Imams Online organised a Digital Summit in Bradford for Imams, Mosque leaders & social media activists. The day consisted of presentastions, workshops and discussions on how, as a community and religious leaders, we can more effectively engage with young people online.
Imams Online was honoured to have partnered with social media giants Twitter and Facebook for they day.
They each presented, highlighting to the audience the power of both platforms in getting your message from 100 people in a Mosque to potentially millions of people online. They both engaged the audience in showing the different ways each platform can be used.
To show the technology in action, Periscope was used to beam in Imam Adam Kelwick live from the Holy City of Madinah. Through this powerful online app, Imam Adam Kelwick managed to talk to an audience in Bradford about the
importance of using social media to spread a positive message whilst sitting near the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
As well as focusing on how and why its important to use online platforms to engage the youth, our speakers and attendees also discussed how we can tackle Islamophobia, how to maintain the integrity of Muslim institutions and how to bridge the generational gap – important issues that were shared on the day.
The summit also consisted of a Religious Voices Panel Discussion which featured three of Imams Online’s most prominent Scholars; Shaykha Safia Shahid, Imam Qari Asim & Imam Hassan. Each particiapnt spoke from experience on how being online has helped them in their work. Shaykha Safia commented on how Islam has a history of embracing new ways of communication. “During the time of the Prophet (PBUH) if they wanted to get a message out, they would cast Poetry & the message would spread to many people. Today, social media is the norm for communicating and getting your message out, we need to embrace it and use it to spread our positive messages,” she said.
Imams Online’s key partners on the day also included British Muslim TV, Media Cultured, Alchemiya & Penny Appeal. Each of provided a presentation highlighting how media can play an important role in promoting positive Islam and tackling Islamophobia. All of the partners have a employed a different style they of media & video production. It was importnat to highlight to the audience the work being done and how much further there is still to go in the efforts to capture the imagination and attention of a young Muslim generation.
Dr Bilal Hassam, director of British Muslim TV, said the hardest part of a social media strategy was “providing substance”, a problem that everyone was wrestling with. Dr Hassam added: “I think extremism happens when community fails – it is in the cracks. It is why people find solace and meaning online.”
Imams Online, Editor in Chief, Shaukat Warraich said it was time for “traditional Imams to keep up with the new ways of communicating”. Shaukat Warriach went on to add “Imams are doing great work but we need to help them communicate in an innovative way to the younger generation, there are lots of good imams doing great work in mosques – What we need to do is showcase that online.” Mr Warriach also added how British Imams can learn from their American counterparts; “A lot of young Muslims in the UK are following Imams in America, they are watching Imams who have a global audience”. Shaukat Warraich is bringing British Imams together to try and get them more switched on in their usage of social media.
Pictures from the Imams Online Digital Summit at the Cedar Court Hotel, Bradford: