Ever since the Director of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice [CPVPV] in the Mecca region, Dr. Ahmed Bin Qassim al-Ghamdi, revealed his views about gender mixing, thereby sparking off campaigns and comments, I have been anxious to observe any academic debate between him and one or more of our celebrated scholars. I was therefore delighted to discover that Iqra TV had taken the initiative and that its program “Al-Bayena” [The Evidence] would host a meeting between Dr. al-Ghamdi and Dr. Ahmed Bin Abdulaziz al-Hamdan and Dr. Muhammad Bin Yahya al-Nujaimi, in an episode entitled “Women Believers and the Battle of Gender Mixing.” I was extremely eager to watch this program, and I urged my friends and relatives to watch it as well, as I knew that the subject of the debate deserved attention, and that its outcome would be extremely beneficial. However I must say that things didn’t go according to plan, and the program’s host, Dr. Abdullah Hadban, made a number of mistakes with regards to moderating a debate. He completely took one party’s side, abandoning his neutrality which is something that he should adhere to regardless of his personal convictions, especially as those taking part in the debate did not lack learning and knowledge.
What also contributed to the debate not reaching its desired outcome was the insistence of the host to turn this debate into a heated argument and to inject an element of suspense and excitement which is more suited to sports or political programs, but is not required in academic debates, particularly when the subject of the debate is religious, and when both sides are mature, intelligent, and aware of the rules of debate. In this case, the host should contribute to establishing a climate of balanced and dignified academic debate. The host also opened the door to pre-arranged phone-ins [from viewers] which further contributed to disrupting and distracting from the debate.
I, along with many others, looked forward to this episode in order to obtain the truth on this issue by observing the scholarly debate. Even if some of the audience had prior convictions, a debate would either consolidate these or convince those that held them to reconsider and re-evaluate their position.
I would not have written about this debate unless its host had promised viewers a sequel during the coming week. I just hope that the next episode will be more balanced and impartial than the previous one. Finally I would like to wish Dr. Abdullah Hadban and his program all the success for the future.