Br. Fasahat’s Speech

ASAK. Those who attended Tarawih last night were fortunate to witness an historic event in IAGD’s history. Those who didn’t attend missed a moving and heartfelt speech by Dr. Fasahat Hamzavi.

Following is a summary of his speech, but you can also listen to it in its entirety here (I strongly recommend that you listen, since I cannot possibly convey the emotion and sincerity of his speech):

Aug 3 Fasahat Hamzavi

First, Br. Fasahat talked about the importance of Noor Academy and how the school not only educates our children, but touches the lives of the parents as well. Noor Academy currently enrolls children from Montessori preschool through third grade.

As a member of the Expansion Committee, he has been looking for the best way to expand the facilities for the past 2 ½ years. Br. Fasahat emotionally talked about the love the community has for IAGD, but that IAGD is more than the walls of a building. The people, their hearts, and their sweetness fill the walls of IAGD.

Br. Fasahat told a touching story about how the community taught him to grieve after the tragic death of a close family friend. He indicated that we all have stories from this community. Nations have history, families have history, and communities have history too.

He feels that the community is now in pain and that he is partly responsible for that pain. He has been trying to bring the community what it wants in an expansion plan, but has not been able to do that yet. Br. Fasahat has had many sleepless nights praying to Allah (SWT) to guide us to do what is right.

Yet, there is a rift right down the middle of the community. It is the elephant in the room. We all know it. Sitting at iftars, we talk about it. Out in the hallways, we are talking about it. In our homes, we are looking on our computers and thinking about it.

He asked the community this one question: Would you like to stand up as one community in two years, in a new facility, which will give an expanded prayer area, a social hall, and an expanded area for classrooms? We are a community that is silent. What hurt him the most at the town hall meeting in March was not the yelling, even though he doesn’t like yelling. What hurt him the most were the people who came up to him and asked things like, “What are these guys doing?” “Can’t they count?” When he asked them why they didn’t speak up, they said, “I can’t. These are my friends. I hang out with them.” Br. Fasahat then asked, “Are these the type of friends we are? How can we expect our leadership to know what we think when we can’t have a face to face with them?”

Br. Fasahat met with all of the Board members and as much of the community as he could. He feels we are all on the same page, and we all want an expansion. But we want it quick. He humbly asked everyone to join us as a community on Sunday after zuhur in the social hall to look at all of the plans. He assured the community that we can get the expansion done in two years for $5 million. We can do it easily, in an aesthetically pleasing way. We have $3 million in the bank. In our best years of raising funds, we raised $1 million in one year. But we can do this in two years if we are all on the same page. If you care about IAGD, if you care about the future of IAGD, then be true to your heart.

If you don’t like something, you change it with your hand. If you can’t change it with your hand, you change it with your tongue. And if you can’t change it, then change it with your heart and that is the weakest of faith.

Br. Fasahat ended his speech by saying you have an invitation as a community to join us on Sunday after zuhur , stand up together, put everyone’s input in the project, and bring this community together. He has looked at this, done the math, and met with contractors and architects. We can get this done.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE: Fasahat’s speech was very moving. It is obvious that he cares deeply about this community and has spent a great deal of time and effort looking for ways to bring the community together. I hope that everyone in the community will take the time to sit down together, talk honestly about the expansion, and find a solution that we can all take pride in.

Ann O’Brien Ahmad

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mohammad Mazhar on August 4, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Wow………I had tears in my eyes when I was listening Fasahat’s speech and now I wept the entire time during reading this blog (I am fairly strong person does not cry easily unlike Br Usman Master). Incidently yesterday Br. Ilyas Verachia (Sr. Suraiya’s husband) was leaving for Umra, I asked him to pray for Unity in IAGD community. Looks like God heard my request before Ilyas arrived Mecca. Let’s hope it is true. .Ameen.

    Mazhar

    Reply

  2. Posted by suraiya on August 4, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Alhamdulillah, Fasahat spoke from his heart and I know he spoke for me and my family as well. Elias will be praying for our community in all of the 3 Great Mosques and may Allah accept all our Dua’s for unity and practicality within our community. Fasahat you definitely have given this great thought and if I had to choose a leader within our community who is honest, just and and has no hidden agenda, it would be you.
    suraiya

    Reply

  3. Posted by Tabassum Halim on August 4, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    No question about it. It was very moving speech by Br. Fasahat. Alhamdullilah. Thank you.

    Just dont know why we are having all this acromony in our community. We are all educated and reasonable people here. Let us look at all the plans we have so far along with estimated costs and time frames involved and make a informed decision based upon the majority openion of the community. As long our actions are transparent and supported with facts, their should not any issues that we cannot resolve acamicallbaly. Inshallah.

    Hope to see you all on Sunday. Inshallah.

    Brother Tabassum Halim

    PS: thank you sister Ann for keeping the communication open on this topic.

    Reply

  4. Br. Fasahat’s presentation on Friday night was very eloquent, respective and sincere. I don’t know how anyone who heard him speak would think otherwise. There was a lot of merit in what he stated about the project. We should all stay firm, supportive of him.

    Fasahat, I know a lot of pressure will be placed on you and your family for the bold and just stance that you took. Be assured, we are all 100% behind you and we all pray to Allah SWT to give you the courage to stand tall in face of such fierce opposition. My wife did not sleep all night thinking of what you might be going thru and the feeling of frustration at the close minded approach by the executive members of the two Boards.

