Islamic Studies Muslim Television Preachers
by
Tuve Floden
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 April 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0273

Introduction

Muslim television preachers, also called Muslim televangelists or media preachers, became popular with the rise of television, satellite networks, and the Internet. However, these individuals can trace their roots to earlier preachers who used newspapers, radio, and cassettes, as well as the phenomenon of popular storytellers from the medieval period. Today, Muslim television preachers are found worldwide, both inside and outside the Arab world, in countries such as Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States, and more. Some of these preachers have traditional religious educations, with degrees from Al-Azhar or elsewhere, but many do not, instead holding degrees in subjects like business, accounting, or engineering. Like their counterparts from other religions, Muslim television preachers have also expanded beyond the realm of television and often spread their message through other means, such as seminars and lectures, book publications, websites, videos on YouTube, and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Prominent examples of Muslim television preachers include Amr Khaled and Yusuf al-Qaradawi, as well as others like Muhammad al-Sha‘rawi and Moez Masoud of Egypt, Muhammad Hassan and Wagdi Ghoneim (Salafi preachers from Egypt), Javed Ahmad Ghamidi and Farhat Hashmi of Pakistan, Zakir Naik of India, Abdullah Gymnastiar (Aa Gym) and Arifin Ilham of Indonesia, Tareq al-Suwaidan of Kuwait, and Ahmad al-Shugairi of Saudi Arabia, to name a few.

General Overviews

Comprehensive studies of Muslim television preachers include the documentary film Muslim Televangelists (2009) and the edited volume Hroub 2012, which situates these Muslim preachers within the broader realm of religious broadcasting. Saetren 2010 focuses on religious shows and channels available to Egyptian viewers, and, in doing so, it reveals the wide array of religious programming that preachers of different backgrounds produce across the Arab world. Other academic works explore a narrower range of television preachers or discuss the phenomenon within a particular country. The three studies in Thomas and Lee 2012, for example, each examine a specific set of Muslim television preachers, but also appear next to chapters on their Christian and Hindu counterparts. Ahmad 2010 focuses on four “tele-preachers” in Pakistan, Howell 2008 describes the state of television preaching in Indonesia, and Moll 2010 focuses on the “new preachers” (al-du‘a al-judud) in Egypt. Floden 2017 examines the use of terminology, questioning the term televangelism as it applies to Islam, using examples of preachers from Egypt, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.

  • Ahmad, Mumtaz. Media-Based Preachers and the Creation of New Muslim Publics in Pakistan. NBR Special Report 22. Seattle: National Bureau of Asian Research, 2010.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This report explores the history and ideas of four popular preachers from Pakistan, whom the author describes as “tele-preachers” and “media-based preachers.” Important remarks include their use of electronic media (television, cassettes, videos, etc.) and their impact in Pakistan and abroad. The four case studies are Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, Farhat Hashmi, Israr Ahmad, and Tahirul Qadri. Only Qadri has a traditional religious education from a madrasa. Available online for purchase.

    Find this resource:

  • Derouet, Thierry, dir. Muslim Televangelists: Voices of Islam’s Future. Journeyman Pictures, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This forty-minute documentary film discusses the global phenomenon of Muslim television preaching, focusing on male and female preachers like Amr Khaled and Madame Chaheera from Egypt; Tareq al-Suwaidan from Kuwait; and Rhoma Irama, Aa Gym, and Lutfia Sungkar from Indonesia. Highlights include interviews with the preachers, clips of their speeches and television programs, and opinions from viewers and local journalists.

    Find this resource:

  • Floden, Tuve. “Defining the Media Du‘ā and Their Call to Action.” In Special Issue: New Islamic Media. POMEPS Studies 23 (2017): 9–13.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A short discussion of how to divide and define Muslim television preachers, and how best to label this phenomenon, comparing Muslim preachers from across the Middle East with Christian preachers like Billy Graham. This article argues that the word “televangelist” is a Christian term with a focus on television, and thus suggests “media du‘a” as a better alternative for these Muslim preachers.

    Find this resource:

  • Howell, Julia Day. “Modulations of Active Piety: Professors and Televangelists as Promoters of Indonesian ‘Sufisme.’” In Expressing Islam: Religious Life and Politics in Indonesia. Edited by Greg Fealy and Sally White, 40–62. Singapore: ISEAS Publishing, 2008.

    DOI: 10.1355/9789812308528-007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book chapter carefully details the state of Muslim television preachers in Indonesia, comparing it to the rise of preachers like Amr Khaled in Egypt. It describes how preachers in both countries advocate for active piety, but demonstrates that Indonesian preachers are unique in how they directly incorporate ideas and practices from Sufism. Case studies include Abdullah Gymnastiar (Aa Gym) and Arifin Ilham.

    Find this resource:

  • Hroub, Khaled. Religious Broadcasting in the Middle East. London: C. Hurst & Co, 2012.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This edited volume details the history of religious broadcasting in the Middle East, with analyses of mainstream satellite channels (Al-Jazeera, Dubai, and MBC), Salafi channels (Iqra’ and Al-Majd), female preachers, and popular preachers without a traditional religious education. While most of the book focuses on Islam, two chapters address Jewish and Christian religious programming.

    Find this resource:

  • Moll, Yasmin. “Islamic Televangelism: Religion, Media and Visuality in Contemporary Egypt.” Arab Media & Society 10 (Spring 2010)

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article explores Islamic television in Egypt, including all of the country’s “new preachers” (al-du‘a al-judud), from Amr Khaled to Mustafa Hosni and Moez Masoud, with a mention of the Kuwaiti preacher Tareq al-Suwaidan as well. The study carefully examines the production and performance of these preachers’ television shows.

