A radical proposal to involve youth in the Masjid 
A radical proposal to involve youth in the Masjid

Much of what I have written on this site and elsewhere has been about opening up the masjid to make it plural across Muslim factions, accountable and transparently managed. While there is wide consensus that there is a pressing need to draw youth into involvement in the masjid and that barriers to this are a recurring complaint, the advice I have offered about plurality, accountability and mutual respect do not actually do anything specific to draw youth back in. So here is an idea:

Set up a youth committee - ok, nothing original there. Make it a complete replica of the positions and responsibilities of the existing committee, warts and all. Make it elected ( - ok that will be a bit of a shock for many masjids), using a broad franchise, not with narrow and exclusive electoral membership.

*** All candidates and voters must be under twenty years old however. ***

Let the surrogate committee run for one year terms and give it a budget for spending over which it can have full control. (It will have its own treasurer and fundraising appointees anyway probably, and should be able to do its own fundraising.)

Let it have its own slot for activities and events in or on behalf of the masjid, and do not place any constraints on what they should be - trust the youth with responsibility to maintain the integrity of the masjid: don't have the conceit to think you, incumbent management, have behaved more responsibly than them, you almost certainly haven't.

Eleven months into the one year term of office, step aside. Give the now well settled-in youth committee one month in which they are in total control of the month's finance, management and running of the masjid, including paying the imam and madrassah teachers, and selecting their own preferred imam to stand in, in place if they wish (give your imam a holiday!). (Obviously theer are not likely to be many options for an imam to be in a paid post for just a month, so let the youth committee work something out for themselves.

At the end of that month, require the entire youth committee to stand down in favour of a new elected youth committee, and be ineligible to stand again until a further year has passed.

Obviously the young people who are willing to get involved in this way, will, for the most part, be fully ensconced in the ways of the masjid already, and you will probably want to spend a lot of time trying to influence them to make sure that the decisions they make are ones that don't discomfort you. But that is no small part of the point - you, incumbent management, will now have to take time to justify and explain your behaviour and choices to teenagers, probably for the first time in your own life!

Also, though the participating youth may be part of the masjid's own establishment, they mix with many who won't be, and they will need to canvass for support. Thuswise they will draw in their peers who are less well established. It probably won't reach right out to the disaffected margins, but it will be a huge improvement on the outreach you are doing, which is probably nothing whatsoever.

Give it a try, anything is better than the way things are now!


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