Article Op-Ed

7 Ways to Improve Your Masjid

7 Ways to Improve Your Masjid

Author Saud Inam by

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Windell Oskay

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I've had conversations (too many to count) with friends and families about their frustrations with their masjids, masjid leadership, the lack of programming for women, youth and converts. And the list of complaints goes on and on. The question is how do we fix it?

We cannot simply let the Unmosqued conversation turn into an anti-masjid movement or one where we forsake the masjid and throw our hands in the air, giving up. The very future of our community depends on you and I to step up to the plate and work in our own capacity to change things in our masjids. If we're not a part of the solution then we certainly may become part of the problem.

Here are 7 ways you can fix the conditions of your masjid:

1) Smile

Give the greeting of peace to your fellow brother or sister with attentiveness and a smile. I remember how it struck me when after jummah I had given salaam to a brother and he had returned it without even looking at me. He wasn't even giving me any attention. A cold and inattentive greeting is worse than no greeting at all. It’s hurtful communication. So greet intently. Greet wholeheartedly. Greet with full attention. You don't need masjid board approval to do this; you can do this yourself. Ask for your brother or sister's name and get to know them better. We may attend our masjid for years and never know the name of the brother or sister we pray next to. At the very least, just smile.

2) Donate an accessible suggestions box

We've all had a discussion at one time or another with our families or friends about how awful and irrelevant the khutbahs at your masjid can be. Maybe you’ve even talked about suggestions regarding the way activities/programs are conducted, or lack thereof. To fix this, ask your masjid to have a an accessible suggestions box. This box would be a way for community members to give suggestions about programs/services while also providing feedback about existing ones. Maybe even donate a box and install it yourself!

Use that box! What would you like your masjid to feel like? What programs would you like to see there? What can be done to establish this sort of environment for you and others? If you don’t suggest ideas and ways to make that happen, they probably will never happen. Besides, you’re remaining silent in times of need. Very unhelpful and ineffective.

3) Meet the Imam

Have you ever spoken to him? Do you even know his name? Make it a point and walk up to him. Learn about him and introduce yourself. Tell him what you wish for him to do as a leader in that mosque and ask him what his goals are for the community. Bridge the gap of disconnect. Remember masjids are Houses of Allah (God) not anyone's property---you have every right to talk to your imam about any issues or concerns you have.

4) Organize Programs for Young Professionals and Youth

Two of the most neglected demographics in the masjid are young professionals and youth. Encourage your masjid to have events and programs for young professionals and youth both social and educational. If your masjid doesn't agree at least rally and organize young professional and youth in an unofficial capacity outside your masjid---go play basketball, maybe a volunteer activity for the masjid, ie. gardening project or painting the sidewalk?

5) Show up. It’s 80% of success

Yes, it can be a headache sometimes going to some masjids, but at least come for salah and be present. If you take the approach of boycotting or not coming to masjids, we are essentially being a part of the problem we need to make our presence felt and do as much as we can to make others feel welcome even if masjid leadership isn't creating a welcome atmosphere.

6) Engage your Masjid Leaders with Ideas and Suggestions

Remember this is the COMMUNITY's masjid and is not any one individual’s property.  Who are the leaders that run the mosque? What are their plans? Have you talked to them? If you haven’t then you’re not initiating a conversation. Do your part so they can do theirs. Also, demand transparency from your masjid board leaders. Request your masjid's financial statements, bylaws, election process and general masjid policies and any other information you'd like to know about your masjid operations. Perhaps suggest a quarterly open house where members can attend to learn about their masjid from board members while providing feedback and ideas for improvement and development.

Find out what your masjid's bylaws are and what the constitution says. Study the organizational structure, identify strengths and weaknesses. Point the weaknesses out to the board (in a nice way) and suggest changes. Also, make sure these bylaws and constitution are easy for your community to access.

7) Be present. Volunteer. Become a board member.

Lastly, be present. What are your strengths? How can you use them to benefit your mosque? Find a way and place yourself where you can make the most impact. Try to volunteer or run for a position on your board so you can make a difference!

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