Friday, June 25, 2010

Young Imams

In Malaysia, the hot new tv show is a contest among aspiring imams, the winner to receive an all-expense paid Haj to Mecca and a job leading prayers at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur:

It's easy to see how the young imams might send Malaysian hearts aflutter. Dressed in matching robes or suits, much like a Western-style all-boy pop group, they were selected for the contest after months of rigorous auditions.

Most caught the producers' ear with the quality of their voices when reciting verses from the Quran. Some are still students, while others work in business or financial services. . . .

Each week, "Young Imam" goes out of its way to confront the contestants with situations they might have to face one day as real imams. In the first episode, the young contenders were sent out to prepare unclaimed corpses for burial—an essential rite in Islam.

[One contestant] says, "It's a tough contest, but if we want to be imams and lead our community, we should expect to face difficult challenges any time, any place."

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