I must confess that over the past few days I have been a bit envious of the Muslim community in Malaysia and the activities available to youngsters, both girls and boys, to enjoy adventures in the great outdoors and at camps away from home. True, here in the UK there is a flourishing Scouts movement… and charities like Islamic Relief and Muslim Aid are leading the way with brilliant team challenges as ways of raising funds. But still it does feel like we are light years behind some of our fellow travellers, though of course it could be argued, far ahead of others in the Middle East and South Asia. I suppose it is all relative.
But there are pockets of light that give hope in our communities. One such example is The Ribat Institute’s Hearts of Light activity group for girls aged 7 to 15 in the Woking area. As their website states:
The initiative aims to give girls the option to take part in activities, projects and lectures, that teach them to be more productive individuals, help them to develop in their leadership skills, relationship skills, skills in being of service to others, to help them promote awareness of important issues and equip them to be pro-active members of their community and assist the people they care about.
Girls have access to a weekly sports club, regular arts and crafts sessions, cooking classes, life skills sessions and fun day outings. The one I like most is their woodlands experience, which gives children an opportunity to learn in a natural, outdoor setting with hands on experiences. Plus their archery course… a great sport, not to mention a noble sunnah!
All in all: brilliant! It’s a model we should be replicating all over the country, though I suppose it really demands a special kind of leadership. And a vision which extends beyond our urban lives and sees the beauty of the natural world on our doorsteps.
Where do we start in building our own confident communities, unconstrained by narrow academic views of ourselves? When can we start living real lives, instead of taking tiny steps as almost theoretical characters, unsure of ourselves and our place in the world? Can we stop importing cultures that were never really ours in the first place, and start living good lives rooted in the present and this place, through which our hearts might emit the light of true faith.