Many Indonesians should have known ‘the phenomenon’ Abdullah Gymnastiar, or Aa Gym, a prominent cleric from West Java. At 25-28 April 2013, he is scheduled to give sermons in several big cities in Australia, namely Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and certainly the country’s capital, Canberra.
As a cleric, the nationwide popularity of Aa Gym peaked from late 1990s up to 2006. From a little ‘pesantren‘ (Islamic boarding school) Pondok Pesantren Daarut Tauhiid (DT) that initially consisted of 20 rooms, Aa Gym was able to grow a giant holding company called PT MQ Corporation (with 19 business entities) under the brand of ‘Manajemen Qolbu‘ (Management of Heart).
A multitalented Aa Gym–a cleric, singer, writer, publisher, entrepreneur–later rose as a highly successful businessman. At a point of time it was reported that his assets reached Rp 12 billion with a turnover of Rp 27 billion.
Nonetheless, Aa Gym sparked controversy with his polygamous practice. When it was declared in December 2006 his viewerships, from TV stations to visitors at DT pesantren, drastically dropped. His business too declined significantly. In short, Aa Gym’s fans and followers could not accept such a practice, particularly coming from a figure they loved most.
As time goes by, Aa Gym’s popularity bounced back. Slowly, public can accept his ‘new existence’. After a year without any TV shows, he appeared on the Kick Andy Show of Metro TV with a title of “Aa Gym Answers”. His sermons and businesses slowly and surely back to normal, even though the past stages have yet been recovered.
Thanks to the social media, public can still view Aa Gym’s sermons. His ‘down-to-earth’ teachings on the management of heart are still there. The smiles, laughs, and even cries that often happen during his usual sessions are back.
For readers’ information, Aa Gym’s visit to Australia this year is for the purpose of raising fund in establishing a mosque in Queensland. His visit is sponsored by the Dompet Dhuafa Australia, managed by the Indonesian Muslim Centre of Queensland, and supported by other moslem communities in the down under.
Projecting Indonesia supports the visit of Aa Gym to Australia and is pleased to publish some of his teachings prior to the visit in the next series of articles. [YA]
source: Wikipedia, Kick Andy Show, SWA; featured image: infospesial