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February 8, 2005

New Criteria for Becoming a Board Member


Follow up from last post: as of 2/8, I only had two sisters actually email me about their interest in producing the Prophet/Companions/Scholars Cards despite the many of you that showed an interest earlier. I’m very serious about getting this project off the ground, so for those that showed an interest, please email me (kr156@comcast.net) so we can get started soon.


It’s the same story all across the country. Everyone wants to be a board member at his or her local masjid. And while there are people who sincerely and earnestly desire to do work for the sake of Allah… we must admit that there are many who… well, you get the idea. At masjids across the US, the power struggle amongst various people who are competing to be on a board or increase their power on the board is both hilarious and ridiculous. The latter adjective is perhaps more applicable since more often than not, these power plays end up destroying relationships and creating more strife within the community. Verbal and even physical violence have become commonplace.I have even heard (from a first-hand source) of an incident wherein a person sued the masjid when he wasn’t re-elected as a board member.


Forget soap operas… if someone were to create a sitcom based on the power struggles of masjid boards in this country, they could easily get millions of people to watch.


For now, the criteria seems to be, in most masjids, that either you’re a religious fellow or you have lots of money (more often than not, the latter quality is used to determine board membership). As a public service, I have decided that someone ought to re-write the standards used to determine who qualifies for board membership at a given masjid. Who better than kr, everyone’s favorite bad guy?


kr’s Standards for Board Member Candidates


1. Once you’re a board member, you have actually have to come to the masjid. Seriously, how many masjids do we know that have like 200 people on the board yet it’s always like 2 or 3 people that you always see doing the work and actually are at the masjid…
2. You can’t be Arab, Pakistani, or Pathan… cause these dudes always have anger management issues. Alright, seriously, people with anger management problems and/or poor people skills should not be allowed on masjid boards. This leads to #3:
3. All board members need to take classes to develop people skills, professionalism, and knowledge on running an organization. In other words, you can’t just pick people off the street just because they wrote a $10,000 check. People who are on the board must not only have leadership skills and potential before they assume the mantle of leadership, but once on the board, ought to undergo further training to develop that potential.
4. All masjid boards must have at least one scholar as a permanent member. This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but this isn’t followed at most masjids, leading to everyone assuming the favorite Muslim part-time job: the part-time scholar. (“Why yes, I’m a cardiothoracic surgeon, but I also give fatwas on when Ramadan starts!”) This will not only cut down on the “everyone is a scholar syndrome”, but will ensure that someone schooled in sacred knowledge can have a say in major masjid decisions.
5. All masjid boards ought to have an equal number of men and women members. (Note: I specifically said women, not chicks.) This will ensure that the masjid’s activities will not only cater to the community’s needs holistically, but will also ensure that each gender’s specific needs and concerns are being heard and met. Yes, it is true that “back home” women don’t generally come to the masjid. But we have to understand that for many Muslim women, the masjid is the only place they can go for spiritual nourishment (particularly in the case of recent converts). If I can be extremely serious for a minute (with no offense to the female gender), this is why one will notice that even those women who are not praying will come to attend the jumu’ah khutbah (Friday sermon) as they rely on what the masjid has to offer to keep them going on a day-to-day basis. Women’s accomodations at most masjids is marginal at best, horrendous at worst. Having women board members will Inshallah be a step towards making the masjid a safe haven for both genders.
6. All masjid boards ought to have a certain number of youth members as well. This goes along the lines of why women need to be on the board. Across the country, the elder generation wonders why the younger generation doesn’t get involved more actively in the masjid. Well.. for starters, most masjids don’t create a “fun” atmosphere for younger kids… it’s all about “be quiet in the masjid” and “don’t run around”, etc. Masjids need to have playgrounds and other recreational facilities to attract youth at a young age and thus foster that essential bond between a Muslim and a masjid. Getting youth members on the board (15 and up) will hopefully serve as one way for the younger generation to have their voices, issues, and concerns heard by the higher powers that be.
7. No masjid board position should be for life. Re-election should be done periodically (every 2-4 years). This will serve as a check/balance system to ensure that a board member who slacks off and does jack for the masjid isn’t going to be around for long. It will hopefully send the message to board members that once you get on the board, you better start doing for the sake of Allah… and fast…
8. Board members should be required to clean the masjid. When I recently found out at the cleaning bill at one local masjid (located in Villa Park), I was shocked. Our masjids are spending hundreds and thousands of dollars a year on cleaning services and labor (no wonder we need so many donations!). All this money can easily be saved if we follow the model that is followed in Hindu temples: all board members and their families are assigned to clean the temple on a certain scheduled date–the men do the heavy cleaning and landscaping, the women clean the food areas and prepare food, the children pick up garbage, mow the lawn, etc. They spend very little on outside cleaning services. I think this same model ought to be implemented at our masjids… but I fear this rule will be the most controversial:


Potential Board Member Uncle: “But how can we follow the Hindus??! Just because they do it doesn’t mean we have to follow their way. We follow the way of Allah and His Prophet“…. and of course, this same guy has no problem watching Indian movies, going to Bollywood concert nights, throwing a lavish mehendi for his son/daughter’s wedding, etc, etc. Of course, never mind that we should take good qualities and behavior from every people and leave aside their less desirable ones…. “But it wont be a wedding unless we have the mehendi!


