Dr. Ihsan Bagby gave a presentation at the ISNA Masjid Forum this past weekend and mentioned a term that stuck with me – Tasleem Squad. We all acknowledge the need for our masajid to be more welcoming, but how do we tangibly go about doing this? Here are a few suggestions.
Have a ‘Tasleem Squad’ at your masjid that welcomes people into the masjid at busy times like juma with a smile. Greet them, hold the door open for them. Brighten up the environment. They can also help answer basic questions like – Where is the wudu area? Where is the sister’s entrance? Where do I put my shoes? Someone stole my shoes, can you help me?
It is important to have people who look like the people. Dr. Bagby mentioned that a particular masjid may have, for example, a high Gambian population. If this is the case, make sure that you have a Gambian on the Tasleem Squad. Yes – we are all brothers and sisters, but make the initial impression as easy on the people as possible. Let them be comforted and put at ease by someone they can identify with, especially if they’re not a regular in the community.
The Tasleem Squad should also engage the people and help them connect with the masjid. It can be as simple as getting them signed up for the masjid email list.
Another way to make sure your masjid is welcoming is by simply having good signage. Put up signs about parking, entrances, shoes, and so on. Those are the obvious ones. Some less obvious ones are to put up a sign that gives the office hours, contact information, and things of that nature.
The most overlooked opportunity to make your Masjid welcoming? Put up a welcome sign.
Put something nice and aesthetically pleasing in the entry that says “Welcome to X Masjid.” The little things can have a big impact.