Amr Khaled Message of Hope
|Tuesday, November 13,2007 05:47|
Amr Khaled does not fit the image most people have of a MuslimCleric, neither in looks, dressing style or preaching style.
Writing in IslamOnline yesterday, Egyptian political thinker and writer ‘AbdelwahabElmessiri discusses the preaching style of Amr Khaled, the most famous“Islamic tele-preacher” in the Arab world. While he remains little knownin the West, this year Time magazine ranked Khaled sixty-third in its list ofthe one hundred most influential people in the World.
It is fair to say that Amr Khaled hasbrought about the most striking changes to the methods of preaching Islam.
Elmessiriconsiders Khaled’s style as a necessary step in the development of today’s Middle Easternsociety.
Traditionalists’ Dark StyleElmessiri describes Khaled’s approach as being the most effective tool to confront thepredominantly gloom and doom style of other Islamic clerics. Elmesiri refers to theirapproach as “Gothic Islamic messages,” in reference to the gothic horror genre in Westernliterature.
Writing for his Arab audience, he explains that the term is appropriate for this styleof preaching because of its dark themes and emotional extremes, with gruesome pictures ofblood and horror filtered now through Islamic lenses rather than the windows of medievalgothic cathedrals. Elmessiri argues that such messages are not based in reality; theypromote worship at the expense of social responsibility by concentrating on threat of fearand suffering in the afterlife rather than the issues of daily life.
Kahled’s Message of Hope and ForgivenessIn contrast to the traditional approach, the author explains that the message of Amr Khaledcenters around the role of the individual in society.
He focuses on the reality of daily life withthe goal of improving the conditions of life on earth while maintaining God’s word.
This consciousness-raising encompasses all aspects of life, economic, social and political, andKhaled’s more important messages are constantly positive, emphasizing hopes andaspirations rather than negative thoughts.
As an example, Elmessiri recounts how in one of Khaled’s sermons in which he describes the opening of Mecca by the prophet Muhammad,Khaled concentrates on the compassionate attitude of the prophet towards his enemy andthe positive relationships which existed between Islam and the conquered countries.
Elmessiri believes that, in addition to the message itself, Khaled’s preaching style is also different from other clerics.
He notes that Khaled uses modern terms to which young people can better relate and maintains a smiling and cheerful attitude throughout most of his talks,in contrast to the demeanor of traditional preachers.
The author believes that Khaled represents a vibrant force needed to maintain a strong civil society. Elmessiri maintains that, apart from a central government, the roles in many segments of society should be decentralized but interdependent.
He explains that Khaled Amr Khaled believes in the role of individuals in maintaining a healthy society and his preaching is geared toward encouraging such behavior for the purpose of reforming society.
In contrast, the author explains, traditional preachers emphasize individual salvation at the expense of earthly communal benefit.
Elmessiri’s Criticism and Advice ,The author does criticize Khaled for failing to speak on sensitive political issues in order toavoid confrontation with the government, although he understands the dilemma.
He also states that Khaled is wrong to blame the unemployment problem on the laziness of individuals rather than the lack of opportunities in general. Also, in an apparent effort to bring the concept of justice and the problem of consumerism to the forefront of the social debate, Elmessiri urges Khaled to address these issues and advocate moderation in all aspects of society, religious, political and economic.
PI Online notes that the increasing popularity of ‘Amr Khaled is a result of a combination of factors, not the least of which is his ability to project the image of a modern Islam.
He was able to attract young people with moderate Islamic views from the middle and upper classes of society.
Many of the more affluent consider the conservative Islamic approach backward.
They see in Khaled’s message a way to identify with Islam within a more modern Westernstyle social context. While Khaled’s own western dress and manner promote that modern image, he nevertheless advises that Muslim women should wear a head scarf.
Some ecularists have criticized him for introducing such conservative habits into the educated segments of the society.
Their criticism, however, appears to be based on the false premise that such conservative habits do not already exist in this segment of society.
Consider that many of Bin Laden’s followers came from this educated class. Khaled seems to have his eye on a more Turkish-style society.
His middle ground, between stringent Salafism and total secularism, may provide a workable alternative to the two extremes.
He is also well aware that it is his message of hope and sensible advice on issues of everyday life, not the political dialogue urged by Elmessiri that will continue to fuel his popularity and insure his continuing influence .