Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Mixing religion with media | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page

For those who have not seen the program, the scene consists of Ahmad Al Shukairi, the presenter of &#34Notes of a Young Man&#34 on MBC, standing on a public road at the beginning of the episode, asserting that what he was about to film had not been prepared beforehand. The live broadcasting showed one car blocking another.

The whole matter is simply concerned with a Saudi citizen who had blocked the road with his car, restricting the car behind that wanted to get past. Al Shukairi then drew our attention to the fact that the driver of the blocked car was a Christian Filipino employee. The scene continued while Al Shukairi expressed his annoyance at the Saudi citizen. Then he addresses the audience asking, &#34for God”s sake, tell me what this Christian Filipino might be thinking about Muslims now?&#34

Al Shukairi then questioned the Saudi and asked him about the motive of his impolite and immature behavior. The presenter continued in his reprimand asking, &#34Did you know that the other driver is Christian? What must he be thinking about Muslims now?&#34 After making such comments, Al Shukairi asked the Saudi to step out of the car and apologize to the Filipino to which the Saudi refused and left. Al Shukairi then concluded by expressing regret for the incident, and apologizing to the Filipino on behalf of the Saudi.

I will not address the way Al Shukairi dealt with the mistaken man; however, what really intrigues me is the incorporation of Islam into this argument. Let us pose the question from another perspective; had the driver who blocked the way been a Christian, would we hint that his religion had a role in his behavior? Of course not. The behavior we discuss here has nothing to do with religion but rather with morals, manners and the willingness to follow orders. The problem here is that by imposing Islam, Al Shukairi in effect has unintentionally indicted it. We always forget that when it comes to higher moral ethics and respect for human ideals there is no difference between Muslims, Christians, Jews, or any members of other religions. After all, love, solidarity, honesty, and sincerity are all human values that are equally encouraged by all major religions.

In another episode of the same program, Al Shukairi referred to Mahatma Gandhi, the great Indian icon. After narrating parts of Gandhi”s biography, Al Shukairi stated that his ideal model was first presented by the Prophet Mohamed, 1400 years ago, thus the Prophet Mohamed had surpassed Gandhi. Do we actually need this analogy? Why is there this constant need in presenting great figures to destroy others? What might the reaction be from the average Indian who watched the program and is being told to go to hell with his Gandhi, as we Muslims are far ahead of them! Note that the program essentially has a religiously inspirational nature that aims to capture hearts rather than driving them away.

These two examples are taken from the episodes that were broadcasted during the holy month of Ramadan. Al Shukairi is definitely a hard worker with his own entitled opinions. Like Amr Khaled, he may have managed to break the traditional image of Islamic preachers and scholars. However, media should not be run that way.

Sincerely, I am unable to understand what he presents as he often mixes the media with Islamic preaching, which is unacceptable. If what he presents belongs to the realm of media, then his methods are incorrect, as the addressed issues require certain professional standards. On the other hand, if he seeks to present an Islamic program that deals with preaching the religion, then I do not believe that incidents such as blocking the road are appropriate. Neither do such incidents require religious research.