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Muslim Bubble Syndrome – Rethinking The Importance of Structure

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We all face the same issues in our communities with masjid administration issues. While trying to write my thoughts on the issue, I came across this article from Azhar Usman that does an excellent job of covering the issue. So without further ado, the article is below.

*Article is from Islamica Magazine and has been pasted below.

Rethinking the Importance of Structure

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by AZHAR USMAN

It is well-settled that one of the defining characteristics of modernity—of what makes contemporary civilization work—is its reliance upon structure. As a rule, to be successful at anything in the modern world requires process and procedure. In a word, structure. In this regard, throughout my life, I have observed an interesting phenomenon among Muslims: they seem to believe that this rule does not apply to them. I refer to this phenomenon as Muslim Bubble Syndrome (MBS). It is as if so many Muslims believe that they live in a bubble; that they are not subject to the simple and undeniable rules that apply to the entire universe around them.

Perhaps some illustrative examples shall prove useful.

First, the very notion of institution building amongst Muslims—in the Muslim world as well as throughout the Western Muslim Diaspora—is quite popular as a concept. However, on the ground, almost every so-called Islamic institution that I have observed in North America and Europe is run and managed like a zoo or a circus. (Actually, strike that. I recently took my kids to the circus and even it was well-organized and professional!) Consider, for example, American mosques, most of which are haphazardly managed by a group of volunteer board members and a few (if you’re lucky!) paid staff members. Invariably though, key decisions regarding day-to-day operations are left to volunteers, most of whom treat their volunteer commitments to the mosque the way they would social commitments to acquaintances: “Yeah, we really should get together some time.”

Interestingly, it seems little thought has even been put into the governance structures of American mosques. Most seem to follow corporate models, with presidents and executive committees, volunteer boards of directors, paid memberships and elections — but why? Who decided that this is the best, most efficient or most effective manner of running and managing a mosque? Have other models been tried? How were mosques managed throughout Muslim history? Sadly, the mosque president — who is likely a full-time physician or engineer — probably has no answers. And of course, even those American mosques that seem to have figured out that they must have a paid full-time imam if they are ever to become legitimate organizations are nonetheless highly unrealistic with their expectations and demands on such an imam. He must be college-educated with amazing oratory and rhetorical abilities for Friday sermons, preferably a hafiz (i.e., entire Qur’an committed to memory — especially relevant for leading nightly prayers every Ramadan); must be fluent in both English and Arabic (Urdu is a major plus!); be able to teach and relate to young and old alike (and play basketball with the “youth,” of course); and don’t forget his public relations skills because he has to field and handle all interview requests from local and national media whenever anything “Muslim-related” breaks in the news (which is basically every day!). And for good measure, he might as well be a licensed psychologist and/or social worker to handle the pre-marital, marital, post-marital, family and mental health counseling and therapy needs of the entire community. All this for an underwhelming $50,000 salary plus so-called competitive benefits. By these standards, American imams are either the most under-qualified bunch of employees — or low-grade superheroes!

Mosque management aside, Muslim professionals will go on at length at dinner parties, coffee houses and hooka bars across the globe about the problems of the world and how they, of course, have all the answers. This is a variant of MBS known as Muslim Empire Syndrome (MES), which is the phenomenon of being so self-unaware that one thinks one could solve the problems of the entire world, or the non-existent “Muslim Empire,” or American politics, or whatever, but for the fact that one has been trained as a specialized physician who cannot even solve the parking challenges of his local mosque. (And yes, this column admittedly suffers from a hint of MES too.)

Another example of MBS I recently observed is the lack of uniformity in the method of citation of authoritative religious sources in Muslim literature, or lack of standardization of rendering Arabic phrases into English, or even mere transliteration of Islamicate languages into English characters. A friend recently told me that he wants to transliterate a famous Urdu book into English letters—which I honestly think is great—except that he announced that he plans to invent his own system of transliteration to render Urdu sounds into English since, as he says, his system is going “to be so much easier” than what’s out there. Of course, the countless academics who have been working tirelessly for decades on creating and developing uniform systems of transliteration are all idiots—and he, a professional computer network engineer, is going to work out a superior methodology during his spare time.

