05 Nov Doubling Down on our Vision
Assalamu Alaykum / Peace be upon you
MAPS President, Mahmood Khadeer, delivered the speech below to the community yesterday night. In this post-MAPS-elections message, he emphasizes our intent to double down on our Vision. Please send comments, questions and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the name of God Most Gracious Most Merciful
And their Lord responded to them, “Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another. [3:195]
First and foremost I want to thank Allah SWT to have blessed our community with an institution that has made all of our lives better. MAPS has made all of us better Muslims, better parents, better children, better neighbors, better citizens and better humans. We regularly hear from others across the country telling us how they would like their community to be like our community. This year is the tenth year anniversary of our organization. In a short decade, we have made tremendous progress together and we have become a model for other Muslim communities. I want to thank Allah SWT for providing us with this opportunity to serve Him in whatever little way we can in whatever capacity we can. May Allah SWT continue to bless us, continue to help us and continue to keep us together purely on His path, a path which He loves and a path which will ultimately take all of us to the highest place in Jannah. Ameen.
My dear brothers and sisters, it is a true honor to be a part of this community and to serve Allah SWT and MAPS. Since the inception of MAPS in 2006, all of you have been instrumental in establishing this institution on the solid foundations of the holy Qur’an and on our beloved Prophet’s Sunnah. You have created an institution which is inclusive to all irrespective of the member’s country of origin, race, ethnic background, madhab, age, gender, education level, income level, profession level, etc. The sacred bond that is holding us together is the bond of inclusivity, moderation and togetherness. The importance of this bond is mentioned again and again in the Qur’an and Sunnah. In his last sermon, the Prophet (pbuh) reminded us, “Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.” This sense of inclusiveness is fundamental to our vision.
You have all contributed to making maps a warm and welcoming place for each other and for our families and I want to thank you for that. Your commitment to our extraordinary vision and values has been central in making this masjid a thriving and welcoming place. I will take this opportunity to highlight just two of those values today.
The first value is our steadfast adherence to our beloved Prophet’s teaching that men and women are equal in status. For some of us, our cultural background can hold us back from living up to this teaching but I am proud, and you all should be, that by the blessings of Allah MAPS is held as an example of how well we do in this regard. I still occasionally hear men talking about treating women as equals or ‘giving’ them equal status. I would like to point out that men do not give women equal status. It is Allah SWT who has given women their honorable status. Our job is only to understand and honor His teachings from the Quran and from the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh). We only need to internalize this lesson, and honor and respect Allah’s guidance. Thank you for doing your part in upholding this value at MAPS.
The second value that I would like to highlight is that open, transparent and mutually respectful dialog is essential to a harmonious community. Let us preserve this value at MAPS. Your presence here is proof that you find this masjid to be a more welcoming place and more to your liking than other places you can go to on a Friday night. Treat this community as a family. Contribute towards choosing the direction, activities and initiatives we are championing. You may not agree with all the decisions we make. However, there is no need to oppose or resent activities you do not consider valuable; remember that we only do things for which there is a lot of demand and which are aligned with our vision. Dialog respectfully and emphasize inclusivity, moderation and togetherness.
Thank you for Voting
Last week, we held our annual election to choose people from the community to serve on the board of MAPS. Let me thank you all and thank the community for coming out and voting. Voting is an act that demonstrates that you care about your masjid and for how it is run. It is also a demonstration of a process that is fair, that is equitable and that works.
Secondly, thank you for voting the community members present in front of you today. We are truly humbled to have earned your trust and your confidence once more to run this organization for the sole pleasure of Allah SWT. We pray to Allah SWT to guide us to take community forward on a path that is loved by him.
Thirdly, I would like to thank Br Ashraf who ran for election along with us. Br Ashraf is an active and dedicated member of our community. We no doubt will benefit from his assistance and his ideas. We will reach out to him to leverage his strengths to build our institution together. We would like to thank from bottom of our hearts our outgoing board member Sr. Samia Seghir for her enormous contributions to MAPS while serving on board. We will surely miss her. May Allah bless her for her dedication to MAPS.
And lastly, we offer our sincere thanks to the Election Committee who put in many hours these past weeks and ran an impartial and efficient election.
What does your vote mean?
Voting for us means that you have put your trust in us to execute on our vision. This trust is an amanah from Allah SWT and we will try our best to hold true to it. By re-electing existing members, you have made a loud and clear statement that you are satisfied with the vision we have laid out, with the progress we have made so far, with the results we have delivered and with the plans we intend to execute next. By giving us your trust, you have given our decisions and actions at MAPS a vote of confidence.
By no means are we doing everything perfectly. However, we take your trust very seriously. We always try our best for MAPS and for our community and we are very aware that one day we will have to answer on this trust to Allah SWT. We are all here to serve Him and to seek His acceptance. Leading the masjid is a process of continuous improvement. In this context, we count on you to provide us with constructive feedback, as you have done in the past. With your feedback, we can further enhance our impact together rowing the boat of MAPS to its destination in unity.
