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.

    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.

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

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    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.

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

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    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.

  • 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: 10.1355/9789812308528-007E-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.

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

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    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.

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

    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.

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

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    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.

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

    DOI: 10.1057/9781137264817E-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.

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