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Malaysian reality show seeks next 'top Muslim leader'

Malaysian reality show seeks next 'top Muslim leader'


From Reality TV shows have crowned stars in every field imaginable, minting new top models, singers, chefs, designers, and even hair stylists -- but can the same formula work to create a religious leader?

In Malaysia, one cable station hopes the answer is yes.

A new show called "Imam Muda" or "Young Leader", now halfway through its 10-week run, pits 10 young men against each other in the quest to become Malaysia's next top imam, The Associated Press reports.

An imam plays a broad role in Muslim society, leading prayers as well as helping to counsel problems within his community. So in lieu of runway walk-offs or quickfire cooking challenges, contestants on this reality show compete in religious-based challenges to test their leadership potential.

For the first challenge, the men performed traditional Muslim ablutions on corpses at a morgue that had gone unclaimed for weeks, later burying the bodies in accordance with Islamic rites. In later episodes, the men joined a police crackdown on teenage motorcyclists and cried as they counseled unmarried pregnant women at a women's shelter.

"This is not like other programs that have no religious values," the show's chief judge - and former prayer leader at Malaysia's national mosque - told the AP. "We have no shouting or jumping. We provide spiritual food. We're not looking for a singer or a fashion model."

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