Young, British and Imam in Training
Heart and Soul is a weekly half-hour programme that has the scope and understanding to explore different experiences of spirituality from around the world.
Whether examining religious faith or any other belief-system, the programme talks to believers and non-believers, and tries to get beyond superficial notions of spirituality and religion.
Almost half of Britain's Muslim population is under 25 and born in the country. Yet many of the country's imams are foreign-born and elderly, leading to claims that they can be out of touch with their communities. After the bombings in London on 7th July 2005, the UK government decided an emphasis on 'homegrown' imams - born and trained in the UK - was seen as key in engaging young Muslims and curbing extremism.
A decade on, Samira Ahmed explores the changing role of the imam in Britain. Under an increasing media spotlight, their job includes not just the traditional roles of teaching and leading prayers, but counselling and pastoral care, helping third and fourth generations understand their identity as British Muslims. It can be a 24/7 role and the pay can be terrible. At the same time they are finding themselves pulled between the demands of the government, media, their communities and more traditional, conservative mosque committees and trustees.
Samira visits the seminaries and colleges where many of Britain's imams are trained, and meets graduates who have left behind mosques, instead providing spiritual guidance online or in their own homes. She asks whether the next generation of Britain's imams are equipped to provide the spiritual guidance and community engagement necessary to help young Muslims come to terms with their identity in increasingly challenging times.