    Find this resource:

  • Saetren, John Erik. “Two Narratives of Islamic Revival: Television Preaching in Egypt.” PhD diss., University of Bergen, 2010.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This comparison of two Muslim television preachers (Amr Khaled and Muhammad Hassan) includes a comprehensive history of television preaching in Egypt. It also details the state of Islamic television by defining three types of channels with Islamic programming (pluralistic, Salafi, and nonreligious channels) and then summarizing all the Islamic shows and preachers broadcasting in Egypt during the month of Ramadan in 2008.

    Find this resource:

  • Thomas, Pradip, and Philip Lee. Global and Local Televangelism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1057/9781137264817Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An edited volume about contemporary television preachers in three different religious traditions: Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. The chapters on Islam include studies of Salafi preachers, Muslim preachers in Egypt, and the trends in Islamic television preaching in Indonesia.

    Find this resource:

Roots and Early Origins of Muslim Television Preachers

Muslim television preachers are not a completely new phenomenon, as their roots go back to popular preachers and religious storytellers from the medieval period (see Jones 2012), as well as later preachers who disseminated their sermons via newspapers, radio, and cassettes, as seen in Rock-Singer 2019, Aishima 2016, and Hirschkind 2006. These preachers’ use of television and the Internet is new, of course, and Bunt 2003 and Kraidy and Khalil 2009, respectively, demonstrate how the rise of the Internet and satellite television broadened the reach and availability of religious programming. Some scholars debate how and to what extent these new media have affected religious authority in Islam and the power and influence of religious scholars (ulama). The seminal work Eickelman and Anderson 2003 states that the rise of new media led to a fragmentation of religious authority and a proliferation of religious authorities. Echchaibi 2011 frames this as a delocalization of religious authority, while Skovgaard-Petersen 2009 discusses the internationalization of religious authority.

  • Aishima, Hatsuki. Public Culture and Islam in Modern Egypt: Media, Intellectuals and Society. London: I.B. Tauris, 2016.

    DOI: 10.5040/9781350987630Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book examines the life and work of Abd al-Halim Mahmud (b. 1910–d. 1978), the Sufi religious scholar and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, who actively employed radio sermons in his religious outreach. Based on fieldwork in Egypt and analysis of Mahmud’s writing and radio lectures, it explores Mahmud’s influence on his Egyptian audience and his pioneering role as an Azharite scholar using new electronic media in his religious teaching.

    Find this resource:

  • Bunt, Gary R. Islam in the Digital Age: E-Jihad, Online Fatwas, and Cyber Islamic Environments. London: Pluto Press, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book explores the use and discussion of Islam on the Internet in the early 2000s, including lengthy treatments of Islamic activism, cyberterrorism, and online fatwas, as well as the effect of these new media on religious authority.

    Find this resource:

  • Echchaibi, Nabil. “From Audio Tapes to Video Blogs: The Delocalisation of Authority in Islam.” Nations and Nationalism 17.1 (2011): 25–44.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8129.2010.00468.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article discusses the influence of modern technology on religious discourse in Islam—citing the work of Egyptian preachers Amr Khaled and Moez Masoud, as well as that of the Iranian-born American blogger Ali Ardekani, who runs a popular religious video blog. Echchaibi argues that that these preachers “encourage public participation and civic engagement,” and shift religious discourse from morality to a practical and public religiosity, and also alludes to a crisis of authority in Islam.

    Find this resource:

  • Eickelman, Dale F., and Jon W. Anderson. New Media in the Muslim World: The Emerging Public Sphere. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This seminal and often-cited work argues that the rise of satellite television and the Internet led to new arenas for religious debate and new authority figures, individuals that the authors label as “new interpreters of Islam.”

    Find this resource:

  • Hirschkind, Charles. The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book demonstrates the power and popularity of Islamic cassette sermons from the late 1960s onward, concentrating on the work of popular preachers in Egypt and their use of this medium in the Islamic Revival movement. Preachers discussed include Abd al-Hamid Kishk, Muhammad al-Ghazali, Muhammad al-Sha‘rawi, and others.

    Find this resource:

  • Jones, Linda G. The Power of Oratory in the Medieval Muslim World. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139149457Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book analyzes the practice and power of medieval preachers and orators, looking at the Maghreb and Muslim Iberia between the 11th and 15th centuries. It covers the diverse genres of oratory from this era, including khutbas, wedding sermons, orations on politics and jihad, and religious storytelling. Analysis covers the preacher’s role in society, the reactions of their audience, and the scholarly debates around these different orations and orators.

    Find this resource:

  • Kraidy, Marwan M., and Joe F. Khalil. Arab Television Industries. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

    DOI: 10.1007/978-1-84457-576-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book documents the history of Arab television, including the rise of international satellite networks and the effect this has had on society, culture, politics, and religion. Chapter 5 focuses specifically on television programs during the month of Ramadan and briefly mentions television preachers Ahmad al-Shugairi, Amr Khaled, Salman al-‘Awda, and Tareq al-Suwaidan. Published on behalf of the British Film Institute.

