Who Is the Board of Directors Representing?

by Ann O’Brien Ahmad

ASAK. After presenting the petition at the September 9 Board of Directors meeting, the Rekindling IAGD group was told by President Hussain Akbar to come back for the October 7 meeting to hear the Board’s response to the petition.

So, on October 7 at 1:00 PM, the Rekindling IAGD representatives and numerous community members attended the Board of Directors’ meeting. For the first 45 minutes or so, the President discussed perceived deficiencies in the current petition and how to handle future petitions.

While it may be a good idea to develop procedures for future petitions, the time could have been better spent discussing how to handle the current petition, especially since this is the only petition with 400 names presented to the Board of Directors in the history of the organization. Faced with such a unique situation, this was handled in a very unprofessional manner. The Board of Directors should have come to the meeting with a predetermined response to the petition rather than arguing with each other in front of the community about what they should do.

After that, various Board members gave their thoughts on the petition. Everyone agreed that a significant portion of the community had signed the petition and that something needed to be done regarding the petition. Some Board members acknowledged that the community is divided about this issue. Unfortunately, no one seemed to know just what should be done. After the Board’s discussion, various community members gave their thoughts on the expansion.

Finally, after over two hours of discussion, Br. Zahid Latif indicated that the community is falling apart and something needs to be done. He then proposed a motion to form a 7-person committee. Three members would be selected by the Administration and three members by the petitioners. These six members would then select an independent seventh member. The committee would have 60 days to develop recommendations for the expansion project, which would be binding on the entire organization and the community.

The motion was seconded by Sr. Suraiya Essack-Varachia. A discussion by the Board members then ensued. A couple of Board members were uncomfortable with the motion, not wanting to reopen discussion on the expansion project. President Hussain Akbar indicated that he could not vote for the motion, because there was no definitive way to ensure that the discussion would stop after this or that the entire community would accept this committee’s decision. He also indicated that the Board of Trustees would not be receptive to this solution and that it was too soon to vote on this motion. The motion did not pass, with a vote of 6 against (Br. Hussain Akbar, Br. Imran Ahmad, and Br. Asif Malik plus the proxies of Br. Majid Khan, Br. Fawaz Ahmed, and Br. Mohammad Kamal) and 3 in favor (Br. Zahid Latif, Sr. Suraiya Essack-Varachia, and Sr. Robin Mazhar).

At that point, Br. Hussain Akbar indicated that he and Br. Fasahat Hamzavi should have future discussions to find a more acceptable way to handle the petitions. No formal timeframe was given.

This was a very disappointing response to the petition by the Board of Directors. They had a month to verify the names on the petition and develop a formal response to that petition. Faced with a petition signed by 400 community members, why didn’t the Board decide beforehand how they were going to respond to the petition? On one hand, they indicated that a significant portion of the community had spoken and something needed to be done; while on the other hand, they didn’t want to delay the project or do anything that the Board of Trustees would not approve of.

But who is the Board members supposed to be representing—the community or the Board of Trustees? The Board members are elected by the community to represent them, so it seems to me that their first obligation should be to the community. And in that vein, don’t the numbers indicate that the community is opposed to the current expansion plan?

Voting for the current expansion plan were 4 members of the Expansion Committee (All four who voted for Plan E are on the Board of Trustees or Board of Directors, so we won’t count them again in the total. Interestingly, the three members of the Expansion Committee without Board positions, Br. Sharif Gindy, Br. Fasahat Hamzavi, and Sr. Robin Mazhar, voted against Plan E.) So, voting for Plan E are 9 Board of Directors members, 5 Board of Trustees members, and 187 community members who responded to their one question survey in favor of a two story prayer area (they were not explicitly voting for Plan E, but I will still include them in the total). Total for the current expansion plan: 201.

Voting against the current expansion plan: 400 community members. After reviewing the petition for a month, the Board came back with many names that could not be verified by the chairman of the Membership Committee. Unfortunately, the IAGD Rekindling representatives were not given the opportunity to verify or check any of the Board’s numbers, even though they offered to help with this effort.

So, we have 400 individuals against the current expansion plan versus 201 for the current expansion plan. It seems like the Board needs to listen to the petitioners.

