ABSTRACT

Over the past decade Amr Khaled, a forty-fi ve-year-old Egyptian television preacher, has become a formidable media and religion phenomenon in Arab Muslim countries, drawing both praise for his fervent oratory and contempt for his lack of theological erudition. His ascent to fame owes much to his skillful re-branding of the image and role of the Muslim preacher as an engaged public fi gure who can turn the abstraction of scripture into practical social action. But one of Khaled’s most radical contributions has been the elaborate interplay in his preaching style between the visual and the auditory, between the religious image and the sound of his voice, and the discipline of seeing and listening that his preaching evokes. In fact, any value of the words in the example cited above can only reach its crescendo when combined with a carefully orchestrated visual composition and a highly emotive rhetorical delivery. In this episode of a show which aired everyday on satellite television during the month of Ramadan in 2007,1 Khaled is seen impatiently climbing the rugged mountain to reach the cave of Hira’ joined by dozens of other devout Muslims. He stops at the entrance of the cave as the camera zooms in on a couple of rocks on which the fi rst verse revealed onto the prophet is engraved. Khaled sobs as he describes the overwhelming joy he feels standing on this sacred site. His emotions are compounded by a moving music soundtrack and frequent close-ups of the audience back in the studio as they tear up along in humility.