Breaking the Community and Other Nonsensical Thoughts

by Ann O’Brien Ahmad

ASAK. For over a year now, I have been hearing subtle variations of the same theme. Those who oppose Plan E are creating fitna. The community is becoming divided because of the expansion issue. And more recently, if this doesn’t stop, the community will break. Are we really such a weak community that we will break if we openly disagree about a major issue? What’s wrong with having varying viewpoints? Why can’t we find a way to get the entire community’s input and then decide how to proceed with the expansion?

What is so sacred about Plan E? The majority of the community doesn’t seem very excited about this plan. Most don’t talk passionately about its features or even bother to explain why this is the right plan for the community at this time. The reasoning to move forward seems to go something like this: The Board of Directors and Board of Trustees voted unanimously to move forward with Plan E. We can’t stop now or construction will be delayed for years. If we revisit the expansion plan now, every new Board will want to change the expansion, and it will never get built.

Are those really good reasons to move forward with a plan that the community does not want? I don’t think so for these reasons:

  •  The Board of Directors and Board of Trustees unanimously voted to move forward with Plan E. That’s only 14 people and two of those people have changed their minds by voting to halt Plan E. What about the hundreds of community members who are opposed to Plan E? A couple of people at the community meeting insisted that IAGD President Fasahat Hamzavi stop referring to a mandate from the community. But what else would you call it? The definition of mandate is “a command or authorization to act on a public issue given by the electorate to its representative.” The three new Board members ran on a very open platform that specifically indicated that they would find an expansion plan that “could be accomplished quickly and at a lower cost.” And then these three members were elected with 60–65% of the total votes. This was not a narrow victory — they had a mandate from the community. 400 community members signed a petition requesting an expansion plan that cost $5 million and could be completed in 2 years; 396 people voted for Fasahat Hamzavi. Why does anyone think it makes sense to go forward with Plan E based on the votes of 12 people, when at least 400 community members are opposed to it?
  • If we stop Plan E now, it will delay construction for years. Why has it taken so long to move forward with Plan E? If you look at the rough sketch of Plan E from 2008 and the plan today, there is not much that has changed. It should not have taken four years to make those changes. My guess is that lack of funds is more the reason why construction has not started. We still only have $3.2 million after 11 years of fundraising for a plan that has a Board of Directors’ imposed “cap” of $6.9 million. (A cap does not mean that the plan costs $6.9 million to build, just that they are not supposed to spend more than $6.9 million. To date, I have not seen any detailed cost estimates that indicate that Plan E will cost $6.9 million.) The architects of the conceptual plan have indicated that once the community decides that it wants to move forward (note, we just need to decide to move forward, not have a final plan designed), the plan can be designed with community input and built in two years.
  • If we revisit the expansion now, what would prevent the next Board from deciding to change the plan yet again? The problem isn’t this Board, the problem is the flawed decision making process that got us to this point. The problem is that the community was never given an opportunity to have any input in the plan. The problem is the community is just supposed to pay for the plan without having any say in the plan. If the community is involved in the decision making, if they have a say in the plan, if the community buys in to the expansion plan, no one will want to revisit this again.

It feels like we are in some dysfunctional Indian/Pakistani family, where the parents have decreed that the oldest son WILL marry his first cousin. It doesn’t matter that the son doesn’t want to marry this girl or that he will be miserable for the rest of his life. The parents have decided, so that is the way it will be. End of discussion. I understand that families used to run that way, but those days are long gone. We no longer tolerate that type of decision making in our families, why should we tolerate it at our masjid?

We are not little children. We are not stupid. We can sit down and calmly discuss the issues. The community meeting on March 2 proved that. 400-450 people on both sides of the expansion issue sat together and discussed how they felt about the expansion. They spent the last hour or so calming coming up with great suggestions on how to move forward. Chaos did not ensue.

We all understand that we are a community. We all understand that not only do we have to, but we want to, live together as a community. But we all have to feel like we are valuable members of that community, that our voice is as important as any one else’s, including the members of the Board of Trustees and the Board of Directors. These individuals are supposed to represent us, not rule us.

