Alhamdulillah I was recently invited, by our teacher Shaykh Amin Buxton, to attend the inaugural meeting of the Way of Light Initiative. This initiative, which is driven by Shaykh Amin and Shaykh Musab Penfound, is focussed around how we help New Muslims in the UK. It is an initiative which has the spiritual and intellectual backing of Habib Umar from Yemen.
It should be noted that helping New Muslims or converts is certainly one of Lote Tree’s main thrusts and indeed the new course Mastering the Art of Arabic was driven by desire of two converts who spoke to me about their longing to read the Book of Allah in Arabic. Around 50% of attendees for many of our classes/courses are usually converts, a fact not missed by Shaykh Amin, hence the invite to attend the initiative.
The first concept I grasped was that New Muslims’ needs don’t stop at learning the basic obligatory knowledge that all Muslims must have and in fact they may have socio-economic/emotional/mental issues which actually hamper their ability to gain the basic obligatory knowledge.
As an organisation, Lote Tree was created as a vehicle to allow students the access to traditional knowledge taught by teachers trained in traditional pedagogy whilst utilising modern technology. This is why the focus on our website and our current work is geared towards offering New Muslims a free copy of The Glorious Treasure and someone to dedicate some time to read through the book with them.
In Oldham, the venue for the meeting, I came face to face with converts who work at a grass roots level with New Muslims and spend most of their “free-time” helping them whether it be in Leeds, Nottingham, Peterborough or Manchester. Two themes really came to the fore:
- The lack of financial resources aimed at helping New Muslims
- The lack of time available for those who are currently helping New Muslims.
Some of the issues which New Muslims face include:
- Lack of suitable, if any, accommodation. This can arise when the New Muslim is turfed out of his family home or is not allowed to practice his religion at the house. This can then lead to the New Muslim losing their job and even their family which can lead down a path of mental health problems.
- The New Muslim may not have any friends. Mosques can often be alienating places for New Muslims and can be places of forced cultural assimilation i.e. the New English Muslim is forced into adopting a Pakistani, Turkish, Somali culture based upon the main ethno-demographic of the local mosque.
- The New Muslim’s feeling of being overwhelmed having given up something that had been a part of their lives for so long and taking on something completely new.
This was an initial meeting of the Way of Light initiative but certainly gave food for thought. Some of the changes we will be looking to add locally is to seek a volunteer New Muslim Coordinator with a term of reference to allow us to facilitate for New Muslims in Milton Keynes. Whilst this is slightly outside what was initially envisaged for Lote Tree it is something of primary importance and, short of a specific organisation being set-up locally to do this, something which we are suited for given the number of converts and New Muslims we have amongst our students.
Please make duah that we can benefit those who make the life changing decision to accept Islam and if you want to help in any way please do get in touch.