a world of androgyny, a world in which every person should explore all his or her mixed man-woman personality, precisely contradicting what the Prophet Muhammed asked him Ummah to NOT do.
Shaykh Hamza defines pornography as “one of the most destructive aspects the devil now has,” for it destroys families and one’s heart. He also claims that it deprives one from having any spiritual experiences whatsoever. He then reveals a bar graph in which the highest 7 countries that search for “sex” are Arab countries with Iraq and Libya on the top and the lowest three Western and European countries: USA, Germany, and UK. Shaykh Hamza explains that the reason of this disgrace we are in is our distance from the Quran, Prophet’s Hadith, and the Prophet’s way of life. As for pornographic internet prevalence:
- Pornographic websites: 4.2 million (12% of total websites)
- Pornographic pages: 372 million
- Daily pornographic search engine requests: 68 million (25% of total search engine request)
- Daily pornographic emails: 2.5 billion (8% of all emails)
By which Shaykh Hamza commented, “what is happening to us as a species!” The spread of this heart-darkening disease must be quelled; pornography, doubtless to say, is of the most disastrous problems in our modern world.
Shaykh Hamza states that most of today’s food, especially fast food, is either:
- Junk food
- Haram, forbidden by Islam, food
- Causing obesity
And he advises everyone to avoid a restaurant if one recognizes the restaurant, for instance McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Hardee’s, etc. He advises Muslims to eat their own food such as “shwarma, falafel,” or whatever; just not those lab-made food producing restaurants.
Shaykh Hamza, finally, ends his lecture with proven signs of the end time, Judgement Day. He proves to everyone how the devil is using means of media to dupe people into his steps, dragging everyone with him to hell. It truly is tragic; the ignorance we and our fathers have lived in all those years without ever anticipating any of the devil’s steps, or rather, supporting him with all those “enticing” inventions.
He calls out everyone to “flee to the cave” like the Quran’s cave people (ashabo alkahf), and the cave being our home, our dar of Isalm. He calls out to use our precious time wisely; for example, one can learn a language, volunteer in aiding groups, or at least visit his or her grandmother rather than waste his or her time on television and video games. He also calls out to protect our children from those steps, for they are to say the shahadah by their essence. As a species, we have thrived for thousands of years without video games, television, and junk food, and I personally believe that we can live many more. In fact, I, personally, believe that one in a life following the devil’s steps does not thrive but strives to survive.
This article was inspired and most of its content was extracted from a lecture given by Shaykh Hamza Youssef titled “The Devil’s Trap” in Malaysia in 2014.