The new Board of Directors’ members get that. That’s why, in a matter of only six weeks, they arranged a community meeting and presented an exciting conceptual plan that honestly tries to address all of the community’s concerns. But they didn’t tell us we had to take the plan as is. They told us it was conceptual, to help give us a framework for discussion. Then they told us that they are going to go back and try to get a plan for $3.2 million, because much of the community feels that we should only spend the money we currently have on hand. Not only are they asking for input from the community, but they are actually doing something with that input.

The new Board is not trying to break the community, they’re trying to bring the community back together. They’re trying to find a compromise that everyone can live with. They’re trying to bring us a plan that we can be excited about, that we want to see built, that we are willing to spend our hard earned money on, that meets the needs of the community. We should stop talking about breaking the community and instead work with the new Board of Directors to bring the community together.

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30 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Panga on March 14, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    I am still wondering why these BOT have send this new letter to the community. They are talking about education . The construction they did for previous expansion shows that they didn’t have school in their minds .They made a single bathroom on each floor without considering that boys and girls both need separate bathrooms. Then there are some other issues in the basement .
    They didn’t forget their school in the village back home and were happy that at least they have provided a bathroom on each floor.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Anonymous on March 14, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    Your name shows your objectives.

    Reply

    • Posted by Anonymous on March 14, 2013 at 11:05 pm

      your name “Panga” shows your objectives.

      Reply

      • Posted by Choudhry on March 15, 2013 at 7:39 pm

        Br “panga ” has made a valid point . There is a class in the basement which doesn’t have walls and kids get distracted a lot .BOT should think about the classes in Social Hall and the basement . If the K-12 doesn’t have any importance in their eyes what do they think of Sunday school?

  3. Posted by Anonymous on March 14, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    when someone pose difficult question, simply start new thread. Experienced Blogger!!

    Reply

  4. Posted by Anonymous on March 15, 2013 at 8:31 am

    This post lays out the lunacy quite well. I could not agree more – why would this “break” a community? Is that because the past years have weakened it? Obama did not create the mess- he had to begin the daunting process of cleaning it up! The same applies to this board. Saying the community will “break” is basically like the Fox news spin we hear daily. It tries to silence the voices- rather than giving them their God-given right to respectfully disagree. A veil has fallen over the eyes of a committed but misguided few in the leadership. The anger & disrespect they have exhibited since the new BOD has assembled is likened to that of a child who knows he wronged his brother & took his toy….but wants it back anyway & puts up a good temper tantrum to distract from what is really going on (& because he simply lacks the maturity to accept loss.) Pray that the veil be lifted from their eyes. It is truly a shame because I am sure their intentions started out pure.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Mansoor Ahmad on March 15, 2013 at 10:44 am

    ASAK. It’s one thing that some of you are not using your real names and some are hiding behind “Anonymous ” and now using “Panga” as a name doesn’t look good. Yesterday, one Brother was going around and posting comments at twelve different places as “Anonymous” pretending as different persons, answering his own questions and trying to defend BOT. I don’t know who was he trying to fool. If you look above, three “anonymous” comments are by him. In one comment, he is upset that nobody answered his question.

    Let’s keep it clean and stay focus. Thanks.

    Reply

  6. An independent observer can ask what personal interest board of trustees have in plan E? Do you have any answer of this question.

    Reply

  7. Posted by X2 on March 15, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    I think Br Abdullah should answer this . So far he appears to be a spokes person for BOT.

    Reply

    • Dear all, and Brother X2

      Allah’s Blessings on all of u.
      Just got home from the hospital where I saw a 23month old fight for his life and die. So forgive me if I am less than sympathetic to your petty bickering and infighting. I am or trying to b a slave of Allah, especially tonite. I am not a spokesperson for BOT, BOD or any body else. This is mostly a partisan blog even though the founder may not have intended it to be. Go hug your children and thank Allah for His Blessings on you tonite. Tomorrow you can get back to reforming and uniting and other noble deeds everyone on this blog is engaged in. May Allah protect us from our noble deeds and intentions. Make of this what u will. I will try And apologize tomorrow.

