Abdullah ‘Aa Gym Gymnastiar

Abdullah Gymnastiar, more commonly known as Aa Gym (Elder Brother Gym), was for a long time Indonesia’s most popular preacher. With his style of modern, youthful, enjoyable preaching, he built a substantial following and a large media empire. His regular audience boasted over 80 million Indonesians and had an approval rating that peaked at 91%, leading to Gymnastiar being courted by several political parties as a potential vice president nominee. In 2006 Gym announced a polygamous marriage and immediately saw a huge backlash from his mainly female audience: his ratings dropped and his commercial enterprises took a huge hit. Over the past several years, Gymnastiar has been slowly regaining his popularity using his unique preacher/performer style: he is an attractive, funny, and charismatic man who tells engaging stories and sings nasheeds (religious songs). He has over 12 million fans on social media.

Source of Influence: Preachers & Spiritual Guides

Status: Featured in current year