This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Muslim American Masjid and Community Strategy
Table of Contents: I. Overview of the Muslim American Community II. Function of the Masjid III.Suggested Masjid Structure IV.Challenges and Issues V. Solutions
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I. Overview of the Muslim American Community
The Muslim American community faces many challenges. These challenges including a growing number of 2nd generation Muslims, limited space, limited resources, and other challenges. To solve these problems we must improve the function of the center of Muslim life: the masjid. As long as the masjids in America are not functioning in an efficient manner, we will continue to be understaffed, lose relevance to our communities, and lose the support of the Muslim communities we serve.
The Muslim Professional (2012)
In the following sections have an evaluation of the challenges facing the Muslim American community and more specifically the masjids and their functions.
II. Function of the Masjid
The community is growing as are the needs and challenges of the community, thus the masjid must grow along with the needs of the community and provide services of the community. It’s important for masjids to perform surveys and evaluations of the services, programs and performance. Statistics are also important to keep in order to see who your community is, trends, demographics, etc. This will also assist with fundraising strategies, events, programs, and services as well. The masjid should provide the following services/functions: 1) Community Center
The primary function of the masjid should be a place of gathering for worship/salah, for weddings, for social functions, etc. Additionally, it should be a place where people of all ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds feel welcome. Additionally, we should welcome people interested in Islam and reverts welcomingly and not neglect certain segments of our community and make our masjids ethno-centric.
Additionally, the masjid should be an open forum of ideas, projects, initiatives and support positive community projects, initiatives, etc. This includes Muslim businesses and organizations (that are ethically, financially, and ideologically sound).
2) Social Services (Counseling, Zakah/Temp Help, Marriage Services, Health Services, and Funeral Services) The masjid needs to accommodate the needs and challenges of the community and establish services that cater to the growing problems and demand for services in our community. We must create new services, such as counseling to accommodate the need for marriage counseling and personal counseling. In addition to this the creation of The Muslim Professional (2012) 2
masjid-affiliated shelters must be present for victims of abuse and domestic violence. Another need in our communities are Funeral Homes, where we can properly wash, shroud and bury our deceased. Another service needed are marriage services which include nikkah and pre-marital counseling and overall marriage education. The masjid also needs to provide services to the homeless, jobless, and impoverished in our communities and provide temporary help and offer long term solutions to help people get back on their feet and become economically self-sufficient. If masjids can become centers that provide free healthcare (basic healthcare) it would help the poor in the community who cannot afford treatment, but can receive free healthcare treatments from local doctors. 3) Community Service
The masjid needs to be a place where community service is encouraged. The importance of community service should be a part of the masjid’s culture.
4) Education (Includes Religious and General Education)
The masjid should provide educational programs, events, and classes for all segments of the society: elders, women, youth, young professionals, and children. These can be in the form of structured classes, Saturday/Sunday school, and halaqas.
Education shouldn’t just be limited to religious knowledge, but also knowledge that can benefit the community and make them aware of certain challenges the community is facing. Educational programs can include career development, internet safety, financial workshops that help people better save money and spend it, health education, etc.
The Muslim Professional (2012)
Also, tutoring and mentoring can be beneficial for youth to get a better understanding of careers and
5) Sports/Exercise/Fun To promote good health and exercise, the masjid should provide fun activities and a sports area for the youth and overall community. Providing these facilities and programs ensures an overall healthier community and a community that has a stronger bond/tie to the masjid. 6) Activism, Civic Engagement, Interfaith Masjids also must be centers of activism and civic engagement and encourage congregants to vote, be civically engaged and educate their congregants about the importance of voting. Masjids must engage local governments, people of other faiths, and law enforcement on Muslim American issues and foster relationships of mutual understanding, respect and tolerance.
