Study: Youth Abandon Mosques As They Go Online for Sermons

JAKARTA – Mosques in Indonesia are losing their centuries-old role as youths are going online to get Islamic knowledge, a new study in Jakarta revealed, The Jakarta Post reported.

“On YouTube, I can choose topics and preachers that I want to learn and listen to,” said Fitria Jamal.

The 25-year-old bank staffer said social-media savvy preacher Abdul Somad, dubbed the preacher with 1 million viewers, was one of her favorites.

A 2018 study by the Center for the Study of Religion and Culture (CSRC) at Syarif Hidayatullah Islamic State University (UIN) Jakarta has revealed that young Muslims are losing interest in studying religion in mosques.

The study, which surveyed Muslims aged between 17 and 24 in 18 regencies and cities across the country, also found that social media-based sermons had reduced the influence of religious education in family, organizations or other formal educational institutions.

Faridah Zahra, 25, is another young Muslim who prefer to watch online YouTube videos for famous scholars, saying they provided her with “interesting sermons”, such as the relationship between Islam and science.

“Once I was exposed to such scientific knowledge, I became increasingly curious,” said the account manager who lives in Bandung, West Java.

Irfan Amalee, a founder of Peace Generation and activist, said a transformation at mosques was needed to attract millennials.

“We shall use new and innovative approaches to create a magnet effect at our mosques,” he said, citing several mosques in Bandung that found success in bringing in worshipers by providing free Wi-Fi and developing Instagrammable spots.

Some Muslim preachers are getting outside mosques to reach out to the youth.

Indonesian Muslim preacher Mifta’im An’am Maulana Habiburrohman has been delivering sermons inside nightclubs to help people who feel unwelcome in their community mosque.