Top Saudi cleric slams TV series on Umar set for Ramadan telecast

Saudi Arabia's top Islamic cleric has joined thousands of other scholars and viewers in slamming an historic TV series to be telecast during the fasting month of Ramadan, covering the life of some of ancient Muslim leaders who were companions to Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him).

Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al Shaikh, the Mufti of the Gulf Kingdom, said those behind "Umar Al Farooq" series have committed a "grave mistake and a crime" by spending their money on the production of such TV work.

"Turning the life of Muslim Caliphs and the Prophet's companions into TV and cinema work is wrong and brings insults and criticism to them," the Mufti told thousands of Muslims during Friday's open-air prayers in Riyadh.

"Return to your God and stop wasting your money on wrong things.this is a grave mistake and a crime..all those who are funding, adopting and participating in this work are mistaken and misled," he added.

Al Shaikh said those who want to promote Islam and its leaders, including Umar, could do so by writing books or translating publications on the life of those leaders to other languages. "Umar Al Farooq and his associates are among the best people in history.their sublime life and struggle should not be converted to TV films, which could be defamed by the opponents of Islam."

Thousands of scholars, dignitaries and other people have already used social networks and newspapers to attack the episode "Omar Al Farooq", better known as Umar ibn Al-Khattāb, the most powerful of the four Rashidun Caliphs and one of the most influential Muslim rulers in history.

Omar, who succeeded Abu Bakr Al Siddiq as the second Muslim Caliph before he died in 644, was a Sahabi (companion) of the Prophet.

The series, to be broadcast by the Saudi Middle East Broadcasting Company television is a joint production by MBC and Qatar's TV.

More than 550 actors from most Arab countries take part in the series.

Umar is personified by Syrian actor Samir Ismail while Abu Bakr is acted by Ghassan Massoud, also Syrian, who acted as Saluhddin in the famous film "Kingdom of Heavens" which covers the conflict about Jerusalem.

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