Young Muslims who volunteer for the “Yallah” initiative aim to paint an authentic picture of their religion and engage in dialog with non-Muslims. In March 2017, some 20 participants convened in Berlin to share ideas and find out more about fundraising, press work, and organizational development.
“We have to talk more about Islam, says Yasser Haji Mohamed, who is the first of the participants to speak. The 19-year-old comes from Aleppo and plans to study medicine in Germany. He and his friend Mehmet Arslan have developed an approach to promoting dialog. With their mobile dialog tent, they have created an opportunity for Muslims and non-Muslims to discuss Islam in German. With a quiz, non-Muslims get to know the religion better. Students of Islamic theology helped formulate the questions, which have been met with great interest. “They want to know why we fast, or about gender roles.” For Yasser, promoting a positive view of Islam is important.
Engaging in healthy debate
24-year-old Hafssa El-Bouhamouchi from Bielefeld has Morroccan roots, and she would also like to present Islam in a positive light. She recently completed a master’s degree in Islamic sciences and history. Hafissa hopes for a healthy discussion about Islam. “You need a safe space to do this in.” With her team from a Muslim youth organization in Hannover, she has organized the “Tea Time” event series, where Muslims invite non-Muslims for a cup of tea. The series received funding from the German Federal Family Ministry, among others. “Muslims must regain control of the conversation,” says Hafssa. “We have to speak up and address stereotypes”.
With its “Yallah!” Initiative, Robert Bosch Stiftung supports the projects and initiatives of young Muslims between the ages of 16 and 30 that aim to change something in their communities. The selected projects receive up to 5,000 euros in funding. Moreover, the Stiftung invites the project managers to a two-day seminar that teaches them about funding proposals, financial management, and public relations work.
Profile: Three Yallah! Project initiatives
A multifaceted commitment
Yasser and Hafssa’s projects are just two examples of young Muslims’ commitment to providing genuine insights into their religion. Participants organize events for professional orientation at schools and hold presentations about Islam at universities. They also care for children and volunteer at neighbourhood festivals. Ultimately, they aim to contribute to society by doing good, something that they associate with their faith.
Over the course of the Yallah! project, Robert Bosch Stiftung encourages young Muslims to volunteer. This commitment contributes to helping change the image of Islam in Germany.