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:
- 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.