    Find this resource:

  • Rock-Singer, Aaron. Practicing Islam in Egypt: Print Media and Islamic Revival. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

    DOI: 10.1017/9781108590877Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book carefully examines the role of the print media in religious and intellectual debates during Egypt’s Islamic revival in the late 1960s and 1970s. Particular focus is paid to Islamic periodicals from diverse factions: the Jama‘a Islamiyya, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafis, and the state Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs.

    Find this resource:

  • Salvatore, Armando, and Dale F. Eickelman, eds. Public Islam and the Common Good. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2006.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This volume explores the concept of “public Islam,” where new media permit all sorts of people to contribute to religious and political debates. Its analysis shows how this phenomenon contributed to the fragmentation of authority and gave rise to new voices and ideas. It explores the effect of diverse media (books, magazines, newspapers, radio, television) on the public sphere(s), and shows how satellite television and the Internet created transnational audiences.

    Find this resource:

  • Skovgaard-Petersen, Jakob. “In Defense of Muhammad, ʿUlamaʾ, Da‘iya and the New Islamic Internationalism.” In Guardians of Faith in Modern Times: ʿUlamaʾ in the Middle East. Edited by Meir Hatina, 291–309. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A book chapter that describes the internationalization of religious authority in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, as well as the tensions between the ʿulamaʾ and modern duʿa. The author includes examples of two television preachers from Egypt: Amr Khaled and Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

    Find this resource:

Case Study: Amr Khaled

The Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled (b. 1967) is one of the names most commonly associated with Muslim television preaching, and many excellent studies of his work exist. After Bayat 2002, which briefly discusses the rise of new preachers in Egypt (the “Amr Khaled Phenomenon”), Wise 2003 is the first full-length study of Khaled, detailing his rise in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Historical analyses continue with Harris 2008, which focuses on Khaled’s television program Life Makers (Ṣunnāʿ al-Ḥayāh) and the organizations it spawned in Egypt and beyond; Mariani 2011, which analyzes Khaled’s Internet presence and how he sought to expand into new markets; and Hassan 2010, a newspaper article that describes Khaled’s reality television show Mujaddidun. Closer studies of Khaled’s ideas include Pandya 2009 and Sobhy 2009, the latter of which is particularly comprehensive. Scholars have also used Khaled to illustrate broader trends in the Middle East and beyond. Soliman 2008 uses Khaled’s speeches as an example of code-switching in religious discourse, Rock 2010 cites Khaled as proof that satellite television and the Internet provide a means for challenging religious and political authority, and Atia 2013 shows how Khaled’s work contributed to the growth of faith-based development organizations.

  • Atia, Mona. Building a House in Heaven: Pious Neoliberalism and Islamic Charity in Egypt. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013.

    DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816689156.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Chapter 6 of this book discusses Khaled’s concept of faith-based development, which promotes self-reliance, entrepreneurism, and volunteerism as active parts of a religious life. This study then shows how Khaled’s work helped inspire a wave of faith-based development organizations (FBDOs) in Egypt and beyond.

    Find this resource:

  • Bayat, Asef. “Piety, Privilege and Egyptian Youth.” ISIM Newsletter 10 (July 2002): 23.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This short article is the first scholarly description of the “Amr Khaled Phenomenon.” It argues that Khaled and other lay preachers in Egypt are shifting Islamism away from direct involvement in politics toward a new focus on active piety and personal salvation.

    Find this resource:

  • Harris, Samuel Lee. “Development through Faith: The Ma’adi Life Makers and the Islamic Entrepreneurial Subject.” MA diss., Georgetown University, 2008.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This thesis illustrates Khaled’s regional and international influence, describing how the preacher’s work on television inspired the Islamic organization “Life Makers” (Sunna‘ al-Hayah) in Egypt, the Middle East, and around the globe. The premier study of the Life Makers organization.

    Find this resource:

  • Hassan, Hassan. “At Last—A Worthwhile Reality TV Show.” The National, 21 March 2010.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This newspaper article discusses Khaled’s 2010 television series Mujaddidun, described as “the first Islamic reality TV show,” and which extends the preacher’s themes of social development into a show based loosely on the American program The Apprentice. The article includes quotes from the preacher himself, three of the fifteen contestants, the show’s producer, and others.

    Find this resource:

  • Mariani, Ermete. “Cyber-Fatwas, Sermons, and Media Campaigns: Amr Khaled and Omar Bakri Muhammad in Search of New Audiences.” In Producing Islamic Knowledge: Transmission and Dissemination in Western Europe. Edited by Martin van Bruinessen and Stefano Allievi, 142–168. London, UK: Routledge, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This study compares the work and communication strategies of Khaled and the Syrian preacher Omar Bakri Muhammad between 2001 and 2005, when they were both based in London. This includes a detailed website analysis of Khaled’s Internet sites, and illustrates how the preacher sought to broaden his reach beyond television and into new markets like Europe.

    Find this resource:

  • Pandya, Sophia. “Religious Change Among Yemeni Women: The New Popularity of ‘Amr Khaled.” Journal of Middle East Women's Studies 5.1 (Winter 2009): 50–79.

    DOI: 10.2979/MEW.2009.5.1.50Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study of educated, middle-class, working women in Yemen, who say that Khaled is their favorite preacher. It argues that while Khaled’s focus on piety may illustrate Revivalists’ political strategy to Islamize the population, there are also other ways to understand this preacher’s impact. These Yemeni women value Khaled as a religious alternative, as he provides an approach that is religious, but not extremist, and traditional, but not outdated.

    Find this resource:

  • Rock, Aaron. “Amr Khaled: From Da‘wa to Political and Religious Leadership.” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 37.1 (2010): 15–37.