Suggested Masjid Organization Structure
A. Overall Structure (See Appendix 1) The structure of the masjid would involve six main components: 1. Board of Trustees 2. Executive Board 3. Committees 4. Exec. Director 5. Departments 6. Independent Oversight/Audit Committee Each will be described below. B. Board of Trustees (Appendix 2) The Board of Trustees will consist of the following. The function of the Board of Trustees will be to set policies, the vision, and overall strategy/direction of the masjid. To increase the communication and relevancy of the BOT to the community, positions will be opened to The Muslim Professional (2012) 4
elected positions as well as permanent positions of paid employees of the masjid. A. Chairman of the Board (Elected) B. Exec. Board President (Elected) C. MSA Representative (both high school and college) (Elected) D. Young Professionals Representative (Elected) E. Imam (Permanent) F. Sisters Youth Director (Permanent) G. Brothers Youth Director (Permanent) H. Education Director (Permanent) I. Social Services Director (Permanent)
C. Executive Board The Executive Board would consist of: 1. President 2. Vice President 3. Secretary 4. Treasurer The role of the Executive Board would be to interface with the community and carry out and translate policies and procedures into action and implementation. The Executive Board would be allowed to present new ideas to the Board of Trustees, request additions/revisions of policies and procedures . The Executive Board would be a board of elected community members with set term limits. D. Committees (See Appendix 3) Standing Committees would include: Fundraising, Elections, and Budget/Finance Committee. Other ad-hoc committees would be created to accomplish a certain task and dissolve after the goal is accomplished of the committee. If the need The Muslim Professional (2012) 5
arises the committee will become a standing committee based on the need. E. Executive Director The Executive Director would oversee the Masjid Departments and report directly to the Executive Board with reports, progress, issues, etc. F. Departments The Masjid Departments would be divided into the following: 1. Social Services Department (Marriage, Zakah/Temp Financial Help, Counseling, Funeral Services) 2. Operations Department (Day-to-Day Maintenance, Event Set up, etc.) 3. PR/Community Affairs Department (Interfaith, Government Relations, Outreach, Media) 4. Planning and Marketing Department (Logistics and Marketing for Events) 5. Education Department (Saturday/Sunday School, Educational Programs/Events, etc.) 6. Community Service Department 7. Youth and Young Professionals Department (Youth Group, Young Professionals Group, etc.) 8. Sports and Recreation Department 9. Zakah/Temp. Financial Relief Department 10.Emergency Taskforce Department (respond to emergencies in community) 11.IT Department 12.Research Department 13.Accounting Department
G. Independent Oversight/Audit Committee The purpose of this committee would be for the purposes of overseeing operations of the overall structure of the masjid and to ensure all The Muslim Professional (2012) 6
programs, services, etc. are running smoothly and efficiently. The committee would also serve as a Human Resources Department. H. Imam’s Office The Imam’s Office would consist of the Head Imam and “Staff”: 1. Assistant Imam 2. Executive Director 3. Youth Director 4. Social Services Director 5. Education Department Director 6. PR/Community Affairs Director The “Staff” will assist the Head Imam with decisions regarding policies pertaining to the various departments. The Head Imam will oversee the curriculum and educational programs and youth programs to ensure the youth receive adequate religious education. The Social Services Director will assist the Head Imam with any counseling related concerns, temporary help requests, etc. The Executive Director will be present at all meetings to see that policies suggested by the Head Imam are relayed to the Executive Board and implemented.
Challenges and Issues
The following list is in no particular order: 1) Neglect of Youth and Young Professionals Most masjids are not serving these demographics and are in fact turning them away from the masjids. These groups are not only the future of our communities, but have much to offer in terms of their experience, skill sets and education. 2) Social Issues (Domestic Violence, Divorce, etc.) The masjids must design and offer services that address the growing demand of these services such as counseling and mediation. 3) Lack of Community Engagement
The Muslim Professional (2012)
Masjids need to learn the importance of community engagement and outreach. This includes relationship building with local governments, faith communities, community service organizations, and law enforcement. 4) Need for Fundraising Strategies Masjids must design fundraising strategies to become self-sufficient. 5) Ethnocentricity Masjids must become more diverse and welcoming to people of other cultures, ethnicities, etc. We further ghettoize ourselves when we become ethnocentric masjids. 6) Lack of Women’s Involvement Sisters must be more involved at higher levels of our masjid organizational structures. 7) Divisions within Communities (i.e. Masjid Politics) The Muslim American community has too many divisions based on ideology (Sufi vs. Salafi), madhabs, ethnic/racial/cultural, etc. We must break down these barriers at our masjids and allow for more open dialogue within the limits of the Quran and Sunnah. Additionally, we have masjid politics, drama that discourages individuals from getting involved with the masjid. If we reduce the power plays, slander, etc. we’ll see an improvement in our masjids. The change begins from the masjid leadership. 8) Power Struggles/Ego of Masjid Leadership Masjid leadership must put aside their egos and power struggles. If masjids continue to have leadership that is disconnected from the community and serves only certain demographics of the community, then they will eventually lose relevance and the community’s support.
