TMO Editorâ€™s note: the following is an interview of Faizan Mumtaz by Siddiq Ather of The Muslim Observerâ€™s new youtube site.
Siddiq: Asalam alaikum, this is Siddiq, from The Muslim Observer. Iâ€™m here with Brother Faizan Mumtaz, the secretary general of Young Muslims National (YM). Now, my first question is what exactly is â€œYMâ€?
Faizan: Well, Siddiq, Young Muslims is basically a national, not for profit, youth organization, that is dedicated to inspiring, educating, empowering, and developing the youth in becoming the future.
Siddiq: As far as I know, from my community at least, Young Muslims conducts a few neighbornets, I believe thatâ€™s what you call them, neighbornets? They seem to be youth halaqas, which are regular, can you expand on what a neighbornet is exactly.
Faizan: Definitely, so young muslims has a national network of neighbornets throughout the country: in Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Florida, California, and even one recently in Alaska, alhamdulila. Basically, a neighbornet is a fancy word for youth group. Itâ€™s just a network of neighbors, kids from the ages of fourteen to twenty-five, who get together on a weekly basis in order to have discussions based on Quran and Sunnah, to further understand their religion, as well as, have some fun, and form bonds of brotherhood, that will last, inshala, their entire lives.
Siddiq: Now, we already have masjids around in different communities. Why do you think it is necessary to have a neighbornet or a youth halaqa of some sort. Isnâ€™t a masjid enough?
Faizan: Well, if you look across the country right now, there are masjids, Alhamdulilah, all across the U.S., big and small, in every state, every corner you can think of, yet, the youth are still suffering. If you look around the youth are struggling with issues in dating, drugs, music, just being able to live their lives as muslims, identity crisis, these are all issues that plague muslim youth. And, it stands to show that just having a masjid is not sufficient. You need to have a consistent weekly forum for the youth to get together, on a weekly basis, in order for them to empower themselves, and revive the love of islam, and the proper understanding of Islam in their hearts.
Siddiq: So, maybe, if there is someone watching who wants to start a neighbornet, or wants to start a more regular type youth halaqa in their community, what are some easy steps they can follow to start a neighbornet?
Faizan: Well, like I said Young Muslims (YM) is really unique in its efforts, and in its vast reach throughout the U.S., so we get calls every month, every week almost, asking our national expansion team to come down to their masjid; to either, A, start a new youth group from scratch, or B, help an existing youth group that has been going through various issues, and so in order for a masjid or islamic center to get involved with Young Muslims, or start a youth group in their area.
Itâ€™s as simple as going to our website, ymsite.com, and contacting us, sending us an e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. And asking us, telling us about their situation, and whatever resources we have we will be more than happy to give up, inshala.
Siddiq: You mentioned resources. What do you mean by that? Do you mean people? Do you mean pamphlets?
Faizan: Well, everything, when Young Muslims commits their selves to a masjid or Islamic center to help a youth group, we commit everything. Young Muslims is the only national youth organization that has a full time employee that actually goes around the country, week by week, starting and establishing youth groups and maintaining them throughout the country. So we have a full time employee available, thatâ€™s a big resource: funding is a big resource, scholars are a big resource, and books. We have something called the â€œPDPâ€, which is a personal development plan, developed with a scholar from Madinah Unversity as well as Azhar University. And what it is, is a step by step way to implement this PDP into your youth group, so you can have yearly goals and improve the standard of the youth in that area, or that community.
Siddiq: Jazakallhu Khairun, brother Faizan,
Siddiq: Can you repeat really quickly, how, if someone wanted to contact Young Muslims.
Faizan: Definitely, all they have to do is go to www.ymsite.com, or e-mail us at email@example.com
Siddiq: All right Jazakallhu khairun (audience), this is brother Faizan Mumtaz, and Siddiq Ather from the Muslim Observer.