Omar Ghobash, UAE ambassador to Russia and author of the acclaimed new book “Letters to a Young Muslim,” called for a less didactic, more open approach to Islamic education for children, at a Tamakkan seminar organised by BrandMoxie at twofour54.
Ghobash, who wrote the book with his sons, Saif, 16, and Abdullah, 12, in mind, encourages moderation in religious thinking and teaching, especially at a time of political turmoil where young Muslims can be susceptible to extremist propaganda that is being promoted through today’s technology platforms.
“One of the key messages I wanted to get across to my sons and his generation is not to feel ashamed for being a human being who reacts with disgust towards certain things and with pleasure at other things. And to actually locate your own humanity before approaching the world of politics, religion, or ideology or any other sphere where people fight,” he said.
Sana Bagersh, CEO of BrandMoxie and founder of Tamakkan said the release of Ghobash’s book is timely and its message vital in today’s world. “Young Muslims today need guidance and this book beautifully presents advice that is learned, logical and extremely balanced. Omar Ghobash is a relevant, courageous and most welcome champion for peace and reason – we should listen to his important message,” said Bagersh.
“The middle ground is actually a teaching attributed to Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) himself who advocated balance and moderation in thought and action, and described Islam as a ‘middle path,” said Bagersh.
Ghobash stated that his book does not quote the Qur’an and was not pre-read by a theologian. “It is the individual that needs to participate” he said, pointing out that faith is a person’s understanding and that “common individuals can acquire enough psychological and soft knowledge to be able to engage with religious scholars”.
In Tamakkan’s event moderated by Faisal Al Yafai, the chief columnist for The National, Ghobash, also talked about what his perspective as a diplomat and a father, and shared anecdotes about his family and work life. He spoke about the ideological challenges young people encounter, and how thinking independently can help them shape a future of hope and possibility.
When asked about what his next plans are after publishing the book, Ghobash said: “My response was that there is no ‘next’ – there’s only following some of these passages to see what kind of difference it would actually make and how we slightly reorient ourselves after reading it.”
Apart from being the UAE’s Ambassador to the Russian Federation, Omar Ghobash also established “The Third Line” art gallery which showcases artists from all over the Middle East.
The Tamakkan seminar was attended by business and community leaders, including US Ambassador Barbara Leaf, ADMAF Founder Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo and twofour54 CEO Maryam al Mheiri.
Tamakkan is an initiative aimed at nurturing entrepreneurship, leadership and innovation. Established in June 2009 by BrandMoxie, a leading advertising agency and marketing consultancy in the UAE, Tamakkan supports the growth of SMEs and startups by providing access to information and networking, as well as promoting innovation, best practices and corporate social responsibility to corporations and institutions. The initiative has grown into a powerful knowledge sharing and training platform that has contributed to the development of the UAE’s SME growth.