      Reply

      • Posted by Concerned community member on March 16, 2013 at 5:08 am

        The purpose of this post is only to learn something from my brothers and sisters on this forum.

        Aren’t we confused community? Imagine a case that a person, who does not follow Fatawas of Moulana Taqi Usmani (one of the most renowned scholar of Deoband organization) on his area of specialization (islamic Finance), but he gives lessons to other community to follow Fatwas given by a local imam belonging to Deoband or similar organization about Masjid reconstruction, should we give serious thought to his opinion? One biggest example is case of Mortgage. Google the deoband fatwa about Mortgage which clearly states it is forbidden even if you are in foreign country, but in this case we try to seek fatwas of local scholars and majority of us happily accept Mortgage. Same is case of EID and Ramadan. Deoband point of view is to do EID or observe Ramadan based on moon sight-seeing and here we follow ISNA. If this contradiction exist, should not we think for a while.

        Please correct me, if i am wrong, as brothers on this forum seems to be highly knowledgeable.

  8. Posted by Choudhry on March 15, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    Death of Socrates has become an iconic event in the consciousness of humanity.He preferred to die and did not surrender before the demands of authority.The authority that corrupts you absolutely and makes your conscience sleep . Is this authority eternal or …….BOT should think for the eternal abode.

    Reply

  9. Posted by Choudhry on March 17, 2013 at 11:13 am

    Can anyone who is favour of plan E answer a question ? There were two major concerns of the community that were raised against plan E (i) masjid can’t be converted into anything ,according to all مذاهب ( school of thoughts) so please keep it a masjid . (i)A well planned building for all schools , addressing the issue of security.The third question was about the extra ordinary expenses. What is the plan ahead in their minds to raise 7-8 millions since they have collected 2.8 millions in 10 years .
    Can BOT answer that what steps they have taken to address these questions except for sending nasty emails to the community and trying their best to convey to the community that they are the boss and the BOD is not kneeling down in front of them and they should be behaving like good kids !
    It is very clear from the concept that has been presented by the BOD that ,atleast they are trying to do their best to address all the issues.

    Reply

  10. Posted by Mansoor Ahmad on March 17, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    ASAK.
    Let me start with the statement one”Anonymous ” Br. or Sr. above made in the comment “A veil has fallen over the eyes of a committed but misguided few in the leadership. Pray that the veil be lifted from their eyes. It is truly a shame because I am sure their intentions started out pure.” My sentiments exactly. It’s a sad situation but they have to correct it themselves and they need to do it sooner than later.

    Now some thing about the Br. who was going around and posting comments as “Anonymous ” pretending as different persons and trying to defend the leadership should give them the sincere and noble advice and stop misguiding them. Everybody should recognize the reality on the ground and start accepting the facts. Some of them are still in denial.

    Same Br. Was preaching about Day of Judgment. He should remember that it goes for everybody. When I mentioned the member of the Fiqh council as a friend of the Chairman of the BOT, I was referring to the friendly E-Mail exchange between two of them. If you look at the E-Mail written by Dr. Shah, the way it’s written that’s the impression you get. He also took a very simple approach, like no big deal. I know that Dr. Malik has quite a few friends at ISNA and he is a member of some committee over there too. It was not a Fatwa anyway. It was Dr. Shah’s personal opinion. Dr. Shah, member of the Fiqh Council did not even bother to answer any of the E-Mails written by so many of our community members. Some community member wrote and called Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, who is the Chairman of the Fiqh Council of the Norh America, (FCNA) and got the Fiqh Council’s general Fatwa on the relocation of a Masjid in America. This Fatwa was sent to BOT and BOD long time ago. Same Fatwa was read at the March 2nd, community meeting by IAGD President Fasahat Hamzavi to answer one of the sister’s question.

    To answer some Brs. question regarding the issuing the Fatwa,I know this much that there are some rules and regulation about writing the Fatwa and you have to be a Mufti to issue one. Every scholar can not issue a Fatwa. It is just like every Doctor can not perform a Brain Surgery, you have to be a Brain Surgeon.

