THE BLOG

Why Is Channel 4 Broadcasting the Call to Prayer?

03/07/2013 16:04 BST | Updated 02/09/2013 10:12 BST

It is part of Channel 4's remit to appeal to the tastes and interests of a culturally diverse society and to provide a platform for alternative views and perspectives.

We already cover religion daily through our short film slot, 4Thought. But as Ramadan is such a major event in the Muslim calendar we wanted to reflect that on air beyond a couple of themed films in the 4Thought strand.

So we decided to mark the whole of Ramadan - one month - on air. We will be showing short films, Ramadan Diaries, which will reflect the lives of Muslims as they observe the daily fast and a thoughtful piece each morning, Ramadan Reflections, designed to give some brain food before sunrise, when the fast starts.

A documentary, A Very British Ramadan, presented by former professional rugby player and star of the award-winning Make Bradford British, Rashid Khan, will guide people through Ramadan - what the fast entails; no food or drink or swearing or smoking from dawn to dusk, but instead more prayer, thinking kindly of others and giving to charity.

But what has grabbed the most headlines has been our decision to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer, the adhan, live each morning. This melodic call to action is heard across the globe. It's heard across the country. And every time it is played it stirs Muslims to action; to attend Mosque or to find a quiet place to pray, or just to pause for a moment. We hope that in broadcasting the call to prayer each morning at sunrise - at around 3am - it will recognise Muslims observing Ramadan and will encourage interested parties to find out more about this religious festival means.

On the first day of Ramadan we're also showing short, 20 second trails that will point to the website. Online the website will automatically play the call to prayer at the correct time.

We are focussing on the positive aspects of Islam and hoping to explain to a broader public what Ramadan is, what it means for the 2.8million Muslims who take part in the UK and to provide a platform for different views and different voices. The 4Ramadan season will offer a glimpse of what Muslims' experience - and that is what Channel 4 is here to do, to shine a light on the non-mainstream view and offer an alternative voice.

Ralph Lee is the head of factual programming at Channel 4.

Details of Channel 4's programming during Ramadan can be found at www.channel4.com/ramadan