Arab · Islam

The future of Islam in Arabia I

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.

Joel Osteen (Born 1963)
Amr Khaled (Born 1967)

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…

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12 thoughts on “The future of Islam in Arabia I

  1. The beauty of Islam is that you do not need a Sheikh as intermediary between you and God. Unfortunately, many give these Sheikhs (modern or traditional) too much authority when all you need is the Qur’an, Sunna, and common sense. The Arabs have strayed and will never be the true representatives of Islam… to be continued

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    1. “The beauty of Islam is that you do not need a Sheikh as intermediary between you and God. ” Correct!

      “Unfortunately, many give these Sheikhs (modern or traditional) too much authority when all you need is the Qur’an, Sunna, and common sense.”
      Partly correct. Understanding the Quran is never achieved by reading it and depending on our interpretations. We need scholars who spent their lives studying Arabic, the biography of the Prophet, the chronological timing of every verse and so on.
      I agree with you that Sheikhs should not be given too much authority and I understand your point that we don’t need to depend on a medium but some Muslims take this the wrong way depending only on their interpretations or the translation of the Quran which is again not enough.

      “The Arabs have strayed and will never be the true representatives of Islam”
      Yes, some Arabs have strayed but what is your proof that they will never be the true representative of Islam? Is there a verse in the Quran or Hadith to support your claim? In front of Allah there is no such thing as Arabs or non-Arabs we are judged by what we do not by who we are.

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      1. Wait for the book… I did mention common sense which is lacking in the Arab world. And better be careful about churches reaching the younger generation since more and more priests are caught sexually abusing the younger generation which keeps people away from the church,

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  2. Ooooh, love the topic! Actually I’ve read that one reason Americans stayed so religious – compared as you said to our European brothers and sisters – is because for the most part our churches were not government supported. (Today in Germany they take a tax out of your pay check for churches if you claim to belong to Christianity, for instance. I’ve never heard that happening here for the last many many years. It may have been like this initially, but lost favor.)

    Anyway, in order to keep people in religious faiths, the churches tried to make themselves relevant to certain groups. Think marketing, competition – the things that drive America. Just as you mentioned now in the Arab world with the old sheikhs competing with the Amr Khaled types. This happened here, too. That’s something I read only in the last year or so in a couple of books. Not sure how true they are, but it does make sense.

    I’m eager to read more and see the answers to your questions – thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks for sharing this info about Germany. I heard that UK declares Christianity as the religion of the state in its constitution but not sure of that. As far as I remember, in the many, many French movies I watched there was no mention of a church in any of these movies. I guess the revelation had something to do with that.

      I think Churches are more forward when it comes to reaching the younger generation.
      Glad you liked the topic 🙂

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      1. I heard that UK declares Christianity as the religion of the state in its constitution but not sure of that.

        I know in England the monarchy and the Church of England (Anglicanism) are really tangled up together – the Queen is the head of the Church and (I think) that they have a law where no one in line for the throne can be anything other than Anglican. Tony Blair waited until he was finished with his term as Prime Minister before converting to Catholicism for, as I understand it, a similar reason.

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      2. Interesting! Thanks for the feedback.
        Yes, I remember the Tony Blair thing but I wasn’t sure what it was about. This explains it.

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  3. Got interrupted before I could reply to the main post!

    I think one of the important things to remember about the people who fled Europe to come to the Colonies was that they weren’t the ‘liberal’ Christians of the time. The Puritans were considered extremists by many of their contemporaries – American Christianity is descended from the people who believed that the state churches back in their home countries were too liberal and corrupt.

    America was set up so that the government could not impose a state church – one of the problems that many had back in their countries of origin – in part because there were so many different sects. None of them would ever agree to be under the rule of another, for good reason. So it’s not so much that we were set up as a secular country as that we were set up under the principal of religious freedom (in theory).

    So now you guys have televangelist style imams? 😦 I have bad feelings about televangelists of any stripe, personally. They all seem to be richer than Croessus and corrupt. They remind me of used car salesmen.

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    1. You are right about those televangelist style imams. They are getting very rich which is very unIslamic since preaching Islam is not supposed to make one rich but a respected religious scholar.
      I am against separating the state and church kind of things in our region but unfortunately politicians and Muslim scholars are using the religion for their own benefit. In Egypt for example a politician printed his photo on an advertising political banner holding the Quran in his hand. Others grow a big beard and so on. They all are corrupt but the “Average Khalid” in my region unfortunately believes such images or Ads more than what this politician is really going to do.

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  4. الحرب بين الجديد والقديم مستمرة.. كل يوم بتشوف عالتلفزيون او اليوتيوب واحد بيجرم الثاني او بيغلطه او حتى بيكفره.
    الجيل الجديد من الدعاة اكثر شهرة يمكن لانه الخطاب والموضوع جديد، بيهتموا اكثر بالاخلاق والروحانيات والمقاربة بين الاديان، اكثر من الفتاوى والخطب، ويمكن من هالزاوية بيتهاجموا لانه الجيل القديم بيعتبر هالناحية غير كافية لتعملك شيخ. الجيل القديم بيوصف هالموجة الجديدة بـ( الدين الامريكي الجديد ) تهكما لانه كثير من الدعاة الجدد درسوا في امريكا او بريطانيا ودراستهم في علم مقارنة الاديان او علم النفس وما تلقوا العلوم الشرعية من شيوخ المؤسسات زي الازهر وبالتالي بيظلوا دايما محل اتهام.

    ما بين القديم والجديد الناس ملّت الخطب والفتاوي والقصص المثالية، مشان هيك الجدد اشتهروا، بزمن النت والانفتاح على العالم القصة لازم تكون مختلفة والسرد والعرض مختلف، مثلا (معز مسعود) ناقش مسائل صعبة وحساسة زي الالحاد والشذوذ بطريقة جديدة علمية ونفسية، بس الجيل القديم بالاغلب لما يناقش هيك مواضيع فما عنده غير حرام وما بصير ويا ويلك مع شوية ايات واحاديث وهالطريقة هالايام ما عادت تنفع.

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    1. This is my main issue with attacking the other scholars. I don’t know why they do that. Now, everyone says the other is wrong 100%. This is ridiculous.
      You are very right that people got bored from repeated speeches. But I also think the new generation of scholars have some drawbacks.

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