Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Young new preachers in Islam: a fresh wind

Amr Khaled, 41, an Egyptian accountant turned preacher, is a layman who has one of the most popular websites in the Arab world. Khaled has regular shows on a Saudi-owned religious satellite channel, and is likened to Dr. Phil and Rick Warren. During the Danish cartoon controversy when Islam's revered prophet Muhammad was being mocked, Khaled - to the chagrin of some Muslims - extended an olive branch to the Danes and hosted an interfaith conference in Copenhagen. Named one of TIME 2007's most influential people, he is especially popular amongst Muslim youth. "Young people have huge reserves of energy," Khaled said, "and I am leading that momentum peacefully, and in moderation." Of Osama Bin Laden, Khaled asked, "who asked him to talk on behalf of us? Nobody."

Ahmad Al-Shugairi, 35, is a Saudi who took an MBA in California during his "wild years," and is a popular satellite-TV preacher to Muslim youth. Compared to the charismatic Joel Osteen, his program, "Thoughts," is viewed by millions of young Muslims around the world. 9/11 hit Shugairi hard since he had spent a number of years in America. While fundamentally orthodox, Shugairi holds that he along with many other Muslims feel "a need to educate youth to a more moderate understanding of religion."

Moez Masoud, 30, attended American schools in Egypt and Kuwait. As a teen, his life revolved around partying, but he soon took an interest in studying the Quran. And, as he read Islam's holy writings, Masoud discovered that he had memorized the entire book. His television show, "The Right Path", is again viewed by millions of young Muslims. In a recent speech before a crowd of 1,500 in Alexandria, Egypt, Masoud made these remarks: "We will be responsible to God on Judgment Day. He will ask: 'Did you represent our religion correctly?' If you feel happy that non-Muslims are being killed, this is wrong. They are our brothers."

Thanks to Ken Gurley.

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