Founders of the new Islamic satellite channel, Al Risala (The Message), describe it as the latest step in a “new Islamic media revolution”, according to an article on the Christian Science Monitor.
"For a very long time all religious programs were just isolated, artificial, old, obsolete," says Al Risala Cairo bureau manager, Ahmed Abu Haiba.
Al Risala, by contrast, has splashy graphics and state-of-the-art sets. Although the channel broadcasts some traditional religious programs, it does so in an indirect, modern way.
Abu Haiba says the station promotes the values of tolerance, peace, and progress, while being critical of some modern developments.
"In our understanding, Islamic media is any clean media... So any program that is clean and has a message to improve a human being - improve them religiously, ethically, socially; push them towards being productive and effective, having ambitions,” says Al Risala's general manager, Sheikh Tarek Swidan.
"If we go back to the roots then we see Islam being very peaceful, very open. Respect of all humans, respect of all religions, respect of all races - that is the original message of Islam,” he adds.
Al Risala is financed by Saudi billionaire Prince al Walid bin Talal. The Kuwait-based channel began broadcasting at the beginning of March on two satellite carriers that reach millions across the Middle East and Europe.
Al Risala executives say they don’t have precise data on the size of the station’s audience. But they say that they receive thousands of daily messages of support from their viewers.
Al Risala "is really good," says Radwa Atia, a 20-year-old art student. "It discusses a lot of things, in a more free way. It discusses real life issues."
The channel was also supported by senior religious figures in the Islamic world, such as Egypt's grand mufti, Ali Gomaa, one of the country's highest religious authorities and the host of his own show on the station.