Mosque Committees

Mosque Committees

I would imagine that a lot of what I have said has relevance to most people who read it. I think we are at a juncture now where the time has come for people like us to take a more active interest in the life of our mosque especially if it is a registered charity and not a private institute. If it is a registered charity then you have the right, by UK law, to ask about it. Many of the people on such committees don’t recognise your right under Allah to question them about the House of Allah but will eventually concede to UK law and threats of a Charity Commission investigation. I would encourage everyone who reads this to visit the Charity Commission Website and view the summary details of their local mosque to see if it registered, you can search for your Mosque at the following webpage you can Search for charities by name, by charity object or name keywords, by the area in which they operate or by its registered number. Demand a copy of the trust deeds from the committee, if it isn’t forthcoming ask the Charity Commission to send you it.

Word of advice. Some committees are made up of what we in Punjabi call “gunday”, these are people who are meat-heads there to scare people, they usually don’t have any brain cells and usually oppose people for the sake of opposition and to safeguard their party. Things can get nasty. Also if you are a young whipper-snapper then you are not likely to be taken seriously, but you can still probe and ask questions of people who will listen, don’t give up.

In order to be taken seriously you need to be above 30, educated, a professional with a good job, articulate, well mannered, active in the deen and in community issues and by extension well known, it helps to be from a well known and respected family and preferably married although not essential.

Since becoming religious from the age of 21 I started taking an interest in the mosque and trying to organise study circles and talks. The then committee put many obstacles in our way and even tainted me with the “Wahhabi” label [that’s one to tell the grandchildren]! Things came to a head when that committee tried to oust one of the imams, a young hafiz of Qur’an who spoke English, Urdu, Pashtu and Arabic and my father along with other members of the community took a stand. This is where the fortunes of our mosque changed, it was the point where serious questions about the running of the mosque were asked and the first elections in 13 years of the committees existence were forced. But before we got to the elections a lot of incidents occured involving violence in the community to point where an ambush was organised in the mosque itself, with sticks and boiling water, I am not making this up! The Charity Commission and the Police got involved and it was a real mess. But the then committee knew they were on their last legs and to cut very long story short called it a day and elections were held.

And so a new era our mosque started. My brother-in-law was voted in as the President and he ran a very tight ship, he is a real doer and takes no rubbish from anybody and he does not suffer fools gladly. The first task he set upon was to finish the outstanding interest bearing bank loan the previous committee took out to build the mosque. This was successfully achieved inspite of the community of the previous committee purposely withholding donations out of spite against the new committee!

I pretty much became the unofficial secretary for the Mosque as I was called to do all the letter writing and consulting and couselling of the new committee. Any issues that my brother-in-law came across he ran past me and so on and so forth.

Unfortunately the art of diplomacy was an area that he did not excel in (perhaps his short temper was due to his diabetes?) and some people became disgruntled with him. It all revolved around, not unreasonably, wanting everything counted, witnessed, written and documented, even today he still has all the records and paperwork from his presidency. For the first time, the mosque’s affairs were transparent and open to public scrutiny.  However there were a few “old school” people still in the committee who thought that their word should be accepted over any written and witnessed documentation.

The three years my brother-in-law was the President the accounts looked very healthy and there was transparency. In his last year as President the mosque income was about £36,000 for the year and expenditure was at about £17,000 and the physical state of the Mosque excellent, spic and span as they say, money was wisely spent. On top of this we formed very good relationships with the wider community such as the local Council, The Police, the NHS, schools, churches, the prison service and other bodies. But, metaphorically speaking, the knives were out.

When the elections came around the people with the metaphorical knives, lobbied to have someone else in place and my brother-in-law graciously stepped aside. Now those very same people are begging him to stand for the presidency in the current elections. I won’t say much about this current President except that the last set of accounts that he filed showed a deficit of £700 for the year and not much to show for it in the Mosque, and there are many concerns and suspicions flying around . . . let’s just leave it at that.