    DOI: 10.1080/13530191003661104Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article cites Khaled as a prime example of how satellite television and the Internet provide a means for challenging religious and political authority. It draws on print and video material from Khaled’s “Life Makers” program (Sunna‘ al-Hayah), as well as Khaled’s websites and in-person interviews with Egyptians regarding Khaled’s popularity, religious legitimacy, and possible political aspirations.

    Find this resource:

  • Sobhy, Hania. “Amr Khaled and Young Muslim Elites: Islamism and the Consolidation of Mainstream Muslim Piety in Egypt.” In Cairo Contested: Governance, Urban Space, and Global Modernity. Edited by Diane Singerman, 415–454. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2009.

    DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774162886.003.0017Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This study argues that Khaled is one of the main factors for the growing piety of the upper and upper-middle classes in Egypt. The author includes a comprehensive description of Khaled’s style and discourse, and includes critiques that his approach is too simplistic or only geared toward the upper class. Sub-topics include Khaled’s discussions on faith-based development, the self, the other, and morality and veiling.

    Find this resource:

  • Soliman, Abdelmeneim. “The Changing Role of Arabic in Religious Discourse: A Sociolinguistic Study of Egyptian Arabic.” PhD diss., Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 2008.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This dissertation uses Khaled’s religious speeches as an example of code-switching between Classical Arabic and colloquial Egyptian Arabic in religious discourse. See chapter 4 for a sociolinguistic analysis of Khaled’s lectures to Egyptian and non-Egyptian audiences.

    Find this resource:

  • Wise, Lindsay. “‘Words from the Heart’: New Forms of Islamic Preaching in Egypt.” MPhil diss., St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    As the first in-depth study of Khaled, this thesis covers the preacher’s rise in the late 1990s until his departure from Egypt in 2002. It shows how Khaled’s colloquial and participatory approach set him apart from other preachers, and reinforces Bayat’s argument that this is a new form of political Islam, focusing on piety rather than direct political discussion. Frequently cited in research about Khaled and Muslim television preachers.

    Find this resource:

Case Study: Yusuf Al-Qaradawi

The Egyptian preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi (b. 1926) is an Azhari-trained scholar, but has been based in Qatar since the early 1960s. For broad studies that include his biography, publications, and projects, see Gräf and Skovgaard-Petersen 2009 or Krämer 2006. For studies specific to the preacher’s work on television, see Roald 2001 and Schleifer 2004. Studies of al-Qaradawi’s presence and influence on the Internet include Gräf 2007 and Gräf 2008. Scholarly comparisons of al-Qaradawi with other Muslim televangelists include Hermansen 2014 and Wise 2006.

  • Gräf, Bettina. “Sheikh Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī in Cyberspace.” Die Welt des Islams 47.3/4 (2007): 403–421.

    DOI: 10.1163/157006007783237464Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This piece carefully focuses on al-Qaradawi’s website, qaradawi.net, describing its history and contents, and how the website boosts the preacher’s claim to be a global Islamic authority. The article concludes, however, that while al-Qaradawi and his website are popular, he is not a scholar with global authority or worldwide recognition.

    Find this resource:

  • Gräf, Bettina. “IslamOnline.Net: Independent, Interactive, Popular.” Arab Media & Society 4 (Winter 2008).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article examines the history, structure, and operations of IslamOnline.net, a popular Arabic-English website that features information about Islam, Islamic law, and history; provides articles about popular news and culture; and hosts a section for online fatwas. Al-Qaradawi helped found the website, but does not participate in its operations.

    Find this resource:

  • Gräf, Bettina, and Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen. Global Mufti: The Phenomenon of Yusuf al-Qaradawi. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This edited volume focuses exclusively on al-Qaradawi, covering a range of topics, from his relationship with Al-Azhar and the Muslim Brotherhood to his views on women, wasatiyya (centrism, the middle way), and his transnational work in Europe and beyond. See chapter 5 for a discussion of al-Qaradawi’s work on television, particularly the popular program al-Shari‘a wa’l-Hayat (Sharia and Life).

    Find this resource:

  • Hermansen, Marcia. “The Emergence of Media Preachers: Yusuf al-Qaradawi.” In Islam in the Modern World. Edited by Jeffrey T. Kenney and Ebrahim Moosa, 301–318. London: Routledge, 2014.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book chapter documents the emergence of “media preachers,” with a primary focus on the biography and work of al-Qaradawi, described as “the most well-known and prolific Muslim preacher in the world today.” Analyses feature his outreach in both the Middle East and Europe. Short profiles of similar preachers include Egypt’s Amr Khaled, Aa Gym from Indonesia, Junaid Jamshed from Pakistan, and Farhat Hashmi of Pakistan/Canada.

    Find this resource:

  • Krämer, Gudrun. “Drawing Boundaries: Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī on Apostasy.” In Speaking for Islam: Religious Authorities in Muslim Societies. Edited by Gudrun Krämer and Sabine Schmidtke, 181–217. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2006.

    DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004149496.i-310.56Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book chapter contains one of the most detailed descriptions of al-Qaradawi’s biography and diverse work. This includes his education, his move to Qatar in the 1960s, his many jobs and titles, his connections to Islamic groups and associations, and his prolific output, including sermons, books, television programs, and websites. The study concludes with a close analysis of a booklet by al-Qaradawi on apostasy.

