It All Comes Back to the Community

by Ann O’Brien Ahmad

ASAK. In the April issue of the IAGD Newsletter, the full opinion from the Fiqh Council of North America regarding relocating a masjid was included. The opinion was received from Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, President of the Fiqh Council, in response to an inquiry from one of the members of the Board of Directors. The entire fatwa follows:

“Fiqh Council’s Fatwa on the Sale and/or relocation of a Masjid in America

It is not permissible to relocate and sell a Masjid/Islamic Center Property except in the following situations:

  1. To make a better facility for ‘Ibadah and for other community services.
  2. The relocation of Masjid would not cause any inconvenience to the worshippers in the present locality of the Masjid.
  3. The relocation decision is made with the general consensus of the Muslim community in that area.

If the above three conditions are met, then it is allowed to sell the old Masjid or use it for other Halal commercial purposes. Before doing that the community should fulfill the following:

  1. Must obtain the general consensus of community, meaning that most of the people of the community should agree to this move.
  2. No action should be taken until the permit to build the new Masjid is obtained and the community has acquired enough financial resources to build new Masjid.
  3. The existing Masjid should not be sold or converted to some other use until the new Masjid is ready for the use of the worshippers, or arrangements have been taken for an alternate place of worship till the new building is ready.
  4. Before selling the present old Masjid make sure that the Mihrab, Minbar, Minaret and other prominent signs and symbols of the Masjid are removed and the place does not look like a Masjid anymore.”

According to the Expansion Project Overview packet mailed out by the Board of Trustees on February 23, 2013:

“The concern about moving the prayer area again had been thoroughly discussed. The plan provides for best utilization of the facilities by the community. We had discussion with the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). The Secretary General of FCNA provided the opinion that it was permissible to move the prayer area. It was further probed and the opinion of Dr. Muzzamil Siddiqui (one of the most renowned North American Muslim scholar and Chairman of the FCNA) was sought. He reaffirmed the opinion of the Fiqh Council, which is the supreme Fiqh body of North America. IAGD has always followed the decisions of the Fiqh Council, ie. moonsighting, Eids & Ramadan dates. All throughout the IAGD history, we have accommodated all Madhabs and Fiqhs. Trustees, as guardian of this organization, will continue to honor this practice and not let the community be divided on this issue.”

I must be missing something, because I do not see where Plan E comes even close to following the FCNA opinion. We are violating at least two of the four conditions specified by the FCNA, “the supreme Fiqh body of North America:”

  1. Per condition 1, we do not have the consensus of most of the people of the community to move the masjid and turn the current prayer area into a social hall.
  2. Per condition 2, we do not have sufficient financial resources on hand to build the new Masjid.

If the Board of Trustees wants to ignore the fatwas of other world-renowned scholars and institutions in favor of the opinion of the FCNA, then they should at least follow that opinion. The opinion clearly indicates that we can relocate the prayer area if we fulfill the four conditions specified. We aren’t fulfilling two of the four. So who then is dividing the community on this issue?

The FCNA opinion requires the consensus of MOST of the people of the community. We don’t have that. This concept is so important that the FCNA included it twice in their short opinion: as a situation that makes it permissible to move the prayer area and as a requirement before doing so. Basically, the FCNA did not make a decision on this issue. They simply sent it back to the community level and said it was up to the community to decide what to do. They left it up to the people who have to live with the decision to decide how to handle this. Every community is different; some are large, some are small; some have a significant amount of money for expansion, some don’t. Many communities do not have as many options for expansion as IAGD does. Thus, the FCNA left it up to the community, who understands its own situation best, to decide how to handle this issue. But the decision must be made by a consensus of most of the people of the community.

Why is the Board of Trustees willing to divide the community over this issue, when there are other viable options for the expansion that don’t repurpose the current prayer area? No matter what side of the fiqh issue you currently stand on, why do we even need to have this debate? Isn’t it more pragmatic to avoid the issue totally and proceed with the conceptual expansion plan, which does not repurpose the prayer area?

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11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Choudhry on April 3, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    Salaam u alaykum,
    An important question for TRUSTEES .What did they do to accommodate the poor community ? it seems from their actions( and actions speak louder than words)that no matter what the community members are saying( time and again that please don’t convert the masjid into a social hall ) ,they are not bothered.WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT THIS PLAN “E”?
    They should put a fee for community members who want to pray in THEIR masjid and should stop asking (through br Usman Master) for donations .These trustees want respect and don’t think about themselves when they are swearing about an elected president in front of the masjid.Let alone that br Fasahat is elected by the community,he is a fellow Muslim too .is this a right way of talking ?
    Eversince the issue has of expansion has been raised ,whenever one goes to parties the version you hear from TRUSTEES’ side is personal attacks and character assassination” they are against plan E because that person have this problem ” and ” it is not the FIQH issue it is a personal issue” . Instead of doing this cheap propaganda can they give some logical answer that why this plan is so sacred to them?

