Abdullah ‘Aa Gym Gymnastiar
Source of Influence: Preachers & Spiritual Guides
Status: Featured in current year
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 with a regular audience of over 80 million Indonesians and an approval rating that peaked at 91% leading to 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 with his commercial enterprises taking a huge hit. Over the past seven 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).