What is an advice for Muslim youth

Muslim youth weighing up religious issues

The starting point of the research project "Imams, Rappers, Cybermuftis" was the question of which authorities and offers Muslim adolescents and young adults between 15 and 30 years of age orientate themselves in religious matters and how they deal with them. The research team led by Prof. Dr. Martin Baumann conducted extensive interviews with 61 young women and men whose religious profile ranges from non-practicing to extensive practicing. The study "Hello, it's about my religion!" Analyzes the rich material with many quotations in three main chapters about the turn to religion, authorities and the relationship of young Muslims to society.

Some of the interviewees showed interest in religious questions as a sudden turn, for others as a rather steady process in which phases of active search alternate with periods of relative distance. While one time they are looking for specific information on certain clearly defined questions, the other time it is more the need for advice or emotional encouragement. But the young people use the most varied of offers and media side by side for other reasons as well: They often compare different, even contradicting content in order to find what is right for them. All in all, statements and opinions from parents, friends and confidants in mosque communities play a previously neglected important role. The influence of the imams in the mosques or of the sometimes controversial internet preachers is correspondingly less than is often assumed. Personal contact is important to young Muslims, and many have a lot of skepticism about offers on the Internet. In the course of their search for offers, they also develop increasingly precise criteria for which offers suit them and where they are most likely to find them.

From privatized to politicized religion

When making decisions, young people always take their living conditions in Switzerland into account. Last but not least, this includes the rough socio-political discourse on the subject of Islam, which has led many of them to question their religion in depth. They react with different strategies. Some strictly limit everything religious to the private sphere, others seek pragmatic solutions on a case-by-case basis in the workplace, for example, and still others demand the opportunity to practice their practice actively and publicly. Almost without exception, adolescents and young adults see their future in Switzerland, even if they perceive their personal relationship to Switzerland and the country of origin of their parents and grandparents very differently and also have different ideas about the future of Swiss Islam. It also showed that organizations that are repeatedly and controversially discussed in public, such as the Islamic Central Council Switzerland or the Forum for a Progressive Islam, play little or no role for the vast majority of young Muslims in Switzerland.

Although the findings of the research project refute many of the publicly circulating assumptions about young Muslims, they fit seamlessly into the picture that recent research has gained from members of other, less controversial migration religions in Western Europe. The trends shown here to interpret the religion of the parents in a more individual, critical and independent manner can also be found there.

The research project was funded with CHF 412,000 by the Mercator Switzerland Foundation. Field research was carried out by Dr. J├╝rgen Endres, Dr. Silvia Martens and Dr. Andreas Tunger-Zanetti. In the coming months, the Lucerne team will offer further training for specialists in the fields of school, youth, social and integration work, where the research results will be presented and discussed in depth with a view to practice.