A place to learn
Tucked away behind Rutherglen Main Street, the Minhaj ul Quran centre is a relatively unassuming building.
But between these walls some of the most important work within the Islamic faith is taking part – steering young Muslims away from extremism.
Young people aged between 14 and 21 attend classes at the centre every Saturday, studying 25 Islamic texts and using passages in the Koran to argue against extremism.
Imam Muhammad Babar has been based at the Rutherglen centre since it opened in 2009 and he is keen for the public to see the work that is going on behind closed doors.
He is also eager to educate those outwith the Islamic faith as to the true meaning of their religion, focussing on one word that has become synonymous with terrorism. “Terrorists use the term ‘ Jihad’ wrongly,” he explains. “They give a misconception of what it is about and then brainwash youngsters.
“Jihad means ‘struggle’; a struggle for good or against poverty to give you some examples.
“If there is division then you struggle to eliminate that division – that is a true Jihad.
“If there is poverty in society then you do welfare work and try and help poor people – this is a Jihad.
“There are all sorts of struggle that fight the evils in society. It does not mean killing innocent people or killing people because they do not agree with your opinion.
“That is totally wrong and a wrong interpretation of Jihad. That’s something that is not understood in western society.”
The classes are designed to ensure the young people are equipped with the knowledge to reject interpretations of ‘Jihad’ that may lead to violence.
“We are giving our youngsters a true picture of Islam so they have the proper knowledge to go forward,” Imam Babar adds. It is something Shaykh Rehan, a qualified Imam, agrees with, especially in a world where social media can shape kids from a very young age.
“There is a report by the Home Office that says people who are equipped with Islam are actually more resilient to extremism,” he says.
“They won’t be able to be taken away or hijacked by people who have terrorist views. If you teach young people true values, they will become more resilient.
“It’s very important to get them at a young age, even eight, nine or 10. We live in a time where social media has taken over and they are using that to recruit. That is one of the major problems. Young people can be exposed to that in their own time so it’s very important to educate them.”
There are between 20 and 30 young people at today’s classes, both boys and girls.
Their course will take six months to complete, although it is possible to complete it quicker.
I am sat beside Shaykh and Dr Habib, who will take today’s class,
Smiles The classes play an important role in keeping young Muslims away from extremism
Learning This group of young females enjoyed learning about the teachings of the Qu’ran