Insight from a Board Member: Fitnah Meter

This entry is part 3 of 7 in the series Insight from a Board Member

When serving on Shura and Community Boards, we have used a tool we fondly call the “Fitnah Meter”. First, this is a subjective non-scientific measurement. It is an abstract concept to gauge the general potential of a crisis breaking out in our community. It’s kind of like a fire alert, when the season is a bit dry and there hasn’t been much rain and there is lots of dry wood lying around, the chances of a full blown out of control fire are high. At those moments it is best to proceed with caution and do your best to reduce the chances of such an event.

The Fitnah Meter describes the condition of the the community, the board, and the issues that are being discussed against the backdrop of a Fitnah Meter scaled from 1-10. When issues are being discussed like hiring an Imam or building a new facility, naturally the Fitnah Meter will climb from 3 to 7, just by the nature of the topic, even if the public has not shown any signs of conflict. Same goes with determining Eid, or bringing guest speakers.

When there is active disagreement and tensions start to rise, we give the Fitnah Meter a 9 or 9.5. At that moment, our primary objective is to deescalate the tension, return to civil rationale discourse, or drop the discussion or project for the time being.

We can all hope that our communities will react will civility when a difference of opinion occurs, but by consciously giving the meter a rise we all are making ourselves and our group aware of the potential and risk of conflict. This awareness allows us to focus on making decisions that are well thought out, well articulated and communicated and to take into consideration all the potential risks. By actively trying to keep the Fitnah Meter low, we do a fairly decent job of avoiding a complete conflict.

This meter was devised as a result of several system wide failures in our community that were so painful in nature, that it took several years to recover from psychologically. When a Fitnah happens it does irreparable damage to the fabric of the community and causes the community to freeze. This freeze takes a very long time to thaw and in some cases cannot be undone. It’s important to avoid these types of events, and the Fitnah Meter, though not scientific, is a helpful tool.

Remember, even decisions that will benefit the community can cause the Fitnah Meter to go up. Don’t be afraid of honestly assessing the risk of even the best ideas. Giving them a high Fitnah rating will help you navigate the process with an appropriate level of consideration.


Series Navigation<< Insight from a Board Member: Death of the CommitteeInsight from a Board Member: Talent Aggregator >>
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