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Positively Muslim in the United Kingdom #MuslimYouthRising

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In August, Muslimmatters collaborated on MuslimARC’s #MuslimYouthRising initiative to highlight the achievements of American Muslim youth. We are extending this into a series where we will continue to feature Muslim youth from across the globe. If you would like to nominate a youth who is positively impacting your community please email us at info [at] Muslimmatters [dot] org.

Today, Muslim youth face a number of questions, including: What is culture? What is Islam? Where do they fit in their communities? Where do they fit in the broader society? How do they manage perceptions of what constitutes moderate and extremist Islam? The focus on the identity crisis of Muslim youth, overlooks how they have also played an important role as vanguards in the community, with innovative thinking and the courage to tackle some of our greatest challenges.

Youth have been central in Muslim societies so much so that the medieval Islamic concept of chivalry futuwwa is tied to the concept of youth. Futuwwa, comes from the Arabic word fata which encompasses the meaning of chivalrous young man.There are two sources for futuwwa in the Quran, one when Abraham 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), in obedience to Allah, was willing to sacrifice his son thereby establishing hospitality. The second source for futuwwa are the monotheistic youth in People of the Cave whom Allah protected.

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Futuwwa also means:

1. Servitude and constant remembrance of God;
2. Seeking company of good people (good fellowship) and hospitality;

3. Being introspective;

4. Focus on remembering one’s own defects;

5. Guarding one’s soul against all temptations.

The role our Muslim youth play, whether as students, activists, or volunteers, makes it even more essential that our institutions address the needs of the youth, encourage them to participate in shaping the narrative of Islam in our communities, and include them in institutional decision making. Likewise, by providing a space for Muslim youth to discuss intra-Muslim racism and develop solutions, we can work collaboratively to imagine brighter futures where our communities better reflect our egalitarian ideals.

Youth were asked these questions:

What is your age?
· How do you identify ethnically?
· What has been your involvement or leadership in the Muslim community?
· What are your thoughts on the future Muslim inter-ethnic relations? What would you like to see? What are some possible solutions?

Dr Sharjeel Zafar Kiani
Age: 25 yrs
Profession: Doctor

I am a 25 year old junior doctor and an enthusiastic member of my local Muslim community. Being a British Muslim means a lot to me and is very much part of my identity. I volunteer for the Islamic Diversity Centre which is a dawah organisation based in the North East of England. I am tremendously passionate about the issues and affairs of my local community. Working for IDC gives me a firm platform from which I can contribute to social cohesion without compromising my Islamic values. Working with IDC I have helped challenge the current narrative which demonises Muslims. I am often challenging stereotypes and helping share the true message of Islam. Our entire ethos is manifest in our wide array of projects. At grass roots level I have been involved in the weekly dawah stall in the city centre clarifying misconceptions with all walks of life. I have led a neighbourhood clean-up project and also been part of other social initiatives such as a blood donation drive. Just recently I participated in our now annual Children’s hospital visit on Eid where we give out presents whilst in fancy dress. Perhaps one of the most beloved roles I have is wishing the new Muslim support team where we mentor new Muslims through a holistic approach. I am rather proud of inter-ethnic relations in my home city. This is reflected by the multi cultural attendance in the city’s main Mosque and the delightful atmosphere at Friday prayers, Taraweeh and Eid. I look forward to the day where we all identify ourselves firstly as Muslims rather than nationality. Ultimately it is the Deen of Allah that unites us and gives us honour. The solution for our current trials and tribulations as always lie within the Qur’an and Sunnah. The closer we are to Islam the closer we will become as humans from different tribes and ethnicities. The following narration from Omar Ibn Al-Khattab serves as a profound reminder.

“We were the most humiliated people on Earth and God gave us honour through Islam. If we ever seek honour through anything else, God will humiliate us again.”

As Muslims we must seek honour through Islam rather than through nationality, cast or skin colour. If we take heed of the attitudes and advice of the pious companions it will go a long way for inter-ethnic relations.