To make sure, I consulted IAGD’s Constitution. Article XI, section II, paragraph c says that one of the duties and responsibilities of the Board of Directors is to “carry out policies and decisions of the General Body.” Who is the General Body? Per article VII, paragraph a, “The General Body shall consist of all the regular members of the Association.”

In a couple of instances, the Board of Directors is supposed to consult with the Board of Trustees. Going back to article XI, section II, the Board of Directors shall have the following duties and responsibilities: “d. Appropriate funds for various activities in consultation with the Board of Trustees” and “e. Recommend appointments and salaries of the employees of the Association to the Board of Trustees for its approval.”

What are the duties of the Board of Trustees? Per article XI, section 1, the duties and responsibilities pertinent to this discussion include:

“a. The Board of Trustees shall act as guardian of the masjid located at 865 W. Auburn, Rochester, MI. It shall also act as guardian of any other real estate, or business venture of IAGD and all the funds of the Association.

b. They shall review and approve or disapprove by simple majority the annual budget of IAGD duly prepared and submitted by the Board of Directors.

c. They shall review and approve or disapprove any transaction of real estate, including selling, buying, financing and construction when properly prepared and submitted by the Board of Directors.”

The role of the Board of Trustees is to review and either approve or disapprove major transactions brought to them by the Board of Directors, after the Board of Directors have made those decisions.

Yes, the Board of Directors is supposed to consult with the Board of Trustees on significant matters, but it is also supposed to carry out the policies and decisions of the General Body. The Board members were elected by the community to implement decisions of the General Body, not to carry out the wishes of the Board of Trustees.

Personally, I think the community needs to be extremely careful when voting in the Board of Directors’ elections. We want to elect individuals who will make decisions based on the community’s concerns and will truly represent the community during its decision-making. It is also the Board of Director members who determine the composition of the Board of Trustees. Every two years, the Board of Directors select one member for the Board of Trustees, who serves for a 10-year term. We can continue to have the fathers and uncles sitting on the Board of Trustees at the same time the sons and nephews are sitting on the Board of Directors, or we can look for more diversity and a stronger commitment to the community by including a better cross section of the community on both Boards.

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18 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Stalwart 1 on October 9, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    The constitution seems to describe the role of BOT very clearly .Something that is presented to them to be reviewed, they can only accept or reject it by simple majority, period .They can /should not decide anything on their own ,only review the stuff that is presented to them by BOD because BOD is the elected body by community.
    To play around this limitation ,mentioned in the contitution ,these BOT have put their sons and nephews in BOD ,who(in the name of ADAB ) are doing what these BOT asking and not paying any heed to what community is saying.
    These BOT ,openly discussed about the future elections ,that okay we’ll have this person in the BOD for the next term.(I am not taking the names).
    YOU CAN TAKE THE BOY OUT OF THE COUNTRY BUT NOT THE COUNTRY OUT OF HIM, these oldies are doing the same dirty politics over here which has deteriorated the state of affairs back home and the key word is NEPOTISM.And all this is in order to maintain their authority (CHODRAHAT–Urdu).
    Keeping current state of affairs in mind I have no doubts that they will try to hijack the elections too.It is very clear that community is not with them and they will try their best to win ,by hook or by crook.

    Reply

    • Posted by SY on October 9, 2012 at 10:16 pm

      The game has already began .What do you think why people are getting multiple surveys and BOT letters.It shows the flaw in the system .Either they really don’t know what’s going wrong or it is a deliberate attempt to spoil the membership data.