So, what can you expect from us?
You can expect that in our next term, we will double down on the approaches we have taken so far and accelerate the progress we have made together. We will keep our Vision front and center in all that we do. We will use our 4 cornerstones as guideposts in planning our programs, events and investment. We will remain a very balanced community open to all. We will emphasize a moderate and middle-of-the-road mindset solely because we firmly believe that this is the way of the Prophet (pbuh).
Let us briefly reflect on what we have achieved. On our Faith cornerstone, today we have more religious programs than ever. Every day there is one or more halaqa’s. At any time when the masjid is opened, somebody is here teaching and learning about Islam. On a Friday night like tonight, there are usually 3 to 4 programs on Islam going on in parallel – teaching kids, teaching adults, teaching new Muslims. Throughout the week, Imam Joban offers many classes to several age groups. We have hired Sheikh Kyle and Sheikh Hassan to expand on these religious programs. We offer classes on Tajweed, on Arabic, on the Qur’an, on Hifz, on Hadith, on Akhlaq, etc. Our Ar-Rahmah Academy teaches kids Islam during the day and in the afternoon. Our Noor Academy teaches kids Islam on weekends. Our Precious Hearts Academy introduces our very young to the skills of life in an Islamic context and environment. In addition, we fly in national scholars every month to come and rejuvenate our faith. In the past months, we have received Sk Noman Ali Khan, Sk Yasir Qadhi, Imam Azeez, Imam Siraj Wahaj, Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, etc. In December, we will be receiving the past President of ISNA, Imam Majid.
On our Outbound Good cornerstone, on any given week, MAPS volunteers host free health clinics, operate dental vans, donate blood, feed the homeless, work with the tent cities, distribute blankets, prepare school meals, teach the young, comfort the elderly, visit the sick, clean roadways, repair trails and parks.
On our Inbound Good cornerstone, we bring in programs to enrich ourselves. Right now, we are having financial and legal experts teaching our community about Wills and Estate Planning.
And on our Model Citizen cornerstone, we encourage an identity that is proudly Muslim and proudly American. Two weeks ago, we worked very closely with CAIR to host the first-ever televised electoral debate at a Muslim institution. That video has been viewed over 50,000 times. This was the first ever debate held in a Mosque in the state of Washington.
You will see us emphasize and expand these cornerstones in the coming weeks and months Insha-Allah. We will comprehensively develop this approach to our deen, always following the Quran and Sunnah and asking Allah SWt for his blessings and guidance in our journey.
What does it mean to serve on the MAPS board?
Let me remind myself and remind the elected board members here as well as the sitting board members what it means to serve on the board. A board position is not an entitlement; it is a serious responsibility. To serve on the board requires a set of characters and behaviors. Since the inception of MAPS, we had defined Respect – Humility – Sincerity – Integrity – Transparency – Forward Looking as the characters that we will aspire for and abide by. Hence, we require our board members to demonstrate respect, have humility, be sincere in their hearts, show the highest level of integrity, remain transparent and have the ability to be forward looking and future driven.
Now, regarding the behaviors expected of a board member: first, the board member needs selfless and passionate commitment to the vision of MAPS. He or she needs to firmly believe that our institution can create deep positive impacts around us by living our lives according to the Qur’an and Sunnah. The board member needs to have an Unwavering Commitment to the cause of MAPS, he or she needs to know what constitutes the MAPS soul and he or she needs to push himself or herself to accomplish what MAPS is trying to aspire.
Next, the board member needs to roll up sleeves and work to realize the vision. Ideas are good but not sufficient. Our board is a working board. It is not simply an oversight board. A board member needs to lead committees, plan events, attend functions, participate in activities, etc. He or she needs to make visible and impactful contributions to MAPS towards achieving its goals.
Third, the board member needs to dedicate enormous amount of time in the path of Allah SWT. We all have busy schedules. By taking this responsibility, however, the board member is committing his or her time to Allah SWT. It is like a second job and he or she needs to be available as and when needed.
Fourthly, the board member needs to have lots and lots of patience. We are a big organization with many challenges. A board member needs to have the composure of mind and the discipline of action to reflect on and address these challenges. He or she cannot react emotionally to issues. He or she needs to look at problems comprehensively, take time, reflect and work with the other board members towards a solution that is within our by-laws and in line with our vision.
By the grace of Allah SWT the board members you have elected, Sr Irma, Br Nasir and Br Riad are embodiments of these characters and behaviors. May Allah SWT provide all of us with courage and conviction to serve Him. May Allah SWT accept all that they have done for MAPS since before joining the board and while on the board and reward them multifold in this life and in the hereafter.
