Jan 18 2010
Muslim televangelist takes his message to millions [Excerpts]
Amr Khaled's unique brand of Muslim preaching has made him one of the most popular preachers in the world.
Such is his appeal, he was recently named the 13th most influential person in the world by Time Magazine.
In Cairo, his DVDs stand on the top shelves reserved for best sellers in the Virgin record store, next to Bruce Willis and Charlie Chaplin.
His controversial style, comparable to the almost rock star approach of some of America's Christian evangelists, has drawn criticism from the religious establishment and he has moved away from his native Egypt.
Ironically, thanks to the proliferation of satellite channels, he is now able to reach far greater numbers than he could have ever done had his message remained within the confines of a mosque or a lecture hall.
The secret of Mr Khaled's success is simple, say young women in colourful headscarves in Cairo: "He speaks our language."
Unlike traditional preachers, he wears a casual suit and uses the Egyptian vernacular in his programmes. Formally trained imams tend to use classical Arabic.
Mr Khaled, who even has his own YouTube channel, has spearheaded a growth in this style of evangelism.
But the difference goes beyond language, says Geneive Abdo, the author of a seminal book on Islamic revival in Egypt.
She believes the new breed of preachers appears to fulfil an important need.
"They have found a way to interject religion into a more modern lifestyle. In other words, your behaviour is what defines a good Muslim - not how many times you recite the Koran in one week, or how many times you go to the mosque," Ms Abdo argues.