Indonesia: More celebrities, rock stars turn to Islam

  • .The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Fri, May 27 2016 | 08:58 am Teuku Wisnu(./

Until very recently, Teuku Wisnu was known mostly for his role in a humdrum soap opera broadcast by local television channels.

Three years ago, Teuku underwent a transformation by appearing less on television and developing the habit of wearing typical Muslim garb and growing his beard long.

Soon, he started appearing on television playing a different kind of role, that of a Muslim preacher.

Last year, Teuku caused a stir after stating on national television that Muslims should not recite Al Fatiha, the first chapter of the Koran, as a prayer for the dead.

This week, the 31-year-old Aceh native made the transformation complete by deciding to change his name into Teuku Al-Fatih.

Due to administrative and paperwork issues, Teuku expects that he will receive the name next month during the Ramadhan fasting month.

“God willing, it will be done during the fasting month,” he said, adding that his family had given him their stamp of approval.

Teuku said he took the name from his son.“It is actually not a surprise. I will take my son’s name, Al-Fatih, so my name will be Teuku Al-Fatih,” he told

Teuku married actress Shireen Sungkar in 2013 and they have a son named Teuku Adam Al Fatih.

Teuku is the latest example of an actor, musician or someone involved in the country’s entertainment industry who has had enough of excess and has turned to religion.

In recent years, members of some of the country’s most high-profile rock bands like Pure Saturday, Sheila On 7, Rocket Rockers and Rumahsakit have decided to “break on through to the other side”.

Some of the former rockers began to take up preaching conservative Islamic teachings.

Kang Ucay, the former lead singer of Bandung-based pop-punk band Rockcalled et Rockers, who now goes by the name of Noor Al Kautsar, serves as the coordinator for the Bandung chapter of Indonesia Tanpa JIL ( Indonesia Without JIL ). Indonesia Tanpa JIL is a conservative Islamist movement opposed to the liberal Islam, promoted in Indonesia by Jaringan Islam Liberal ( Liberal Islam Network ).

Some other musicians who have decided to lay down their instruments recently set up a movement and identified themselves as Al Ghuroba, or The Strangers.

These former musicians’ primary campaign theme is the prohibition of music.

Members of this organization promote a literal reading of the Koran and hadith ( the sayings and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad ) that forbids the act of listening to or playing music, saying it could lead the faithful away from faith.

In the late 1980s, two of the biggest names in the music scene, Gito Rollies and Harry Moekti, quit the industry and became well-respected preachers with a large following.

In the late 1990s, Irfan Sembiring of the thrash metal band Rotor, who opened for Metallica in 1991, left show business and traveled to places like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and India to study Islam in madrassas.

Irfan, however, did not disown music and he recently released a thrash metal album with pietythemed lyrics. “I want to meet with everybody involved in this business, musicians and fans and I want to do silaturahmi [building connections],” Irfan said in a recent interview.

Syafiq Hasyim of the State Islamic University ( UIN ) Syarief Hidayatullah said that celebrities’ newfound piety, especially those who chose to become preachers, may be motivated by pragmatism.

“There are two types of piety, exclusive and inclusive and the latter is always better. But I suspect that for some of those preachers, they have financial motivations,” Syafiq said.



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