The Muslim youth of Canberra came together to discuss challenges facing Muslim youth and strategies to overcome them in the Leadership in Understanding and Practising Islam program over two weekends in April.
The leadership program was developed by the Canberra Islamic Centre (CIC) in partnership with the Islamic Sciences Research Academy (ISRA).
“The idea behind the leadership program came about from the very noticeable lack of Muslim youth participation in the broader community and within the smaller Muslim community,” said Azra Khan, President of CIC.
“The leadership program was seen as one way to engage youth and provide them with the necessary skills and support to become role models and advocates for Muslim youth,” she explained.

Youth Forum
The program aimed to provide a balanced understanding and knowledge of the principles of Islam. It also gave the attendees sound methods of being socially and religiously active and effective personal leadership skills for life.
The program was also an opportunity to connect with other young leaders to form a peer group network.
It is the first such program run anywhere in Australia and serves as a pilot program for future expansion.
During the first weekend of the program focused on the wisdom and spirit of Islam and how Islam can be understood and applied in modern life. It honed in on the fundamental approaches to Islamic religious activism as authentic within the core sources and disciplines of Islam and being effective in getting results without being confrontational.
The second weekend of the program explored essential knowledge and skills to assist in all aspects of one’s private, professional and social life. It provided the knowledge and practice in essential leadership and coaching skills that are needed by community activists and those who are committed to religious and social activism.

Mehmet Ozalp of ISRA facilitates discussion during the program.

Mehmet Ozalp of ISRA facilitates discussion during the program.

“It is great to see so many young Muslim men and women with enthusiasm to understand Islamic beliefs and practices in a way relevant to modern life in Australian society,” said Mehmet Ozalp, one of the facilitators of the program and founder of ISRA.
“I am encouraged by the level of leadership and intellectual rigour that they have displayed throughout the two weekend intensive training sessions. Canberra Islamic Centre is a worthy representative of Islam in Canberra and ACT,” he added.
The selection of the attendees was by way of an expression of interest and the response was very positive with 23 youth, males and females attending.
CIC and ISRA aim to continue to support this group through facilitating ongoing discussion forums and other social and educational activities.
The National Muslim Youth is scheduled to take place at the National portrait Gallery in Canberra on 28 May 2016. More information on this can be found on the ISRA website www.isra.org.au.