Round Table Discussion on the Future of Muslim Youth
Day/Date/Time: 5 May 2015
Venue: International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia
On 5 May 2015, IAIS Malaysia in collaboration with the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM), Malaysian Youth Council (MBM) and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) organized a Round Table Discussion on the Future of Muslim Youth.
The discussion explored some of the characteristics of contemporary youth and the challenges they face towards making a difference in society. One crucial observation about contemporary youth is, notwithstanding national, cultural and religious differences, youth across the globe appear to exhibit several common features that bind them together. Some of these, like their familiarity with social media and new communication technologies, relate significantly to transformation in the nature of education and work. Yet others suggest similar lifestyles and personal tastes or choices (even mundane ones, like their preference for cold drinks over hot beverages!), pointing to the possibility of contemporary youth playing pivotal roles towards bridging cultural divides.
More importantly however, is how youth are effectuating changes in the very nature of work and education – itself a manifestation of their personality traits. For instance, the entrepreneurial spirit of the young is driven, among others, by their enthusiasm for making a difference and the high value they place on their independence. It is not uncommon for the “Gen-Y” (and those following them like the “Millenials” as known in popular parlance) to enlist several portfolios concurrently, as founder of this and that company, director of another corporation, and president of another organisation. The motivation is hardly financial, although it was acknowledged that such startup companies typically wield handsome financial returns. Instead, the chief catalyst is the youth’s appreciation for three things, namely, (1) autonomy, (2) mastery of a particular skill or knowledge, and (3) a sense of purpose in what they do. These are reflected in the way they perform their work or social activities; for example, they have the tendency to rewrite the rules (lending the impression of being rebellious) and redefine social norms, directing their work or activity towards what they independently judge to be better.
In learning, the approach taken is quite similar. Eschewing ‘preachy’ type of learning, youth prefer an approach to knowledge repackaged as ‘knowledge sharing among peers’. That is to say, youth being typically opinionated, the teacher should take a laid back role and encourage self-learning on the part of students towards intellectual independence, intervening only when necessary such as when the student makes serious mistakes or exhibits major misunderstandings. Given the propensity towards action, the pursuit of knowledge has become resultoriented, and very often multidisciplinary.
As “digital natives”, a major challenge facing youth, unlike their predecessors, is not how to retrieve information—for this is aplenty—but rather how to filter and discriminate the morass of information, to distill true knowledge from the mass of data and information—indeed, mere opinions— masquerading as knowledge. [written by Tengku Ahmad Hazri]