Thursday 19 January 2012

'Imams out of touch with young Muslims'

Young Muslim men are turning away from religion in their droves because of the old-fashion attitudes in Britain’s mosques, according to the Prison Service’s Muslim advisor.

Ahtsham Ali said it was one of the reasons why a growing number of Muslims are turning to crime and finding themselves in prison.

In an interview with The Times, he also blamed family breakdown, problems resulting from arranged marriages, drugs and the absence of male role models.

The cleric was highly critical of UK mosques for failing to understand young Muslims raised in Britain and said a main factor was that most import foreign imams who cannot speak English and focus only on religious rituals.

Mr Ali, who has been the Prison Service’s adviser for eight-and-a-half-years, said: “Most will get imams imported from other countries who can’t speak English. More importantly they can’t relate to second and third-generation youngsters growing up here.

”It is a tragedy. I have seen youngsters, the next generation, just totally switch off from it. This is dangerous. It allows others to take advantage, to take up the vacuum.”

In March 2010, 10,358 of the 85,184 people in prison were Muslim, while there has been a steep rise in the number of Muslims behind bars over the past two decades, according to the National Offender Management Service.

Discussing other reasons why he believed the numbers are on the rise, the cleric added: “There is a lot of family breakdown happening now. The divorce rate is very high. I think there is a struggle for those who have been born and brought up here and their acceptance of arranged marriage.”

Mr Ali urged mosques to become more accessible to the young, for faith leaders to make religion fun and put more emphasis on teaching religious ethics.


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