Yesterday I attended Friday congregational prayers which as usual were a non -descript affair following the usual formula of fire & brimstones speech, Arabic interlude, prayers and the weekly request for money with a house in Paradise thrown in for good measure. I usually switch off and focus on my prayers and drown out the Mullah’s ranting with my own thoughts.
However on this occasion the stand in Mullah was a young British Muslim. My ears perked up as I hoped for some audible diamonds instead I got the usual but in English. It was such a letdown in fact a damning indictment of the state of British Muslim granted local scholarship.
One could argue that I should take the initiative and become an Imam and educate the local community instead of critiquing. However, in my humble experience secular and religious Education begins at home. Not so much in terms of pedagogy rather the parents only job is to instil a love of learning and ensure their kids complete the prescribed homework, encourage and praise and above all inspire them. The best religious education is for parents to be role models and live their Islam.
Unfortunately the aforementioned is much diluted and in short supply. In my British South Asian culture family politics and rivalries dominate to such an extent that children are usually pawns in grand games of chess and intrigue. Even if children do well it is a way of gaining the upper hand and cementing familial ties via marriage, consequently I have met many Oxbridge fools in my time!
Religious education is farmed out to local Mosques which are populated by poorly paid Imams whose first language is not English and wield power though the stick. As long their children can read the Quran in Arabic parents are satisfied that they have done their duty and paradise is assured. There is usually no thought given to imbibing the Quran and exploring Muslim history let alone developing critical reasoning / aql. So it should be no surprise when these kids are suffering from identity crisis that the likes of Al-Qaeda / Hizb-ut-Tahrir become surrogate parents and poison our young people’s minds.
So is the current state of local, national, international Islam all the local Mullah’s fault?