Conversation with Leadership

March 20, 2008 – 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM – Room ICC-270

These points are not intended to be complete or comprehensive, nor are they in any order of significance. They are only intended to stimulate thinking and discussion.
Mosque and Muslim Identity – at the individual level
Mosque and Muslim Communal Presence – at group level
Mosque and Governance – by-laws, leadership and conflict resolution
Mosque and Worship – congregational prayers and rituals
Mosque and Social Cohesion – counseling, bonding, social service
Mosque as Sacred Space – centrality of prayer area and facilities
Mosque and Aesthetics – architecture, functionality, space design
Mosque as Center of Learning – khutbahs, halaqas, schools, education at all levels
Mosque and Change – persuasion and education by Imam and leadership
Mosque and Relations with other Mosques – especially between suburban & inner-city
Mosque and Mobilizations – advocacy for social and political causes
Mosque and Society – symbolism, activism, representation


Opening Remarks – Zahid Bukhari

American Muslim Studies Program—Esposito asked the University to have full-fledged program. Some projects this year:
1. American mosque in 21st c. identity, education, empowerment
2. One day conference – April 30th, Muslim giving in America, (law, politics)

Recently there have been some controversies about the mosque. Freedom house issued a report; Congressman Daniel Pape thought there are too many mosques in America, Huckabee supporters also spoke about mosques, Europe have debates in Holland, i.e. not allowing the building of minarets.

Issues to Consider:
– Debates among Muslim’s—women’s place, role of imams, types of khutbahs, function of facilities, new post-9/11 trends
– Types of Mosques—gap between inner-city mosques and suburban mosques, look at different ideas and come up with 21st century model for American mosque
– Stages of Project—Bibliographical research, conversation with leadership, 5-6 mosques to host workshops with, then hoping in June have a draft or report ready to share with leaders and imams, then present panel discussion at ICNA and ISNA
– Ideas for the Future—full-fledged conference in fall or spring next year, national exposure to discuss all these issues

Opening Remarks—Dr. Sulayman Nyang:
– The life of Muslim communities are located spiritually, socially and culturally at the masajid,
– 3 points to look at when talking about the Mosque

o 1) Historical—American Muslims are not peasants in the village; we don’t need anthropologists telling us who we are. We must develop own narratives. Every masajid has educated people who can share their stories. It is important for our grandkids to go to the library and see what was going on in the past. The Catholics in Silver Spring have done this and we should be able to tell our own stories.
o 2) Sociological—there is the state and society. Our American constitution protects all groups whether we believe in God or not. From a sociological point of view you must express yourself and be a part of the society and learn from each other.
o 3) Political—Many Muslim leaders are involved with mayors, city councils, or school boards and they need/want your votes. Even small numbers make a difference. Imams and Rabbis lead thousands of people in community and this relationship should be better used.

1. Zahid Bukhari –Islamic Society of Fredrick, Georgetown University, ACMCU
2. Sayed Naved –the Islamic center of Maryland, Chairman of board of trustees elected last November, ICM
3. Anwar Haddam – Education for Life, member of the Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations in charge of Dawa and education, how to see masajid and centers be more effective in education
4. Wael Khairo – Dallas area Muslim society, Board of trustees for Adams Center
5. Muhammad Magid—ADAMS director, and VP of ISNA
6. Hisham Mahmood – Princeton University lecturer, community member supporter of Adams Center
7. Omar Noureldin – Georgetown University student
8. Nasser Haidar—Jafariyya Center
9. Imam Faisal – Shura Council of ISNA
10. Yaqub Merza – Silver Spring Maryland, Director of MCC board
11. Arshad Qureshi – chairman of Muslim Community Center, Founder of MCC 32 years ago
12. Sabir Abdur Rahman – Muslim Community Center Silver Spring
13. Muhammad Yusuf – ISNA Virginia unit, Alexandria mosque, Bought a house 7 years ago for prayer, Quran studies and have now demolished the house built a mosque
14. Tal’at sultan – Dar ul hijra and MAS, former president of ICNA
15. Imam Johari – Darul hijra, coordinating council
16. Sohaib Sultan – Connecticut Chaplin, wrote Quran for dummies, Quran and sayings of prophet Muhammad
17. Sulayman Nyang – Howard University
18. Iqbal Unus – created name “MAPS” eight years ago and Zahid now runs the program at Georgetown
19. Yvonne Haddad – Georgetown University, ACMCU

