The challenges facing the Mosque

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muslim praying 10*Below highlights a session on Mosque Governance during the 52nd annual ISNA Convention in Chicago*

Abdul Malik Mujahid started off the Mosque governance session highlighting the disconnect between the Mosque management and those on the outside trying to improve the Mosque. Abdul Malik Mujahid is an Imam, activist and interfaith activist.

He emphasised in his talk the need for those in the Mosque, including the Imam to be open to change and improvement, rather than taking the ‘who are they to teach me how to work’ approach.

“Many Muslims are unemployed in America, they should be able to feel comfortable going to the Mosque for advice and help, the Mosque is the centre hub for the community, but people don’t feel comfortable going to the Mosque and don’t see it as a place for advice” he said.

Abdul Malik Mujahid emphasised the power the Mosques have, especially in America by stating around 200 Mosques nationally have a greater budget than ISNA, an organisation that has been active for over 50 years.

“These Mosques have big budgets and great potential, but they are not using their resources effectively enough” he said.

Below are 7 key points the Imam believed were important in improving Mosque governance:

1. Reset your priorities

2. Develop a Mosque plan (Budget, Strategy, Women).

3. Use women power

4. Strengthen women power

5. Welcome neighbours

6. Engage with Media

7. Isolate Islamophobia & Extremism.

Sami Catovic is a professor at Temple University in the Department of Religion. He is also on the Executive Council of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).

Sami Catovic started off his talk with a powerful opening line; “People don’t build Mosques, the Mosque builds people”.

He was very much focused on highlighting the importance those in the Mosque management play in creating an efficient Mosque for the community.

“The great times in Islamic history focused on great people, not great buildings. The Mosque management should ensure people’s social/spiritual & social needs were being met” he said.

A key issue Mr Catovic addressed was the separation in the Muslim community; “Don’t look at a Mosque as an Arab, Somali or Pakistani Mosque – this will effect the thinking and create disunity, when this happens it will be the end of the Mosque as we know it”.

Mr Catovic addressed a question he usually receives – ‘The Mosques are always busy and attendance is high’, he addressed this by highlighting the role immigration has played in this, he asked; “how many of the people attending your Mosque grew up in the area, grew up in that Mosque”.

Looking to the future, Mr Catovic wants Mosques to be prepared for the next generation. He was worried about losing youth to atheism and disbelief, “Does a child feel comfortable attending a Mosque to discuss his issues without being judged negatively?”

He ended his talk by highlighting many Mosques which are great centres for the community & emphasised its importance now and for the future.

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