    Find this resource:

  • Roald, Anne Sofie. “The Wise Men: Democratisation and Gender Equalisation in the Islamic Message: Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Ahmad al-Kubaisi on the Air.” Encounter 7.1 (2001): 29–55.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article explores satellite television programs from two preachers: Yusuf al-Qaradawi from Egypt and Ahmad al-Kubaisi from Iraq. By studying Arabic-speaking Muslims in Sweden and Denmark, this study reveals the challenges preachers face in discussing religious questions on television shows that will be watched around the world. The author shows that answers that apply to one locality may not be valid globally.

    Find this resource:

  • Schleifer, Abdallah. “Interview with Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.” Transnational Broadcasting Studies 13 (Fall 2004).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This interview with al-Qaradawi discusses the preacher’s television work, from his start on Qatari television in the 1970s through his show al-Shari‘a wa’l-Hayat (Sharia and Life) on the satellite channel Al-Jazeera. Al-Qaradawi talks about why he uses television, how he balances his books and television programs, and the differences between in-person and television preaching. He also comments on other preachers, praising Muhammad al-Sha‘rawi, but criticizing Amr Khaled.

    Find this resource:

  • Wise, Lindsay. “Amr Khaled vs Yusuf Al Qaradawi: The Danish Cartoon Controversy and the Clash of Two Islamic TV Titans.” Transnational Broadcasting Studies 16 (2006).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article documents the clash between preachers Amr Khaled and Yusuf al-Qaradawi over Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005. After the cartoons, Khaled proposed a conference on coexistence to promote interreligious dialogue, while al-Qaradawi sharply condemned Khaled’s approach and demanded an immediate apology from the Danish government. This article describes and analyzes their opposing views, and includes a couple of opinions from viewers and journalists. Originally available on the journal website, but now available only on the Internet Archive.

    Find this resource:

Other Case Studies from Egypt

In addition to Amr Khaled, there are many other Muslim television preachers based in Egypt. These include the early television preacher Muhammad al-Sha‘rawi, discussed in Brinton 2016, or the television preachers examined in Haenni 2005 who advocate the religious virtues of self-improvement and material success. Other works profile the rise of Salafi preachers in Egypt, including Field and Hamam 2009, which studies their television channels, and Saetren 2010 and Moll 2018, which compare Salafi religious views and television programs with those of Egypt’s “new preachers” (al-du‘a al-judud). Maguire 2009 documents an Egyptian example as well, albeit that of an English-language television channel broadcasting from Egypt.

  • Brinton, Jacqueline G. Preaching Islamic Renewal: Religious Authority and Media in Contemporary Egypt. Oakland: University of California Press, 2016.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A comprehensive study of the Egyptian scholar and television preacher Muhammad al-Sha‘rawi (b. 1911–d. 1998). Trained at Al-Azhar, al-Sha‘rawi hosted a popular television show and also reached millions through broadcasts of his Friday sermons. This book blends the preacher’s biography with analyses of his television programs and written work, and includes important theoretical discussions about religious authority, as well as the preacher’s use of language.

    Find this resource:

  • Field, Nathan, and Ahmed Hamam. “Salafi Satellite TV in Egypt.” Arab Media & Society 8 (Spring 2009).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An article analyzing the reasons behind the rise and increasing popularity of Salafi television programs in Egypt. The authors argue that a number of economic, political, and cultural factors have made Egyptians more religiously conservative and popularized Salafi programming. Case studies include the satellite stations al-Nass and al-Rahma, while analysis focuses on what makes a program Salafi and what distinguishes Salafis from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

    Find this resource:

  • Haenni, Patrick. L’Islam de marché: L’autre révolution conservatrice. Paris: Seuil, 2005.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This French study uses Muslim television preachers in Egypt to describe the concept of “market Islam,” an approach to Islam that is influenced by the pursuit of material success and self-improvement.

    Find this resource:

  • Maguire, Thomas E. R. “‘A Light in Every Home’: Huda TV’s Articulation of Orthodox Sunni Islam in the Global Mediascape.” PhD diss., University of Texas at Austin, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This dissertation analyzes Islamic satellite television through a study of Egypt’s English-language channel Huda TV. It examines how the channel conceived itself as Islamic, how its programs engaged in global discussions around Islam and Islamic authority, and the effect of culture, politics, and economics on the channel’s programming. The author worked at Huda TV from 2005 to 2006 and so has firsthand knowledge of the channel’s discussions and operations.

    Find this resource:

  • Moll, Yasmin. “Television Is Not Radio: Theologies of Mediation in the Egyptian Islamic Revival.” Cultural Anthropology 33.2 (May 2018): 233–265.

    DOI: 10.14506/ca33.2.07Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article examines debates inside Egypt’s revivalist movement, based on ethnographic fieldwork at the satellite channel Iqra’ in Cairo. It argues that Egypt’s Salafi preachers and “new preachers” (al-du‘a al-judud) offer competing visions of religious piety, Islamic outreach (da‘wa), and what distinguishes religious from secular. The analysis also includes details of each group’s goals and techniques, as well as critiques from liberal intellectuals and their religious counterparts.

    Find this resource:

  • Saetren, John Erik. “Two Narratives of Islamic Revival: Television Preaching in Egypt.” PhD diss., University of Bergen, 2010.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This dissertation compares Amr Khaled of Egypt’s “new preachers” with Muhammad Hassan from Egypt’s “new Salafis,” focusing on the production, editing, ideas, and examples used in their television programs in 2008. The study shows how these preachers exhibit contrasting ways to shape Muslim identity and the Islamic Revival. It also includes a history of Muslim television preaching and a summary of different channels and preachers with Islamic television programs.