The great irony in all this is the fact that Islam is a highly structured religion, with meticulously worked out theological formulations and perhaps even more legal formalisms. It is hoped that the coming Muslim generations inevitably taking up the responsibility of Muslim institution-building will be more successful at developing an intelligent understanding and application of their faith that syncs with the undeniable realities and irreversible trends of modernity. Who knows, maybe one of them will even hold the pin that pops the bubble?

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Omar Usman is a founding member of MuslimMatters and Qalam Institute. He teaches Islamic seminars across the US including Khateeb Workshop and Fiqh of Social Media. He has served in varying administrative capacities for multiple national and local Islamic organizations. You can follow his work at ibnabeeomar.com.

41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. greekmuslimgirl

    July 21, 2008 at 5:28 AM

    An awesome read ma sha Allah. I like how he questioned the board structure since everyone just assumes, hey that’s how it has to be. Although, legally, non-profits in NA have to follow this method, more or less, it still leaves room for us to use Islamic principles.

    One gem I learned is that the shura structure the masajid have implemented is NOT the same shura structure the prophet (saw) and the sahaba implemented. If we make that one simple change, I’m sure we will see lots of positive effects insha Allah.

  2. ksr

    July 21, 2008 at 7:10 AM

    I’m glad the author himself realizes the irony of preaching against preachiness, because, for all his flaming, he, like other presumed sufferers of MBS, offers little by way of solutions.

    That said, I don’t think the Muslim community per se suffers from a larger proportion of armchair critics than does the public at large. If anything, the level of constructive activity it has shown in defiance of bald-faced prejudice and the threat of ostracism is laudable. If it lacks anything, it is, as the author correctly points out, an appreciation of its own history of scholarly pragmatism—a giant and impressive body of work on the shoulders of which we would do well to stand.

    Regarding the (separate, IMO) issue of mosque administration, if the burden of duty cannot efficiently be spread amongst groups of volunteers, and neither can an Imam figure with the requisite skills be afforded, then one wonders what is left to be tried. The need to increase our knowledge of the principles of our religion and raise more money is hardly news, and I, for one, have seen great strides made on both fronts, as Allah has willed it.

  3. ABDHULLAH

    July 21, 2008 at 8:57 AM

    Asalamualaikum….I believe the problem lies with unqualified brothers running things in the mosque. MashaAllah everyones’ heart in the right place but the goals seem to be nonexistent. There must be a few mosques in the United States that have a good “business” model. We need to find out where these are and setup some real training. But I think real research needs to be done on these highly effective and involved mosques. After that just teach everybody who is willing to learn in a professional environment…brothers need proper TRAINING!!! I am sure there are some mosques in Houston or Chicago that really know what they are doing. Their expertise should be used to help run the mosques of smaller markets. Their should be an easy blue print to follow.

    Another issue I see is that the older generation is usually the ones running the show. It usually consists of some brothers who never grew up in America and migrated here in there 30’s or 40’s. I really think its hard for them to understand how it is being Muslim in America. This usually leads to the youth not being involved thus leaving the youth to try to find other places to spend their time. The youth here in America are MashaAllah are wanting to be involved but these uncles still treat some as kids. We need to make this transition from migrant uncles who are not so professional in their running the mosques to a younger American-educated professional mind frame.

  4. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    July 21, 2008 at 10:54 AM

    Jazzak Allaahu Khayr for addressing this important topic. Imam Zaid Shakir addressed some different but related issues in his piece “Flight from the Masjid.” http://www.zaytuna.org/articleDetails.asp?articleID=24

    The issues addressed by Brother Azhar in this article (May Allaah reward and preserve him) seem to be targetted primarily at the larger suburban masajid. Brothers and sisters like myself who have spent most of our time as Muslims in inner city masajid will have to observe that the organizational and administrative problems of those centers are actually a great deal worse. Alhamdulillaah organizations like MANA have as one of their missions to address and improve these types of issues. Of course it is only a sign of the tremendous blessing of Allaah (swt), the sincere and dedicated efforts of some truly amazing individuals, the truth of Al-Islam, and the hunger of the people that people still come to Islam and practice the religion in spite of the state of our inner city masajid (some of which I have been partially responsible for so I am in no way blaming anyone other than myself.) Of course, there is also some special blessings that these centers have that are missing from some of the larger masajid, but inshAllaah we can retain these blessings while working on our shortcomings.

