How MTA International is redefining religious broadcasting


IN 1994, the world Islamic leader, the late Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IV, of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at established Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (MTA) International, a satellite television station based in London. The feat was achieved principally for the propagation of true Islamic teachings globally which has been misunderstood by greater number of people.

Prominent among these misunderstanding are the concept of Jihad, the role of women and the Islamic mode of dressing to mention a few. The mass media notably television has been the major tool used for the misinformation through terrestrial and satellite broadcast to millions of people around the world.Arguably, this trend is informed by the submission of religious commentators that religion has been the most intense worldview-shaping phenomenon in history, and it will continue to be in the 21st century and beyond. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, a writer and fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, as well as Qasim Akinreti, an online broadcast journalist with Voice of Nigeria (VON) are among these religious commentators.

A closer look at the avalanche of religious television stations across the globe will testify to this. There are over 166 religious television stations globally, less than 20 are fully Islamic broadcast outfits, with major presence in the United States of America; United Kingdom; Canada; France; Greece; El Salvador; Brazil; Pakistan; India; Nigeria; Cameroon; Egypt; Iran and Iraq. Paradoxically, the Vatican and Pakistan have a state religious broadcasting stations. Viewers across the globe are used to MTA International; Islam Channel; Iqra; Noor TV; Deen TV and Quran TV. In the Christian fold, Vatican TV; Dove TV; Hope TV; Emmanuel TV; Liberty TV; and MFM TV as well as others with sizeable number of viewers.

Three factors accounted for the exponential growth of international religious broadcaster within the Islamic fold: the influence of the 1979 Islamic Iranian revolution; the emergence of Arab satellite television; and unfettered Internet access in the year 2000. Prominent religious organizations with international religious broadcasts are the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, the Catholic Mission, Pentecostal groups, the Jewish community, and the Adventist among others.

The features of these religious television stations are variety of religious messages couched in sermons and lectures using different languages such as Arabic, English, French, Persian, as well as Urdu and Banglia among others. These contents are distributed terrestrial via satellite and through Internet websites online real time. Sources of funding of these broadcasts are mainly through subventions by the religious organizations and donations from viewers.

Within the Islamic fold , Muslim Television Ahmadiyya stands out with its variety of live Friday sermons ,Quranic classes, Islamic news and programmes, documentaries, and scientific discoveries all based on Islamic principles and precepts, through live update on the social media platforms, thereby communicating  the message of  the holy prophet, promised messiah and taking the voice of the Khalifah to the world. This is in fulfillment of the assurances to ensure that the “message of the Promised Messiah and Mahdi get to all corners of the World.”Programme choices in Arabic, English, French and other languages are delight to numerous viewers from the Islamic World leader- Hazrat Masroor Ahmad,Khalifatul Masih V, Friday Sermons, Talk back, Beacon of Truth, a Press Point, Ahmadiyya news and international news among others.

Since 2013, MTA international has been organizing an International Broadcast/Conference to review its programme contents and develop capacities of its staff both full and part time in the more challenging international broadcast environment which is now boosted by technological advancement.The fourth international conference of the pay TV channel last March was enriched with an address by the World Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the fifth Khalifa, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad. A total of 48 delegates from 20 countries attended the three-day conference, held at the Baitul Futuh Mosque in South-West London.In the course of the event delegates attended a variety of workshops and presentations organised by MTA International. The delegates were also able to take part in one-to-one sessions with representatives of different departments of MTA.

In his presentation, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad underscored the continued progress of MTA and prayed for its future development. His Holiness also informed the audience that a new MTA studio – to be named the ‘Wahab Adam Studios’ – was being constructed in Ghana.Speaking about the global reach of MTA, the Ahmadiyyah world head said:“At a time when certain groups within Islam are doing their utmost to defame and discredit its teachings, we are witnessing how Allah the Almighty is constantly opening new avenues of Tabligh for our Jamaat. Unquestionably, MTA is itself playing a great role in spreading the true teachings of Islam to all parts of the world.”

Announcing the construction of a new MTA studio being built in Ghana, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:

“In Ghana, a permanent MTA studio is being built and will soon be opened, God willing. Various regional programmes will be made at the Ghana studios, which will be tailored towards an African audience and made according to their tastes and nature. God willing, when the studio is completed it will be of an extremely professional standard and of a high calibre.” In his address, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad praised the volunteer spirit that has become the driving force of the channel. His Holiness said that young volunteers working for MTA in all parts of the world were serving the organisation with “great distinction and a heartfelt passion to serve”.He concluded by praying: “I hope and pray that we are able to take full benefit of this great treasure of MTA that Allah has bestowed upon us, so that the message of true Islam shines brightly and comes to enlighten every home in the world.”

Earlier, the Managing Director of MTA International, Munir-ud-din Shams gave an annual report during which he informed the audience of the major activities of MTA International during the past year. The delegates were also shown a short video highlighting the continued progress of MTA during the past year.