The Search for a Young Imam Begins Now: Imam Muda and Civilizational Islam in Malaysia

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Book Chapter


Reality television, Religion in television


In May 2010, Malay-speaking viewers in Southeast Asia began tuning in to a new kind of reality television - a contest-based talent show, like many on air in the region, but with a twist. The first episode opened with an evening shot of a graceful mosque, then panned down to the courtyard, where a man in a grey suit, turquoise dress shirt, black tie and black songkok (a Malaysian man’s hat that appears similar to a tarboosh) emerged. “Salaam `aleikum,” he greeted viewers, saying that “for the first time in our broadcasting history,” viewers would see the first show “in the world” aimed at finding a man of authority, integrity, and credibility who could serve as “imam muda,” a young imam. Stressing that the man selected would be “versatile and relevant to the community,” he emphasized that viewers would be witnesses to this process, and concluded: “The search for a young imam begins now.” .

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