    I am sorry if I offended anybody, I did not mean to accuse anybody. I was just expressing my thoughts. May Allah guide us all. Ameen.

    Mansoor Ahmad

    Reply

  11. Posted by Anonymous on March 17, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    Br. Mansoor

    Thanks for pointing out the email communication between Dr.Shah and Dr. Malik. I would like to definitely read it out. Is it available somewhere on this forum or IAGD website?
    Meanwhile, can you please share with us the written comment/ Fatwa of Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi along with question you/ BOD/BOT sent to him?

    Lastly, i’ll request you not to assume that whoever raise question in this forum is someone’s supporter. I am sending many questions to BOT secretary too, as i am not sure whether they also have some blog.

    Regarding anonymous id user, keep in mind that anonymous user id is used by many on this forum, some of them speaking in favor of Plan E and some of them who against this plan.

    May Allah give all of us true guidance. Ameen.
    Jazakallah,

    Reply

    • Posted by Choudhry on March 18, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      Br , go to iagd.net and click expansion you will be able to see a link about FCNA.Don’t forget to notice the date .The conversation started in April 2012 ,when community raise the FIQH issue .BOT claim that they were considering it from the beginning .

      Reply

  12. Posted by Br. Tabassum on March 18, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    ASAK All.

    I think any one asking a question to get proper proper education or commenting in a positive manner with no malice, or backbiting, should be able to sign their names or not have to sign as anonymous.

    Thats what as Muslims we should be doing in the first place.

    Reply

  13. Posted by GB member on March 18, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Pleas read a simple definition of CONSERVATISM
    http://dawn.com/2013/03/17/past-present-all-about-conservatism/

    Reply

  14. Posted by GB member on March 19, 2013 at 9:07 am

    I love the talk given ,by br Tariq Ramadan, last night .He mentioned some very interesting points . IAGD is large enough and we should spend our resources for the betterment of youth. We can do 2 or 3 Jamaa’ but should plan for the future of making our youth strong American Muslims.
    Answering the question about Fatwas from local intelligentsia and scholars from abroad he mentioned that there are some issues that are same, irrespective of place so a verdict from back home does carry weight ( I think changing a masjid into something is an issue that can be put into the category because it is not a North American issue , only.)
    And then he mentioned Sheikh Albani .It was a true indicator that he believes in “wisdom is the lost treasure of a Muslim so wherever you find it take it.”We just believe in the scholars who belong to a certain school of thought , but have lost the sense of duty that has been imposed on every Muslim that they have to put effort in seeking religious knowledge . We can not just blindly follow somebody we need to search what is right and what is wrong and understand the importance of PRINICIPLES on which our belief stands . Tariq Ramadan praising Sheikh Albani is an eye opener for those who believe that ” enlightened moderation ” means leaving everything that ties you from the era of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and later of his SAHABAH (RA).They don’t believe that Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) was given the messege that is true till the day of judgement and say things like ” should we travel on camels for Hajj because prophet Mohammad (PBUH) did so”.
    Try to understand that he is a symbol of enlightened moderate Muslim and praising the intellectual mastery of a very conservative scholar on the basis of honesty and hard work that he did on Hadeeth.

    Reply

  15. Posted by Choudhry on March 19, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Mr Tariq Ramadan also mentioned that there is no institution established here , in west , so far that can produce scholars who can give opinions on issues solely related to the west and that’s why people turn towards the scholars back home. If people from our community can understand what has been said by this learned scholar they will be able to understand why FATAWAS from other countries do carry weight ,but for them who don’t want to understand there’s something from Quran
    صم بكم عميًًً فهم لا يرجعون they are deaf ,dumb and blind ,so they return not ( to the Right path). ……..Al- Baqarah (ayat #18)

    Reply

    • Posted by Concerned community member on March 20, 2013 at 2:39 am

      Dear Brothers and sisters in Islam

      Assalam o allaikum !!

