Amr Khaled is not a household name in the West. But for a segment of the Islamic world, the 39-year-old Egyptian is a rock star. At a time when conservative clerics have become primary arbiters of power, Khaled, a layman, has one of the Arab world's most popular websites; regular shows on Iqra, a Saudi-owned religious satellite channel; and an influence that prompts comparisons with everyone from Dr. Phil to Pat Robertson. But Khaled may be most like Rick Warren, who has built an empire around his "purpose driven life" philosophy. Khaled's model, "life makers," encourages Muslims to implement action plans for transforming their lives and communities through Islam. It also urges them to get along peacefully with the West.
What really put Khaled on the world stage was his decision to host an interfaith conference in Copenhagen in March 2006, after the controversies over the Danish cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad. Muslim clerics criticized him for extending an olive branch to the Danes. But Khaled didn't back down. An accountant by training who favors Hugo Boss shirts and designer suits, he maintains some traditional viewshe believes women should wear headscarves, for examplebut Khaled is a needed voice for moderation from within the Muslim world. "[Osama] bin Laden is saying he is talking on behalf of Muslims," he says. "Who asked him to talk on behalf of us? Nobody."
Nomani, a journalist and author, wrote Standing Alone in Mecca
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