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Muslim reality show: So you think you can be an imam?

June 25, 2010

Contestants on "Young Imam."

Got a big kick out of this story in today’s WSJ. So you’ve got a bunch of Muslim men in Malaysia vying for the same prize in this popular reality show. It’s not cash or a record deal or a beautiful woman as we’ve seen in the U.S. but rather an opportunity to receive religious education and become a Muslim cleric.

[T]he last imam standing wins a scholarship to the al-Madinah University in Saudi Arabia, a job leading prayers at a Kuala Lumpur mosque and an expense-paid trip to Mecca to perform the Haj pilgrimage.

Some interesting context about the Malaysian religious dynamics, too. The country is considered religiously progressive, but there are some “fundamentalist” (the writer uses this problematic word) tendencies as well.

“Young Imam,” though, has developed a strong following just three weeks into its first season—providing some evidence that, despite the rise of fundamentalist practices in recent years, Malaysia remains by and large wedded to a more open, tolerant form of the faith.

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