Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mullah Idol

Malaysia, a relatively liberal Muslim country, recently completed the broadcast of an American Idol type reality TV show. The point of Imam Muda – or “the Young Imam” – was to find young Imams who could lead the younger-generation towards religion, by finding someone that the youth could relate to. Imam Muda, in its very first season, has proved a roaring success – becoming one of the most-watched shows on Malaysian TV, in recent times.

The contestants, in Imam Muda, faced weekly challenges, as in any reality-show. These challenges included: giving counselling to married couples facing marital problems - and to young ‘delinquents’ hauled in by the police under suspicion of engaging in sex, performing the last rites of HIV-positive corpses, and sermonising to unwed pregnant women. The finalists were asked to deliver khutbas, recite naats, and answer religious questions by the judge - to test for depth of Islamic religious knowledge.  The winning contestant, the 27-year-old Hizbur Rahman Omar Zuhdi, was given a scholarship to study in the al-Madinah International University in Saudi Arabia, an all-expense-paid Hajj trip, and a job in a Malaysian mosque.

After its grand success, the show’s creators are now hoping to produce similar shows in other Muslim countries.

I, for one, am not convinced that a Pakistani version of this show would be the best of ideas. While Malaysia has a relatively homogenous Muslim society, with most Malaysian Muslims belonging to the Shafi'i sect of Islam, Pakistan is a little divided on the issue of religion. It would be pretty tough for the producers in Pakistan to choose who to have as judges. Will the show have Sunni, or Shia judges? If Sunni, would they be Deobandi or Barelvi? If Shia, would they be Twelvers or Ismailis. If Twelvers, would they follow the ISO, Zameer Naqvi, or a third party? And so on and so forth.

And if they decide to pick a mixed jury, I am pretty sure a WWF-style mullah brawl is going to break out, on live television (Mullah Zaeef with a take-down!). And God forbid if they let Ahmadis participate. Even if all other judges gang up to pick on the Ahmadi judge, the Pakistani courts will still have a field-day prosecuting the Ahmadi judge for daring to utter ‘Muslim’ phrases such as “Aslamalaikum” and “Astaghfirullah”, which our laws forbid them from doing. Religious freedom and justice be damned!

However, if the Malaysian producers are dead-set on replicating their show in other Muslim countries, I have some recommendations for the Pakistani version of their show. Pakistani mullah associations, such as the Jamaat, are likely to ask for all potential candidates to have the necessary pre-requisite qualifications – to make absolutely sure that the potential candidates meet the tough criteria necessary, to be a maulvi in Pakistan.

Education for example. It would be crucial to ensure that all candidates with post-secondary education are barred, and that college education counts as a serious handicap, in marking. Non-religious education obviously takes up too much space in the brain. A loyal tabula rasa is vital!

To meet local Pakistani-mullah standards of competence, and to make it easier for the Malaysian producers, here is a list of essential elements:

·        It is necessary to assign appropriate challenges, tasks and tests, for the aspiring Imams, to perform, during the show. Gruelling tests of religious knowledge should be necessary, to determine fitness to be a Pakistani mullah. Challenges such as: who can come up with the most, original conspiracy theories in a strict time limit of 60 seconds?  Intricate theories with traditionally recurring themes and characters should be encouraged.  If you don’t have at least two kaafir persons or organizations working together, hand in hand, to malign and destroy Pakistan, you will be short-listed for immediate elimination (yes with klashnekoffs! we have a reputation to protect). Salman Rushie and Mossad being the actual founders of Blackwater, is a good example, of such a theory. If you can rattle off a list of competing sects and religions that can also be blamed in anti-Pakistan conspiracies, bonus marks should be awarded.

·        Strict adherence to ‘divine’ religious logic should also be a pre-requisite. If you don’t have the mental strength to make profound logical deductions, you are just not good enough. Profound logical deduction: “If one is a terrorist, one can’t be Muslim, so the bombings in Pakistan are obviously not the actions of Muslims” in the same breath as, “stop killing our Muslim brothers (Taliban), this is all the fault of our infidel, puppet leaders and the nexus of RAW, Mossad, CIA, and Blackwater.”

