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Like Bricks of a Wall: Tips for a Welcoming Masjid by Dr. Sarah Sayeed

Like Bricks of a Wall: Tips for a Welcoming Masjid by Dr. Sarah Sayeed

Board Member, Women in Islam (NY) and Member of ISNA’s Masjid Development Committee

Narrated Abu Musa: The Prophet (saws) said, “A faithful believer to a faithful believer is like the bricks of a wall, re-enforcing each other.” While saying that, the Prophet (saws) clasped his hands by interlacing his fingers (al-Bukhari Vol 1, Book 8, Number 468).

Entrance and Exit Signage: First Impressions Count

 How does someone get in? Mark your entrance clearly. Post a weather-proof Welcome to Masjid X (insert name) sign on the door; include when open, imam’s office hours, phone.

  • Inside, contact info of masjid, imam and key people (consider photos); your activities (regular classes, events).
  • Signage for different areas of masjid if large (restrooms, classrooms, musallah).
  • Ensure women have access to main entrance and main prayer area.
  • Post a sign thanking people for being at your mosque, so they see it as they leave: “We are glad to see you here! Please join us more often!”
  • Keep website/Facebook page updated with changes to schedule.
  • Keep all areas of mosque clean, well lit, and well-maintained.

 

Welcoming Community = Relationships = Communication

 

  • Your congregation is only as welcoming as the congregants make it!
  • Create a culture of giving that defines welcoming/openness/generosity/sadaqah. Leaders are responsible for setting the tone, demonstrating by example, and creating structures and opportunity for giving.
  • Create a “hospitality committee.” Their job is to welcome new people, introduce themselves and help the person connect to the community; they can also invite them to their home with a few other congregants; add link on website to enter newcomer information and connect them to committee (women and men).
  • Learn the names of people in your congregation and remember them. Ask questions. Express interest. Listen to people. Provide guidance about mosque etiquette.

 

Programming: Know and Harness Your Congregants’ Skills and Potential, Build Connection

 

  • Create avenues for the congregation to provide ideas and input in programs (program development committee with diverse members; online and on site suggestion box; email; annual meeting of members).
  • Make programs relevant for different sectors of your community (new Muslims, women, youth, elders, young professionals, parents, family, new immigrants (language buddy); programming across the life span, as well as multi-generational, multi-sector programs that are educational and enjoyable—i.e., story-time, trips, games).
  • Greeter/event ushers to welcome participants and especially to help people with special needs (elderly, people with disabilities, women with small children, people with language needs).
  • Community pot-luck gatherings, sign-up to bring food; people share their names and story with community.
  • Have people fill out a brief profile of their skills and expertise so you can harness the potential of your community; community expert speakers; youth mentoring and career information sharing opportunities.
  • Create a way for people to get involved with executing programs (program execution committee).

 

Governance: Transparency and Shared Decision-Making

 

  • Annual meeting of members; transparent communication about budget and decision making.
  • A process for regularly getting input from congregants—shura.
  • Multi-cultural, multi-generational representatives on board; include women in your board.
  • A process that ensures a transfer of leadership, not founder syndrome; delegating responsibilities.
  • A process that prioritizes human and spiritual development over building and faculty development.

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