It’s nearing the end of Ramadan and it’s due time I feature one of my favourite television shows, if not my only favourite Arabic show, Khawater.
Khawater, Arabic for “Thoughts”, is a television program hosted and presented by a charismatic and influential televangelist/media personality/religious teacher named Ahmed Al Shuqairi. The whole program is encapsulated in The Good Human idea as the host sheds light on great inventions, improvements, business ideas, and so much more by adding a tasteful pinch of religion into it. Al Shuqairi preaches Islam but in a way that has never been attempted before; a modern and attractive religion broadcasted to youths who have been repelled by an older, stricter generation of preachers. Through Khawater we are introduced in every episode on a theme of innovation of some sort, be it home-businesses, to road-improvements even to prison-aesthetics. The show is in its 10th season and we can only try and recall every bit of great thought he shared with millions of his viewership, every Ramadan but what we can surely take from it is how much it has inspired and changed people’s thoughts around so many worldly and domestic issues.
What makes Al Shuqairi’s program successful is first, the idea itself. He travels around the world looking for ideas that stand out and brings them forward to the Arab world, challenging and pushing them to develop the same. In some occasions he has done the reverse. Shedding light on great Arabic or Islamic ideas that have proven to work and challenged our minds to think and judge for ourselves, what is the right way. Secondly, the way he presents himself, his tone, his charisma in which he delivers his messages is very, very important. He’s 41 years old and is at that crucial age where he can grab the attention of two generations, the older and the younger, and maintain it. From his appearance he translates his modernity and better yet, how our youth can follow trends without going overboard with boasting. His current ideas and dialogue with the right combination of an older, wiser persona helps adjust the right balance expressing how the younger generation is not completely in shambles, neither are the older generation out of their wits. He adds a good amount of humour which makes him approachable, and very likeable but most importantly, believable. This is not a television personality with a PR assistant strategizing and giving him tips and cues on good humour. The third point on what makes Khawater a success, is the human-appeal. Each episode, we meet people like us, from different walks of life, who have done something. Whether good or bad, we meet a lot of people with the host. With him, we are able to find out true stories about real people outside our world, or better yet, our city. A lot of television shows have done so, yet we cannot deny the impact it has given many, many Arabs and Muslims specifically in this side of the world. We definitely need to lift ourselves upwards and believe in ourselves because, we’re not lacking in anything. The final point would be, the duration of the show. That could be a trick but could also have more practical reasons behind it, but the duration of only 30 minutes is what I find to be an integral part of a successful educational program such as Khawater. In 30 minutes, you’re not wasting more than half an hour of time watching television (even for a show as beneficial as Khawater), neither is the host wasting time on sharing unnecessary information with their audience; it’s direct and straight to the point. In Islam, one must not be occupied by too much entertainment as to avoid missing valuable time spent in worshipping God, therefore a 30-minute show is perfect to get the right message across without taking away from people’s time. Also, when good things are removed from us, we are left wanting more and maybe that is the ultimate goal of the show?
As a personal thought, I wondered how did Ahmed Al Shuqairi come to be. I personally love digging into influential or mostly famous people’s lives and find out, as much as I can, how they started and what route they took that led them to where they are and what they accomplished. For that reason, I’m always on Wikipedia, even when Wikipedia is not the most reliable of sources. However, based on an article I read, Al Shuqairi was not always the religious man he is today. Like so many youths, he too was once young and interested in life’s frivolities and at some point became very religious. He was studying in the USA, and by the time he moved back to Saudi Arabia, his religion became him until he met with a sheikh who exposed him to a restored idea of Islam and from that point onwards, was adamant about bridging ideas and cultures together, through the peaceful religion of Islam. My point to this is that, it doesn’t matter where we are now because that can and will change if we allow it. All we have to do is try to do better for ourselves and for our immediate community and little by little, the positive effect will start to show.
Today’s feature was part The Goodness and part The Good Human on a greatly inspirational and positive idea that has brought us a lot of awareness and will hopefully translate into continuous efforts by all of us.
Thank you for reading and please feel free to engage in a discussion and add your comments!
Good wishes to all 🙂
Article referenced: www.nytimes.com/2009/01/03/world/middleeast/03preacher.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0