    Inshallah we will all show up in large numbers today (Sunday) after Dhur, to hear the details of the plan that will help IAGD achieve the goals of expanding the prayer areas and the school within a reasonable achievable budget. Inshallah after the meeting we will come up with the next steps towards achieving the community’s goals related to the project.

    The executive members of the Board should realize that this a community project not just a select few. They keep referring to the 400+ families that will be needed to make financial contributions towards this project; however they do not want to hear them voice their opinion. They are not given an opportunity to express their thoughts. Let us all make a sincere du’a that the executive members of the two Boards give us all a fair hearing with open minds and make necessary adjustments to the plans. It is still not too late, the train has not left the station.

    Finally, our sincere thanks go to Sr. Ann for establishing this vehicle of communication and spending a lot of time in analyzing the various options and coming up with alternatives that can help us achieve the community’s goal at a much more affordable price. May Allah SWT accept your efforts and bless you and your family.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Iltefat Hamzavi on August 5, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    This is having a huge effect on Fasahat’s family. However, he feels this is very important for the community and his own journey in this world. We would appreciate it if people maintain their respect for all members of this community. IAGD is NOT morally bankrupt. It is full of wonderful people.They are some of the best people I have ever met. However, the governance structure is adapted from a period not suited to our community today. Comments about our heritage, most of us are Americans, or the moral qualities of our brothers do nothing. There is one issue and that is how this community will handle disagreements without losing their moral bearing. If IAGD can overcome this then it will flourish and if it cannot then other communities will pick up the lead. Please maintain your adab to all your brothers and sisters in the community. Be strong in your positions but try to find a path that allows this project to be completed. Inshallah it will be done but the pain now may be a path to stronger community in the future. However, that will not happen if we make personal attacks or attack intentions. That is for Allah swt to judge. Fasahat and Saba and their kids are the gems of our family and if this does get out of control we will do everything to pull him out of this process. It is up to the community to support him if they feel they can. However if they bring these issues up and then just walk away and leave him alone then it will be your loss and we will protect him and pull him away if that happens.If the community can stand strong and respectfully disagree but not walk away then this will resolve itself. If it cannot Fasahat will not be left alone to be humiliated. Again take your positions, please support but maintain your adab.Respect the board but remember you are the soul of this community and they are the head. The only way forward is together. IAGD board can do this in 2 years at 5 millions dollars. We know they can we are here to support the board in that effort

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  6. Posted by Asra Hamzavi Quader on August 6, 2012 at 3:06 am

    ASAK. I struggle with the fact that it is presumptuous to assume anyone wants to hear from any one individual. However, given the gravity of this issue and my love for this community I wanted to humbly offer my 2 cents. The gratitude that myself and my family feel toward this community can not be stressed enough. We had no extended family – so you all filled that void through the good times and bad. Many of us have seen the high and low points of IAGD- and many of us have chosen to remain committed to this masjid and its people. The generation that IAGD raised and the remarkable organizations that spurred from some of its members serve as a reminder that even through our growing pains- we managed to create something valuable.
    I am sure many of you would agree that more positive has come from IAGD and its leadership, than negative. Anyone who has worked in a non-profit setting knows how utterly thankless and draining it can be- there is no ‘punching in/out’. It can be all-consuming. For that reason, we must respect the EFFORT that our leadership puts into serving this community, even if we don’t always agree. That said, I feel that the leadership must allow itself to be accountable to Allah as well as the community it serves. There has be much talk of “process” lately. Every institution must abide by an established ‘process’ in order to be successful and sustainable. However, what that process is and exactly when it is being followed seems to be unclear, at least it is to me- a once active, and now peripheral but loyal member. I feel that is one of the roots of the rift that my brother was referring to on Friday night.
    The other source of disunity appears to be a breakdown in communication and therefore understanding between the community and its leaders. The reasons for this are likely multi-factorial. But we all know that no relationship will last without proper communication.
    Lastly, that breakdown in communication has resulted, in some ways, in a culture of fear and distrust. Rather than making 70 excuses for one another and reminding each other to speak directly to one another to avert misunderstanding- there is a great deal of whispering. This distrust feeds on itself. It is something we need to remind ourselves and one another of. We can disagree, but we should stick to the facts and avoid generalizations and personal attacks; and if we feel the need to express ourselves, we should address the pertinent individuals directly or not at all. I am sure I have been guilty of this at some point myself but I promise to work on it IA!
    The best we can do is reach within our ‘circle of influence’ and gently remind one another to keep the discourse civil and fair. We are human and forget easily- for this reason it is so critical to keep good company. Move among the people whose character is better than yours- and they will save you from yourself when you are misdirected. Fasahat agonized over what the ‘right’ thing to do was- given the facts that he had in front of him. He spoke with sincerity for the sake of the community that was either not speaking up or not being heard- Allahualim. In either case, here is an opportunity to re-establish that communication that is so vital to our future.
    I hope and pray that we all rise above our own petty biases and histories and do what is best for this community. The people must be on the same page as the leadership when it is in fact the community that will finance the project in the long run. Individual donors will come and go. But a dedicated base will do anything and everything for an institution it really believes in. I hope the board addresses the concerns raised with transparency. I believe that our leadership can do the right thing and that they sincerely wish to. As a mother of 4- I want to see IAGD invest in youth programs and caring for its aging population, rather than a glamorous building. We need functionality. 5 Million over 2 years appears to be a plan that will allow us to keep Noor Academy growing and allow us to invest in other much-needed programs without crippling us. May Allah guide us and unify us and may He be pleased with all who serve with humility and sincerity.

    Reply

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