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Masjid Security Guidelines by Anees Thaj

Masjid Security Guidelines by Anees Thaj

Anees Thaj,  Masjid Security Committee, Kalamazoo Islamic Center (MI) ibnthaj@gmail.com

The goal of every Masjid is to serve the local Muslim communities needs and offer them a place of prayer, solace, communion and community development.   A Masjid should be safe and secure and be a place of refuge where people are made to feel welcome and safe. Over the last few years, with increased anti-Muslim hatred being spewed by national media and deliberate misinformation being spread about Islam and Muslims, the threat faced by Islamic organizations is a real fact and must be taken seriously (attacks that have occurred are well documented by organizations like CAIR, etc ).

Toward this end, the Masjid authorities (Board / Shura Council, etc) need to take the responsibility of taking care of the security needs of the Masjids seriously and take necessary steps to prevent harm from coming to their members while they are visiting the Center (emphasis should be on preventive actions vs reactive actions after a problem takes place).

A few general guidelines / list of actions to take for Islamic Center safety:

  1. Form a Security Committee and appoint responsible members of the Board / community as members with responsibility and authority to oversee the Masjid premises regarding safety & security.
  2. The security committee in conjunction with the Board should take the following steps:

Form an emergency response plan / contingency plan for different events – fire, tornado, shooting, bomb threats, etc.

  1. Meet with the local law enforcement agencies regularly and establish personal contacts and relationships. Maintain an open line of contact by regularly inviting them to events and keeping them abreast of events like Eid gatherings, large community gatherings, etc.
  2. Request local law enforcement officers to do a walk through of the Masjid property with the Security Committee and note down their recommendations for improving safety (clearing of brush / wooded areas outside, improved lighting, cameras at key points, etc).
  3. Do regular inspections of the Masjid safety exits ensuring they are not blocked, fire extinguishers are full and serviceable, and alarm system on/off access panels are accessible. Have personnel who are trained in how to set off an alarm or turn off an alarm.
  4. Have security personnel do regular walkthroughs of the inside and outside perimeter of the masjid before large gatherings looking for suspicious activity or unidentified packages lying around, etc
  5. Establish procedures for conducting walkthroughs inside and outside the Masjid as events are taking place and monitor for suspicious activity / suspicious persons with large bags, etc.
  6. Identify evacuation and gathering points outside the Masjid where people will gather for headcount, etc if an evacuation does need to take place. Practice drills should be conducted once a year with adults and ladies/children involved (Jumuah or Sunday school event).
  7. Children playing outside should be monitored by adults (no unsupervised activity outside).
  8. Children / teens generally should not be outside the masjid after dark. Note that many cities have curfew hours for teens and children (~10 pm or later).
  9. Masjid shutdown procedures should be established with responsible and authorized people who can tell people to leave as needed.
  10. Contracting outside security contractors to lockdown / shutdown masjids is an alternative solution.
  11. Consider having a few trustworthy mature members who are CPL certified authorized to be armed ( CCW) inside the Masjid – this practice, though at initial thought may be alarming, is actually encouraged by law enforcement agencies and widely practiced by Churches, Synagogues, etc.   Must be done discreetly though.
  12. Have greeters / security personnel stand/sit watch at main entrances to Mens & Womens areas during large gatherings (Jumuah, Eid prayers, school days, etc).   These security personnel should be trained and have cell phones to be able to quickly call for help if needed.
  13. Refer to US Dept of Homeland Security website or www.ready.gov website for further resources / security guidelines to follow for different emergency situations.

 

For any questions or comments or if you would like to discuss / review your individual Masjid security concerns with me, please feel free to contact me at my cell phone :269-598-0222 or via email at ibnthaj@gmail.com.   I will be glad to help any Islamic Center develop their security protocol and provide any training that I can, InshAllah.

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