Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saudi Arabia: Host of Religious Program Considers including Women | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat- Saudi preacher Dr Aid al-Qarni, standing not in the mosque or in the studio, but in the middle of a green park and surrounded by artificial lakes, delivers his Ramadan sermons as part of the &#34Don”t Feel Sad&#34 (La Tahzan) program aired every night on Saudi television. In the program, the camera zooms in on the scholar”s face as he walks on the green grass, wearing his traditional robe, waving with one hand, and holding the tip of his robe with the other. As the camera turns, the preacher approaches it like an expert in television photography.

Beginning with Ramadan this year, a number of Saudi preachers known for their grim faces and serious attitude tried to steer away from what some believe to be the grimness that characterizes religious discourse. One of them looked more tolerant and relaxed in his sermons and religious edicts on the television screen. Speaking to Asharq al-Awsat yesterday, Dr Al-Qarni said that he is trying to break the cycle of stagnation, routine, and stereotypes.

Al-Qarni added that he had recorded 30 episodes of the program in Al-Sulaymaniyah, on the Cairo-Alexandria road in Egypt, amidst golf courses. The idea came from the program director Muhammad al-Samahi.

Al-Qarni disclosed the establishment of a new company named &#34La Tahzan&#34 (Do not feel sad), which is headed by Abdallah al-Qaffari and supervised by Thamir al-Muhaymid. It is a commercial media company that seeks profit and is based on Riyadh. It has a branch in Cairo. The company is in charge of promoting the La Tahzan book written by Al-Qarni. The book is noticeably popular and has been published in 29 languages. According to reports, Indonesians in the past six months bought over 120,000 copies of the book.

The La Tahzan program, presented by Al-Qarni on Saudi Television, features a group of youths, whose faces are not displayed, that describe miserable circumstances in their lives. Al-Qarni gives them advice about their conditions.

Asked about the possibility of the participation of women in this program to relay their problems, as men do, Al-Qarni told Asharq al-Awsat that the issue is under study and that there are many requests by girls to take part in the program. In the future we will seek to make room for girls to appear, but from behind a screen to cover their faces, so that their voice only would be heard.

Thirty episodes of the programs have been recorded in Egypt. Sheikh Al-Qarni said that the recording had exhausted him physically because the filming takes place in open places in the sun. Sheikh Al-Qarni excels in presenting his ideas using eloquent and poetry-like language. He gives his advice mixed with experience and stories that bring the matter closer to the reality of viewers.