- Professionalizing Masjid Leadership Part 1 – Separation of Powers
- Professionalizing Masjid Leadership Part 2 – How We Make Decisions
- Professionalizing Masjid Leadership Part 3 – Accountability
- Professionalizing Masjid Leadership Part 4 – Transparency
Guest post by Br. Maher Budeir of the Roswell Community Masjid in Atlanta, GA. Leadership models vary from one institution to another. In looking at the challenges we face, we find that most of the challenges may be mitigated by instituting the following four principles: 1) Separation of Powers, 2) How We Make Decisions, 3) Accountability, and 4) Transparency. This series will explore each of those principles.
When is the last time your Masjid or Muslim school board held an assessment session, evaluating the programs, evaluation the direction and the strategy, evaluating the imam, the Director and the operation team, or evaluating the board. Many of our Muslim organizations are run by volunteers, which may be the excuse many use for the huge gap we have in any accountability framework. Another excuse we may hear is that accountability is something we have between a person and Allah. We are working for the sake of Allah, so that is all the accountability we need.
In reality, neither argument holds. Volunteering is about commitment, and is about doing something because one believes in the purpose, that is only more reason to be open to a formal accountability to help ourselves have a check on how well we do what we do. As far as the second claim, if the second khalifah Omar bin AlKhattab, one of the greatest companions of the prophet (PBUH) was frequently seeking people to hold him accountable, who are we to say that we do not need it? The Sahabah, may Allah be pleased with them, implementing the most “extreme” form of accountability known in history. Where else in history do we find the governor of an emerging powerful nation humble enough to ask everyone, not just the selected ones on the shura council, to hold him accountable, like Omar bin alKhattab, may Allah be pleased with him, did. As it was narrated on several occasions how he would ask the most humble and ordinary citizens if he had slipped, if he committed a mistake, or if he was unjust. How many nation leaders, Masjid leader, or even a small committee leader in our communities are holding themselves accountable, or even making sure what they do is visible for others in the community to critique.
I argue that a robust accountability framework is one of the most important tools that we need if the American Muslim Community is serious about professionalizing our institutions. Many of our institutions are just now growing into the phase of realizing that they have to set strategic goals and develop plans in order to be proactive and to realize any meaningful mission. Accountability is the element that will bring meaning to all the planning and strategizing. Without measuring progress and assessing effectiveness we can go in endless circular processes regardless how good and well intentioned our plans might be.
The good news is that we do not have to recreate the wheel. Many community members are either corporate employees or entrepreneurs. Most of such members would have had extensive exposure and practice on evaluating, assessing and developing individuals, teams, and programs. We just need to be open minded and invite and empower such members to participate. Most importantly, we need to listen to them when they suggest how to professionalize our institutions by creating processes, routines and systems to evaluate and improve our institutions.