Saudi prince vows to stop TV film on Muslim Caliph

A member of Saudi Arabia's ruling family has vowed to stop a series to be telecast by a Saudi satellite TV channel during the fasting month of Ramadan about some of the ancient Muslim leaders who were close companions of Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him).

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd, son of the late King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, slammed the Middle East Broadcasting Company (MBC) for its intention to show "Umar Al Farooq" series, which has been jointly produced with Qatar.

"I swear to God that I disown and distance myself from MBC's work, especially Umar Al Farooq.I will do my best to stop this series.Qatar must accept God's will otherwise, we will go to court," he told Saudi newspapers.

The Prince said he had heard of reports that well known Muslim scholars in Qatar, including Sheikh Yousuf Al Qaradwi, a prominent Egyptian cleric, have approved the showing of the series.

"Y ou will see what I will do and I hope you will pray for me," he said.

The Prince's comments are the latest in a series of remarks criticizing that series, which is supposed to be shown on the first day of Ramadan next week. MBC, one of the largest TV establishments in the Middle East, said the costly episodes would be telecast in most Arab countries and in Turkey.

Saudi Arabia's mufti (top cleric) Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al Shaikh, said last week those behind "Umar Al Farooq" series have committed a "grave mistake and a crime" by spending their money on the production of such work.

"Turning the life of Muslim Caliphs and the Prophet's (PBUH) 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.

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 (PBUH).

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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