THE MASAJID: The place of knowledge & Wisdom

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The Masjid as it should be called instead of the word Mosque, is a place of worship for the Muslims, a unique and serene environment, not a place for worldly affairs; i.e partying, clapping, singing, dancing and alcohol consumption. The Masjid is not only a place for performance of sallah, but a lot more, it is all you can think of in terms of humans affairs, be it socio-political or economic sense.

During the days of our noble prophet Muhammad(saw) and even after his departure, the Masjid has always been a place where every aspect of man’s life is discussed. In the book titled “The 100: A Ranking Of The Most Influential Persons In History written by autobiographer, Michael H. Hart, though, not a Muslim and was not bribed or commissioned by some very rich and powerful Muslim to write his autobiography in favor of the Muslims or the prophet of Islam, nor was he under duress to do so because someone pointed a gun at his head and threaten him with “write or die”.

Michael chose prophet Muhammad (saw) as his number one choice ahead of his own lord and savior, Jesus Christ (peace e on him). He said “..My choice to select Muhammad as to lead the list may surprise some reader and may be questioned by some, but he was the only one who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels.

He wrote further, tat prophet Muhammad promulgated one of the world’s religion and became an effectively successful political leader. Amongst his reason listed are; a political leader, he was a father, judge and arbitrator etc. this shows tat the Masjid was a center of excellence in both worldly affairs and spiritual matters as well. Looking critically at our Massjids today, one may find it very difficult to believe that role of the Masjid during the time of the prophet and his following two generations were actually very different from the way it was most of today’s masjids are run.

It is very important to analyse what has gone wrong with of our Masjids these days, especially those in the western countries. Personally i have been privileged to have observed this backward trend in our relationship and establishment of our masjids because in 2012, while London was preparing to host the international sports men and women during the Olympics, just as i was completing my MA-digital Media project, i was commissioned by the then director of WAMY UK to help organize and manage “Mosque Exhibition” a project whereby all London based Masjids will play host to thousands of international visitors coming to London.

I had a list of over 30 major masjids to visit and sell the project idea to them so as to encourage them to participate. What i discovered was shocking for me, some are really to be commended for their prudent management, at least eighty five percent of them have very poor management and organization, most of them are appalling to say the least.

Masjids are suppose to operate around the lives of the communities they are situated in, why on earth should any Muslim live in a community where there is a masjid and they still suffer from lack of beneficial information and help to solve all kinds of social problems facing them. Why should a young Muslim boy or girl do well in their Arabic and qur’an memorization but their performance at school is not very good? Why should the youth not have extra curricular activities to do after the school hours and their parents are also not gaining any benefit from the community masjid other than to go their and perform the five daily prayers and Friday service only.

That experience was an eye opener for me because it enable me to see how well or poorly managed are most of our masjids, no wonder most of them cannot even sustain themselves and are struggling to keep their doors open because they are not generating much from the very limited service they provide. Amongst those who have very well managed and sustainable management and program with foresight are East London Central Mosque at Whitechappel and London central Mosque also known as Regent Park Mosque or Baker Mosque.

What make these two Masjids stand out?, is the way they are run like a private business and with continuous investments and diversification of their business scope. While Regent park Masjid is owned, funded and jointly managed by some Arab countries, East London Masjid (i understand) is not funded by any single individual or organization and government, but rather, by the community through donations and monies generated through their various activities and investments; everything points to the fact that they probably have the best structure and management in place.

It is also note worthy to mention that, although, in terms of number, there are more Nigerian Muslims living in London than those from any other black African nations, while most of our masjids cannot actually be referred to as masjids but community centers, the Asian communities are by far better committed and organized than we are. I  referred to our masjids as community centers because of the way they are run, rather than our leaders to see the masjids as a project for the community, they see it as their privately owned business and they have to treat it personally, control resources, spend what they want and no one dare question them or you are branded a rebel.

What are well established masjids doing correctly that others are not doing? the simple answer is “VISIONARY LEADERSHIP”, those founding fathers don’t see the masjid as their private business but rather as community projects and they run it like one with intention to make profits for future expansions and projects. Unlike African owned masjids where only weekend Arabic classes are their main regular source of income, those bigger and successful ones had realized that non-residual incomes are not a guaranteed source of income and cannot be budgeted on.

Petty contributions collected from worshipers on Friday are not guaranteed income as this depends on so many factors outside human controls, such as bad weather etc. A properly functioning masjid must have good team in place and good project ideas with continuous investments and planning for the future and prudent finance management must be in place.

Successful and bigger masjids do not rely of non-residual incomes but they create residual incomes which they ca plan and budget on.

I hope these hints have been helpful so as to enable us improve our masjids and services they offer to the community. There are so much we can do better and more opportunities are out there for us to raise funding for our projects than we are aware of.

Jaakumullahu khairan.

[by Abdulkarim Adetoro-Ipaye]

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