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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