By Adil James, MMNS
Rochester Hillsâ€”November 3â€”IAGD had a successful monthly meeting this past Saturday evening which reflected the faith of that community in democracy. The evening began with a fun performance of songs by very young children, then 5 candidates for board of directors positions presented themselves for consideration to an audience of about 300 IAGD congregants, and there was a very nice dinner.
IAGD has begun a full-time permanent Montessori school for grades one and two, and the young singers at the beginning of the event were from the full-time Montessori students.
One IAGD member, who introduced himself as Bashr Kaskar, explained the fundraising purpose of the monthly dinners. â€œThe monthly dinners are for monthly expenses.â€ A rough estimate of people in attendance times the entry fee indicates that monthly operating expenses of the mosque are about $6,000. It was obvious also that there is an important social aspect to these monthly meetings, giving the community members an opportunity to relax and eat with one another and enjoy one anotherâ€™s company.
Mr. Kaskar explained that a large expansion of the womenâ€™s prayer area of the mosque is planned, and that so far the community has collected about $3,000,000 for that purpose through special fundraisers.
This year IAGD had four rules for the candidates in its board of directorsâ€™ election. First, each candidate had to produce a biodata sheet for the benefit of voters; second, each candidate had five minutes to present himself to the community (which was done Saturday night); third, IAGD emails were not to be used for election purposes; fourth, the board discouraged negative campaigning and encouraged the candidates to observe Islamic ethics in their campaigns.
Each of the five candidates for board of director positions was given 5 minutes to introduce himself and give reasons why he could benefit IAGD as a member of the board of directors. Several of the five made oblique reference to the sometimes contentious nature of elections to boards of directors and some said that in fact IAGD has a relatively very good history in this regard. Unfortunately some mosques during elections suffer whisper-telephone campaigns and backbiting and maneuvering as people grasp their way to power.
I asked Zahid Latif, the Vice President of IAGD, why the community engages in elections when such elections bring out the worst in some people and some communities, and his answer was to the point.
â€œOur tradition is to have elections,â€ he said. Such elections, he explained, allow the diversity of the mosque community to be reflected in its board. He explained also that if the people on the board select their replacements by recruiting those they recommend, they might fall into a rut of nepotism: â€œThey bring in the near-and-dear.â€
Having elections has served our community very well,â€ he said.