    Reply

  2. Posted by Br. Tabassum on April 5, 2013 at 11:27 am

    ASAK all.

    Looks like there is impasse between the BOT and BOD, based upon the latest update from BOT. Not that, it was a surprise.

    Hope we not going to muddle along this path for another couple of years or more. I know for some “No decision” is better than “bad decision” but we cannot in this mode indefinately.

    So bottom line. What are we going go do?

    Let better sense and urgency prevail amongst us so that we can come to decision on this expansion sooner than later.

    Reply

    • Posted by Anonymous X on April 5, 2013 at 6:55 pm

      We need to do what is right for the community. The BOT want us to dig a hole NOW, not wait until we have the money (that the FCNA ‘fatwa’ requires), regardless of whether the community is backing the project or not. Is there an urgency to expand? or can it wait until we decide, as a community, what we want to do? Is there a benefit in a huge building if we cannot even control or maintain what we have now (building and community respectively)? Maybe we need to sit on the plateau a while before we leap into years of construction and debt again. Maybe we could use the money we have on hand to finish the last project . (Have you looked at the masjid ceiling? what about those boarded up doors in the social hall that were supposed to be such a showpiece in the last expansion? Paint, lobby carpet, potholes, parking lot on the east of the building…a LOT would improve our current situation without necessarily digging holes we will take years paying off.

      The Trustees are telling us the decision is made and the ‘process’ is done and cannot be changed. Is it? They never finished the last phase of the last project, but THEY came up with a different design and we’re supposed to forget that? The Trustees claim we can’t stop Plan E because they raised funds for expansion… so? They raised funds for a women’s mezzanine a few years ago and built a gym. What right have people who changed their minds got to point fingers at others for suggesting to change the oh so precious plan E?

      Who or what is IAGD building FOR? the community? prestige? How can it do that without LISTENING to the community that they expect will cough up the money to pay for their Taj Mahal? (and do keep in mind the Taj is a tomb!)

      For YEARS I heard that IAGD was run by a select few. I never, ever believed it. I thought it was the grumblings of jealous people. Now… this whole expansion mess has shown an uglier side of our beloved ‘elders’. This is HORRIBLY SAD. A community needs to be built on TRUST and RESPECT for one another. How can we respect people who refer to anyone outside their tiny circle as “THEM”? That is not the feeling we should have about ANY fellow muslims — we are the ummah, we are all part of ‘US”!! and if we don’t feel that way in our hearts, we are in a very, very sad state.

      The Quran allows us to not follow bad guidance even if it’s from our own parents. That does not mean we don’t respect our parents (or in this case, elders) it means we MUST do what is right no matter who we have to stand up against. We can (and should) respect our elders, but that does not mean we have to agree with each decision and it does not mean we follow them blindly without question. As a community we have to do what is right. As an ummah we have to find the love in our hearts for EVERYONE in the ummah… regardless of their opinion, ethnicity, gender or any other distinguishing factor. Without love for one another, we might as well lock the doors of the masjid and give up…we’ve lost our heart, we’ve failed our faith….we will answer on Aqirah for our actions (and inactions).

      Reply

  3. Posted by Anonymous on April 5, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Who is going to Sell Masjid now? Why we are complicating things ?
    Additionally, the essence of Fatwa is to present to people with complete correspondence. What wordings was used in question.Jazakallah

    Reply

    • Posted by Admin on April 5, 2013 at 4:13 pm

      ASAK. This is a generic fatwa that the Fiqh Council of North America sends to anyone who asks about selling or relocating a masjid. It is given regardless of the facts of the specific situation. In essence, the Fiqh Council is saying that it is up to the community to decide what to do, based on a general consensus of most of the people in the community.

      Ann

      Reply

      • Posted by Anonymous on April 5, 2013 at 10:47 pm

        I also requested to post question as well. Atleast refer the website where the question was posted and answered. Go to deoband website and read what are conditions to share the fatwas. you shared all fatwas without questions sent to scholars.

  4. Allah’s Blessings on all of the brothers and sisters.

    With apologies to Houdini, there is way too much smoke and mirror going on at this blog site. This will never get resolved. Therefore lets go for the Lessor of the undesirables:

    1. Expand the praying facilities.
    2. School should be a separate project. Supporters should raise funds, build it and run it independently and not be a drain on the mosque funds.
    3. Fatwas fatwas every where. Where who why? No different than papal bulls!! We cling to these and hide behind them when we lack faith and conviction.

