Saturday, 8 October 2011

Karimia Graduates Celebration Dinner

Bobbers Mill Community Centre, part of the Karimia Institute, (www.karimia.com) recently held a celebration dinner for people who had graduated from University this year.

It was certainly good to see a Muslim organisation recognising educational achievement.

Approximately 15 graduates, together with their parents, attended and were treated to a series of short talks, a presentation of certificates to the graduates and then a three course meal!

The speakers were:Saifulla (a recent graduate), Dr Amjad Ali(a dentist who graduated some time ago) Fazal Rabbi Khan (a trustee of Karimia Institute). From their differing perspectives they all encouraged the newly qualified graduates to keep on learning, to ensure that they did not neglect the spiritual side of their lives and to use their expertise for the betterment of the community. Dr Ali pointed out to the graduates that they would now start to take on real responsibilities and could easily become focussed only on work and home. He suggested to them that they needed to keep a balance in their lives and leave space for spiritual study and for volunteering.

A presentation was also given by Mohammed Yaseen (Director of Youth and Community Services at Karimia). It was entitled "Staying connected with the Community through Volunteering".

Yaseen commented on how the graduates needed to keep their links with the local Muslim communities and went on to describe how many young Muslims, across Nottingham, had complained for years that their local mosques did not communicate with them, indeed that the mosques would not even communicate in English. The youth would say that the mosque elders would talk to their parents but not with them. Over time the Muslim community has come to the place it is at today, where many of that first generation that the mosque elders communicated with have now passed away or are in the latter stages of their lives. So the Muslim community now needs to reconsider how it communicates with this younger generation and what kind of range of activities and opportunities it provides for them.

Yaseen took this theme further by describing just a small fraction of the activities that Karimia was undertaking, ranging from a (very successful) youth football club, to a recently started scouts troop to courses in unusual sports such as fencing. In each case there was a need for volunteers to help make the project a success.

Continuing, Yaseen pointed to a verse in the Quran that asked Muslims to be kind not only to ones parents and relatives but also to "your near and distant neighbours" as evidence of the need for Muslims to work for the common good of the wider society as well as volunteering within the Muslim community.

Yaseen closed his presentation with a quote from Henry Fielding- “if you make money your god it will plague you like the devil” (Henry Fielding) and added that "Through volunteering and working in the name of Allah one can be successful both in this life and the next."

After the presentation to the graduates, Dr Musharaf gave a short talk in which he asked the graduates to remain frugal, get married quickly (he despaired at having to perform increasing numbers of marriage ceremonies in which the bride and groom were both 40yrs old !)

And then, after evening prayers it was straight into the meal. . .

At this point, BFTF took the opportunity to collar one of the trustees and ask them what volunteers should do if they made a suggestion to Karimia (or asked for help on a project) and did not get a meaningful response, or any response at all. The trustee initially suggested that the volunteer should find the person responsible and discuss it with them directly. BFTF suggested that if Karimia really cared for the community it would keep a log of all questions asked (or help requested) by people and ensure that each question or request was properly dealt with and that the questioner was happy that their question had been answered. The trustee agreed with this and said they would discuss at a meeting that was scheduled in the near future.

Also, thinking over the Quranic injunction to be kind to your neighbours, BFTF wondered whether it might be a good idea, for next years event, to extend the invitation to graduates from the local streets, whether they were Muslim or not. This would certainly be a good way of building good relations with the local community. Thinking it through a little further, perhaps it might be nice to recognise those who had achieved high level vocational qualifications as well (e.g those who had completed apprenticeships. So BFTF sent an email to this effect to Karimia for its consideration.

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