Potentialities of faith-based organisations to integrate youths into society: the case of the Deobandi Islamic movement in South Africa

02 Feb 2021

In a modern secular society, religion is meant to be marginalised. At the same time, faith-based organisations (FBOs) provide spaces and resources for all people, including young people, to experience a sense of belonging. In cases where FBOs do this, it can involve isolation and even myopia. To problematise youth marginalisation as a faith-based concern, this article contends that it is necessary to understand the potentialities of FBOs to integrate youths into broader society. As a contribution to this, the article examines the ways in which the Deobandi Islamic movement engages youths in society beyond its confines. Data gathered during an ethnographic study at an educational institution for young women in South Africa, associated with the Deobandi Islamic movement, are presented in this article. Findings of the article, drawing on conceptualisations of the public sphere, illustrate that FBOs are able to provide a sense of belonging within a tangible community. At the same time, the findings suggest that FBOs can also limit integration with the broader society to the extent that the community promotes interaction with the other. The article concludes by discussing what this means for youth marginalisation as a faith-based concern