Healing the alienation of young European Muslims

Learning to be a Peacemaker 2019

30/07/2019

How can the alienation felt by so many young Muslims be healed? Imam Ajmal Masroor believes that the alienation stems largely from the inner conflict generated by feeling caught between two value-systems: the way their parents want them to be, and the way the society they are growing up in wants them to be.

Imam Ajmal Masroor experienced that dilemma himself, and discovered that the key to reconciling these two identities, European and Muslim, lies in the realization that peacemaking is the very heart of Islam. Mohammed, the holy prophet of Islam, said ‘Spread peace among you!’ Imam Masroor designed a five-day ‘Learning to be a Peacemaker’ (LPM) course to help young Muslims discover that secret for themselves.

He delivered it in Caux for the sixth time this summer, to a group of students and young professionals from Albania, France, Turkey, the Ukraine, and the UK – both Muslims and non-Muslims.

In a fast-paced and interactive manner – including a session at the top of a nearby mountain! – Imam Masroor took participants through the key Quranic texts relating to averting war and building peace, and the Prophet Mohammed’s own peacemaking initiatives. Topics included current misconceptions about Islam and what Islam actually teaches about violence and extremism; issues of responsibility and belonging under the heading of ‘Loyalty and citizenship’; the ‘Inner dimensions of peace’ on the sources of inner contentment; and the ‘Characteristics of peacemakers’. The course ended with a session in which each participant designed a project that they will carry out back home.

This was complemented by evening sessions, open to everyone in the house, on such themes as ‘Relationships’, ‘Overcoming barriers’ and ‘Discovering anger’, during which he drew honestly on his own experience.

Imam Masroor appreciates being able to deliver the course in Caux because it provides an opportunity for participants to go on to take part in one of the Caux Forum conferences – in this case Tools for Changemakers. There they can put into practice the peacemaking understanding and skills they have learnt with people of all ages and backgrounds from across Europe and beyond.

 

Maryam Shah

 

At the opening plenary of the Tools for Changemakers conference, Maryam Shah, a law student from the UK, spoke about LPM. ‘The course emphasized the importance of being an active citizen,’ she said. ‘Instead of allowing any feeling of isolation or not fitting in to lead to sadness or violence, we were taught to channel these emotions into something far more constructive, and to work for the societies we live in to become more inclusive, understanding and tolerant. This course has helped me to become a lot more at peace with myself and a lot more excited to be a tool for change and to contribute to the global society that we live in.’

Read Maryam Shah’s summary of the Learning to be a Peacemaker programme

 

Text: Peter Riddell

Photos: Paula Mariane and Leela Channer

Featured Story
Off

related stories

Opening Ceremony 2018 audience

Building Trust in the Digital Age: Challenges and Opportunity

‘Trust needs to exist for society to function at all,’ said Christine Beerli, Council Member of Initiatives of Change Switzerland and panel moderator, as she kicked off the Caux Forum 2018. Emerging t...

Michael Akampa

Making investment work for the people

The Caux Dialogue on Land and Security (CDLS) in 2017 was a ‘turning point’ for sustainable investment professional, Micheál Akampa, who was invited to speak at its Invest in Peace conference. ‘I met ...

CDLS 2019 Tom Duncan

Empowering communities to restore mangroves

Tom Duncan is passionate about problem solving and strategic systems thinking, primarily in regenerative economics, green finance and financial technology, as a means of restoring relationships betwee...

Nhat Vhuong

Plucking water from the air

Webmarketing consultant and social entrepreneur Nhat Vhuong is passionate about tackling water scarcity. A Vietnamese refugee, who grew up in Switzerland, he worked in Japan for eight years before ret...

Meghalaya CDLS 2019 Conrad Sangma

Meghalaya’s lighthouses of sustainable development

‘Our goal in Meghalaya is to build a low-carbon economy through complete involvement and ownership of communities,’ Conrad Sangma, the Chief Minister of Meghalaya, told the opening session of the Caux...

CDLS 2019 Chau Duncan

Bridging the financial divides

Chau Tang Duncan is applying over 20 years’ experience in banking, trade and commercial diplomacy to improving the financial access of disadvantaged communities. ...

Aibanshngain Swer CDLS 2019

Protecting Meghalaya’s water sources

Some billion people rely on water sourced in the hills of Meghalaya, in North East India. One of those responsible for water conservation in the State, Aibanshngain Swer, took part in the Summer Acade...

Hartmut Behrend Mali

Combatting climate change in Mali

Taking part in the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security (CDLS) 2014 encouraged  German climatologist Hartmut Behrend to move out of the bubble of well-intentioned international activism to work on the g...

CDLS 2019 Alan Laubsch

Restoring nature’s superheroes

Alan Laubsch is passionate about restoring nature’s ‘climate superheros’ – the mangrove forests. He believes that democratizing natural capital investment is key to this. He has over 20 years’ experie...

CDLS 2019 panel Laubsch Duncan Brown

Investing in the future of life on Earth

‘What would it feel like to be the last White Rhino?’ Alan Laubsch, founder of EarthPulse, asked participants in the third day of the Caux Dialogue for Land and Security 2019 (CDLS). ‘Your family has ...

YAP 2019 congratulations

Fresh air for Young Ambassadors

This year’s Young Ambassadors Programme (YAP) brought 39 young people from across Europe to Caux for four intensive days of training in how to work for change in their communities. They then took part...

Armenian-Kurdish-Turkish Dialogue 2019

It takes more courage to love than to hate

The Armenian-Kurdish-Turkish Dialogue 2019 took place during the Tools for Changemakers conference, bringing together people of Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish backgrounds to explore sensitive issues th...

Caux Palace

Going down the mountain

When people say that Caux is a life-changing experience, it is not just a cliché. For some, this is their first time out of their countries. For many, it is an opportunity to work with their traumas a...

Summer Academy 2019

Summer Academy on Land, Security and Climate is launched in Geneva and Caux

The inaugural Summer Academy brought together 18 participants from Afghanistan/Denmark, Bhutan, Germany, Kenya, India, Indonesia, Nigeria/UK, Philippines, Portugal, Somalia/UK, Spain/Switzerland, Swed...

CPLP 2019 group garden

Young people unleash their potential

The Caux Peace and Leadership Programme (CPLP) is way more than just a four-week training programme. It is a platform where young leaders from all over the world explore personal and global change. It...