      Reply

  2. Posted by jukaku tayeb on October 9, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    The most troubling lesson from this whole episode is this- All this rift and heart ache can be undone in a minute by sincere reassessment of teh needs of teh organization and open dialogue. But some in the BOD are not open to a sincere and transparent heart to heart discussion with the community on issues that matter so much to the community.Our leaders insist on DRAGGING ALL OF US INTO A BLACK HOLE by proceeding with this unnecessary expensive, grandiose expansion. They have no problem doing this in spite of the majority of community not supporting their plan and thus showing disrespect and disregard for community. They will blindly proceed even when it is certain to cause financial crisis for IAGD and will further inflame the community. WHAT IS THE PROBLEM THAT WE CANNOT CHANGE A DECISION THAT SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN WRONG?
    All this can be changed so easily to a win win for all of us, by having a fact driven reassessment of the whole plan and humility to admit we are all humans and can make mistakes.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Mahmood on October 9, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Yesterday in BOD meeting in response to Fasahat’s apology statement, that he is deeply hurt on expansion issue, one lady made a statement “BOT are hurting too”, and according to her the “BOT are doing for the best of community, because they know what is best for the community.” I think the lady who made this profound statement did not realize how similar that remark is to one that Qaddafi made (I believe in a CNN interview with Christian Ammanpur) when he said ‘People on the street making noise are misguided by outside powers. I know my people love me and what I am doing is best for them.’ Ironically those same people brutally killed him. Maybe his approach was sincere and he wanted to do the right thing but he was completely out of touch. He had lost his connection to the people and whatever information he had came only through his cronies. What does that say about IAGD?

    Reply

  4. Posted by Anonymous on October 9, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Filibuster is a tactic used in the US Senate to kill any motion on the floor. This tactic wastes time, giving long speeches until the time elapsed. For the last 15 years or so the IAGD BOD adopted the same tactic and uses it every year during the general body meeting with the presentations of committees. Every chairman of every committee comes and kills time until the people get bored enough to leave but assuring very little time is left for questions. If you did not realize this, wait for the upcoming general body meeting and see for yourself. At the BOD meeting, the President used this tactic. He knew that the petitioners were on the agenda at one clock, but instead of finishing Board business on time he allowed the meeting to be prolonged by someone who was not even on the agenda. The topic was curtains and presenter is known for his long talks, yet he was allowed to take his sweet time and waste 20 minutes. Then the President started commenting the process and legality of petitions which took him about 15-20 minutes and then he finally opened the floor for discussion, but only for BOD members. That discussion took another half hour without providing any conclusion. All this discussion should have been done long before the meeting. The BOD had the petition and questions for a whole month – why did they wait to discuss it? Finally, when the President opened the floor for discussion, he allowed guests to waste even more time. Was this intentional? Why was a non-member from Canada even allowed to speak instead of regular members? I really wonder whether people like him and others were brought intentionally to waste our time. The Chairman of membership committee conveniently did not showed up and sent his input to the BOD during the meeting. Two members of BOD were assigned to write the answers to question given to president with the petition; one of them apparently refused the assignment (and was not present at this meeting) and the other one presented only one copy of a draft to other BOD members at the beginning of the meeting. After waiting for a whole month, the petitioners did not get any answers because the draft had not been reviewed yet. No explanation was provided and felt like sabotage.
    Bottom line: BOD ignored 400 people’s petition request and disregarded their grievances on the basis of technicalities, procedure and stubbornness. This will come to haunt them.

    Reply

  5. Posted by anoo on October 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Well, remember everone will be held responsible for their deeds on the day of judgment. I hope and pray that BOD and BOT do the right thing…IA.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Anonymous on October 9, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Wow what an analogy, it is very true BOT are out of touch. During Ramadan just for curiosity I asked regular attendees two questions: Do you know how many Trustees are? and who are they? To my surprise very few people knew the number of trustees and no one could name all five trustees. Most of people named Ghaus Malik and Dr. Ansari. I told them all their names and asked them if they recognized all of these people, their answer was no. Almost every one recognized Jamil Khan and to some extent they knew Malik and Ansari. They asked “Where are these people,we do not see them in the masjid”. Guess what -they were right.
    Like Qaddafi the BOT are living in a bubble and romanticize the Blue house, 35 families and 1979. But even if their hearts are in the right place they really do not “know what is best for the community” any more. Time has changed and demography has changed. They need to wake and smell the coffee. If they want to earn respect and leave their honorable legacy, they need to do the right thing which is to listen to community.