Discussion Topics:

Dr.Iqbal Unus:
– Focus on the area of identity as individuals and in the community. Ask ourselves what role does mosque play in social cohesion?
Imam Faisal:
– The mosque should be a shelter, if any calamity natural or otherwise did occur.
– There should be facilities for transition housing, overnight stay.
– Policy: to give a motel coupon for victims of domestic violence.
Dr. Iqbal Unus:
– To create a mosque model in 21st c. we should not dwell on the current state, instead provide models for the future.
Arshad Qureshi:
– Muslim children born in the U.S. need an anchor to help them understand who they are and establish an identity.
– Local American Muslims identify with their ethnic origins. So their identity as American Muslims can’t be distinct from their Pakistani or Jordanian identities.
– Establishing identity is through Islamic education of children, i.e. in the mosque
– We are first Muslims and not, hanafi, shia, or sunni Muslims.
Sayed Naved:
– Community members started to define their identity by the masjid they attend.
– Want the masjid to be more than a religious organization—a community center.
– Regular attendees feel more ownership than those who don’t come often creating another differentiation in identity.
Wael Al Khairo:
– Each masjid can interpret the Quran, history, and identity differently.
– A gentleman went to hajj and was asked by the Saudi authorities what madhab are you? The guy didn’t understand the question and answered ‘I am Adams center’. This is not a healthy environment for Muslims.
– The role of a Muslim community center should be separate from the mosque itself.
Zaffer Mirza:
– 90 percent of mosques in the 60’s and 70’s were boarded up when the founders died because the only emphasis was on praying, no feeling of community.
Sayed Naved:
– People are looking at the masjid to be an Islamic service center, not just a religious center, i.e. counseling, education for children, and just getting together.
Sabir Rahman:
– The idea of the masjid is a product of our environment, where the masjid is a place to pray and then go home.
– We don’t want masjids to go way so we have to plan well so they stay places of Islamic service forever.

Anwar Haddam:
– Members should not have to pay dues because praying in the mosque is a duty.
Arshad Qureshi:
– Children born here are going to be Muslims by conviction not by tradition going so the environment must generate that conviction.
– Young people want to see sermons that are relevant to their lives and future.
Sayed Naved:
– Some masjids identities are based on if they are welcoming or not welcoming.
Imam Magid:
– Some masjids created after an ideology
– The masjids should not just be reactionary, they need to proactive. People are out-sourcing out, they come to masjid don’t see enough Islamic education go to another institution.
Asma Hanif:
– People as Muslims choose communities based on own identity. I live in Baltimore but travel all the way to ISWA to go to masjid, b/c fulfills my needs.
– The directions of the masjid depends the founders ideology.
Radouane Majid:
– Cannot be connected to a mosque, in this society people are tied to their churches or temples we should not do this with the identity of the mosque.
Dr. Nyang:
– The Kaba is the common mosque universal for every muslim regardless of where you come from.
– In the Muslim world you don’t have regular and irregular members, b/c Muslims have more latitude, to attend any masjid, but in the American context we emphasis being part of a group that’s why we have regular and irregular members.
Zaffer Merza:
– We should use “we” because Muslims need to be united. Our main problem is that we are not united.

