What is the Islamic Welfare Work Project?
One of our model projects. It strives to support six mosque communities in Saxony, specifically in Riesa, Chemnitz and Dresden, in the field of social work, so that these communities can gain further qualifications. The main idea is to help the mosque communities expand their offers and develop new ones. In order to do all this and more, our team provides the communities with advice and support, whereby close attention is paid to a close exchange with the communities. It is crucial to find out what the needs of each individual community are, what services they would like to offer and what their goals are, to allow a smooth communication process. For this reason, our team has been advising the mosque communities from the very beginning: From the idea and the evaluation of its feasibility to the actual implementation of the new offer, but also with topics such as finding new volunteers and the general structure of the community.
The project was launched in May 2018 and was taken over by a new team in 2020. However, this has not been the only reform of 2020. The project has also grown in scope, so that by now six mosque communities are being looked after, in comparison to three as was the case in 2018.
Who makes up the team?
The team consists of three people: Tamara, Alaa and Norbert. Tamara, the project manager, and Norbert, the vice project manager, visit the communities to help build a bridge between the mosque communities and facilitate sustainable dialogue between them. Of course, that’s only part of their job. Tamara’s and Norbert’s task is, above all, to find out what the communities require in terms of knowledge and expertise, in order for them to be able to improve their offers or create new ones. Following this, our team will try to impart the missing knowledge to the members of these communities. Our services always depend on the current situation on site, which means that the topics the project team deals with are very different for each mosque community, and must therefore be wide-ranging. For example, Norbert is currently working on how volunteers can become qualified Muslim pastors and what options are currently available for training in this field in Germany. Meanwhile, Tamara is examining conceptual and content-related issues. She is currently working on conceptualising workshops. Some of the topics include project work in voluntary service or as a possibility of structuring and securing the long-term commitment of the communities.
Alaa completes the team. As a Muslim, she has a different perspective on the mosque communities and can offer her expertise in this field. At the moment, for example, she is engaged in a kind of knowledge transfer. Specifically, she is responsible for gathering information about the types of welfare care in the Arab world, so that the team can learn what people already know about welfare care from their country, and identify any similarities between the systems and cultures, so that this knowledge can be built upon. After all, there are many newcomers to Germany in the mosque communities, which is why the project focuses on making a major contribution to integration.
What has been achieved so far in 2020?
Although the new team was able to get started in February, it has already achieved a lot of important things! Not only have they met and got to know all six communities, they have also reviewed their needs. As a result, they now have an overview of what they have to offer and what they would like to do, and they have been able to work out a first proposal of how the communities or their members can be trained further, so that they can meet their own needs independently in the long term.
The advantages of the project have already become visible not only for the mosque communities, but also for our team. They, too, have learned many new things, not only about the mosques, but also about the valuable work and commitment of the volunteers there. Tamara said that before the project, she had occasionally visited mosque communities, but that she now – due to her many visits to the communities – has a much better impression and can therefore help them even better. The best part is that the mosque communities, like the rest of the project team, welcomed her with open arms!
Nevertheless, the work is not only fun, but demanding as well. The difficulties that go hand in hand with such a project as the Islamic Welfare Work Project should not be underestimated. The different structure of mosques in comparison to churches makes the work and the organising of events more difficult, so that a lot of time has to be invested in the project to ensure its success, since the exact course of the project has to be adjusted according to the individual mosque community.
What will the future bring?
Since the Islamic Welfare Work Project is still in its „infancy“ – especially because of the newly added mosque communities – there is still a lot of unexploited potential in the communities and, therefore, room for improvement. The mosque communities also want to develop further, but there is often insufficient time, because the people in charge are usually only volunteers. Fortunately, our project team has the time for this. The team is always ready to help the mosque communities, by following the tradition of „learning by doing“.
The next step is to network the six mosque communities. They are to be brought together within the framework of an event. The occasion for this would be the breaking of fasting during Ramadan. However, even the team does not yet know whether the event can take place as planned, since the project work has, of course, also been affected by the spread of Covid-19.
So, now all the more time is needed to plan offers and the long-term course of the project. The needs of the communities have been assessed and now it is time to develop the offers to satisfy these needs for each mosque community. This is something that could also work through home office in the first stages. Nevertheless, our project team can, unfortunately, no longer expect one thing: to work together with the local mosque communities on site.