    As in many areas, perhaps the suburban masajid are just able to cover over superficially these major structural problems because of a comparative advantage in resources compared to the smaller masajid, while in our poorer masajids these shortcomings are evident on the surface. I would also like to say that from my personal experience, while one should not ignore the problems mentioned above, one should not underestimate the tremendous achievement of the older generation of pioneers, both immigrant and African America who established masajid, schools, businesses, organizations, etc. all of the infrastructure which have allowed the younger generation to practice Islam in this country. Allah only knows the tremendous amount of personal sacrifice that was involved on the part of that generation and the tremendous debt which we owe them.

    Having said that, I agree that the problems are well known to all Muslims and largely acknowledged. It is now the time to hold up models of success. I, personally, have been very impressed with what I have seen from the Prayer Center of Orland Park, a masjid in suburban Chicago, which although still a new masjid, has done some amazing things in the past couple of years. Perhaps some of the brothers and sisters from that or other successful masajid can share examples of what they think has been instrumental to the success that they have demonstrated.

    Allaah knows best.

  5. Dawud Israel

    July 21, 2008 at 11:56 AM

    I’m glad the author himself realizes the irony of preaching against preachiness, because, for all his flaming, he, like other presumed sufferers of MBS, offers little by way of solutions.

    I have to say…OWNED!
    Couldn’t have put it better than myself.

  6. Farhan

    July 21, 2008 at 12:58 PM

    The transliteration part made me smile. I’ve seen Sahih Bukhari, Saheeh Bookharee, Sahih Bookhaaree, etc
    I once saw this: Aashoora. Its probably more correct, but hard to read and looks odd.

  7. iMuslim

    July 21, 2008 at 1:50 PM

    A while ago, one of my plans was to set up a training course for Islamic organisations… teaching things like management skills, computer literacy, fundraising, marketing… not that I have much experience (i wouldn’t be the one teaching!), rather, to try and recruit people who have this knowledge, even in non-Muslim spheres, and apply it to Islamic charitable NGOs, including masaajid.

    I still think it’s a good idea, though my personal ambitions to launch it in the very near future have changed. If no-one else picks up on it, I may have a stab at it next year, insha’Allah. I think it could be done with little expense, if we started with a pilot group of a few NGOs.

    Feel free to steal my idea (it’s not a unique one anyway!), and let me know how it goes if you do, insha’Allah!

    Btw, I am intrigued by the idea of “islamic” management, or “traditional” management schemes… can someone elaborate please? How does it differ to present day corporations? If we are not practising “proper” Shura as the Prophet, sallalahu ‘alayhi wa salam, did, then where are we going wrong, and how can we fix it? Does it even need to be “fixed” – maybe the idea of Shura is more flexible than we think?

    If anyone can write an article on these points, I am sure MM would be happy to print it, with prior approval, insha’Allah.

  8. iMuslim

    July 21, 2008 at 1:57 PM

    Another point… some people have been mentioning what they believe to be good masaajid here… maybe we should ask people to nominate the “best” masaajid in their experience, and we could send out a survey to them, asking them how they run things, and what advice they could give to others? Inner city, surburbs, small, big, rich, poor… the more diverse examples the better!

    I think that would be a great MM project… what do you guys think? We could make some real change, insha’Allah.

  9. ibnabeeomar

    July 21, 2008 at 2:04 PM

    actually, i think this article is very important. from my involvement with masaajid that are run this way, the vast majority of people actually have no idea that any kind of problem even exists. take for example the expectations on an imam that is outlined above –

    He must be college-educated with amazing oratory and rhetorical abilities for Friday sermons, preferably a hafiz (i.e., entire Qur’an committed to memory — especially relevant for leading nightly prayers every Ramadan); must be fluent in both English and Arabic (Urdu is a major plus!); be able to teach and relate to young and old alike (and play basketball with the “youth,” of course); and don’t forget his public relations skills because he has to field and handle all interview requests from local and national media whenever anything “Muslim-related” breaks in the news (which is basically every day!). And for good measure, he might as well be a licensed psychologist and/or social worker to handle the pre-marital, marital, post-marital, family and mental health counseling and therapy needs of the entire community. All this for an underwhelming $50,000 salary plus so-called competitive benefits.