Where was I… oh yes, sometimes I get sidetracked… continuing along:


9. Masjids need to have full-time salaried employees in addition to board members and the Imam. Not really a prereq for board member candidacy, but I figured I’ll throw this one in.
10. Finally, the most important attribute is that all board members should have inward and outward righteousness and display a sincere desire to work for the sake of Allah by serving the community. Not sure how you can quantify that, but it is the most important. It excludes people like me from ever getting on a masjid board.


Anyway, those were the criteria that I came up with. Feel free to comment or add your own.


I hate the Patriots and everything about them.

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15 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink

    “2. You can’t be Arab, Pakistani, or Pathan… cause these dudes always have anger management issues. Alright, seriously, people with anger management problems and/or poor people skills should not be allowed on masjid boards. This leads to #3:” oooh niiice! you just haaaad to include the pathans huh?

  2. I think MCWS (Canton masjid) fits all those requirements.  How exciting 🙂
    1. All of our shura members actually come to the masjid.  You can spot them at our monthly dinners, salaat, activities, etc.2. Despite what you said (jokingly, of course) the Pakistanis on our board (including my father, the president, Sajid Siddique) don’t have temper issues.  Alhumdu’lilah most of their meetings are civil.3. All of the uncles on our board have excellent people skills.  They aren’t unapproachable and it is possible to hold a decent conversation with most of them.4. I’m not sure if our Imam, Sheikh Ali Suleiman, is actually on the board, but I know that the members go to him before making any decisions for the community.  5. While it was never against policies, our masjid recently decided that it was necessary to have atleast one lady on the board.  It’s a small number, but atleast it’s a start.  And the board isn’t that big, it’s about six people, so 1/6 isn’t so bad.6. Hm…I don’t think there are any permanent youth (teenagers) on our board, but there is always open communication between with the youth group (YMFA).  What is nice, though, is that there quite a few guys on our shura that are young, freshly married with little kids.  Basically, young enough that they call their peers “uncle” during a meeting, hehe.7. Our re-election system is excellent.  Elections are every two years, and half the board is re-elected.  Once you are elected you serve for four years.  After every election, once the new members are added, the positions within the shura (president, v.president, secretary etc) are rearranged.  Neato, huh?8. Board member participation is definitely not an issue in Canton.  At the Eid dinner they attempted to recognize all the hardest working board members, but they were all working in the kitchen and up to their knees in Biryani!  9. I’m not sure if we do, but you said yourself it isn’t a prereq.10. I don’t know what anybody’s intentions are, so I can’t be a judge of that.  However, I will say that I look up to, and respect all of the members of the MCWS shura.  I think they’re all excellent Muslims and great people.
    I’d also like to add that none of the shura members are elected or placed on the board for their money.  All the high-roller uncles are trustees, instead. 
    Sorry for taking up so much of your space.  I had to show love for my community.
    Ayesha Siddique 🙂

  3. you are receiving a thumbs-up for this post.  also, this issue of being on a board is not always fundamental to making a change in the community.  in fact, it can be a blessing to not be on the board.  this is presently how i feel about msa, having been on the board, and then not.  i think i have done more for the community as acting as a rep at rallies, fundraising, events etc. than when i was super-stressed out by meetings in which professionalism was not at my standards.  but then again, i also wanted us to follow parliamentary procedure-i have changed since then. you just have to keep a stopwatch and time people.   
    oh, and add a full-time youth coordinator to the list.  that would be sweet.

  4. Pakistanis are delightful, perky creatures with the temperament of squirrels.  It is the people from Bangalore who are moody, sulking curmudgeons. 

  5. Anonymous permalink

    To Queen Rooji: never diss the B Unit.
    To KR: B-Unit Baby! Thats why Banglori’s make the Best Board Members. Were so studly!

  6. Anonymous permalink

    dam right, dam the patriots and andy reid, you fat fool

  7. Anonymous permalink

    haha i got queen rooji’s back…pakistanis kick ass…ESPECIALLY pathans…ur just mad cuz we’re so damn sexy…pshhh…

  8. Thanx lt786, you’re my kind of squirrel…

  9. Anonymous permalink

    aint nothin..u da queen squirrel…i got ur back…

  10. Anonymous permalink

    lt786 tell it like it is yo. pathans rule!

  11. She turns out the light.  That night, it snows, and the next morning,the world is white.  Bart walks downstairs and into the kitchen yawning;the rest of the family is already eating. Bart: [hurt] Hey, Mom, you didn’t wake me up.Marge: Here’s your hot chocolate. Bart: [looking at other cups] You didn’t put my marshmallow in.Marge: I think you’re old enough to do it yourself now. Bart: OK, I can handle that.        [puts a marshmallow in; it absorbs all the hot chocolate and puffs up into the shape of the entire cup. Bart, annoyed, dumps it out on a plate and uses a knife and fork on itGrandpa: Hey!  Give me a slice.

  12. haha @ saqib’s post…

  13. Oh yeah…SISTERS! Kr wants you to email him…so please email him…thank you.

  14. Anonymous permalink

    However much I am tempted to make fun of KR after that Qidas post. I gotta give my boy props for bailing out UIC MSA today when Yusuf Estes bailed on us.
    I just gotta tip my hat and call KR my daddy!

  15. salam. i’m doing a persuasive public testimony speech for class to propose a playground in my community because there’s a masjid in the middle of it and came across ur page by googling up “masjid with playgrounds” and it highlighted #6 “Masjids need to have playgrounds and other recreational facilities to attract youth at a young age and thus foster that essential bond between a Muslim and a masjid”..I was wondering if I could take that and put it apart of my speech with your real name so I could give credit to you only by approval so please write back asap and let me know if I could use it or not. Thanks. -Marina P.

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