For some reason, Amr Khaled has always reminded me of Tyler Durden. Or at least what would have happened to Tyler Durden had he been less anarchist and more religious. Perhaps Khaled is a bizarro version of Durden but with the same goals to change the world to something better than what it is now.
Though in the same manner Amr Khaled’s Life Makers program has spread from country to country, and young men and women everywhere are setting up little franchises in their own cities. And obviously the first rule of Life Makers is to talk to everyone about it.
I have been watching the videos of his show for well over a year now. I watch it because in the glamour of plastic “singers” and Arabian pop idols and disgruntled youths of the Arab world, Khaled’s program gives me hope. When I watch Life Makers I find myself constantly thinking, hey, maybe everything in the Arab world has not gone entirely down the tube.
I interviewed a few Jordanians last summer for a feature I wrote in JO Magazine on the Life Makers franchise in Jordan, which has become quite the thing with many university students.
I think it’s also refreshing to see someone, anyone, just getting on TV and saying to young Arabs stop complaining, get off your rears and do something about it. And people have. I know there are also plenty of people who hate him, their reasons ranging from the fact that he’s religious or that he’s not religious enough (depending on who you ask), but I look around and see no one doing anything. Not one Arab leader is supportive of the Arab youth and their conditions, in fact most (if not all) Arab leaders are scared of the Arab youth, and that is reason enough to be scared of Amr Khaled.
When I look around and see that everyone has left the room and only Khaled has stuck around, I can’t help but admire the guy.
A recent example is the launching of a reality TV show through Life Makers which centered on following Hajj pilgrims and their lives 24 hours a day. Sadly I could not see it but when I read about it I was blown away. Is it possible that the Arab world is now offering an alternative to the absurdity that is the likes of Star Academy? I feel like we’ve all been on a junk food high and this is someone saying, hey, here’s a vitamin.
Recently Life Makers established Life Makers Union, an international NGO whose purpose is to raise money to fund Life Makers projects which started out 2 years ago with 1 or 2 and now are about 12,000. These are all projects based on contributions from viewers of Life Makers who submitted ideas to the website and by mail.
Projects like funding little businesses for young people or making use of those empty rooftops by creating gardens. It’s endless.
During 5 days of Hajj Life Makers raised $1.5 million dollars. I think that may be the biggest fundraising record in the history of the Arab world, especially in such a small period of time.
There are just not enough moderate voices in the Muslim world. Khaled does not pretend to be a preacher and repeatedly says he does not go on TV to make things haram or halal (sins or not). He does not have credentials as a mufti but you really don’t need any to tell people what’s written in a history book, you simply need to be able to read and comprehend. Compare this to people who actually do have the credintials and say the stupidest things just to stir up controversy and get themselves on TV or in the papers.
He’s not a politicians, he’s not a mufti, he’s not an actor, and he’s not a lawyer.
He’s just a guy, talking to other guys and telling them to do something with their lives.
Maybe that’s what makes him so appealing to some and so unlikable to others.