01 November 2011

Holy smoke: Islamic preachers are drawing on a Christian tradition

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

Excerpts:
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.

In 2001 Mr Khaled burst onto screens with his show “Words from the Heart” and his brand of modern, moderate piety. Sharp-suited, mustachioed and speaking colloquial Egyptian, Mr Khaled and his audience (of men and women) discussed the concerns of young Muslims, such as whether Islam forbids cinema-going.
Link: Holy smoke: Islamic preachers are drawing on a Christian tradition



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