Aziz Foundation Programmes Officer, Aftab Ahmed, reports from the second MLDP retreat at the Markfield Institute of Higher Education
The second Aziz Foundation / Cambridge Muslim College / Ebrahim College retreat took place at the Markfield Conference Centre from Friday 23rd – 25th November. The aim of the retreat is to connect postgraduate students funded by the Aziz Foundation Muslim Leadership Development Programme (MLDP) with seminary students and invited experts to provide the space for a broad interdisciplinary discourse on issues related to British Muslims. Aziz foundation hopes that the combined knowledge and expertise of this diverse group of young scholars will lead to a long term network of Muslim scholarship that can generate creative solutions for the challenges facing British Muslim communities.
Approximately forty people attended the various presentations, workshops and activities. The participants started by sharing their research interests and previous involvement in community projects. This immediately led to an awareness of overlapping interests, for example, between young imams trying to engage youth in mosques and public policy scholars working on youth issues for local government. Participants then engaged in team building activities, working together to escape from a locked room and working as teams to think creatively about character and community using Lego. The Lego workshop highlighted the importance of winning the hearts of those we work with and engaging them fully in the processes of learning and change; connected and empathetic leadership was a continuous theme throughout the retreat.
Prof Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad delivered a lecture on ‘Servant Leadership for the Common Good of society; spiritual, moral & ethical approaches’ and this provided much food for thought in the discussion circles that followed. Dr Farah Ahmed and Alyaa Ebbiary conducted a panel discussion on ‘Trends and Ideas in Islamic Education: from Primary to Seminary Level’. Participants were treated to some impromptu spoken work poetry (Rakaya Fegu, MLDP Scholar) and classical Arabic poetry sung in British Isles tunes (CMC students). A final workshop on ‘Inside Out and Outside In: Reflexivity and double-consciousness in British Muslim academia’ led by Dr Farah Ahmed led to stimulating and prolonged group discussions that continued into the journey home.
A big thank you to Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, for planning and facilitating the two-three days, he was a gracious host and ensured that all needs were fulfilled and that the retreat ran as scheduled.