Omar Ibn Al-Khattab Ramadan serial stirs controversy

Ahram Online and MENA, Tuesday 10 Jul 2012

Critics call for cancellation of upcoming Ramadan serial produced by Saudi, Qatar depicting lives of the Muslim Caliphs

Omar Ibn El-Khattab
A snapshot from the Omar Ibn El-Khattab series trailer

The trailer for upcoming television series 'Al-Farouk Omar Ibn Al-Khattab,' which tells the story of the early days of the Islamic Caliphate, has stirred controversy over the issue of depicting the Muslim Caliphs. Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, who lived between c. 586–590 CE and 644, titledFarouk the Great, was prophet Mohamed's companion. Ibn El-Khattab is one of the most powerful Islamic rulers, and the second to take over the Islamic empire following the death of prophet Muhammad. He was best known for his justice during his 10-year reign.

The trailer for the series, which is slated to air during the fasting month of Ramadan on Saudi Arabian satellite television channel MBC, prompted critics on social-media networks to call for its cancellation. 

Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Abdelaziz Al-Sheikh, for one, has condemned the depiction the Muslim Caliphs in dramatic works. He reiterated calls to cancel the production.

Al-Sheikh went on to warn the television channel against spending money on "what is forbidden by religion," saying that such dramatic works "put the lives of the Caliphs under scrutiny."

Prominent Islamist scholar Youssef El-Qardawi, for his part, who advised the producers of the series, has voiced no objection to airing the series, Kuwaiti Online Newspaper Sabr reported.

The series is being co-produced by Saudi's MBC and the Qatar Media Corporation. It is scheduled to air on MBC and on Indonesian and Turkish television channels.

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