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Jakarta Post

'Pop religion' books join best-seller lists

Jakarta   /   Mon, June 9 2008   /  10:29 am

In the Times magazine, Muslim scholar Ulil Abshar-Abdalla once called preacher Abdullah "Aa Gym" Gymnastiar the "Britney Spears of Islam" due to the cleric's popularity. Before the preacher's polygamous life was publicly announced last year, Aa Gym merchandise, including books, sold like hotcakes. His books were collections of his sermons on topics such as self-control, personal morality, tolerance and faith, and advice on how to cope with the challenges of child rearing and succeed in business. Publishers categorized these reader-favorite books in the genre of "popular Islam"; as part of pop culture. "Books on religion, which are written in a popular way, including novels and 'self-help' and 'how to' books, are best sellers now," Yuniawan Nugroho, director of publishing company Panta Rei, told The Jakarta Post last week. ...