Digital revolution in preaching religion

Iqraa Channels play effective role in spreading moderate message of Islam

February 16, 2018
Hassan Cheruppa

Saudi Gazette

THE world’s first exclusive Islamic satellite channel, Iqraa TV, has redefined its goals with optimum utilization of social media to present the true message of Islam to a global audience.

“The future is in social media as it is the most effective means of mass communication that impacts the young generation and hence we are prioritizing this core area of digital programming,” according to Mohammed Sallam, general manager of the Jeddah-based Iqraa network.

He emphasized that his organization gives top priority to employ highly advanced means of technology to effectively disseminate the real message of Islam and its core principles of moderation and tolerance among viewers all over the world. It aims to present the true face of Islam especially to people in the West, as well as to educate Muslims living in Western countries on proper Islamic practices so as to enable them to uphold their sublime values while coping with the distinctive cultural characteristics of specific geographical regions.

Speaking to a group of Indian journalists who visited the headquarters of Iqraa Media Company in Jeddah, Sallam pointed out that Iqraa was one of the Islamic satellite channels producing strong and effective digital media content. “We have developed a very good social media and digital platform because the future lies in it," he added.

All Islamic channels should use social media effectively to present the true image of Islam and counter challenges faced by its followers in the contemporary world, Sallam said.

He stressed that Islam is very nice and beautiful as it is the religion from Allah, the Creator of man and the universe. “Therefore, presenting a clear picture of Islam and removing all misgivings and misrepresentations using all means of communication is an obligation," he said.

Referring to the latest developments in the Saudi entertainment industry, Sallam said: “Introducing new means of entertainment to the Kingdom is an excellent objective as part of Vision 2030. Cinemas can be used as an effective weapon to spread the message Islam but should be utilized with a positive approach.”

Sallam revealed plans to organize celebrations to mark the 1450th anniversary of the revelation of the first verse of the Holy Qur’an, starting with "Iqraa" (You read) to the Prophet (peace be upon him). “We are planning to commemorate this event remarkably. We are also proud of the fact that the name of the channel is the very first word revealed to the Prophet (pbuh),” said Sallam.

"Iqraa", or "Read", heralded a new era of enlightenment and brought about a revolution of knowledge during the dark Period of Ignorance in pre-Islamic Arabia.

The channel is planning the celebrations belatedly although the 1450th anniversary of the revelation in fact passed two years ago.

Another area of concentration of Iqraa Channels is Haj. “For about 20 years, we cover extensively the rituals of Haj, which is one of the miracles from Almighty Allah. Around three million pilgrims from around the globe gather in one place and move in a very smooth, organized and dignified way in the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah.

“We present programs focusing on the diverse aspects of this divine miracle. We also highlight the vast arrangements and facilities as well as the exceptional services provided by the Saudi government to help the guests of God perform their rituals in ease and comfort," he said.

Iqraa had been the only exclusive Islamic channel in the world for 5 years since its founding in 1998. Its programs in Arabic were aired all over the world. Iqraa International Channel began airing programs in English in 2011 and French in 2012. Iqraa International’s main mission is to educate non-Arab Muslims, especially in the West, and clarify misconceptions about the teachings of Islam.

Sallam, an eminent international television figure, said Iqraa started preparations to launch its Urdu channel in the near future. “Nearly half a billion Muslims in the Indian subcontinent speak Urdu and it comes next to Arabic among the most spoken languages by Muslims around the world. The process is going on to air the channel in the language spoken by the highest number of non-Arab Muslims,” he said.

He unveiled plans to launch an Islamic channel in Malay language too. “We want to air our unique Islamic programs in the common language of Muslims on the Indian subcontinent as well as in the Far East, and this will be in coordination with the local partners in those regions. This was in line with the vision of Sheikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel, founder of Iqraa, to establish seven international channels in different languages. We have plans to launch channels in African, Chinese and Russian languages at a later stage,” he said.

In addition to its headquarters in Jeddah, Iqraa has studios in Cairo and Amman. “We have also offices in Europe, US and Australia. We produce programs covering various activities of Muslims all over the world,” Sallam said while pointing out that Iqraa is a big establishment covering various charitable activities and the channel is only a part of it. It runs hospitals, schools and educational institutions as well as humanitarian initiatives all over the world.

Sallam said that Iqraa’s programs addressed a diverse range of everyday topics from an Islamic perspective. The programs emphasize the fundamental principle that Islam is a value-based religion and a complete code of life.

"We highlight this combination of religion and life by airing lessons from the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s Tradition (Hadith), religious edicts, programs about the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, programs to connect Muslim youth with the great leaders of Arab and Islamic history, programs for girls and children, health and nutrition programs incorporating the Qur’anic teachings, cookery shows, entertainment programs and the like.

Commending the deep-rooted Saudi-Indian relations that date back to thousands of years ago, Sallam expressed happiness over the Kingdom’s hosting of India as the guest of honor country at the ongoing National Cultural and Heritage Festival at Janadriya.

Hasan Al-Attas, public relations manager, Nezar Al-Ali, director of Media Center, Mohamed Helmy, maintenance manager, and other officials received the journalists who toured the facilities of Iqraa Channels, including the studio and control center.

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