New Year. New Beginnings.

By Fawzy Manaa

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As 2016 began, many of us have probably taken some time to reflect about our personal lives, how far we’ve gotten, and where we need to improve next. People are now used to this concept, and it’s a good thing (it’d be even greater if we truly follow through on our resolutions). Reflections and resolutions help us grow, they help us change bad habits and focus our development towards the direction we want to take it. They serve as checkpoints to make us recall our successes and failures and lead us to understand what’s going well and what well… not so much and needs to change.

Just like we consciously think about our own personal development, I think it’s worthwhile and essential we take the time to do this as groups and organizations, especially when our goals are people-centric and developmental in nature. Companies do this all the time, but it’s because they have to or else they lose competitive advantage and thus money. For non-for-profits and charities, it takes much longer for change to happen (for many different reasons, not just lack of money motivation). Nonetheless, I am sure we can all agree that change in light of realities is mandatory, even for groups like that.

Today, Muslims in Canada, especially youth, face many challenges, the most dangerous of which are feeling of alienation, lack of support structure, loss of spirituality, generational tensions when it comes to community activism and more. With so many challenges, yet so many advancements in technology, learning styles, and socio-economic dynamics, the halaqa is not going to cut it anymore. The Muslim community needs to reflect on and change its approach to youth and development.

MAC Toronto, chapter of Muslim Association of Canada, is undertaking a journey to not just reflect, but also revise and pioneer how youth development is done in the Muslim community and beyond. MAC Toronto has already started working in a property in the heart of Scarborough where the aim is comprehensive development and empowerment of youth. That is spiritual development, religious and contextual knowledge, as well as skills development, all in a fun and empowering environment that youth and youth workers have say and control over. The goal of this project is to use non-conventional but effective means to ensure youth feel they belong in their communities, find fulfillment through putting their strengths into use, and have lots of fun while they are at it!

If that floats your boat, we want to connect with you. If you have ideas or want to contribute directly, contact us at macyouthtoronto@gmail.com or post in the comments. We are not there yet, but we couldn’t just delay sharing this until everything was done and ready. Where is the fun in that?

Stay tuned for more.

Fawzy Manaa