Magnet for controversy and debate

Prominent figures urge followers to boycott the show on Omar Bin Al Khateeb

  • By Jumana Al Tamimi, Associate Editor
  • Published: 17:23 July 28, 2012
  • Gulf News

A scene from Omar
  • Image Credit: Courtesy: MBC
  • A scene from Omar. The cost of the series has not been revealed but is estimated at several tens of millions of dollars.

Dubai: Ever since the news spread a few weeks that the drama produced on the life of Omar Bin Al Khattab, the second caliph, will be shown on television during Ramadan, the series has become a magnet for controversy and debate.

Scores of short videos against watching the series, including religious advices not to follow the television drama, were posted on the internet; many prominent figures in the Arab countries urged their followers on Twitter and Facebook to boycott the drama; the highest authorities in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, The Dar Al Ifta (or issuing rulings authority) and the powerful Islamic research centre of Al Azhar declared their objection to the series.

On Thursday, the General Authority of Islamic affairs and endowment in Dubai joined the parties calling for public to refrain from watching the series.

They all share the same reason: the personification of major Islamic historic figures in forbidden.

“Al Azhar totally rejects broadcasting ‘Omar’, based on a fatwa (verdict) issued by the Islamic research center of Al Azhar, which is forbidding the depiction of prophets, their companions and members of Al Albayt”, in reference to the family of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH),’ said Shaikh Ali Abdul Baqi, Secretary-General of the research center of Al Azhar. Al Azhar is the most prestigious Islamic institution in the Islamic world since the 11th century.

Al Azhar will ask all the concerned authorities not to allow the series to be shown on any of the Egytpian channels, he said, adding that the center will be “very strict in this regard”.

Abdul Baq’s statement was also echoed by another statement posted on the website for Saudi-Arabia-based Al Albayt.

The statement said “we advise all Muslims not to watch the series that is based on the lives of the Prophet’s companions, members of his family, and their religion as means of entertainment especially during Ramadan, which should be spent in worshipping.”

Saudi Arabia’s Mufti, Shaikh Abdul Aziz Al Shaikh, described earlier all those behind the idea of the drama, those who supported it and implemented it as “mistaken”.

Converting the lives of prophet’s successors and his companions to a drama series make them subjected to criticism, gossip and defamation, and this is “wrong and crime”, Al Shaikh was quoted as saying.

‘Omar’ is the first production that is personifying the caliphs and the close companions of the Prophet.

Other religious clerics said stressed they won’t allow showing the series, which is depicting the four caliphs, many of the prophet’s relatives and his close companions, through their channels.

While it is not possible to have a viewership percentage to the drama, the biggest drama ever produced in history of Arabic television, some people posted on the internet their objection to what they said revealing part of Omar’s private life and his relation with his wife.

The debate over Omar came months after another debate raised over another drama titled Al Hassan and Al Hussein (the two sons of Imam Ali and the grandchildren of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) that was shown last year also during Ramadan.

Many religious figures declared their opposition to the drama and its broadcasting on their countries’ channel, while some others allowed shooting part of the drama in their countries and broadcasting it as well.

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