      It is little difficult to motivate oneself to write on this forum, especially reading some “tough” comments.
      First i must accept that It is always easy to talk/criticize when one is looking things from outside but believe me it is very difficult to execute some project where there are numerous stakeholders. I am pretty much sure that Fasahat, and Wajahat, will be witness of what i am trying to say.
      I have worked with different muslim communities in my life and believe me the most difficult community to work with is Indian/pakistani . The main problem with this community is that MAJORITY of us are inborn opposition leaders and very are unnecessarily opinionative. My apologies to all of my brothers and sisters, if this comment has hurt anyone. But I just said this, as it is not meant for anyone but for majority of us, including myself.

      We should also keep in mind that the attitude of thinking that “MY way of interpretation” has resulted in chaos and anarchy back in countries where we born (particularly Pakistan) and this should not be the case here.

      The way one of respected brother has quoted Quran is highly deplorable. Only Allah knows who is better among us in His eyes. we need to think about our actions/ plight of Iman rather than someone else, as was said by Dr. Tariq Ramadan yesterday.

      Regarding what Tariq Ramadan said, i guess everyone listened. I personally believe he talked about spirit and vision required for challenges our community may have in future, rather than particularly about our community’s Masjid plan. And if someone needs proof of what is his opinion about Applying same islamic principles everywhere in the world, can see the youtube video, where he is showing his difference of opinion to Qardawi. Note, i dont mean here that who is right. To me all scholars are respected but my emphasis is only we should not quote people out of context to prove our point of view.
      Majority of us also listened the comment of Imam Laila on last Friday about fatwas from outside, but no one on this forum bother to quote him as that does not suit us. only our brothers were satisfying one-another at the end of lecture by saying that he has influence of OXFORD.

      Again, i am very sorry if i hurt anyone. May Allah help us to unite and give us pious and visionary leadership who may contribute for humanity in general and this community in particular. Ameen.

      We should keep in mind that this blog claims to promote open discussion rather than hate in the name of freedom of speech.

      Reply

      • Posted by Choudhry on March 20, 2013 at 9:55 am

        I apologize if mentioning that ayat hurt people that much.I didn’t mean to write it as a phrase which is cursing or swearing but wanted to express that some of us don’ t want to be rational. My sentence says ” but for those who don’t WANT to understand…”. I wanted to say that there are people who are just favoring plan E out of ego or بهاى بندى and not on logical and practical grounds.The second part of the Ayat was also ignored,”so they return not to the right path.”Means if you just ignore what is true you will not be able to reach the guided path. If you close your eyes and ears from what is the need of the hour or the priority for your money of Sadaqa- e Jariya for the community would you be able to get the reward ?you need a structure or beings who can fill up the structure?

        I didn’t attend the Khutba given by Imam Ali.

      • Posted by Mansoor Ahmad on March 20, 2013 at 2:16 pm

        ASAK. I just want to reiterate the statement Br. made in his comment. “We should keep in mind that this blog claims to promote open discussion rather then hate in the name of freedom of speech.”

        It was Imam Aly Lela’s Friday night Tafseer not his Khutba.

  16. Posted by Anonymous on March 19, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Br. Choudhry, you are right about these points Dr. Tariq Ramadan made but you are forgetting one point he mentioned over and over about how to behave with each other. We should not be rude and should be nice to each other.There was no need for quoting Quran the way you did.

    Reply

  17. Posted by Mansoor Ahmad on March 19, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    ASAK. I agree, Br. Choudhry, you have to take it easy. These are our muslim brothers you are talking about. We have difference of opinion but still brothers in Islam. After every thing is done, we have to work and live together.

    Reply

  18. Posted by Anonymous on March 21, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Reply

    Posted by Concerned community member on March 16, 2013 at 5:08 am
    The purpose of this post is only to learn something from my brothers and sisters on this forum.
    Aren’t we confused community? Imagine a case that a person, who does not follow Fatawas of Moulana Taqi Usmani (one of the most renowned scholar of Deoband organization) on his area of specialization (islamic Finance), but he gives lessons to other community to follow Fatwas given by a local imam belonging to Deoband or similar organization about Masjid reconstruction, should we give serious thought to his opinion? One biggest example is case of Mortgage. Google the deoband fatwa about Mortgage which clearly states it is forbidden even if you are in foreign country, but in this case we try to seek fatwas of local scholars and majority of us happily accept Mortgage. Same is case of EID and Ramadan. Deoband point of view is to do EID or observe Ramadan based on moon sight-seeing and here we follow ISNA. If this contradiction exist, should not we think for a while.
    Please correct me, if i am wrong, as brothers on this forum seems to be highly knowledgeable.

