Imamship and “education” by Imam Shakeel Begg

The role of the Imām also involves educating the community through lectures, classes and through giving general advice. This is being done regularly and covers various topics including Arabic and Qur’ān. Lessons include children, brothers and sisters. This role also involves organising special courses and conferences with various guest speakers. I was filled with joy with the cultivation of the young ones in our community recently when a non-Muslim guest visited the Centre and asked our very young members whether they knew who Jesus (‘alayhis salām) was and if they were taught about Christianity to which one of these young children replied in a very polite manner saying: “Yes Sir, we know all about Prophet Jesus (‘alayhi salām), but can you tell us if all schools teach children about Islām and Prophet Muhammad (Sallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam)?” This served as an indicator that the community was moving forward and that we were, by the grace of Allāh, starting to produce Muslims even from a very young age with the ability to positively engage in the various discourses which they will be confronted with in the future.

I have learned that the best way to get people involved in the community is to treat everyone as an individual and to utilise their specific skills and expertise in the service of the community. This was the case with the Messenger of Allāh (Sallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) in his dealing with the Sahābah. For example, Khālid Ibn al-Walīd (RadiAllāhu ‘anhu) was an expert in warfare and as such was utilised as a military leader, whereas Mu’ādh Ibn Jabal (RadiAllāhu ‘anhu) was tasked with being sent to Yemen to teach people about Islām because of his knowledge and scholarship—the point being, everyone has a role to play.

A certain brother in the community has his background in football. He may have thought that his skill was of no benefit. However, I encouraged him to set up a football club representing the Centre and this team recently won the league and cup double with the team being announced at the awards ceremony as “Lewisham Islām”. This resulted in the Centre undoubtedly becoming known within many circles that would otherwise not have known about us.

Of equal importance is the encouragement of the development of skills and confidence building. This in turn ties in with the overall vision mentioned above by developing leaders for the future. I allocate leadership roles to the youth whereby every so often, some would call the Adhān (call to prayer), some would lead the Salāh whilst others would attend and represent the Centre in community engagement work. Responsibility has also been granted to the sisters who were instrumental in enabling the Centre to organise its first “Eid in the Park” event.

Source: Islam21c

Date: 21/06/2014