    Reply

  7. I think the best option is to delay the expansion project until next elections. We can put expansion plans on ballot and let community decide which expansion plan they want.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Anonymous on October 9, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    Why not an open meeting with community members and BOT & BOD face to face.
    People should tell what are their requirements and needs from this expansion.
    There is never a meeting called where community can give their input, it’s always an INFORMATIONAL MEETING where the BOT chairman gives the speech about the history of IAGD from 1976
    The only 2 meetings about expansion, held in Feb and Mar when community raised a lot of questions, sadly none of those concerns were addressed. Even in those meetings community was given less than half an hour to ask questions, rest you know ” it all started from 1976…….” 🙂

    Reply

  9. Posted by SY on October 10, 2012 at 8:01 am

    The BOD were requested for a General Body meeting ,in October 6th meeting , by more than four members of the community .(one was an ex president of BOD) but the answer was NO they can’t.
    And everybody knows why .. either the heads on these shoulders are empty or they are looking towards some personal benefits and not listening to what is just.

    Reply

  10. Posted by Anonymous on October 10, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Brother who spoke in Urdu and wanted to know who is Mansoor accepted that he does not come to Masjid very often, except to drop his childern. Impression I got from his speech that someone blamed Mansoor for shortage of space in Sunday school. I wonder who that person is?. I have pretty good idea who that person might be and have reason to beleive but have no proof. I has asked few parents who send their childern to Sunday school to keep their eyes and ears open and find out who is that person bashing Mansoor.

    Reply

    • Posted by Anonymous on October 10, 2012 at 8:47 pm

      The way that brother came and given prime time to speak, by the president, that looked like he was a paid person!!!
      The way things are going these days in both the boards this can be quite possible.

      Reply

  11. Posted by Anonymous on October 10, 2012 at 8:18 am

    A board member also requested for general body meeting and suggested that it should be free , for members only so the question of incomplete quorum should be addressed.
    These people are scared of awareness in the community and don’t want the community to practice their right .The community should be make more aware of their rights in the constitution .If the members complete the required number they can change the constitution and get rid of these trouble makers.
    General body meeting is the need of the hour and legal way too.

    Reply

  12. Posted by SM on October 11, 2012 at 9:17 am

    well folks… we most likely will be left with a huge hole in our lot for some time. my suggestion is make it a pool and allot different swim times for men and women. who’s with me?? anyone take any lifeguarding classes?
    (#makinglemonadeoutoflemons)

    Reply

  13. Posted by Not a Chosen One on October 12, 2012 at 11:16 am

    We hear a lot from the older generation that the “new generation” has taken the lead and the baton has been passed to them and they now run IAGD. Let’s analyze this statement, shall we?

    Generally the phrase the “new generation” is defined by a 10-15 year age difference. But our “new generation leaders” are all around 40 years old (+/- a year or so). This is the “next generation”. Question is what happened to everyone in between? The first generation of IAGD leaders did not let go, and allow a steady flow of fresh minds to takeover of IAGD affairs. They clung to power until their own offspring grew up, not making room for others in leadership until their own children were ready to take over. Take a look at the current BOD. Most of them are sons of founding generation leaders (or sons of their cronies). On the top this, these so-called “kids” are not independent thinkers, and have to run to get the elders’ approval and blessing before making any decisions. Most were born with silver spoons in their mouths and have never even lived independently. They have no idea how the real world works, yet they have an excessive sense of entitlement as if IAGD leadership is their birthright. Indirectly, the old “founders” are still in control by proxy. In the meantime many talented people were pushed aside, got frustrated and moved on.

    The select few make sure there is only room for the chosen few. Now that the kids of the original ‘leaders’ have grown up, I guess we will be made to wait for the grandchildren to take over and start the cycle again.

    Reply

    • Let us iA place the “chosen ones” in an uncomfortable “minority” state that they have not been used to yet. BOD elections are coming up. Let us vote for three “independant” thinking candidates who will not cave in to the demands of the “older generation”. Inshallah we have three such candidates in the nomination list. Once the list of candidates is finalized a week from today (Sunday), you will see who these are.

      What is needed from ALL of You who sincerely feel that this “IAGD organization is for Everyone”, is to turn in your ballots. If you really care and want to see a positive change in the IAGD culture and mindset, then do your part, mark your ballots and mail them in time and make sure that your friends do the same. Inshallah the “Change” WILL happen and going forward, the right things will be done for the organization, in Allah SWT’s cause. The ball is in our court, let’s move it.

      Reply

  14. Posted by Anonymous on October 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    This is called the VICIOUS CIRCLE.

    Reply

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