    Reply

    • Posted by Concerned community member on March 21, 2013 at 10:58 pm

      Who is this anonymous posting comments of others. I believe whoever did that, did with good intention.

      Reply

  19. Posted by Xfinity on March 21, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    I don’t think we are confuse .We are , if you don’t mind , mean. We do Fatwa shopping till we get something that consoles our guilty conscience and tell our selves , “See, our DEEN is easy MULLAHS have made it difficult for us.” If you dig in , that why are we buying houses on mortgage and why we are not celebrating EID after moon sighting , you will find the same reason . Hearts in hearts they know they are not doing right but they will tell you that those back home scholars don’t know that we can not buy a house without mortgage and we can not tell our boss that if we will sight the moon then we will not come otherwise we will . They will make fun of us . ( can’t they plan couple of days off , in a whole year ,in the name Allah.)
    Another reason that they use for calculation is that this is a NEW technology.Please search that for how long HINDUS and JEWS are using it and you will know that it is not something new. If Allah (SWT) would have wanted us to follow them then Prophet Muhammad (SAW) would have asked us to do so because there were plenty of jews in Madinah ,who were following the calculated lunar calendar .
    It is a very clear and authentic Hdeeth from Sahee Bukhari ( referred as the most authentic book after Quran) that start fasting after sighting the moon and break your fast (means end fasting) after sighting the moon. And if you think on 29th that there is a moon behind the clouds even then fast for the 30th day and celebrate the EID next day(may Allah forgive me ,it is just the idea that is mentioned here ,you can look for the exact text in the book).
    But you will get the excuses that we can not plan an unplanned day off, why can’t we use this modern technology , if we can not use it then we should not be flying and using the camels for travel etc, etc.
    So it’s not confusion it’s conception (most of the time )that makes one seems undecided about DEEN .
    Another thing that I cannot understand is the statement that ” DEEN and DUNYA go together ” . DEEN is the way of living life in DUNYA. If you are picking and choosing according to your convenience then Muslims should know whom they are following .If you feel embarrassed then , again ,you should look around yourself how many different people of different beliefs are practicing proudly what they believe (they show it by their hair dos ,colors on their face, strings tied to their wrists ,black hats , dresses, at times they smell strange because of rituals etc, etc). Why are we so ashamed of ourselves that we want to give up everything that shows our faith ?It means you don’ t believe that it is the ultimate truth , isn’t that so ?Those who have different faiths ,they believe what they are practicing is right ,what should we say about ourselves?

    Reply

    • Posted by Concerned community member on March 21, 2013 at 11:34 pm

      I have great respect for your opinion. Your argument ” If Allah (SWT) would have wanted us to follow them then Prophet Muhammad (SAW) would have asked us to do so because there were plenty of jews in Madinah ,who were following the calculated lunar calendar” seems to be very strong, but i will search this myself. Jazakallah for sharing your thoughts.

      having said that, i will reiterate that If the above mentioned contradictions exist among us (as was said by Br/Sr Xfinity), then either we are confused or hypocrites. I did not deliberately use the word hypocrite earlier. My question still stays there that how fair it is to take the Fatawas for others to implement and to complain that they are NOT following the true path but not to take care of such principles/teachings for our personal lives.

      May Allah help all of us to follow the Straight path, save us from back-biting and saitian thoughts that we/I are/am better than others. May Allah also save us from all bad deeds that can prevent anyone of us to reach Jana- the ultimate destination.

      Again, i am very thankful for Br/Sr. Xfinity for the detailed reply. I hope this will open up positive discussion on this forum.
      Let me clarify that my comment was not for any single person in the community but for majority of us, including myself.

      Reply

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