Moroccan young people struggle to find a balance between their religious convictions and modern practices.

By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Rabat – 07/09/11

Moroccan authorities need to re-visit the way religious knowledge is presented to young people to nurture a better understanding of faith, a recent study concluded.

Moroccan youths lack religious knowledge and have limited confidence in state religious institutions, according to the survey carried out by the Moroccan Center for Contemporary Studies and Research (CMERC).

To reach the conclusion, the center conducted two surveys among young people aged 15 to 35 in twelve regions.

The problem lies in the way religious knowledge is passed on to young people to enable them to live out their faith in total harmony with their beliefs and behavior, said CMERC chief Mustapha El Khalfi. He added that violence was not apparent in young people’s conduct.

Few of the people interviewed were able to identify the rites adopted by the kingdom or remembered the name of the Minister of Habous and Islamic Affairs. Young people do not join religious movements and associations, which shows a lack of communication with youths, according to the study.

The mosque and the family constitute the main sources of religious education for young people, with television and the internet used as a last resort. Over 40% of the respondents said that they derived their knowledge from imams, while 23% learn from families.

A broad national dialogue is required to discuss the nature of public youth policy, Khalfi said.

The state and religious scholars need to re-think what they say and adapt to the needs of the current age, argued Mohamed Chantoufi, a teacher of Islamic education.

“We need to ban the traditional methods and be innovative in our communication,” he added.

Among the new methods are appealing television programs with new faces to lure people instead of satellite channels, which often send fundamentalist messages, the scholar added.

According to the survey, Moroccan youths have a particular interest in Middle Eastern preachers.

Egyptian Mohamed Hassan tops the list, followed by Amr Khalid and Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

Given the conservative nature of Moroccan society, religion still has a social role to play, and a great many young people live a life of contradiction between their concept of religion and their daily behavior, explained sociologist Samira Kassimi.

“I know a lot of young people who don’t pray, but who are convinced that it’s their duty and they hope that one day they’ll have the faith to do it regularly,” young teacher Saad Moutaraji told Magharebia. “Many others do it, but at the same time they remain completely open and tolerant.”

Source: Magharebia.