November 2, 2011

IMPORTING THE CRUSADES

Holy smoke: Islamic preachers are drawing on a Christian tradition (The Economist, Oct 29th 2011)

SCREAMING hordes of teenage girls are a common sight at pop concerts and film premières. They are less usual when waiting to hear a religious preacher. But such girls--one gasping "I can see him, I can see him" through the folds of her niqab--awaited Moez Masoud, an Egyptian televangelist, recently in Cairo. He is part of a growing band of Islamic preachers who are true celebrities, says Yasmin Moll, a researcher at New York University, who attended Mr Masoud's talk.

They draw on a Christian tradition pioneered in the 1950s by such preachers as Billy Graham. For the past ten years Amr Khaled, an Egyptian one-time accountant turned televangelist star, has led the way. Previously television preachers fitted the stereotype of white-haired, bearded sheikhs in white robes, monotonously exhorting the faithful, in classical Arabic, to follow the strictures of Islam more exactly. [...]

The new breed of televangelist has proved hugely popular with young viewers uninterested in traditional religious programming. But the Muslim religious and political establishment is uncomfortable with these new celebrities: none boasts traditional training as a cleric. In an odd alliance, secularists are also chary, worried that the brand of moderate Islam they peddle could prove to be the gateway to a more extreme version. But stuffy religious authorities are now being forced to acknowledge these stars' pulling power. In January Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of al-Azhar, the Cairo-based font of Islamic orthodoxy, met Mr Khaled to discuss how to renew religious discourse in Islam.

Posted by at November 2, 2011 5:56 AM
  

blog comments powered by Disqus
« THE SYSTEM IS DESIGNED TO BENEFIT EMPLOYEES, NOT STUDENTS: | Main | THIS IS WHAT THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY ASSOCIATES ITSELF WITH?: »