Visiting hospitals on DID day giving gifts to kids

Shovelling snow off driveways

Name: Saba Malik
Age: 23 yrs old
Profession: University Student

I am 23 years old and of Indian-Kashmiri origin , born and raised in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. Throughout my four years of study at King’s College London, I have been actively involved in “Charity Week” – a student-led initiative aimed at uniting the Muslim student body for one cause : raising money for orphans and needy children worldwide . In my current position as Universities’ representative on the Charity Week London team, I am constantly engaging with students from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds and degree disciplines, as I endeavour to relate the “Charity Week” vision of unity to all higher education institutions within London, demonstrating that the unity we achieve at this level can serve as a model for what the wider Ummah can accomplish.

Name: Adeel Syed

Age: I am 25

Profession: Doctor

20130603_162022
I have been involved in organising a National induction course for final year medical students who are just about to start their first jobs as junior doctors. That can be an incredibly tense period for them not just from a purely academic angle, but with many practical issues that can affect them and their quality of life. Our aim was to provide them with hints and tips to ensure that they get the best experience in the crucial first few months of their career.

In terms of thoughts on Muslum inter-ethnic relations, it is vital that we follow the prophet’s last sermon where he basically denounces all forms of racism “no arab is superior to a non arab and no non arab is superior to an arab except in piety and good deeds”

Name: Wafa Al Saygh
Age: 23 yrs old
Ethnicity: British Iraqi Muslim

20140716_130549I have recently been involved in:

– Formulation of an Islamic Medical Ethics Society at university which delivers social and academic activities for students
– Working for British Islamic Medical Association to organise and volunteer in community projects
– Recently joined as a volunteer for the centre for islam and medicine, to help deliver community courses to better inform the public about some of the controversial medical ethical issues patients may face
– Helped organise local mosque open days, where local schools came to for an educational visit to learn about islam
– Mentor for A level students from disadvantaged backgrounds wanting to pursue a career in medicine or related fields
– Mentor for BME students

I would like to see:
–  Muslims tend to ‘hang out’ with other muslims. This can lead to us being perceived as a very closed group.  My advice is that all Muslim youth should engage in/set up halal activities and invite their non muslim friends to the events.
–  If there isn’t anything to do in your local area, set something up. Look for volunteers in local mosques and youth groups, from school/ college/ uni. It could be anything from a football club or scouts to homework club. It’s all rewarded if the intention is for Allah.
–  All local mosques should have a youth activity night. At my local mosque that’s youth focussed halaqas and lectures on a Friday night, with free pizza at the end. If there’s no such arrangement currently, please pester your local imam.
–  Please suggest topics that matter to you to be part of the Friday khutbah, whether this be the state of the economy or making Muslims more aware for the need to vote. Make sure its all in English, and if it isn’t get someone who can do live public translation.
–  If you see something you don’t like in your local area eg too much litter, cracks in the road or pavement, please write to your local counsel or MP. Feel free to challenge your counsellors. They would be more than happy to reply!
– Finally, could all Muslim youth please excel (ihsaan) in whatever field you’re in. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re good at it, and this is the best form of dawah.

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Alhamdulillah, we're at 900 supporters. Help us get to 1000 supporters before Ramadan ends. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Sheharyar

    September 23, 2014 at 4:21 PM

    It’s cool to see so many British Muslims that are clear in their faiths and focused individuals. It gives me hope about the Muslim community. Personally as a student, my own experience was much more confused and i’ve never really known what I belong to culturally. My perception of Islam was also quite confused. It was through being open minded and meeting respectable Muslims that I learned to focus myself. This is why I really agree with Wafa’s last point about success being the best form of Dawah. I didn’t know what to think of Islam but I knew that some of the people I respected the most all had a certain air about them, and they were all pious in their faith. That convinced me to develop my relationship with Islam and I’m very happy with how it’s turned out. Sorry for the jumbled comment, great article!

  2. Pingback: British Muslim – An Identity crisis | The Struggle for Balance

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