Iqbal Unus:
– Importance of khutbah, halaqas, what role masjid plays in education in a broad sense, what perceive role to be, model do we hope to see developing as far as education is concerned.
Anwar Haddam:
– Muslims should feel comfortable going to any masjid.
– As a community we need to know how to preserve our civic, social, political rights. To do this we need coherence in the khutbas, halaqa and speeches
Wael Al Khairo:
– The masjid should have an educational objective.
– There should be basic education (wudu, prayer, and pillars) in all masjids.
– There is a disconnect from what is taught in Sunday school and how children behave b/c the education is not manifested in practice.
Sayed Naved:
– There should be different centers of learning at different masjids, one center for hifz, one for fiqh one for Arabic.
Imam Magid:
– There is a connection between identity and education, particular group identify ideologically, ethnically cater program to address those needs.
– There also has to be trust between the educator and the community.
Imam Johari:
– Fundamentally five needs of Mosques in America:
1—Masjid near where they work or go to school, for Friday noon prayer,
2—Masjid to pray morning and evening prayers near where they live,
3—Masjid to provide education and activities, might be a different center,
4—Masjid or identity with culturally they may not go there for other three,
5—Masjid where people go for ideology,
– Most people cannot have all five of those needs met from the same center
Anwar Haddam:
– Education should have a universal aspect so no one is alienated. 1. Basic needs of Islam (prayer), 2. Educating Muslims to be part of the Muslim identity.
Asma Hanif:
– the reality in terms of masjid being center of learning based on two things—size of masjid and educational background of imam giving khtubah
Imam Johari:
– Masjids should have two axes, vertical axis: relationship with god, horizontal axis: fellowship with one another, American Muslims go for the vertical axis but we can’t move further unless we develop sense of fellowship, on the horizontal axis.
Hisham Mahmood:
– Masjid is a place of prostration vs. Jameah is a place of purpose and serves as an umbrella.
– We all have in common that we pray and have kids. Education is the biggest part and most important.
– The masjid can come after there is education. We have done the opposite and built mosques and then tried to make them fit into other needs. The place of prayer will come naturally.


Zaffer Mirza:
– Scaring children by telling them they are going to hell should be stopped, God is very loving
Sabir Rahman
– Purpose of education = empowerment of community prepare community to become effective and powerful part of the general American society.
– Know their civil rights and demand them, know political rights and demand them active part in political business commerce and in all other activities in society.
Arshad qureshi:
– MCC asked for money from the Maryland Senate.
– We are taxpayers and contribute to society and going to grow up here as Muslims.
Sayed Naved:
– Major disconnect between education in masjid and empowerment.
– CAIR without being a masjid has done a much better job than any masjid.
– A lot of educators are not interested in empowerment.
Radouane Majidi:
– A study of the American non profit sector should be used to understand how to run these types of institutions. We didn’t take the right type of model.
Tal’at Sultan:
– Our masjids ought to go back to original design of being concerned of not only the salat, but the comprehensive aspects of life, like the church culture.
– When talking of empowerment talking of role of mosque to create ability in Muslim community to stand up and demand/defend it.
Imam Magid:
– We don’t live in an island, are we working with other groups that we can work with that have a common ground with.

Group Discussions

– SN from education report (long and short report)
1. series of lectures of sermons khatibs that are organized and designed to cater to the collective development of community
2. rotation of imams between masjids critical to what we can do
3. space for women in the masjid
4. delivering education addressing in a youth friendly ambience
5. concern of tone of khtubahs, how does tone of voice
6. need for current affairs, so the idea is that current affairs are relevant but should not be controversial
7. the vision for imam and community must have a vision and how we are going
1. focus on full-time Islamic schools – 10 suggestions
1. good academic programs reinforce how we educate the kids, the teachers in school system imams and parents unite on good academic training not just use good Muslims but good Americans
2. Salaries and expertise teacher training
3. emphasis on scholarships, outsourcing education, but Islamic schools need to be strengthened
4. adult education, how to harness Muslim professionals, financial knowledge, psychological knowledge.
5. question of finance was raised, endowment culture.

1. architectures role in playing in functionality
a. develop more inclusive form of architecture
b. speak of women exclusive model women in different areas
c. whole space open excludes certain Muslim women who don’t want to pray with men seeing them,
2. architecture for mosque should reflect needs of community not just place where people go and pray but multipurpose function for needs of Muslim community
3. Two types of governance
a. one Governance model is executive board, can be dominant over the imam
b. another model where imam has more power, the imam is the board
4. We don’t think that it is fair to say one model fits all situations each community has a different culture and different way of functioning
5. Many questions concerning imams: what is imam, who is imam, what is their function
a. some masajids have an imam and then a scholar in residence, imam is there for rituals and the scholar addresses fiqhi issues,
6. question of sustainability waqf endowment, model of masjids where capacity to have stores that are attached to masjid so they can be a source of wealth and continuing sustainability along with fundraising and other means
7. Idea of endowment and fundraising, came up on both sides of the group, something discussed something common to both sides, just need money, who donates how they donate