Islamic Televangelism: The Salafi window to their Paradise

Local Television, Palgrave Publications, pp.64-86.
Dr. Ibrahim Saleh

The Window to Paradise is not just the name of one the most popular programmes in Salafi Islamic televangelism, it is also a successful channel for the mediation of religious fundamentalism that has attracted viewers from around the Arab world. In spite of the wide range of countries, languages, religions and cultures in the region, Salafi television channels have consistently projected a shared common interest in scrutinizing ‘otherness’ in thought, ideology and religion. Hence, it is not surprising that the list includes Christians, Jews, ‘Westerners’ and even proponents of moderate Islam. These channels have claimed the authority to speak for Islam. They operate in a region where there is collective frustration over economic disparities and a loss of faith in political systems.
This situation has favoured the making of a public space for fundamentalist groups to use these collective anxieties as a pretext for mobilizing members, developing bureaucratic organizations and formulating policy alternatives (Entelis 1999). Salafis believe that Islam, founded by the Prophet Mohammed, and propagated by his companions for three generations after the passing of the Prophet, is pure and unalloyed, and therefore the only source of authority in Islam. Salafi television tends to replicate this view and is supported by a variety of Islamic sheikhs and their followers. Salafi televangelists privilege the eternal validity of the written text and, as such, do not encourage interrogation of these texts. Salafism’s origins are from Saudi Arabia and the terms Salafism and Wahhabism are often used interchangeably. Wahhabism is the basis for global Islamic mission or da’wah.
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