January 6, 2011 / 9:46 AM / 8 years ago

Malaysia's "Young Imam" reality TV show goes global

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters Life!) - A hit Malaysian Islamic reality TV show is widening its search for the best young Muslim leader by inviting contestants from around the world to take part in the programme.

Combining a reality TV format with Islamic teachings, “Imam Muda” or “Young Imam” which first aired last year became a hit, attracting interest in Malaysia and overseas.

The primetime show features contestants dressed in sharp-looking black suits who are judged on a variety of tasks from reciting Koranic verses and washing corpses to counseling promiscuous young couples.

The first season allowed only Malaysians to compete, but auditions for the upcoming second series that will air in April will be open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 27 who can speak Malay.

“The participants will be able to bring a lot of interesting influences to the programme as they will come from different countries,” said Zainir Aminullah, an official at the Malaysian satellite television station which produces the show.

Last season’s winner, Muhammad Asraf, 27, said the main aim of the programme was to proselytize and make Islam more attractive to young people.

“I want to tell youngsters to watch this show and see what people in society expect from an imam,” said the winner, whose prize included a scholarship to a university in Saudi Arabia, a job as a cleric at a Kuala Lumpur mosque, a car and an iPhone.

Reporting by Razak Ahmad and Angie Teo; Editing by Daniel Magnowski

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