‘Contextualising Islam in Britain’ II project
In 2011, I contributed to a series of four symposia, convened by the Prince AlWaleed bin Talal bin Centre for Islamic Studies and supported by the Department for Communities and Local Goverment, which brought together a diverse range of contributors from within the British Muslim communities, to debate one of the key questions identified in the first stage of the project: how might Islamic theologies and Muslim communities contribute to notions of active citizenship and positive engagement in wider society for the common good?
During the symposium I presented on how one’s faith and belief in Islam and the prophetic tradition, could indeed be applied to and used as a catalyst to help young people, who are facing complex social and mental health challenges. These problems and issues faced on a daily basis, could range from child abuse to teen angst or depression. I put forward that the Qur’anic values of compassion, helping others and listening in a non-judgemental way, were values that had been overlooked by Muslims in Britain today; that these need to be revived amongst the ‘elders’ and mosques of the communities, in order to help and support young people.
In my experience if you provide a safe space for a young person and provide them with the tools to make the best decisions for themselves, as well as provide opportunities to lift themselves out of their situation, then this process can be highly transformative. Without the need to exalt judgement or chastisement, which only serves to increase their anxieties and ostracise them from their own communities.
A summary of the discussions around youth is found in the section titled ‘Supporting Young British Muslims‘, pages 40 to 41.