IMAM: A Film Based on a National Laureate Masterpieces, that Drives the Movement of Change

March 3, 2023
Admin Abim


Change cannot be contained, as Haji Mihad said, “it is like a confined light that will find a way to seep out through even the smallest cavity or crack”. Those are words of Imam Haji Mihad, the main character of the late National Laureate Dato Abdullah Hussain’s novel, Imam.

Imam is a masterpiece that won the National Novel Prize in 1992-1994 as well as the first place in the Sayembara Sako competition organized by Utusan Publication and Public Bank. More importantly, this work is a story about “our story”. The characters in this novel are living characters and that can still be found in our time.

Evil characters such as those who misuse religion, good characters such as religious figures who work sincerely to clarify and purify society, the division of society with unbelieving infidel elements, the prayer of two imams as a result of bigotry – all these can still be found in society today.

Today, as society fumbles for guidance, the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) together with Alkahfi Pictures joins hands to bring back the messages from the National Laureate’s Work.

This effort is synonymous with ABIM’s main agenda which consistently brings the agenda of Islah – reform with a cosmopolitan nuance that is directed towards goodness, openness, mutual benefit among all people. Therefore, on March 2, 2023, this work will be adapted in the form of the movie IMAM, which will hit theatres nationwide.

Why was the IMAM chosen and what is its significance in society?

In the Malay community, IMAMs are highly trusted religious leaders. Traditionally Imam has a special position in Malay society. What we are trying to highlight in the Film Imam / Leader is the choice of the Malay community to have an Imam. What is the character of an Imam who should lead the people?

An Imam who enlightens the nation or darkens it?

An Imam who is brave? Or one who just goes with the flow and gives in.

Imams who value openness or imams who are stagnant.

The character of Imam Haji Mihad tries to bring change towards goodness, to warm the rigidness that exists in society’s thinking, based on arguments for us to think, and is ready to face risks. Haji Syamsuri’s character is a stagnant religious leader, rejecting change without argument, comfortable with the climate of stupidity that brings down common sense.

Haji Mihad’s role is to educate the community to be independent. In his simplicity, he remained firm in his fight for accountability and transparency involving property or entrusted money managed in the name of the interests of the people.

This is in contrast to Haji Syamsuri, who is comfortable wanting people to depend on him without giving them room to be independent. The dynamics inspired by SN Abdullah Hussain’s Novel “IMAM” can be found not just in the 1970s and 1980s, but even well before that.

Looking at the writings of the late Prof. Azyumardi Azra, there is mention of the role of natural Malay reformist scholars in the 17th century when those known as Jawi students in Haramayn (Mecca & Medina), returned to their homeland trying to bring about change.

Examples include Shaykh Nūr al-Dīn al-Ranirī (1658), Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ra’ūf al-Sinkilī (1693), Shaykh Muḥammad Yūsuf al-Maqassarī (1699), Shaykh Dawūd al-Faṭanī (1847), Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ṣamad al-Falimbanī (1785), and Shaykh Muḥammad Arshad al-Banjarī (1812).

In the Malay world, according to him, these figures shaped the thinking of the people in their respective localities regarding religion, especially in the dimension of monotheism – Tauhid. They also managed to bring changes in administration and social justice in their respective regions. Therefore, this film is not just an ordinary story, but it calls upon us, especially the Malay community, to think for a moment.

When placing the Imam as the main leader of the community, there needs to be a shift and a new narrative so that the Imam who guides the community is an Imam who is always on the straight path, based on arguments, leading the people towards enlightenment and open-mindedness.

On the other hand, leaders who silence the people from thinking, bring sentiments that frighten the people, freeze the nation’s thinking and are comfortable letting the people follow the wrong currents should be avoided.

Because we believe that change for the better is a natural part of life, we need courage of the people to act collectively, renew their ways of thinking, and choose the right paths in order to fulfil their aspirations for the future.

* Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz, President, Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM).

N0 6, JALAN TC 24/2