    Find this resource:

Case Studies Outside of Egypt

Other countries around the world have popular Muslim television preachers as well. For examples from the Gulf States, see an interview with the Kuwaiti preacher Tareq al-Suwaidan in Wise 2006, or a broader study of Arab “media du‘a” in Floden 2016. For television preachers outside the Arab world, Eisenlohr 2016 explores two examples from India, and studies of television preaching in Pakistan include Kazi 2016; Kazi 2018; and Biberman, et al. 2016. In addition, see a discussion of the American YouTuber Baba Ali in El Naggar 2018, a study of Islamic programming from Turkey in Kocamaner 2017, or an analysis of the Indonesian television preacher Abdullah Gymnastiar (Aa Gym) in Hoesterey 2015.

  • Biberman, Yelena, Sahar Gul, and Feryaz Ocakli. “Channeling Islam: Religious Narratives on Pakistani Television and Their Influence on Pakistani Youth.” Asian Affairs: An American Review 43.3 (2016): 78–97.

    DOI: 10.1080/00927678.2016.1202712Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article examines the impact of Pakistani television channels on the ideas and behavior of Pakistani youth. By surveying students and activists, it argues that many preachers are deeply conservative, but others offer dissenting views, and the overall impact of television preaching on the younger generation is mixed. Themes studied here include the role of women and non-Muslims in society, as well as the role of religion in governance.

    Find this resource:

  • Eisenlohr, Patrick. “Reconsidering Mediatization of Religion: Islamic Televangelism in India.” Media, Culture & Society 39.6 (2016): 869–884.

    DOI: 10.1177/0163443716679032Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article uses examples of Muslim television preaching in India to reconsider the mediatization of religion, dividing this into two dimensions: religion in the public sphere and religious mediation. The analysis compares Salafist preacher Zakir Naik and his satellite channel Peace TV with the television programming of Mumbai’s Twelver Shiʿite World Islamic Network (WIN).

    Find this resource:

  • Floden, Tuve. “Televangelists, Media Du‘ā, and ‘Ulamā’: The Evolution of Religious Authority in Modern Islam.” PhD diss., Georgetown University, 2016.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This dissertation studies a specific group of television preachers that it calls “media du‘a,” defined as individuals who preach without formal religious degrees; address their audiences in an informal, colloquial style; and use a variety of modern media, including television, books, websites, and social media. The three preachers studied here are Amr Khaled of Egypt, Tareq al-Suwaidan of Kuwait, and Ahmad al-Shugairi of Saudi Arabia.

    Find this resource:

  • Hoesterey, James Bourk. Rebranding Islam: Piety, Prosperity, and a Self-Help Guru. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A thorough study of the rise and fall of the Indonesian television preacher Abdullah Gymnastiar (Aa Gym), including a history and analysis of his popular program Manajemen Qolbu (Heart Management). The author toured with Gym for over two years and uses this ethnographic study to demonstrate how popular preachers have influenced religious authority, religious discourse, and the politics of public piety in Indonesia.

    Find this resource:

  • Kazi, Taha. “The Changing Dynamics of Religious Authority on Pakistani Religious Television.” Culture and Religion 17.4 (2016): 468–485.

    DOI: 10.1080/14755610.2017.1296011Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article examines religious talk shows on Pakistani television, focusing on the preacher Aamir Liaquat Hussain and the religious scholar Mufti Umair. The study illustrates how this religious programming differs from its predecessors, shifting from sermons to religious advice (fatwas), increasing audience participation, and providing a variety of viewpoints. The author also demonstrates the influence that production staff, channel owners, and sponsors have on religious programming and religious authority.

    Find this resource:

  • Kazi, Taha. “Religious Television and Contesting Piety in Karachi, Pakistan.” American Anthropologist 120.3 (2018): 523–534.

    DOI: 10.1111/aman.13061Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article examines the contradictory reasons for watching religious television, using the example of Karachi, Pakistan. It argues that previous scholarship focused on Revivalism, ignoring other reasons for following religious shows. It demonstrates how Pakistani talk shows inspire the reevaluation of certain Islamic concepts and values, as viewers use programs to justify both religious conformance and a selective piety, avoiding some religious practices that clash with their everyday experiences and beliefs.

    Find this resource:

  • Kocamaner, Hikmet. “Strengthening the Family through Television: Islamic Broadcasting, Secularism, and the Politics of Responsibility in Turkey.” Anthropological Quarterly 90.3 (Summer 2017): 675–714.

    DOI: 10.1353/anq.2017.0040Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article studies Islamic television programs in Turkey since the 1990s and the relationship between these programs and the state. It argues that after focusing initially on theological topics, religious television channels in Turkey now also include family-focused programming designed to strengthen religious morals and family values. Religious broadcasters openly state that they are assisting the state in this regard, helping to address current social issues.

    Find this resource:

  • El Naggar, Shaimaa. “‘But I Did Not Do Anything!’—Analysing the YouTube Videos of the American Muslim Televangelist Baba Ali: Delineating the Complexity of a Novel Genre.” Critical Discourse Studies 15.3 (2018): 303–319.

    DOI: 10.1080/17405904.2017.1408477Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article examines Ali Ardekani (or Baba Ali), an American Muslim who makes English-language videos about religious issues, which he posts on YouTube. It analyzes this blend between video-blogging and sermons, highlighting Baba Ali’s editing techniques, how he gives religious advice using a funny and conversational style, and how he gets his audience to participate in his discussions. The author places Babi Ali within the broader genre of television preaching.