    For many of us on the sidelines its easy to say we know the problems, but the people actually involved in running the masaajid are often unaware. i’m also working on something in terms of solutions but its quite long term. but its going to be oriented around trying to compile some type of best practices list, and creating a consulting organization to go around and do leadership, management, accounting, PR, etc type of training for masjid boards. but this is all pie in the sky type stuff, right now most people don’t even realize they are in a bubble to begin with.

  10. Siraaj

    July 21, 2008 at 2:11 PM

    Step #1: Find a good leader
    Step #2: Gather your friends and money, turn them into members.
    Step #3: Vote in your good leaders at each position
    Step #4: Rinse and repeat

    Siraaj

  11. MR

    July 21, 2008 at 1:48 PM

    It’s pretty funny how those who complain about the article not offering any solutions when the article actually opened up our eyes to these problems. The article does not need to provide solutions. We have to provide the solutions.

    In fact Ksr is an example of this syndrome. LOL

    There are some Muslim communities that are doing well that I have seen for example Dar ul Hijrah in VA. Tariq Nelson always hypes it up and I’m just impressed they have 1,000s coming for taraweeh every night.

  12. ksr

    July 21, 2008 at 3:20 PM

    Or maybe, I seek forgiveness from Allah, I’m just optimistic to a fault. :-)

  13. ksr

    July 21, 2008 at 3:14 PM

    The article does not need to provide solutions. We have to provide the solutions … In fact Ksr is an example of this syndrome. LOL

    Of course I could now say that you suffer from some form of meta-MBS, and we could continue ad nauseum, but then the point would be lost: that the article launches a diffuse and largely unjustified attack at a problem that can, realistically, only be solved not through some bubble-popping revolution, but an inevitably slow evolution of individuals and society at large recognizing the importance and prioritizing the development of Islamic institutions�one that, I think, is occurring as we speak.

    The “bubble” denotes two separate faults: cynicism and ignorance, and, IMHO, only to the latter can the troubles of our ineffective mosques be ascribed. My a.m. whine was triggered by the fact that the author fails to make clear that distinction; that he fails to provide a quick fix because there exists none; that he fails to acknowledge that; and, most importantly, that he fails to recognize and laud the vital role the motley bands of volunteers he so callously belittles have played and continue to play in the evolution of these institutions.

  14. Yus from the Nati

    July 21, 2008 at 8:30 PM

    I agree with Siraaj’s steps…work with the system.

  15. mezaan

    July 22, 2008 at 1:49 AM

    Great article. Brother Irlandee brings about a oft-used business strategy by many corporation past and present. I also agree with IMuslim.

    We need not only write about success stories but be able to dig deeper and find the men & women behind those positive turnarounds. If we can’t invite, we should be able to send a few out there to get an understanding of how a successful masajid or community center gets run and managed. Many non-profit organizations have summer internship programs for local students, some paid, most unpaid, others provide good non-cash benefits etc. Why not design similar programs. Grooming the next kid to take up an important role within the muslim commmunity requires something as simple as a piece of paper/ a certificate, correspondence with a local school about advertising for such an internship, and community support. Sure it’s not going to be perfect, but I am sure there are important lessons that can be learned. Work shadow can be a very powerful experience.

    Here is a solution.
    Get MS Office. Create a template, a letter requesting local University’s internship office to make “your community center” a approved internship provider and a place of work during the summer etc. Inshallah you’ll attract an eager qualified work force. We need to actively pursue Muslims to work for the Masjid.

    We need to give a clear incentive to muslims to work for our masajids. Yes our incentive model should not only be marketed under the banner, “for the sake of God”. We need to market our centers as a place that teaches practical management skills, adds to problem solving experiences and as one that fosters career growth and advancement while teaching us about our religion.

    Most importantly key “board members/ leaders of masjid” need to ASK and not expect that muslim kids are automatically going to work for their masjid. It’s unfortunate that many of our kids may not be naturally inclined to work, and grow our centers. But we need to make things easier, so they can grow with the organization.

