August 2, 2010 / 3:49 AM / 9 years ago

Muslim reality TV show eyes expansion

"Ultimate Young Imam" Asyraf celebrates after winning the Malaysian reality TV competition to find the country’s best young Imam during its live telecast in Kuala Lumpur July 30, 2010. REUTERS/Samsul Said

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Producers of an Islamic reality TV show which sought the best young Muslim leader are hoping other Muslim countries will adopt the program’s format after a successful first series in Malaysia.

Religious scholar Muhammad Asyraf Ridzuan, 26, from Penang, was named the winner of Malaysia’s “Imam Muda” or “Young Imam” show during Friday’s live finale, beating 27-year-old religious teacher Hizbur Rahman.

The 10-episode, primetime program sought to stimulate interest in Islam among the young and create some modern role models for them by combining a reality TV format with traditional religious teachings.

The show attracted interest in Malaysia and overseas as the contestants dressed in sharp-looking black suits recited verses from the Koran, sang hymns, washed corpses and slaughtered sheep according to Muslim rules, and counseled promiscuous young Malaysians.

As the last man standing, Asyraf won a scholarship to the Al-Madinah University in Saudi Arabia, a job as a cleric at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur, a car, an iPhone, an all-expenses paid pilgrimage to Mecca, and a cash prize.

Reporting by Reuters Television, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith

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