Date :Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 | Time : 07:30 |ID: 60349 | Print

A New Kind of UK Shia Social Space” – Shafaqna News Article / Exclusive

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SHAFAQNA-

Ahlulbayt Islamic Mission has successfully launched its new weekly community social events space at Muhammadi Trust in Willesden Green, London. A packed hall listened avidly to this weeks events key note speaker- Shaykh Zakariya, Lecturer at Islamic College (ICAS), who focused on Muslim education and the challenges of a secular liberal education system, which appears all too often to be failing to enable the holistic development of both Muslim and non Muslim children. It followed Dr Rebecca Masterton’s lecture in commemoration of Hazrat Fatima Zahra (as) last week.
The AIM teams official call to this event  had urged Muslims in their network to turn a new page, (and) make an effort to sit together and to attend with their families for the birth of the Holiest lady (as) of Islam. Adding that “InshAllah through the majesty of her great name, we can start anew and lay down the first blocks of a new tomorrow for our community.”
But perhaps what will be most important aspect of this initiative, if it succeeds long term, will be the opportunity for the attendees to build respect and trust through socializing, networking and may enable them to become a team. One capable of launching the co-creative learning collaborations required to come up with solutions to tackle the plethora of challenges facing Muslims in Britain.
Co – Founder and Chair of AIM, Samir Haidery, said  “For a long time I have been thinking that we lack a space in the Muslim community for families and individuals of different backgrounds to come together and share ideas in a friendly environment to learn from one another. I started thinking about what is missing in our events and why some people feel left out. What is it that makes a person attend one type of event and not another? And what of the younger generation who are in their teens, they are disenfranchised with nowhere to call home.”
Samir and his team, having in the past run successful Muharram and Fatimiyyah events over many years, set about rallying their networks to address the lack of shared community spaces that could focus more on an interactive community building as opposed to delivering the standards pulpit-style sermons. These have largely become a passive exercise for community attendees in which they have little opportunity to contribute to the discussions or get to know anyone and only entail arriving, listening and leaving with niyaz or tabaruk.
Syed Samir Al Haidery says “while trying to get this started some people told me that people wouldn’t come on a regular basis and that social media together with a career orientated life means people are too busy to meet up. I reflected over this heavily and found that with such an attitude we are soon going to lose that sense of community and togetherness. People will simply live lives of Whatsapp messages and Facebook statuses, rarely ever meeting people from their community apart from in Muharram and Ramadan. The next generation would surely suffer the most, with a feeling of isolation from others in the community.
With this in mind, Samir says the AIM team decided it was time for a shift in programming, and a new push to run more regular opportunities for people to meet and socialise with others. He added “with this in mind, we decided to launch AIM Weekly and as the name suggests, its a weekly programme. It is an opportunity to get together with family and friends, young and old, to smile and share food together and to benefit from the various programmes that we have lined up. It is our attempt to bring people together and to share a common future inshAllah. It’s an opportunity for people to come along with their families and perhaps bring some home-made food with them to share with others. To lay out a Sufra and eat together. To have scholars and interesting personalities join us and share ideas. An opportunity to grow together.”
Samir’s personal epiphany seems both obvious and simple on the face of it, but the shocking truth is that most Mosques and Hussainiyas up and down the country do not offer this vision or idea of a “spiritual and social community – building space”, instead opening their religious spaces only for ritual prayers, funeral services, and children’s madrasa’s. This limited functionality does not reflect the role of Masjid e Nabawi, which was undoubtedly used as a community hub as well as court of law, educational institute and much more by the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) himself.
Samir Al Haidery says of the initiative that he is quite “passionate about this. I don’t see another way to move forward and build a healthy community. It all starts with meeting each other. So this is my invitation to everyone. Let’s meet. But when we meet, don’t just come alone, try to bring your family. If you have children, try to bring them because they need to feel like they belong to something. If they make noise, thats all the better. It will remind us that they have rights over us and we need to start thinking about them.”
Building an urban Muslim community model in the heart of London that truely reflects the holistic ethos and values of Islam is a critically important undertaking and, according to fledgling Think Tank IMCD’s research, needs to evolve and deliver contemporary working models which encompass ethical economic environmental political cultural social spiritual and welfare alternatives to hyper capitalist hyper consumerist lifestyles. No easy task given everything that surrounds the Muslims in London is tainted with products systems mechanisms and structures that have caused harm to something or someone. Renunciation of the convenience lifestyle made normative by secular neoliberalism is almost impossible but even attempting it is a noble jihad.
A successful Western-evolved Islamic urban community model is needed by Muslim and non-Muslims alike right across the Western world especially as economic uncertainty and a world in flux is no longer confident of the capitalistic dream. British neoconservatism’s Muslim hating founders and their progeny, hell-bent on fragmenting dividing and destroying Muslim community infrastructures in the West will be “turning in their graves” if such an initiative catches on across Britain.
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