Confronting the Elephant in the Room

by Ann O’Brien Ahmad

ASAK. The phrase “elephant in the room” is an English idiom for a problem that no one wants to discuss. It is based on the idea that an elephant in a room is impossible to overlook, so people who pretend that the elephant is not there have chosen to avoid dealing with this big issue.

In Hafiz Rabbani’s khutbah on Friday, September 21, he made a plea for individuals on both sides of the expansion issue to sit down and resolve their differences. He said that this is a time of crisis for our ummah, and we will not be able to move forward if we are not united. Hafiz Rabbani indicated that everyone involved in the expansion issue is sincere and is working for the sake of Allah (SWT). He pled with the community to come together, sit down, and resolve our differences. If you did not hear Hafiz Rabbani’s khutbah, you can listen to it here:

Hafiz Rabbani’s khutbah on September 21

On three occasions over the past several months, Imam Aly Lela has also given khutbahs on this issue, indicating that the community needs to come together to resolve this issue. He gave the example of the Prophet (SAW) who used shoura with his companions and changed his decision based on their input.

The issues surrounding the expansion project will not go away simply by ignoring them. 400 community members have signed a petition requesting the IAGD Administration to approve an expansion plan that costs no more than $5.0 million and takes no more than 2 years to complete. There are also other serious issues that need to be addressed. For religious reasons, a significant portion of the community is opposed to converting the current masjid area into a social hall. The fatwa from Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani, a major scholar in the Islamic world, makes it clear that the current masjid should not be converted to any other use. Another important issue is the future of the Islamic school. Noor Academy is at a crucial point in its development. It needs permanent classrooms on the ground floor now, not in eight to 10 years. Otherwise, they may have to eliminate the grade school.

Hafiz Rabbani is right. Everyone has good intentions with respect to the expansion plan. But just because the Administration finds itself in the decision making role in the organization does not mean it should proceed with the expansion plan under development without first seriously considering the concerns of the community.

The conceptual expansion plan, although approved by the Board of Directors and Board of Trustees, is still under development. We do not have the final architectural drawings. We do not have permits or approvals from the City of Rochester Hills. We do not have bids from construction companies detailing the cost. We have not started construction. We still have time to reevaluate the plan.

Without the support of nearly half the membership, how does the Administration expect the expansion project to be a success? Why do we need to go forward with a project that does not have the support, either emotionally or financially, of the entire community? Why can’t we step back for a moment, sit down, and together discuss the issues involved here? What’s wrong with trying to find solutions to these major issues so that a majority of the community backs the plan?

My recommendation? Put Hussain Akbar, as President of the Board of Directors, and Fasahat Hamzavi, as spokesperson for the community members who signed the petition, in a room together with no electronic devices. Don’t let them talk to anyone during this process. Both are very familiar with the issues and concerns of the community. Give them the authority to reach an agreement and promise them that we will support whatever solution they agree to. They decide, and no one can second guess or criticize their solution.

And as a community, we would be able to take great pride in the fact that the individuals who will be leading us into the future sat down, honestly discussed their differences, and found a solution that unites our community again.

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13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Yousuf S on September 26, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    It’s a great idea to have Hussain and Fasahat in a room, discussing this issue freely. Hope it happens.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Stalwart 1 on September 26, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    ASAK Sr Ann,
    The suggestion that you gave is wonderful but it needs open minds and hearts,honesty ,giving up somethings(based on the demographics and finances) and finally the last but not the least….accepting the mistakes …..that were made by really overlooking some of the most important stuff while claiming for planning for the future(specially ignoring the new generation).

    Another attitude that needs to be fixed is,….”we are the chosen people of the community .We have the right to do what we want to do”. 😦 Dudes , are you BANI ISRAEL (because those were the chosen ones)?

    Reply

  3. Posted by Another Dian sore on September 28, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Hussain problem is “he is too nice”, if he grows a backbone to standup to “these diana sores, who do not let go” he will do the right thing.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Anonymous on September 28, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Prior to resolve other issues, the question about existing Masjid future status MUST be clarified to avoid confusion in the minds of lots of people. If IAGD administration is confident about Dr. Zulfiqar Shah opinion than resubmit the question with saying Masjid area and not just any prayer hall, ask for an opinion backed up with the authentic sources, from the American Fiqh council with a stamp to present to IAGD community in a general body meeting otherwise start considering other options. We all as an IAGD community have sincere intentions and would like to please Allah by expanding and building a beautiful and a large Masjid.I pray to Allah swt to guide us to make a right decision. Ameen!

    After that I would like to formulate committees, President will be a facilitator and will take the recommendations to BOT, 3 person from BOD, 3 person from the community and Imam Ali and Hafiz Rubbani to get spiritual blessing and consultation about their thoughts to incorporate into this endeavor. We shall not be looking at building structure only; we need to shape up the future and the future generation also. Make three committees (1 person from BOD and 1 person from the community); each committee should do homework on a single issue among these:1) project capital & operational budget & schedule, 2) project floor plans according to short-term & long-term needs, and 3) fund raising initiatives and the activities to unite the IAGD community.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Anonymous on September 29, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    It’s not just that that the place has been termed as a”prayer hall” instead of MASJID. The respected TRUSTEE also mentioned that there is no other way where they can expand the mosque,which was a wrong information.
    How come you expect a right answer if the question is not providing the right data for the answer.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Anonymous on October 2, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Who will go with the president in his grave…uncle Ghous or uncle Ansari?????

    Reply

  7. Posted by Anonymous on October 2, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    They all are concerned about their gud-di not grave!

    Reply

  8. Posted by fhamzavi on October 2, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Salaam, the people you are mentioning by name are people who helped raise me and people I grew up with. I love and respect them. That is not what we are discussing. We all have opinions about the issues. There is no clear cut “right way.” There are many shades of gray with this issue. I have tried to focus on the issue and not personalities. In fact, this is all the more painful because of the relationships we all have with each other in the community. May Allah guide us and purify our intentions.

    Reply

  9. Posted by OR on October 3, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Nobody wants to take the names but time and again it has been proven by the actions of the president that nothing is important to him other than the happiness of these uncles .He said to maintain ADAB but where is justice then.He doesn’t have the guts to say what is right .if he is so much under pressure due to Adab and relations then he should step down because it seems to be the hinderance in doing the right decisions.

    Reply

  10. Posted by Mazhar on October 3, 2012 at 11:21 am

    People please be respectful, Dr. Malik and Dr. Ansari have done lot for this community. They deserve our respect and gratitude, no matter how much disagreement exist between them and community.

    Reply

  11. Posted by Tabassum on October 3, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    ASAK: Totally agree with brother Mazhar statement above. We need to be respectful our members regardless with agree with them or not. It is so hurtful to see disrespect shown to some of people here. May better sense prevail. Insha allah.

    Reply

  12. Posted by Ibrahim Rehmat on October 3, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Assalamoalaikum, I fully agree with the remarks of Mr Mazhar, that “please be respectful to Dr Malik and Dr Ansari”. Difference of opinion is good thing and we have to move on with constructive discussions. No one has the right and authority to be disrespectful to any one.

    Reply

    • Posted by OR on October 3, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      I think nobody is being disrespectful to the uncles .The comment is saying that br Hussain should be taking his decisions on merit not on relationships and if he is doing something wrong, based on the input from these uncles then don’t forget that he’ll be alone in his grave …not with these uncles , to answer ALLAH (SWT).

      Reply

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