9) Lack of Succession Planning Masjids must learn the art of succession planning at all levels of the masjid organizational structure. For example, the Head Imam must have a younger assistant imam under him whom can replace him upon the Head Imam’s retirement. 10)Wastage of Resources The Muslim Professional (2012) 8
This includes money, time, energy of the community. 11)Masjid Leadership’s Disconnect from the Community Masjid leadership often make promises to the community and often claim to represent their views and concerns, but often times make decisions not based on the community’s needs, concerns, or vision for the community. Communication between masjid leadership and the community must be improved. 12)Lack of Accountability, Oversight, and Responsibility There should be a way at all levels of the masjid organizational structure for accountability, oversight and responsibility must be clearly laid out. 13)Lack of (or Outdated) Organization, Processes and Procedures Most masjids operate on outdated systems, processes, procedures or some do not have any at all. This is at all levels of the masjid organizational structure—from the administration, to the elections, etc. 14)Space Masjids all have growing populations and must keep this in mind upon the building of a masjid and think of strategies of expansion. 15)Outreach/Websites/Technology Masjids must improve their outreach/marketing and must improve their websites and keep up-to-date to work efficiently and also save time, energy, and resources for the community. 16)Lack of Research and Statistics of Community Masjids must do research on their own communities via surveys, membership, etc. This information can help improve services to the community and also show progress of the effectiveness of services, programs and events the masjid provides. 17)Irrelevance of the Imam Often times the imams of most masjids are irrelevant culturally and socially to the community. The imams in masjids must be relevant to their community and know the social context under which Muslim Americans live. They must be youth-oriented, knowledgeable and be able to speak well on behalf of the masjid and Muslim community. 18)Lack of Openness The Muslim Professional (2012) 9
Some masjids lack a diversity of thought and ideas. This is not to say ideas contrary to Quran and Sunnah should be accepted, but overall masjids must accommodate ideas of community members in a professional and Islamic manner. 19)Neglect of Converts/Reverts Often times when converts/reverts convert to Islam they are not provided with adequate support from the community. We must support converts/reverts with classes, material, and moral support. 20)Lack of Intra-Masjid Dialogue/Communication Masjids cohesion/unity/communication is severely lacking. It’s crucial if the Muslim American community wants to move forward to build bridges of communication, understanding, tolerance, and respect. 21)Limited Resources Masjids often have limited resources---either a lack of skill sets, money, or networks that can assist in helping the community grow. Strategies must be designed to help improve the resource pool at masjids. This includes increasing the pool of scholarship, huffath (memorizers of the Quran), Islamic school teachers, and other key resources for the community. 22)Adequate and Equal Space for Women Often times our masjids do not accommodate women adequately with proper facilities, prayer spaces, or services to help them have a positive experience at the masjid. 23)Need for Women Scholars We must develop women scholarship within our communities to help create forums of learning for women in our community.
V. Solutions and Steps Forward
1) Evaluation, Research and Audit of Individual Masjids Masjids must evaluate their organizational structure, process, procedures, services, demographics of their community. Based on this review and evaluation, masjid leadership must make changes and improvements accordingly. This step also involves creating a succession plan and a 10 year plan. 2) Masjid Resource List The Muslim Professional (2012) 10
Masjids should create lists of contact information of the resources within their community ranging from Muslim businesses, MSAs, Muslim organizations, to individuals in the community who can offer their services for free. 3) Community Resource List This contact list should be a shared document in which should include: local government officals, interfaith partners, community service organizations, law enforcement, and other useful resources for the masjid and Muslim community. This will help improve communication with the community at large with the masjids. 4) Resource Sharing Resources are sometimes limited and must be shared between masjids. This includes money, skill sets, education, and other resources to help strengthen masjids in the local community/area. 5) Twining of Masjids and Communication Intra-Masjids Twinings or partnerships should be created between two masjids. Just as the Ansar and Muhajir helped one another we should create partnerships in which masjids help one another in improving and strengthening each other via resource sharing, meetings, etc. This will help build bridges of communication, mutual respect, understanding, and respect. 6) Community Training Workshops These workshops could be done by local organizations or national Muslim American organizations, such as ISNA, ICNA, MPAC, etc. to help educate communities about various skills and strategies to implement in their communities such as civic engagement, interfaith, local government engagement, law enforcement and overall community organizing skills. 7) Resource Building Masjids must learn to be self-sufficient and overall communities need to be self-sufficient as well. This includes networking the current resources and creating new ones based on the need. For example, institutions of learning should be made that produce Imams, Women Scholars, and other key resources needed for the community. If a community is lacking resources within its own community to start institutions, then scholarship funds should be set up to send community The Muslim Professional (2012) 11
