When one thinks of a Muslim cleric, a man wearing jeans and a t-shirt is probably not the first image that comes to mind. However, one Iraqi sheikh, Yasser Jassem, chose to challenge mainstream notions surrounding Muslim clerics.
Jassem recently caught people's attention online after sharing images from a photoshoot session in which he was captured flaunting his biceps and driving a sports car.
Meet Sheikh Jassem:
His Facebook cover photo features him flexing his muscles
Posing next to cars is totally his thing ...
And so is taking selfies
He is no stranger to casual attire
But he can also be seen wearing the traditional robe and turban
People have mixed reactions
Jassem's photos have caused quite a stir online, drawing mixed reactions.
Some people deemed them as inappropriate for a man of the cloth, while others applauded Jassem for refuting stereotypes surrounding Muslim clerics.
His supporters say his status should not stop him from pursuing his goals
"Sheikh Yasser Jessem. A Muslim scholar who took part in a photoshoot for the youth, to show that religion does not mean violence, depression, nor isolation from life. Religion means love and forgiveness. Religion [is a private matter that] should be demonstrated inside a person, rather than in front of people."
"Where's the problem?"
"Nice... Where's the problem if a scholar, sheikh, priest, or monk has his own life? Does the turban make him a prophet and stop him from becoming a lover or a musician? On the contrary. It's a nice image when religion does not stop a religious person from carrying on with his life. I like him a lot."
Some women were impressed
"I swear you are handsome, our sheikh."
Meanwhile, others took issue with the photoshoot
"You have the right to do whatever you want to do as long as you don't sin, but you can't act like a model while wearing the attire of scholars."
"No, sheikh, no"
Sheikh Jassem responds
"I tolerate all opinions and accept criticism, but I would like to say that a cleric is a normal human who has feelings and life goals," he said, adding that there is no issue in a religious scholar working out or pursuing bodybuilding.
He then called upon members of the society to be "more understanding and open and understand that clerics are normal people who make mistakes too."