Scotland’s first Muslim youth development officer has called for changes to the intensive after-school system of teaching school children about Islam, amid fears that it leaves them with little time to integrate with their non-Muslim peers. Faisal Hussein, 27, last week took up the full-time role with the government-backed Scottish Islamic Foundation (SIF) and his aim is to support and extend the support for young Muslims by working with community groups and mosques. Hussein will launch a study into the provision of Madressahs – the Islamic voluntary-run education system – after conceding the intensive after-school lessons led by imams at mosques and family homes leave young people with too little time for community activities which are a key part of integration. Around 10,000 Scottish youngsters are estimated to attend the projects with a further 60,000 in England and Wales, between the ages of five and 16. Community leaders believe the teachings, which involve learning the Qur’an, help develop children into model citizens while maintaining their religious and cultural heritage. Hussein said: “We are talking about thousands of kids who are going to the mosque for two or three hours a day to attend Madressah. Young kids are also spending six or seven hours a day in school and by the time they get home often don’t have time to become involved in community activities. “I remember finishing school at 4pm, going to Madressah and returning home to do my homework. After that, there wasn’t time to do anything but go to bed. We have to help integrate young people and activities such as playing football with other children helps that process. A lot of my non-Muslim friends did that, but I wasn’t able to.
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