Some would argue that the reason behind Europe’s “Dark Ages” is the ruling of the Church. Scientists were jailed and books were burned. Saying that the earth is not the center of the universe is considered heresy.
Some Europeans didn’t like this model of Christianity so they hoped one day to live in a new land where they can practice their religion the way they believe is right. Those Europeans were later known as Americans and their dream land is now known as the United States of America.
Ironically, Americans who didn’t like conservative Europe became, now, more conservative than their brothers and sisters in Europe. Americans are more Christians than Europeans even if their constitution says it is a secular country.
So, the question is how come people who stayed in a church ruling land became less Christians than the people who left the land of the Church?
The answer is simply because the more pressure you put on an object the faster it is going to explode. That is what happened in Europe. The new generation became rebellious against their parents’ old and strict religion.
So, what is the relation between Europe’s Dark Ages and the future of Islam?
In the past ten years, a new generation of Satellite Muslim Scholars has emerged. These scholars are known in the Arab world as the “Satellite Sheikhs” since they appear on Satellite TV channels rather than writing books or giving speeches in Mosques.
The first generation of Satellite Sheikhs were young men. Either have no beard or their beard is trimmed nicely. Their audience was also young. Mostly, university age or 20 something. Very quickly they became very popular and took the fame from the more traditional Muslim scholars. They were closer to the young generation, the topics they talked about were current and of concern to the young generation. These young Muslims got fed up hearing the same old stories again and gain and it was time for them to hear something new.
For the American readers think of the charming Joel Osteen wearing a suit and giving a Sunday lecture in a stadium instead of wearing the white robe in a church.
Traditional old and more conservative religious scholars fiercely criticized Amr Khaled’s (see photo) theology, claiming his preaching is wrong and it produces a generation of young people who lack the real knowledge of Islam. When more speakers like Amr Khaled became popular, the old and conservative scholars decided to enter the era of Satellite TV to preach the stray youngsters (who follow Amr Khaled and speakers alike as they claim) the true meaning of Islam.
At that time a fair game started between the old and the new generation of Scholars. Each has his own show. The audience chose whom to listen to. But as with any TV show, producers are after number of audience not after the quality of the show. So, the fair game unfortunately developed into a bitter war. Very respected Sheikhs started talking nonsense. Digging for the most awkward story or an unknown hadith or a new interpretation of the Quran. Why? Because we all know the more shocking story on TV means the more audience it generates. It is the Arabs’ version of reality shows. The louder and less classy get the more audience. Poor Charlie Rose. How many prefer to watch his show rather than Jerry Springer? For the majority of people, TV is for entertainment not for enlightenment. And this is exactly what is happening in Arabia.
So, who was behind the Arab Spring? The new generation of Scholars, the traditional ones or the old time never ending conspiracy theory (i.e., Israel and its big daddy, America)? And is the Arab Spring going to affect the future of Islam in the region??
To be continued…