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Islamic Cultural Center of North America
2008 Westchester Avenue, Bronx, NY 10462
www.islamicculturalcenter.org
Tel: 718-892- 5555

 

To each is a goal to which Allah turns him: Then strive together (as in a race) towards all that is good. Wheresoever ye are, Allah will bring you together. For Allah have power over all things. Holy Qur’an 2:148

 

THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN FOR THE SAKE OF ALLAH (SW) TO FREE OUR PRIVATIZED SOON TO BE FRANCHISED MASAAJID, BECAUSE TODAY’S MASAAJID ARE PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS FINANCED BY OUR PUBLIC CONTRIBUTIONS.
Masjid- the house of Allah is the most sacred ground on earth and a noble place to administer Muslim community’s affairs. An environment where worshipping, meditating, tolerating, learning, teaching, preaching, leading, informing, communicating, protecting, planning, remembering, life-saving, and connecting to our Creator should take place daily. But is this description the reality to most of our Masaajid these days? Unfortunately the answer is no. As a matter of fact, the exact opposite is more common. Who is responsible for this situation? One may ask. The answer is all the effortless Muslims, those of us who prefer private worldly comfort rather than faithfully exercise our religious duties. Of course it is never a pleasant feeling to be humiliated and castrated in public, especially when it comes from the same people we are trying to help, but that’s part of being a Masjid leader- sacrificing for the benefit of our communities.
Establishing a Masjid:

Whenever few entrepreneurs, not the community, desire to establish a Masjid, they would cleverly use all proper Qur’anic Aayahs and irresistible fundraising Hadiths for their supposedly noble project-a Masjid. In these initial stages, diverse boards are justified, preached and welcomed. There would be unity in this effort despite difference in race, nationality or language. They would be open to good ideas and suggestions from anyone in the neighborhood. They would be transparent in their dealings, positions and financial activities. At this stage, because of the true Islamic characteristics that are being displayed, some non-Muslims may even be inspired by the Masjid/Muslim community. After all, who wouldn’t want to be part of this genuine humanitarian and God-fearing community?

Initial Board:

Initial boards are almost always reflective of the true nature and make up of the community where the Masjid is to be located.  Initial boards are Islamic, democratic, diverse, brotherly, and they embody good spirits.  As a result of this more people would attend Jummah prayers in tiny rented spaces to show evidence to the community the justification for establishing a Masjid. Consequently, more funds are to be raised, and more Allah-loving, pure-intending and people-trusting innocent individuals would be recruited. All of a sudden, the first milestone is achieved; a purchase or lease of a building for the Masjid secured.

Managing the partnership called MASJID:

At this point is where Allah (SW) begins to translate the true meaning of the real intentions of the entrepreneurs (board members) of the Masjid. The first to notice this transformation are those who attend close doors board meetings (talk shows) and then the community at large, when they are invited for board election (Wrestling shows). For these position-hungry people, having their names written next to a position / titles become more meaningful than having Angels write our names next to the likes of Abubakar, Omar, Usman, Ali, Bilal …etc

Islam is to be temporarily suspended and evicted from the Masjid affairs. Clanships, social status, financial positions, egos, ignorance, selfishness, greed, nationality, race, madhab, and pure nonsense take over. Some Masaajid boards would go as far as requiring certain positions to be held only by a certain nationality/ethnicity, irrespective of Islamic qualifications. Using foreign languages rather than the community’s common language automatically disqualifies anyone who doesn’t speak those foreign languages.

These opportunistic board members who use Masaajid for board meetings and Fridays’ Jumah fundraising schemes, not poorly paid Imams, determine Masaajid affairs. Brothers in Islam become factions for selfishness and self-centered interests. Masjid diversity is when a thin bearded man with Kufi prays next to a big beardless man in khakis. Unity in the absence of interested leadership position is welcomed. Briberies are induced to our poorly educated community/countrymen to earn future votes and loyalty, while Dahwa is given to unsuspecting people outside of our communities who don’t know our real motives. Good initiatives, actions, and ideas beneficial to the community are killed upon arrival if they seem threatening to our intended life time board positions. Initial organizing individuals routinely bombard latecomers with reference to the importance of their earlier services and contributions for the establishment of the Masjid.

Because of the fact that Masaajid leadership selections are based on tribalism, not qualifications, Jummah collections become the main source of revenues for most Masaajid. Consequently, lot of Muslims are now beginning to come to Jummah prayer late and leave quickly in order to avoid humiliations and Hell threatening fundraising rhetoric. I wouldn’t hesitate to say if qualifications were the criteria for leadership, all Masaajid would be able to generate enough revenues from social and community services they could and must provide. A few years ago, I met a lady who made a complaint to me in regards to how little her newly opened Masjid collects on Fridays. She went on to say that if the collections do not improve fast she would close down her Masjid. Can we blame her? What would an entrepreneur do to an unprofitable business?

Final Board/Elected partners:

At this moment all sincere, honest, Allah-fearing, well-intending, and true Islamic servants who took part from the inception found themselves helplessly alienated. They would therefore faithfully decide to leave the matters in Allah’s hands and excused themselves from all the decision-making positions. This would now cement and finalize the true goal of those who were there in the first place for this world, unfortunately. Islamic jurisprudence would be irrelevant and antiquated. Masjid matters become more private and personal. Disputes amongst members are settled the same way for profit partnership disputes are settled-through the courts.

For this reason more and more Masaajid are in courts or leadership turmoil. Official consensus is only sought from individuals who come from the same neighborhoods/towns as the other Masjid leaders, irrespective of qualifications. To be a board member (business partner), one would use the same technique a politician running for a local election would use. That is why Masaajid leadership ranks usually don’t fail to make their presence and positions known on Fridays for future Masjid political board elections. In most masaajid, if you were to take away Jummah fundraising schemes you would end up with failed enterprises.

Running of a private partnership- named MASJID:

Since Shari’ah was evicted long time ago from the Masjid(For-Profit enterprise), and true Muslims who could really carry out this publicly preached noble services effectively were subdued, new rules must now be in place to reflect the proper running of this partnership called Masjid (business).

I used to go to a Masjid close to my house for prayers, and every time I walked toward this Masjid on weekends for Zuhar prayer I would meet men and grown-up children walking out of the Masjid right before the Adhan is called. One day, out of curiosity, I asked someone, are these people part of an interfaith group who come to meet with the Imam? To my surprise, the man said to me no, they are the Masjid’s board members who hold their board meetings on weekends. I couldn’t help but to ask the man why can’t they wait for the prayer then? “Well, I don’t know about that, may be they’d pray at home”, he said. May be? I asked myself.

When one’s presence as a board member is more important to him than the ten to fifteen minutes it takes to have a congregational prayer, one must truly be a misguided businessman. If we continue to allow this trend, we should not be upset when non-believing benefactors become board members and end up chairing our Masaajid boards.

I will conclude this article by acknowledging the fact that in all Masaajid, there are committed individuals who work day in and day out for the sake of Allah (SW) alone. And by that, I pray to Allah (SW) to protect them for us all, because every Masjid needs these Muhminun to survive.

Finally, welcome to America! The land of the entrepreneurs, where time is money for those who are willing to scarify faith in the name of the mighty DOLLAR! In the United States of America, if Muslims fail to manage Masaajid affairs accordingly, State Attorneys General, for public protection, would help them with secular enforcement.

May Allah (SW) guide us all!
Author: Sheikh Moussa Drammeh, Islamic Cultural Center of North America.

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