·        The judges should also be looking out for good logicians who can with confidence, and without missing a beat, proclaim that minorities living in Pakistan must live by ‘Muslim’ cultural standards, and also have the ability to berate, at length, the zaalim West (read: France) for not allowing Muslim sisters to wear a face-veil.

·        Contestants that partake in protests involving burning of effigies, and general mayhem, every time anyone, in the West, accuses Islam of being violent, should be marked more positively. That is the best way to prove that perception wrong.

That point should be stressed frequently, throughout the show, with statements such as: “We are peace-loving people, there will be no need for war after Ghazwa-e-Hind is established.”

We are peaceful people, peaceful people!!! Beat that damn effigy!

·        Contestants that take interest in, and are knowledgeable about, history should be encouraged. Knowing essential facts such as that the television set was invented in Israel, to trick good Muslims in to missing their prayers, can be very helpful.

·        Contestants that spend their spare time constructively, by visiting Christian cemeteries, across the country, to write Kaafir on the gravestones,  those that beat up mixed-gender groups in university campuses, those that make death-threats to CD/DVD retailers, and those that lathi charge the hedonistic Pakistani music concerts, should be given special mention, for their contributions to Pakistani society. A good-citizen award!

·        Contestants who can convincingly criticize the Western and Indian hegemony in Pakistan - including the wearing of jeans, viewing of Indian movies, and consumption of Walls Ice-cream  – while themselves wearing Saudi-style dishdashas, owning Russian Klashnekoffs, driving Japanese Toyota Hiluxs, and answering American Iphones, should also receive positive marking, for having the good sense.  All those that have the ability to plausibly pass-off these and other socio-political beliefs, as divine religious truth, should definitely be promoted to the finals.

Ooooooh! Aaaaaah! Brrrr! Kate Winslaaayt! On my Iphoone!

·        If the contestant understands that Pakistani television has become too vulgar and needs to be censored, but is also mad for Katrina Kaif and Kate Winslet (“Wah, tit anic, kya film thi”), he should be awarded a small cash sum, for having faith-compliant preferences.

·        For the Pakistani version of Imam Muda, the prize selection, for the winner, is absolutely critical. A scholarship to a university in Madinah just won’t do, here. Our local mullahs already know all there is to know, plus, Wahabbi thought already pervades Pakistani society, so no more brain-washing required. And what’s the point of a simple job, working in a mosque. The winning contestant should be handed his very own madrassa, straight away, to enable another generation of children to learn mullah-isms. One can’t, ever, have too many madrassas, and that job seems much more worthy, of the winner of Mullah Idol.  Oh, and the awards need to be tailored to the preferences of a Pakistani mullah, so I think it would be a great idea to also award the following: a bottle of kala kola (for the pampered mullah who demands a jet-black beard), a one-size-too-short-Junaid-Jamshed-brand shalwar (for the fashionable yet pious mullah), a klashnekoff (perfect accessory), and an advertising contract with Lays potato chips.

The runner-up should also get his own madrassa (can’t have too many), and an advertising contract with Mezan Banaspati.

If most of these criteria are met, I have no doubt that this show will be appearing on a Jamaat-e-Islami television channel near you, very soon.

After having imagined the hilarious scenarios that could result from this show, I am not even all that against it being made. Imagine if a female aspirant shows up for auditions. I would take great delight in watching the judges’ hands shoot up, to grab their ears, while they mutter “tauba, tauba,” in a state of religious indignation.

It would be funny too, to see the different personalities of the judges. I can see the Simon-Cowell-type judge berating the contestant. “You are just not good enough; you can’t give a khutba to save your life. Go home!”

The Paula-Abdul Judge: “Acha tha, lekin if you threw in the IMF in to the mix, with Blackwater, Mossad, and RAW, it could have added that extra something.”