members to study Islam at recognized institutions like the Zaytuna Institute, Bayyinah, and other Islamic studies programs. 8) Communication between National Muslim American Organizations and Masjids Masjids must set up communication between national Muslim American organizations such as ISNA, ICNA, CAIR, MPAC, etc. in order to be aware of the national discourse about Muslim American issues so the masjid leadership can be aware of how this can affect their communities. Additionally, national Muslim American organizations should have clear communication between various communities around the US and have a network of masjids in which they can quickly disseminate information, updates, white papers, talking points and other resources. 9) Local MSA and Masjid Partnerships Masjids must create partnerships with local high school and university MSAs in order to provide support high school and college students. This will also create another resource pool in which the masjid can utilize and the partnership can be a mutually beneficial one with the sharing of resources and ideas. 10)MSA Alumni Associations Masjids must help MSAs create MSA Alumni Associations. This will assist in helping college students network with their alumni and develop their careers. This will benefit the masjid by fostering new leaders who are educated and are giving back to the community via their alumni associations. 11)Creation of Youth Groups and Young Professionals Groups Many masjids lack or have very weak youth groups. Additionally, young professional groups are non-existant as well. These two demographic groups are the future of the masjid and community and it is important for masjid leadership to support and encourage involvement of these groups in the masjid. 12)Creation of Social Services A growing need in our community is social services. Masjids must provide these services with the overwhelming need and demand for these services. These services include counseling, temporary financial relief, job search assistance and other social services. The Muslim Professional (2012) 12
13)Creation of Community Service Programs The masjid must create community service programs and encourage the community to engage in community service. This will help tremendously in improving the local issues of poverty, homelessness, and hunger. 14)Creation of a Fundraising Strategy Every masjid must focus on creating a fundraising strategy that helps create a self-sufficient masjid structure and that does not overburden the community. 15)Creation of Masjid Culture of Openness,Education, Dialogue, and Activism Masjids must create a culture that fosters new ideas, programs, events and improvements. Additionally, there must be a way for all community members to be involved at every level. The masjid must make congregants feel ownership and pride for their masjid. 16)Masjid Criteria/Ratings by National Muslim American Organizations In order for masjids to maintain a high standard of excellence and ensure their masjids are up to date and efficient, national Muslim American organizations should create a rating system or evaluation process that rates masjids based on a certain criteria. Criteria would rate the educational curriculum of the masjid, imam, youth programs, services, efficiency, procedures and processes of the masjid, etc. 17)Broader Community Relationship Building Once the internal/intra-masjid problems are resolved and masjid leadership feels strong enough resource wise, outreach efforts to the broader community should be implemented. This includes relationships with faith communities, local government, community service organizations, and other organizations. 18)Townhalls/Forums/Focus Groups to Discuss Issues Facing Community The purpose of these townhall/forums could be to discuss intra-Muslim community issues as well as the broader community issues. Mini-townhalls would also be beneficial for masjids to build a democratic means of allowing the community members to express their concerns and needs. 19)Annual Masjid/Community Strategy Masjids should convene on an annual basis to create an annual strategy to address issues in communities and better utilize resources. This will rely heavily on the research and evaluation by every masjid. This will allow The Muslim Professional (2012) 13
masjids to work together efficiently to help one another and overcome obstacles and challenges that the community is facing. 20)Charter of Understanding Every city should draft a charter of understanding in which all masjid leadership sign. The contents of the charter should encourage dialogue, understanding, mutual respect, and tolerance of masjids that adhere to beliefs within the limits of the Quran and Sunnah. Additionally, it will give a foundation for which relationships between masjids can be built. 21)Social Entrepreneurship, Business Creation/Support, and Job Fairs Masjids should encourage social entrepreneurship and Muslim business growth. The masjid should create a criteria for judging the quality of a Muslim business for the community to judge between various Muslim businesses. Social entrepreneurship should be encouraged as it helps cultivate new ideas and solutions to the problems the masjid is facing and the overall community. Forums, focus groups and roundtable discussions should take place to foster the creation of new ideas. Additionally, to encourage job growth and job creation, masjids should host job fairs for the community. 22)Creation of New Muslim Programs and Classes Masjids must create support systems for new Muslims and offer classes, programs and create a big brother/big sister progam which pairs new Muslims with community members to get them better situated to the community. 23)Create Welcome Committees Often times new families move to communities and often feel aliented or unwelcome to masjids. Masjids should create a system in which new Muslims to the community can feel welcome to the community. The welcome committee should provide a booklet that contains the community resources: halal groceries, Muslim businesses, apartment/housing options, basic masjid information, and other pertinent information. 24)Creation of Emergency Taskforces Masjids should create Emergency Taskforces that respond to critical emergencies in the community. For examples, there can be a Medical Emergency Taskforce that is assigned a week to be “on call” and another The Muslim Professional (2012) 14
taskforce can be a Domestic Violence Taskforce which responds to domestic violence cases. Based on the needs of the community, match it with the skill set and education of members of the community. 25)Networking of Community Resources Masjids must learn to network and synchronize community resources in order to save time, energy, and money. 26)Create Adequate Room/Space for Women Masjids must create adequate space for women’s prayer spaces, facilities, etc. to better serve the women of our community. -----------END----------
For more information about The Muslim Professional visit: www.themuslimprofessional.com or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Muslim Professional (2012)
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.