Are Muslim organisations fit for the 21st Century?
Muslims in the UK by in large been living in stable but secure communities for the best part of 70 years.
The pioneers or the founding fathers of the communities made an immense contribution to the setting up of mosques, supplementary schools, educational establishments and community organisations which are utilised everyday by Muslim communities across the UK. Our elders some of whom who are no longer with us defined the aims, objectives and purpose of these organisations primarily as they were concerned and feared for the futures of future generations. Some Muslim communities even today are still indeed fortunate that they can seek guidance and tap into the wisdom and foresight of the pioneers that still remain amongst us.
Today, certain sections within our community unfortunately are rather too pre-occupied with nostalgia and or a feeling of pride at their collective achievements of yesteryear in so far as that they have taken their eye of the radar in respect of the rampant ills of society today that affect our proud community. One is of the view that many Muslim organisations up and down the country that attach too much importance to image or commercial interests and as a result have lost sight of the founding guiding principles of the pioneers of these organisations. In reality, do we want Muslim organisations to become a ‘white elephant’ that exists for the sake of existence or do we want organisations that put the people first and ultimately serve their interests.
The question we need to ask ourselves do we still have the same concern today like our forefathers or have we reached a stage where nobody cares anymore about what happens to us, our community or society for that matter.
It should be said that all of us including our community leaders need to detach ourselves from power politics and personality clashes and take a good luck at ourselves and engage in renewing the founding and guiding principles of our founder fathers. We are all too aware of cases involving members of the Muslim community who have become helpless or been chastised on the basis that they have an alcohol problem or a drug addiction.
Divorce has now become the norm rather than the exception in so far as people rejoice when they receive their divorce settlement neglecting the fact that the parties concerned face a very uncertain future.
Nevertheless, it is never too late to address the social and moral ills that have descended upon our community in the last 20 years. However, strong and vibrant community organisations also require true visionaries and intellectuals in order to take our communities forward and at the same time develop innovative strategies and frameworks in order to tackle the rampant social and moral decay that is devouring us at this present time.
Individualism and the beast of selfishness pose major threats to our community and have in reality caused a great deal of pain and damage.
One will end this debate by stating that each and every one of us have a fundamental role to play in creating a prosperous, cohesive and vibrant community that serves future generations to come.
By Dr Abdul B Shaikh
Lecturer in Islamic Studies @ Leeds University