And the Randy-Jackson mullah: “Amazing dawg! You know you my mullah. Try improving your mimbar-presence, next time, because I know you are capable of shrieking louder, but I loved it.”

Nevertheless, I am still concerned about the elimination rounds. Pakistani ‘scholars’ are not know for being the sporting types. A contestant, furious over being eliminated, might become fatwa-happy and start declaring the judges and fellow contestants ‘Wajib-ul-Qatal’; and someone in the audience might just be impressionable enough to follow through.

Hmmmmm, what did you think of that khutba?

Note: All the criticisms above are of those fundos in our society who interpret Islam to their own ends, act like the rakhwale of religion, want to impose - by whatever means possible - their own views, on others, and generally ruin and make miserable, the lives of all their countrymen. No offence is intended to those, religious and non-religious, who understand that the practice of religion is a personal matter, and that beliefs can’t, and should not, be enforced upon. 


Indian Pundit said...


Religion needs to be kept strictly personal in society. Religious activities are probably the most un-productive in any society.

The shows like these will only create more and more "television religious experts" who will ultimately lead people astray from the path of tolerance ,liberalism ,secularism and progressive values.....

Take Care

Salman Javaid said...

LOL! Man super awesome.

Though, apart from everything else, I am surprised how much the Wahabi though is penetrating across Muslim cultures. Woah. A scholarship to Madina university. What if there were to be two study tours. One to Saudia and the to Qom in Iran. More fun. :P

Mackers said...

@ Indian Pundit: Thanks for reading and commenting. I completely agree that religion is a personal matter, and not for the government and courts to interfere in, as I mentioned in the note, at the bottom. I don't know if this show, replicated in Pakistan, would take a progressive or conservative approach and am not so comfortable with giving a platform to zealots to espouse their bigoted views.

@ Salman: Thanks for reading bro. Yeah, Saudi influence is magnified by the petro-dollars that they have in such huge amounts right now. I would have them stay right here within our qaum, rather than travelling to Saudi and Qom :P

Alpha Za said...

haha, really funny man.

I have some suggestions. Have a fashion round to begin, kind of like a quick fire elimination in top chef.

It'll give the pretty mullahs a shot and enhance viewership.

Bomb production techniques: extra points for going nuclear.

Zakir Naik has to be the Ryan Seacrest of the show.

For a grand prize you include a couple of smoking hot wives and force the other mullahs to follow him; duh. Plus shows on Geo & Peace TV.

They will have to discuss contensious fatwas, like banning Manchester United (Yes I'm still sore on that one).

Tilsim said...

They should have a Mulli version with women participation:)

LOL! Great spoof, had me in stitches!

Mackers said...

@ Alpha Za: Haha, good suggestions.Nothing like dolled up mullahs to increase ratings. Zakir Naik is too weak-sauce to be on the judge panel, but he will do nicely in the Seacrest role. And I feel your pain on the Man U fatwa, sometimes they just take it too far :P

@Tilsim: Thanks man. Not sure about a Mulli version, half the Mullahs in the country might develop aneurysms. Then again, that might not be a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

This was funny.

I think the world has gone mad. Mullah Idol eh? Wonders never cease...And put together like that, I just realized how clever I am since Idols are "haraam" and mullahs are - well, mullahs. So in my nerdy self-satisfaction, it's a nice little pun that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Religion is really personal and they're dragging it out on the streets getting it all dirty and stinky. Oh well.

Newton said...

where are you Mackers? No post since August?

Anonymous said...

While I can sympathize with how confusing our nations problems have evidently become for people, it is difficult to rationalize such a rabid and superficial outlook by one of our own.

I wont speculate how these phobias have developed regarding "Mullas", but it would have been better to adopt some semblance of good sense in the bashing.

After wholeheartedly taking on many religious sentiments we hold dear with a gross lack of insensitivity, a scaled-down-four-line disclaimer is too little too late.

Please research your facts before you spew them; do not equate Madinah with Qom, research the Wahabi movement, to which you generously attribute brainwashing.

However your writing skills are good.