    I have no illusions about people on this blog agreeing with me or with each other. So the next best solution worthy of Prophet Suleiman:

    The IAGD constitution allows for this and therefore the BOT should do the following :

    1. Disband and dissolve the IAGD.
    2. Sell the assets
    3. Donate the proceeds to the Unity center or some mosque in Detroit.
    4. This will help Muslim brothers and sisters in the area and will stop the IAGD community (maybe) from fighting like …………s

    POX ON ALL OUR HOUSES. LET THE FIREWORKS BEGIN.

    Don’t think The Good Lord is in a mood to Bless this community. 😊

    Reply

  5. Posted by Anonymous X on April 6, 2013 at 9:51 am

    It’s shocking to read someone calling for a pox on their own house (those who invoke evil usually don’t ask for it for themselves). And this remark made by someone who goes so far to imply they know what ‘the good Lord’ blesses and doesn’t bless. Simply amazing that a dialog about a masjid has gone so a-religious, isn’t it?

    Disband IAGD? Why? Is it easier to give up and lock the doors than to open our hearts and work together? Should a whole community, members and not, allow a few individuals with titles (BOT, BOD or even MD) to hijack the place that belongs to all of us? That’s not their decision to make! That building, that organization belongs to every one of us, built and paid for by each one of us, and is an organization that, to their capacity, all of us have invested time, supported, and participated in for years. Regardless of what might be allowed constitutionally, a handful of egos should not be allowed to go out of control and destroy what hundreds of people built.

    Have we stooped to the point that our ‘administrators’ are so bent on having their way that they’ve forgotten the rest of us have a stake in this process as well? IAGD, by it’s name, claims to be an “Islamic Association”. Are we living up to that? We get emails and propaganda parcels from one faction filled with rhetoric and mean-spirited remarks against individuals. Where, in the examples of our Prophet (PBUH) do we find guidance toward that sort of activity? Why are we allowing our ‘leadership’ to behave in such an un-Islamic (and even unprofessional) way?

    Maybe it’s easier for some to close the book on IAGD. Game over. Next?! But if IAGD has truly been a part of someone’s life, inshallah that person would care enough to fix it. Many parts of life need perseverance and persistence – parenting, marriage, health – we can’t just give up, quit and start over. Commitment is important. Without it we are lost.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Stalwart 1 on April 8, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    This is in reply to what the Trustees have sent to the community..
    Finally they have started pretending that they heard what the community is saying and are ready to change the prayer hall into a Hifz School ,instead of a social hall. But here lies a question of common sense ( common sense is a sense which is not common in the common people… that is what trustees might be thinking), IF THEY CHANGE THE MASJID INTO A HIFZ SCHOOL ,WHERE ARE THEY GOING TO PUT THE SOCIAL HALL ? And if they are going to put the social hall in some other place then the whole plan is going to change and THE PLAN E will not be the same . What is going to happen the hue and cry made by trustees about plan E ,that it is approved and have gone through a process. Since it’ll be a new plan and has to go through the process again then what ‘s the problem considering the the conceptual plan , presented by the new board.Since it is a conceptual plan , as the name depicts , it has the possibility to be modified or change.
    This letter from trustees shows that either they are not truthful what they are saying or they don’t understand the consequences of the compromise they are pretending to make .It shows the intention . It seems that they want the same SACRED / HOLY footprint and just are in a hurry to dig the hole . And those who know these oldies ,know that once they’ll dig the hole they will step back, play with the words and say that didn’t mean this or that and now we are making the THE SACRED PLAN E.

    Reply

  7. Posted by Anonymous on April 9, 2013 at 11:45 am

    If you understand Urdu it is a good column to show what a LEADER needs to LEAD.

    http://jang.com.pk/jang/apr2013-daily/09-04-2013/col15.htm

    Reply

  8. Dear brother anon X

    Noble thoughts. But read this blog and u will have ur answer. In one breath people are decrying the nastiness of one side and in the very next breath they are spewing worse rubbish than the people they are complaining about. No one will listen to the other side and everyone is mired in protecting their own tree while the whole forest burns around them.
    How many of our young do u think are really impressed by the way we are behaving?? The innumerable sects and the accompanying fatwas etc are the curse of this ummah and why we will never amount to much. Look around you and see the plight of the ummah around the globe. Tell me honestly if what we are doing here is not a microcosm of the whole. MOST IF NOT ALL SELF-INFLICTED. No one has the right to be worshipped except Allah. But we have created our own form of monasticism with all these fatwas and they seem to transcend all.
    So brother don’t kill the messenger !! I pray from the bottom of my heart that I am wrong but I have a sickening feeling that I am not. Just read everything on this blog and it will tell all. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Those who have lost themselves will not pay heed. Wonder where that is written. God Bless

    Reply

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