  16. inexplicabletimelessness

    July 22, 2008 at 2:34 AM

    Another point… some people have been mentioning what they believe to be good masaajid here… maybe we should ask people to nominate the “best” masaajid in their experience, and we could send out a survey to them, asking them how they run things, and what advice they could give to others? Inner city, surburbs, small, big, rich, poor… the more diverse examples the better!

    I think that would be a great MM project… what do you guys think? We could make some real change, insha’Allah.

    Good idea sister iMuslim! Actually you know in the US, CAIR in conjunction with other big organizations like ISNA, MAS, MANA, etc… is conducting a masjid survey which may cover some of these things. I think it would be beneficial to see what the survey reveals about masjid management.

    Ideally, I would believe that change starts small. If we as Muslims don’t treat our brothers and sisters fairly, treat elders and young ones with compassion and if we don’t manage to keep ourselves organized (ie. replying to emails very late, putting off tasks, not managing our time well) then how about on an organizational level? May Allah forgive me and us all for our shortcomings, ameen.

    I think the article was a nice eye-opener for those who don’t realize that there is a problem; solutions are what we are talking about right?

    waAllahu ‘alam

  17. ibnabeeomar

    July 22, 2008 at 2:37 AM

    solutions will come inshallah, but i think its very important to isolate what our specific problems are before we’re able to solve them, and i think this article does a good job of articulating a lot of problems that we face, but are not necessarily communicated in detail – especially not to masjid administrations.

  18. abu abdurrahman

    July 22, 2008 at 5:14 AM

    Why not copy the system in other Muslim countries?

    Pick an Imam and Pay him. If you can afford it.

    Everyone come to Salah, Pray, go home. No fuss about anything.

    Oh yeah, keep all your talking, halaqas, etc. OUT of the Masjid.

  19. Amad

    July 22, 2008 at 8:23 AM

    salam… one syndrome we often suffer from is the “everything or nothing” syndrome. We have to recognize that different people can do different things, and different articles/videos/literature are intended for different purposes. So, many times, we will post opinions here or post questions or thoughts to OPEN up the discussion. There is no requirement that every writer present solutions in addition to laying open the problems. This syndrome is not limited to just this article. We have heard this before, that certain people know how to only whine, or know how to only complain. In fact, I contend that recognizing the problem and laying it out in clear and simple terms is a much bigger deal than figuring out the solutions. Clear questions facilitate clear answers.

    So, let writers write what they can write, and let’s work with them to bridge thoughts with actions :)

  20. Shirtman

    July 22, 2008 at 10:17 AM

    http://WWW.ISPU.US

    – They have an excellent article on this including solutions.

    Camiseta de Hombre

  21. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    July 22, 2008 at 10:28 AM

    Abu AbdurRahman,

    I like your post in the sense that I think we should look at all different kinds of models and determine what is best. As Brother Azhar points out in the original article, it is often just assumed that a corporate board model is most appropriate without thought about this. In other communities it is assumed that the true model for a mosque or any other Islamic project is to have a charismatic and hopefully knowledgeable Imam around whom the community should gather. The Imaam is obliged to do shura with the community and the community is obliged to support him. All proposals have their strengths and weaknesses. A variety should be proposed, examples of such communities should be studied in detail as many above have alluded to and as different entities have begun to do at least on some level.

    I do not necessarily agree that we should adopt the model you propose however. I think the masjid should be the center of life in the community and should in no way be limited to salah. Unfortunately one thing that almost always goes along with this type of approach is that women and children either feel or actually are, unwelcome in the masjid. Allaahu Alim about other countries, but in the US such a phenomenon is a disaster almost beyond words.

    I do think, and I think Imam Zaid talks about this in the article I linked to earlier, that it is very important that all Muslims can feel welcome in the masjid. While I don’t think this means that the leadership of the masjid cannot have a specific outlook, vision and methodology for the way he/they approach Islam (in fact I think they probably should have such focus), they should make sure that even people who don’t completely agree are welcome to participate in the ‘ibadah, educational, and social life of the community at the masjid.

  22. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    July 22, 2008 at 10:32 AM

    I wanted to also indicate some other communities that I think offer approaches that should be studied and analyzed in detail.

    These are communities that I have at least been able to visit and spend some time in.

    Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, IL

    Dar us Salaam, College Park, Maryland

    I also believe that study should go to the variety of communites and efforts in Philadelphia and what have been the accomplishments and pitfalls of those projects.