    Find this resource:

  • Wise, Lindsay. “Tareq Alsuwaidan, General Manager of Al Resalah Channel.” Transnational Broadcasting Studies 16 (2006).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This interview with Tareq al-Suwaidan, the popular Kuwaiti preacher, author, and television producer, covers his university education in the United States, and his goals and vision for Islamic programming on television. It briefly traces his many projects since returning to Kuwait, including his books, television programs, management trainings, and entrepreneurial activities, before concluding with his goals and ideas as the General Manager of the satellite channel Al-Risala.

    Find this resource:

Gender and Muslim Television Preachers

Academic works about gender and Muslim television preachers examine both the rise of female preachers on television and the opinions of preachers (male and female) on issues pertaining to gender, such as divorce, marriage, political rights, sex, and veiling. Studies of female preachers and their views include El-Hennawy 2005, which focuses on the Egyptian preacher Malaka Zerar; Rabinovich 2013, which focuses on the Syrian preacher Rufayda al-Hasbash; and Roald 2016, which compares the style and opinions of the Egyptians Abla al-Kahlawi, Suad al-Salih, and Heba Kotb. Studies of male preachers’ views on gender include Sobhy 2009, which examines Amr Khaled, and Stowasser 2009, which analyzes Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s ideas.

  • El-Hennawy, Noha. “Women Preachers Join Religious Debate on Satellite TV.” Transnational Broadcasting Studies 14 (Spring 2005).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article explores the rise of female Muslim preachers on Arab satellite channels, with a focus on the Egyptian preacher Malaka Zerar. It cites these female preachers as evidence of the fragmentation of religious authority and notes that their input has increased discussion of women’s issues. Interviewing Zerar directly, it relates her biography, her opposition to “masculine jurisprudence,” and some of her views on marriage and women’s sexual rights.

    Find this resource:

  • Rabinovich, Tatiana. “Mediated Piety in Contemporary Syria: Women, Islam, and Television.” Feminist Media Studies 13.5 (2013): 819–829.

    DOI: 10.1080/14680777.2013.838361Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article studies the female television preacher Rufayda al-Hasbash from Syria, documenting the resources that strengthen her religious authority and analyzing some religious issues she discusses on television and the Internet. It argues that her use of media and diverse media tools (audio, narrative, and visual) makes al-Hasbash more visible in a field primarily designed, regulated, and dominated by male scholars and preachers.

    Find this resource:

  • Roald, Anne Sofie. “Female Islamic Interpretations on the Air: Fatwas and Religious Guidance by Women Scholars on Arab Satellite Channels.” In Media and Political Contestation in the Contemporary Arab World: A Decade of Change. Edited by Lena Jayyusi and Anne Sofie Roald, 211–231. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

    DOI: 10.1057/9781137539076_9Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book chapter documents the entry of female preachers on television in the Arab world, and how this has shifted contemporary Muslim discourse. Case studies include Abla al-Kahlawi, Suad al-Salih, and Heba Kotb, whose discussions often focus on issues of gender and the family, such as veiling, raising children, marriage, divorce, and sex. This study documents these themes and explores the differences between fatwas from female and male preachers.

    Find this resource:

  • Sobhy, Hania. “Amr Khaled and Young Muslim Elites: Islamism and the Consolidation of Mainstream Muslim Piety in Egypt.” In Cairo Contested: Governance, Urban Space, and Global Modernity. Edited by Diane Singerman, 415–454. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book chapter analyzes many reoccurring themes in Amr Khaled’s work, including a couple related to gender. It notes how the preacher compares the time of the Prophet with the decline of contemporary society in Egypt, citing today’s looser morals and the media’s objectification of women. Khaled also insists on the importance of wearing hijab, calling it an obligation for Muslim women and something that should not be questioned.

    Find this resource:

  • Stowasser, Barbara Freyer. “Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī on Women.” In Global Mufti: The Phenomenon of Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Edited by Bettina Gräf and Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen, 181–211. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This chapter focuses on Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s views on women’s rights and obligations, both inside and outside the home. It analyzes his writings and a few electronic fatwas, moving progressively from 1960 to the 1990s and 2000s. It argues that al-Qaradawi’s position reflects a centrist or middle way (wasatiyya), presenting traditional views on women’s dress and divorce, while also advocating for their right to vote and run for office.

    Find this resource:

Opinions and Critiques of Muslim Television Preachers

The phenomenon of Muslim television preaching has elicited a variety of responses from the public, the media, local and foreign governments, and the religious establishment. The sources in this section include samples of these views, selected to present a breadth of opinion and sources. Scholarly works include Hoesterey 2015, which explores the reaction to Indonesian television preacher Aa Gym, and Armbrust 2014, which examines the plot and influence of an Egyptian TV series about a television preacher. Many journalistic accounts and non-peer-reviewed works also discuss reactions to television preachers, although these works are not subject to the same standards of accuracy and rigor as their academic counterparts. Newspaper articles focusing on the Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled include Hardaker 2006 and Shapiro 2006. The article Lindsey 2006 discusses the religious satellite channel al-Risala, while Worth 2009 gives a detailed profile of the Saudi television preacher Ahmad al-Shugairi. Works that reflect direct criticism of Muslim television preachers include the Arabic-language books Al-Baz 2004 and Lutfi 2005, and the opinions described in the articles Zaied 2008 and “Saudi Prince Sacks TV Chief for Muslim Brotherhood Ties” (2013).