Anyway today the elections took place and although I still think they are farcical and shambolic, the party that I am “attached” to increased their seats by three and the main opposing party lost three seats. Chances are that my brother-in-law will once again be elected to the presidency and there are a number of very positive people hoping to make the committee, insha’Allah this could be the first steps in a better mosque for us all insha’Allah. Please remember us in your duahs.



Mosque Elections

as-salamu ‘alaykum,

Well, it’s that time again when our local mosque holds its elections. These come around every three years and every time I hope and pray that some intelligent and sincere people are injected into the committee. Our mosque is typical of a lot of masajid in the UK. Our town is a one mosque town [now two since this was originally written], there is no other mosque, there is a house that doubles up as a “madrassa” to teach Qur’an and the local Wahhabis hire out a hall to pray salat al-Juma’a and other things.

OK back to the elections. Essentially the way these work is that the community is divided up into the following categories:

  • Rajput
  • Jats/Chaudry
  • Pathans
  • Rawalpindi group

The Chaudries are the biggest group and there is an alliance between the Rajputs, the Rawalpindi group and the Pathans. The mosque committee has 34 members and for electoral purposes they are allocated as follows:

  • 17 seats to the Juts
  • 8 seats to the Rajputs
  • 5 seats to the Rawalpindi group
  • 4 seats to the Pathans

Each group then nominates its choices for the mosque committee. The vote takes place and then based on the votes the part or alliance with the largest share of the vote nominates a President and the casting vote is with the current standing President. The last three terms have seen the allied parties nominate the President.

The whole thing is a sham and a farce from the outset. The whole thing is based in kauwm and racial demarkation and not on what is best for the mosque. Each group has its own agenda, with the Rajputs and the Juts it’s all a throwback to the time when the Rajputs used to be “superiors” to the Juts and so it is a rivalry played out with the mosque as a battlefield. There is tremendous ignorance and illiteracy in both these groups and some of those who eventually make it into the committee are there to be barriers and obstacles to one another. Now, the Pathan group has a Wahhabi and Tablighi agenda since Wahhabism has taken ahold of some of the younger members of the Pathan community whilst the elders are generally Tablighi orientated. I do not know what agenda the Rawalpindi group has as it seems to be the only group without an agenda, by the way, I am not from the Pindi group!

Whilst I can be categorised into one of the above groups neither one of them actually represents my aspirations for the mosque. None of the parties has a manifesto or a vision for the mosque, they are solely there to represent their kauwm and hizb. So what can we do? I really don’t know. I am at a loss and open to suggestions!

Oh and by the way women are not allowed to vote in this election due to “logistical” considerations!

It is not all doom and gloom, there was a time when the mosque was run by a clandestine cabal made of primarily one family, the president ran a fully licensed restaurant, the declared committee members were made up of people who didn’t know they were members, my father and an uncle being amongst them [and others] and didn’t know! Dead people, seriously, dead people! I counted at least three! No record of accounts for the 13 years the mosque was run by them. A £250,000 bank loan [interest bearing] was taken out on the building work of the mosque without consultation of the committee or the community – well, maybe they consulted the dead people. The appointed imported Imams were less than useless and there was a general air of animosity and suspicion towards anyone who took an interest in the mosque and its affairs.

So that was then, over the tenure of the last committee it seems that we had gone back to the bad old days, no accounts, independent decisions by the president without minuted meetings and no transparency in operation. There are suspicions over the accounts, one committee member did speak up but was told that the sitting president was from “the party” so he shouldn’t grill him about it!

Still there is a recognition by the elders that some new blood needs to be injected into to the committee and this time two upright, sincere and decent brothers have been nominated, I have also been nominated but my name is further down the pecking order in “my” party. May be this will be the beginning of something positive insha’Allah. We should be bringing in people with professional backgrounds, such as teachers, managers, accountants and legal experts as well as other professional and educated people. The time for subcontinent village [idiot] politics and rivalries is gone [it is still there since the time of writing this], to the new generation it does not matter what your kauwm is, it matters who our Lord is, who our Rasul is and what Ummah we belong to.

Rant over!