    Allaah knows best.

  23. Shirtman

    July 22, 2008 at 10:32 AM

    As someone who has personally worked for the Muslm Board Operations (MBO), I can tell you that it is not just a ” Back Home” mentality. The next generation is carrying the same jealousy and competition and quest for power like our old generation. Unfortunantley, the solution is the leaders. Once good leaders come into fold, then they can pick the best system. The problem is that the good leaders don’t want to get involved because of the vast corruption in these systems. SubhanAllah..

  24. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    July 22, 2008 at 10:34 AM

    ibnabeeomar,

    I was interested in your last comment. These critiques of Muslim orgs are extremely commonplace and will occur every time Muslims sit to talk about such issues and often whenever they just sit together.

    Is it really your experience that they are not expressed to mosque administrations. I’m not saying they are or they aren’t but I just find them pervasive in the community.

    By the way, as one can tell from my other posts, that is not at all a criticism of Azhar’s article, which I thought was a good piece for provoking thought and discussion.

  25. Shirtman

    July 22, 2008 at 10:35 AM

    p.s. 50k plus is alot for an Imam, he must mean CA ;)

  26. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    July 22, 2008 at 10:37 AM

    Shirtman,

    The site you linked to does not appear to be working… or is it me?

  27. Shirtman

    July 22, 2008 at 10:40 AM

  28. ibnabeeomar

    July 22, 2008 at 10:50 AM

    shirtman – none of those links are working.

    abu noor –
    from my experience, even though the problems are ‘pervasive’ and talked about – its not in an effective manner. theres a few factors at play:

    1) often times, people involved in masjid boards/admins are in a bubble of their own community. this is especially true for people who don’t get around much, and primarily attend only one masjid.

    2) when a criticism is brought to a board member, they don’t see it in the context of general issues facing us all in the west, but they will take any and all criticism as something personal, or treat it as a complaint from a disgruntled community member.

    3) take the example about the imam, the fact that imams continue to be hired with all these skillsets demanded of them shows that they’re definitely not aware of what exactly they’re doing.

    so while they do hear a lot of the criticisms, i think they dismiss them quickly. however, something like this article – written by a well known, and popularly liked muslim personality – that is on a more nationwide scale, can help open peoples eyes that hey, these problems are real, and they’re not just unique to us.

  29. Shirtman

    July 22, 2008 at 10:54 AM

    the site is probably down.. please try again …later

  30. abu abdurrahman

    July 22, 2008 at 11:09 AM

    Assalam Alaikum,

    Abu Noor, I intended it as sarcasm. I guess I wasn’t too elaborate. Anyway, I definitely agree with you that the Masjid should serve as a community center. Right now, I live in Pakistan but back home in the US, I practically grew up in the masjid so much that there were many days when I would spend more time in the masjid than at home.

    I posted that comment because I wanted to show that in the US though we have many major problems, the masajid in the US are still better off in the sense that they actually imitate Masjid-un-Nabi at the time of the Prophet (SAW). Considering that, I think these masajid are part of a new generation of masajid in the world which actually serve as community centers once again. The first step in a long process… So keep your hopes up and keep trying.

    For those who are loath the ‘uncles’ that built these masajid, this is a good article
    http://ymsite.com/blog/advice-for-the-youth/the-making-of-a-mosque-faraz-khan/
    Pretty much what I wanted to say but in a much more eloquent manner.

  31. Shirtman

    July 22, 2008 at 11:11 AM

    Siraaj, great example, but how do you get the uncles off their pedestals?

  32. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    July 22, 2008 at 12:15 PM

    ibnabeeomar,

    Jazzak Allaahu Khayr for your response. I agree with everything you said.

    I also, think, however, that there are some complicated generational dynamics involved in these issues. I say complicated because they not only involve normal tensions of generational change but in the case of the Muslim community (especially the large or suburban masajid) involve dynamics of immigration and change between the “immigrant” and “second generation” cohorts. These dynamics have been even more complicated by 9/11 and the larger issues of perceived civilizational conflict between “Islam” and “The West” and the actual physical conflict between the United States allied with certain Muslims and other Muslims.

