An Egyptian accountant turned preaching sensation brings his charismatic brand of hopeful, tolerant Islam to Houston
Joy rather than jihad [Excerpts]
The superstar preacher dresses in designer business suits and open-collared shirts. His best-selling self-help books, videos and CDs tout the power of a positive attitude. On his TV shows, he moves listeners to tears with promises of God's redeeming love.
Muslim "televangelist" Amr Khaled has more in common with Houston's own Joel Osteen than the stereotypical turbaned cleric calling for jihad against the West. The charismatic 40-year-old accountant from Egypt skyrocketed to celebrity in the Mideast by pioneering a trendy, upbeat brand of Islamic preaching that appealed to well-to-do women and youths.
A self-described moderate Muslim from a secular, middle-class household, Khaled rediscovered his own faith as a teen. Now he uses his public appearances and television shows — broadcast on Arabic-language satellite TV — to condemn terrorism and highlight Islam's tolerant side.
On Wednesday, he brought his message to Houston, where 300 people at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy heard him speak about women's rights in the Mideast. It was the third trip to the U.S. in less than a year for a man named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people.
Speaking in English and Arabic, Khaled drew laughter and applause when he said, "There aren't any human rights to start with in the Middle East, let alone women's rights."
Women do face great oppression in the Muslim world, he said, but the reason for that oppression is misguided and outdated cultural traditions, not true Islam. "Women in the Middle East are ready to work and participate in society if we give them the chance," Khaled said.
(Houston Chronicle, 4/24/08, Archives).
[TBC: Khaled seems to be Islam's answer to Joel Osteen. Just as Osteen promotes a Christianity that is "Bible lite" at best, so too does Khaled in promoting an Islam that has little correlation to the Qu'ran.]