  • Armbrust, Walter. “Media Review: Al-Da‘iyya (The Preacher).” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 82.3 (2014): 841–856.

    DOI: 10.1093/jaarel/lfu047Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This academic article reviews the Egyptian dramatic television series al-Da‘iyya (The Preacher), which was broadcast in 2013. The series follows Shaykh Youssef, a Muslim television preacher with parallels to the new preachers (al-du‘a al-judud) prevalent in Egypt. This article discusses the plot of the series, its possible influence on society, and how it serves as an example of the discourse against Islamism.

    Find this resource:

  • Al-Baz, Muhammad. Du‘ā fī-l-Manfā: Qiṣṣat ‘Amrū Khālid wa-l-Du‘ā al-Judud fī Miṣr. Cairo, Egypt: al-Faris, 2004.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This Arabic book by an Egyptian journalist and leftist critic surveys the history of Egypt’s “new preachers” (al-du‘a al-judud) and also criticizes their goals. Using the examples of Amr Khaled, Ali al-Jufri, and Khalid al-Gindi, it argues that these preachers only care about the upper class, not the state of the poor, and that their approach, directing people to focus on piety, shifts attention away from politics and political change.

    Find this resource:

  • Hardaker, David. “Amr Khaled: Islam’s Billy Graham.” The Independent, 4 January 2006.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article labels the Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled “the Arab world’s first Islamic tele-evangelist” and cites diverse opinions about the preacher’s work and style. This includes a discussion of Khaled’s popularity with Arab youth and with local and foreign governments, but also complains that Khaled is just a showman, that he preaches a simplistic or “air-conditioned” form of Islam, and that, despite his moderate appearance, he espouses conservative ideas.

    Find this resource:

  • Hoesterey, James Bourk. Rebranding Islam: Piety, Prosperity, and a Self-Help Guru. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Chapter 6 of this book about the Indonesian television preacher Abdullah Gymnastiar (Aa Gym) documents his audience’s shock in 2006, when they learned that Gym had secretly taken a second wife. His fans felt betrayed, especially considering the preacher’s focus on morality and piety. Using this example, the chapter explores the delicate nature of religious authority and how a preacher’s conduct affects public opinion of his or her work and doctrine.

    Find this resource:

  • Lindsey, Ursula. “The New Muslim TV: Media-Savvy, Modern, and Moderate.” Christian Science Monitor, 2 May 2006.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article focuses on the satellite channel al-Risala, describing religious television programs by the Egyptian actress Sabreen and the Kuwaiti preacher Tareq al-Suwaidan. Scholars, viewers, and the channel’s managers also comment on al-Risala’s values and mission, and whether the channel is using religion for profit.

    Find this resource:

  • Lutfi, Wa’il. Ẓāhirat al-du‘ā al-judud: Taḥlīl ijtimā‘ī: Al-da‘wa, al-tharwa, al-shahra. Cairo, Egypt: Al-Hayʼa al-Misriya al-Amma li-l-Kitab, 2005.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This Arabic book by an Egyptian journalist provides a full-length critique of Egypt’s “new preachers” (al-du‘a al-judud). Among other remarks, the author argues that preachers like Amr Khaled are duplicitous and two-faced—while they preach about religion, they are more interested in their fame, wealth, and influence.

    Find this resource:

  • Saudi Prince Sacks TV Chief for Muslim Brotherhood Ties.” BBC News, 18 August 2013.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article describes how the Kuwaiti preacher Tareq al-Suwaidan was fired from his job at the satellite channel al-Risala in August 2013. Al-Suwaidan was a prominent critic of Egypt’s military-backed government, and channel owner Prince Al-Alwaleed bin Talal condemned the preacher’s political statements and cited his links to the Muslim Brotherhood as the reason he was fired.

    Find this resource:

  • Shapiro, Samantha M. “Ministering to the Upwardly Mobile Muslim.” New York Times Magazine, 30 April 2006.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Based on the author’s travels with the Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled in Egypt, England, and Germany, this article provides an excellent picture of the preacher’s oratory style and informal but close relationship with his followers. It also details Khaled’s start as a preacher, his first foray into religious television in 1999, increased government scrutiny as his popularity grew, and Khaled’s subsequent lectures and TV shows.

    Find this resource:

  • Worth, Robert F. “Preaching Moderate Islam and Becoming a TV Star.” New York Times, 2 January 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    One of the first articles in the Western press devoted to the Saudi preacher Ahmad al-Shugairi. Describing him as one of the “satellite sheiks,” it covers al-Shugairi’s wild period while studying in California, his return to religion and work in business, and then his start in Saudi television before launching his own program, Khawatir. It cites opinions of his fans, and also mentions Egyptian preachers Amr Khaled and Moez Masoud.

    Find this resource:

  • Zaied, Al-Sayed. “Da’wa for Dollars: A New Wave of Muslim Televangelists.” Arab Insight 2.1 (Winter 2008): 21–27.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article focuses on Egypt’s “new preachers,” including Amr Khaled, Khaled al-Gendy, and others. It argues that they use new media (satellite television, websites, chat rooms, email, etc.) and focus on “turning religious work into a profitable venture.” It cites complaints about the preachers’ high salaries and their flashy appearance, and notes how they connect wealth as a way of getting closer to God.

    Find this resource:

back to top

Article

Up

Down