Now if you had a massive migraine and went to your GP and he gave you foot cream for the cure you’d probably think he's either lost the plot or a dodgy geezer who's really a plumber but only got the job coz his dad owns the surgery!
Now if you go to many mosques across the UK nowadays sadly you will see something along the same lines! Shock! Horror! How can I say that?! Let me explain: You're a young Muslim, finding it hard to practise Islam, influenced by dodgy friends, society, sex, drugs n’ rock n roll - you go to the Masjid to help you keep you on the straight and narrow and what do you get? It’s mostly an old Imam from back home who’s doing a fantastic humdinger of a speech but the thing is it's not in English and you don't really understand what he's on about. Or, when you go to the Masjid if you do understand the language it’s either not on your level or mainly not on an issue that affects your everyday life as a Muslim living in the UK. Hey, but what the heck your mosque has got a beautiful dome, amazing calligraphy on the wall, fantastic carpets, a top of the range kitchen and a payphone - what more do you want man!?
You see where the GP didn't understand the problem of his patient so gave the wrong prescription - some mosques, Imams and organisations don't understand the needs of the Muslim youth, therefore are NOT catering for them and as a result the youth are getting the wrong message and image of Islam and are running away from it!!
Today a lot of mosques, Imams and Muslims in general don't deal with or understand the needs of the time. They don't deliver what we need. Now if the problems facing Muslims in the UK are drugs, alcohol abuse, boy/girlfriend, prostitution, sectarianism, disunity, forced marriages, Islamophobia, anti Muslim media propaganda, materialism, the BNP, identity etc, why is it that our mosques, Imams and Islamic organisations don't raise these issues regularly so we can tackle them properly? Unfortunately, you'll be lucky if you have ever been to a lecture or Khutba that covers or regularly tackles these REAL issues that face Muslims in the UK today especially the youth.
What is the point of an Imam - the head of the Muslim community - if he doesn't openly raise, discuss and tackle the everyday issues that face us? What is the point of the Mosque - the centre point of the Muslim community - if it doesn't cater for our needs? What is the point of a mosque committee if it doesn't understand the needs of the Muslim community?
Let me ask you: if the Muslim youth are getting stoned, drunk, fornicating, clubbing and doing whatever it takes to chill and 'get a buzz' then why not open the mosque as a community centre for them, so they can have fun in a Halal and controlled environment? Why not have a pool table, x-box, internet access, punch bag, weights and other forms of activities to keep the youth off the streets? It's not rocket science now is it? But for some reason we don’t seem to understand the needs of Muslim youth today!
If the youth are going towards extremism then why not produce specially designed courses on what Islam actually says about Jihad, violence and extremism? To channel the anger our youth have on foreign policy why not have a body from the mosque to work with media and political lobby groups like MPAC and Engage so we can give our youth the tools to express their emotions positively? Again it’s not rocket science to do this now is it? So why isn't it being done by most mosques? It's coz we again don't understand the needs of the time!
It's not that young Muslims find Islam boring – it’s because that's how it’s presented to them: boring foreign lectures, mosques fighting each other, just dealing with rituals and prayer… and that's it! Why isn't every mosque/organisation doing fun days, fund-raising activities, day trips, competitions, quizzes, Muslim comedy, open Q & A, debates & discussions, interfaith dialogues, short courses on history of Islam, heroes of Islam, Islam & Science, Muslim inventions etc etc? Come on man... there’s a million and one things mosques, Imams, committees, organisations and all of us can do to present Islam positively and in a fun way - so why isn’t it being done? Erm... is it because we still don't understand the needs of the Muslim youth today? Do we still think we're in our village back home? Do we still think Islam is only a religion and only deals with rituals and spirituality?
I could go on and on... but I wont! I'm happy to say there are plenty of mosques, Imams and active brothers and sisters who are doing the above and a lot more… but there are too many who still aren't. Too many who are still asleep. Too many who think the mosque is just for 'worship and education only'. Too many who ignore catering for Muslim sisters! There are too many Imams who can't speak English. Too many Imams who are sectarian and divide Muslims. Too many Imams who fail as leaders of the community because they don't even understand what the needs of the Muslims are today and then how to cater for those needs. There are too many practising Muslims who put others off Islam and going to the mosque because of their mentality. So abuse me, cuss me, email me a Fatwa, put a bounty on my head - if it gets people to discuss how mosques, Imams, Islamic organisation and active Muslims should really function and cater for the Muslim needs of today then I will keep on highlighting this issue until it’s time for me join Laden and hide under a cave in Tora Bora somewhere!
Now if we really understand the needs of the time, and we really want to empower our mosques, Imams and Islamic organisations then we need to take practical steps to bring about this revolution. YOU need to be the start, the middles and the end of this revolution. 'But what can I do?' is what you're saying. Well this is exactly what we can ALL do:
Firstly: Speak to your fellow young Muslims, from the practising to the gangster wannabes, and ask them what their issues are.
Secondly: Attend your mosques/Islamic centres regularly and be a part and parcel of them.
Thirdly: Regularly make the active brothers/sisters and the mosque Imam and committee aware of the issues facing Muslim youth today.
Fourthly: Take steps from your mosque/centre on what you can practically do to cater for the needs of today.
Finally: Help your mosque, Imam and committee to work with other specialist groups to help you cater for the needs of the youth e.g. counsellors, drug abuse advisors, youth workers, media lobby groups, interfaith forums, event organisers, medical experts, careers advisor, student unions etc.
So are you ready for the revolution?
If not, you might as well join Laden in the cave.