Towards a United Shia Youth Community

A “Dutch” Muharram Gathering

in Journal of Muslims in Europe
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Abstract

Twelver Shia Muslims in the Netherlands, a minority within the Muslim minority, are living as an ethnically fragmented community that is organised along ethnic lines.1 In recent years, Shia young adults started to realise that maintaining the Shia tradition in the Netherlands requires uniting on what binds them—Shia belief and the Dutch language. In 2011, on the occasion of Muharram, youth organisations organised the first joint Dutch-language gathering for all Shia youth in the Netherlands. In order to fulfill the widely felt need of youth for knowledge about Shia Islam and its practice in the Dutch context, the structure of this gathering was different from traditional Muharram gatherings. In the absence of a Dutch-speaking religiously trained authority familiar with the everyday Dutch life of Muslim youth, a youth leader fulfilled the role of lecturer. This article focuses on this Muharram gathering.