    These dynamics pose more of a problem with regard to issues of long term vision than with regard to day to day administration but I think they rear their head in the exact issues you are talking about. The way the second generation feels about and views the masjid leadership cannot be understood outside of their own (in some cases) identity conflict, (in some cases) inferiority complex, and other related issues. The same issues are also manifest in different ways from the perspective of the older generation.

    Some of these dynamics are explored in an excellent essay I recommend to everyone by Amer Haleem in AlJumuah magazine titled “Children of a Mixed Message.”

    From the perspective of a convert who necessarily has at least somewhat of an “outsider” perspective on such communites one can clearly see these dynamics at work as well as another issue I’ve talked about previously where sometimes for both good and bad reasons the inner core leadership of the masjid does not see itself as able to operate in a completely transparent and open manner with regard to outsiders and it seems, at least, that there are clearly different levels of communication operating within the community. Such problems have been changed somewhat dramatically with the events of 9/11. The changes have been complex, however, not all heading in one direction or the other. So, for an “outsider” (whether because one is a convert, or a woman, or whatever other reasons) often feels even more of an impossibility in effectively engaging with core masjid leadership. One will often be welcomed wholeheartedly on some level, but may feel that they are not really getting let in to the “inner circle” and that they are actually wanted more as a symbolic or to put it negatively (token) role. Speaking personally the convert may assume that the 2nd generation understands the true innerworkings of the community in a way that perhaps the convert doesn’t, but this may not actually be the case and the 2nd generation may feel just as shut out as anyone else.

    Allaah knows best.

  33. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    July 22, 2008 at 12:17 PM

    Abu AbdurRahman,

    Jazzak Allaahu Khayr. Sorry I didn’t “get” your post at first. My bad. I didn’t want to assume that someone might not really think like that…but I’m glad that you don’t. :)

  34. Siraaj

    July 22, 2008 at 3:51 PM

    As someone who has personally worked for the Muslm Board Operations (MBO), I can tell you that it is not just a ” Back Home” mentality. The next generation is carrying the same jealousy and competition and quest for power like our old generation. Unfortunantley, the solution is the leaders. Once good leaders come into fold, then they can pick the best system. The problem is that the good leaders don’t want to get involved because of the vast corruption in these systems. SubhanAllah..

    Step #1: Find a good leader
    Step #2: Gather your friends and money, turn them into members.
    Step #3: Vote in your good leaders at each position
    Step #4: Rinse and repeat

    It’s really not that hard, you just have to be willing to play the game. I know from personal experience it works and works well. We often see the problem, and expect the solution to be complicated when it’s not. If we don’t have leaders to take on the work, then guess what? You need to be the leader to take on the work. If you can’t step up, then you very well cannot expect others to either, and, you lose your whining priviledges :D (by the way, this is not directed as shirtman, just everyone in general).

    Siraaj

  35. Siraaj

    July 22, 2008 at 4:00 PM

    Siraaj, great example, but how do you get the uncles off their pedestals?

    Vote them out. In most masaajids (not all), it’s not that hard. What you need are people behind you. Meaning, you ought to start finding people who are cool with you (family, friends, etc), make them members, and then choose your peeps. Understand the rules, make sure you fulfill them, and then execute with precision. Sounds like a lot, but it honestly isn’t. And yes, it is conspiratorial, but its either your conspiracy or uncle stupidity, you choose which one you’d like to live with.

    Siraaj

  36. Question

    July 22, 2008 at 9:28 PM

    Is nepotism a good thing ? To what extent is it allowed ?

  37. fatima

    July 23, 2008 at 9:07 AM

    hmmmm….

    So what is the recommendation?

  38. iMuslim

    July 23, 2008 at 7:28 PM

    For Londoners… there is a course on Islam & Management this Sunday, run by the IIDR.

  39. Pingback: 90/10 Rule for Masjids? | MuslimMatters.org

  40. Pingback: Muslim Bubble Syndrome – Rethinking The Importance of Structure « in.all.honesty.

  41. umm hurairah

    April 20, 2010 at 6:47 PM

    Barakallahufiq.

    This set Examples for Muslims in New Zealand to tackle such syndromes and diseases…

    May Allah help us to overcome our own evilness, ameen

    Segregation & Materialism: Are Our Biggest Defeat… Ummah ummah ummah…istighfar, ya rabb

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