Developing Young Muslim Leaders - Nesrine Mojaled

Nesrine Mojaled

Keywords: Diversity, Listening, Dialogue and Interfaith and Intra-faith issues
The Sydney component of the leadership program was hosted by the Australian Catholic University (ACU) and the Affinity Intercultural Foundation. A series of workshops were held over three days as part of the ‘Beyond today leadership program’.

The workshops involved interfaith dialogue, listening and engaging with Aboriginal community leaders, a visit to St Patrick’s Cathedral, an art and culture workshop which encouraged us to look at different layers, group discussions with ACU National graduates regarding leadership today and discussion about Muslim Leadership.
Sydney provided us with the opportunity to immerse ourselves in other cultures, religions and traditions. Active listening was emphasised throughout the program.
Brother Jude Butcher from ACU facilitated many of the Sydney sessions. Brother Jude Butcher taught the importance of active listening. He also left us with the ‘go fishing’ method which aims to be well informed and to deeper inform others. ‘Go fishing’ is how you inform others by providing them with suggestions but leaving them with questions to get your audience to think and wonder about what you discussed, after you have gone. Go fishing is when you don’t give answers when you meet someone but instead leave them thinking.
We had an opportunity to listen and talk with the Aboriginal community leaders. Diversity was the key point that stood out from our discussions with Aboriginal community leaders. We discussed how you should not lump all Aboriginals together as you wouldn’t lump all Muslims together as the Aboriginal community are also communities within a broader community which we as, Muslims were able to agree with.

  • You can not take action to fix things until there is an acknowledgement of the past.
  • There is never a clear answer but through discussion you gain an understanding and are in a better position to find an answer.
  • Education is an important key.

Sydney provided the discussions around leadership. We had passionate discussions about what leadership meant to us all. As a group we discussed the struggle with:

  • Myself as a leader
  • Myself as a Muslim
  • Myself as a Muslim leader

Interfaith was a key component of our Sydney program and was tied with leadership. A true leader is able to engage not only with their own community as well as others effectively. The dinner with Affinity allowed us to see how interfaith projects in Sydney were a positive contribution. The discussions around interfaith were:

  • Interfaith dialogue is important as it provides an opportunity for people of different faiths to talk openly to one another.
  • Interfaith dialogue works when you are actively listening to the views and perspectives of people of different faiths.
  • Interfaith dialogue involves discussion of similarities and differences openly with respect.
  • When you sharing similarities and differences you are able to gain a greater understanding and respect of each others faiths.
  • We are all people of different faiths rather then Muslims and non-Muslims or Catholics and non-Catholics.
  • There is a need for intra faith dialogue as well as interfaith dialogue.
  • There seems to be a focus only on "to build bridges" but there is also a need to learn how to cross these bridges.
  • The diversity of the Muslim community as opposed to a ‘monolithic community’.

In Sydney the group participants stayed with home stays. We stayed in convents with nuns, with priests and local Catholic families. At first we were very anxious about not knowing who we were staying with and many of us were concerned about the cultural differences. The home stays were a great opportunity for many of us to have deep interfaith discussions. We engaged in dialogue with our home stays and were able to gain an understanding of one another beliefs. Not only did we discuss the similarities that our faith have in common we were also able to discussed the differences in an open and respectful manner.
The Sydney program highlighted that prejudice and discrimination could be overcome by engaging and listing to other first, through building a measure of dialogue and understanding with respect.

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