Netherlands: Mosques not interested in Dutch-trained imams

Netherlands: Mosques not interested in Dutch-trained imams

The cabinet wanted to stop with "imported imams", who don't speak Dutch and who bring with them radical ideas.  But the 'polder imams' who were to take their place aren't catching on.

Imams trained in the Netherlands can't count on a job right now.  Mosques have no money and no trust in the 'polder imam'.

The InHolland college, the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam and the University of Leiden all developed imam training at the intercession of the cabinet who wants to stop importing imams from Morocco or Turkey.  They're conservative, stand in the way of the integration of Muslims and sometimes even incite to radicalizing.  The university and college education would prepare imams who speak Dutch and who would preach differently in the mosque, bringing with them the Dutch context.

It's now recognized that poor mosques have no money for expensive, trained imams.  Additionally, the older generation of mosque visitors, who make financial contributions and who therefore decide what happens there, don't want Dutch speaking imams.

"Dutch is the language of our future.  But the conservatism of the first generation is an hindrance," says Driss El Boujoufi, of the Union of Moroccan Muslim organizations in the Netherlands (Ummon).  Additionally, there are doubts about the religious knowledge of the polder imam.  "knowledge of Arabic and of the Koran: you simply don't learn that all in four, five years," says Amsterdam youth imam Yassin Elforkani.

Other critics say that the training of the imams shouldn't have been first on the list.  Halim El Madkouri, of the Forum institute: "Islam in the Netherlands needs its own theologists, who would develop new ideas.  So that the new imam doesn't need to embellish on sources from thirteen centuries ago.  The polder imam should be able to bring out a sort of polder Islam.

Professor Maurits Berger says they are aware of this in Leiden.  He says they're now training high-quality Islamic authorities who are firmly planted in the Dutch existence.  Than, he says, in the future we won't have to bring in "Tariq Ramadans".

Source: Trouw (Dutch), h/t NRP

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