TV show targeting 'funky youth' makes Islamic scholar a celebrity

Amjad Qoursheh is a different type of scholar, and he likes to think of himself as different from even the many other preachers who host religious shows on Arab satellite channels.
Amjad Qoursheh, from the Al Hayat Radio website

AMMAN, 6 November 2008 (THE JORDAN TIMES) – Over the past two years, Amjad Qoursheh's show "Jadded Hayatak" (Renew Your Life) on Jordan TV has been a hit, with viewership encompassing Arabs and Muslims all over the world.

Simultaneously, Qoursheh hosted radio shows and another TV programme on Al Rissala satellite channel. His website,, has attracted hundreds of thousands of unique visitors since it was established.

Always smartly dressed, the 41-year-old PhD holder in comparative religions and assistant professor of sharia (Islamic law) at the University of Jordan quoted his wife when asked about the reason behind his popularity.

"You have to read yourself well first," has become a personal motto for the moderate scholar who believes that Muslims can lead a happy life, maintaining a balance between their religious duties and secular needs.

The Birmingham University graduate said he started to know himself when he was a teenager.

"I got everything then. I was top of my class, had a nice, loving family and was even a member of the Circassian folklore troupe," he told The Jordan Times in an interview at his university office last week.

"It all started with me wanting to thank Allah for all the blessings I had, so I became a practising Muslim and joined Koran lessons held by a cleric in a Jabal Amman mosque."

In the high school general exam, Qoursheh was among the 10 best achievers, but he surprised everyone by his decision to join the sharia faculty, which at the time accepted a relatively low average grade. This detour in his life and the independence he enjoyed in making decisions concerning his life, apparently had a downside.

"I went to the extreme. I was a religious fanatic and was an expert in pushing people away from Islam," he said, with a smile.

But this trend abated with maturity and he reread himself better, especially when he left for the UK to do his PhD, where he mingled with students and professors from diverse backgrounds.

According to Qoursheh, his visits to scores of cities worldwide added to his moderate approach. While abroad, he calmly discussed religion with people from monotheist and other faiths and learned how to respect others and present a good image of Islam.

But above all, there was the influence of a senior charismatic scholar and sharia professor, Ahmad Noufal, whose lectures have been attracting thousands since the 1970s and are characterized by a sense of humor and a down-to-earth approach to people, their issues and concerns.

"When I started, I even borrowed his jokes before I developed my own style," Qoursheh noted.

It works. Thanks to satellite broadcasting and his craftsmanship, Qoursheh's reputation is crossing borders in the Arab and Islamic worlds and he is receiving more offers to appear as a TV host.

Now he has started a new season on Jordan TV with his talk show "Ala Fikra" (By the Way), where he hosts young people to discuss issues that touch on everyday life, including very sensitive ones.

He has read himself well and conveyed his message to the younger generation in simple terms to help them understand themselves.


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