For those who aspire to be on the board and aspire to lead and make a difference, I suggest that you start with volunteering towards the cornerstones of MAPS, be part of a volunteer committee, show up for our programs and events, pitch in and start creating an impact. Volunteering is a good training to serve on the board. In addition, read our messages carefully. Look at our comprehensive sets of programs. You will quickly understand what it takes to make an impact, the commitment required, and the patience needed. Also, talk to a few ex-board members who have been there to understand what it takes to shoulder this responsibility. There are many opportunities to drive your passion areas at MAPS and you have seen many examples of the programs that are managed and run by volunteers who are not on the board. We need all of you.
Who does the board represent?
The board is a popularly elected group. The board members, first and foremost, represent you. We are a diverse community of over 5000 families from over 40 countries. We are very diverse; diverse in origins, in languages, in cultures, in education, in professions, in experiences, in the practice of our faith and in our ideologies. That is all fine. As long as you are all bound by our collective Vision of living according to the Quran and the Sunnah, you have a place at MAPS. We assure you that we will do our best to represent this diversity.
In addition, the board represents young and old, man and woman alike. At MAPS we value you as a human being. We empower our youth to host their own programs. Tonight, we have a program organized by the Youth where a Counselor is talking to them on Mental Health. We respect our elderly. On November 14th, we will have our Golden Times event where we bring in our elderly to socialize and do activities together. Likewise, women lead many activities at MAPS. We will always endeavor to make MAPS a place where our women feel that they can achieve their full potential, where they have an equal voice, where they are respected for who they are. Men and women must be treated equal in all aspects as this is core to our Vision at MAPS. Alhumdulliah since the inception of MAPS our women have been front and center in framing our organization and in taking it forward.
Because of the diversity I explained above, not all decisions that the board makes will be satisfactory to everybody in the community. Invariably, we will frustrate some people. I request you to give us benefit of doubt before prejudging us. Ask questions when you have concerns and we will try to explain our rationale honestly and truthfully as we are doing all of this to please Allah SWT and Him alone. You may not agree with a decision but we need you to respect the decision and respect the process used to arrive at the decision. As a community we may disagree but we need to remain united. Only then will Allah’s barakah descend upon us.
A simple example
Let me give you an example of what I am talking about. You might have noticed that we purchased two vans for MAPS. One of the reasons we purchase the vans is to shuttle the Youth to their activities. Let me tell you the type of reaction that we sometimes get for making such a decision. Somebody would write us a fiery email, something along the following lines: “The board should be ashamed! How dare you use our donations to buy two vans and put ten teenagers in them? Don’t you know that the second killer of kids in this country is road accidents? You are endangering our children. This is again an example where only one person on the BOD and BOT make all decisions at MAPS. Allah will ask you about this!”
What the complainer in this case does realize here is that the board may have comprehensively looked at the reasons for buying the vans. For example, we have been looking at buying the vans for more than one year now; a community member donated half of the money; it cost us only $4K to purchase the two vans; a committed community member will maintain them; we are hiring an approved, licensed and insured driver; the driver will undergo training with a taxi service company; the vans will be used to shuttle the elderly to the masjid for Jumuah, to help with our Golden Times program, to transport furniture for refugees, to help with funeral transport, etc. and not only to shuttle the Youth. Many times community members do not see this whole picture and they jump on criticizing board decisions. My humble request here is this: if you question a board decision, reach out, ask questions, and consider the broader context of achieving our vision before jumping to conclusions.
In many cases, the dissenting voice is the minority voice. The vast majority of our community may support the decision made. Regarding the vans example again, 220 people like the idea on our Facebook page. We have received many supportive emails. One brother who moved to Philadelphia has this to say:
“ As Salaam alikum Wow may Allah bless….I am in a city where those that say they are Muslem can out buy anyone at a dime per Muslim.. ..but there is nothing like MAPS in Philadelphia. I miss home because I miss the community of Muslims !
May Allah accept our brother who contributed to this and increase his wealth multifold and all those who volunteer for MAPS.”
Just because one person or a few people vehemently disagree with a decision does not make that person right or make the decision bad.
Why am I saying this?
Just before the election, a person who was unhappy with some of our decisions used a fake email id and sent harassing emails to the board. The person claimed to be a community member but he was not on our mailing list, not on our donor list, not on our Facebook list and not on our membership list. Imam Joban invited the person to come and talk to him and the board in person. He, of course, refused. It is pure cowardice to hide behind a fake identity and to harass the board. Similarly, it is not helpful for small groups to oppose the masjid in private. Let it be known: we will not let harassment or strong language sway us.
In conclusion, I want to remind you all that we have only started our journey. You have placed a tremendous trust in us in the past few years and you have again placed your trust in us for the next two years. We will endeavor day and night to fulfill that trust while abiding by the by-laws, while keeping MAPS on its growth trajectory, while remaining open and welcoming to all of our community following the Quran and Sunnah.
Please remember us in your duas and pray to Allah SWT to guide us and help us in executing on your TRUST!!