Professionalism in Islamic Businesses and Organizations

November 7, 2008 at 10:13 am (1) ()

This post at Muslim Matters really got me thinking, as the lack of professionalism in Islamic organizations and businesses is something I’ve repeatedly faced since my conversion. I have not tried to get involved with the masjid, but in my experience with the MSA and other Islamic groups I have been involved in, in just my short time as a Muslim, it worries me that we are so disorganized. We are missing out on so much.

I think the amount of vision in Muslim communities is astounding, but without the actions to confirm the motivation, things don’t happen. I know I am not the only one who’s been pushed aside or ignored when I’ve offered help in areas in which I have experience. Anyone, regardless of their level of experience, who has the drive to participate should, and subhan’Allah, this should be encouraged! But part of the role of managing any business or organization, particularly an Islamic one, is to treasure and make use of those members who have the experience as well as the desire to take part, and to encourage that. And outside of my limited experience in Islamic media (writing for newspapers and such), I don’t see that happening.

It worries me because I have been on the board and part of the organization of religious communites before I became Muslim, and similar issues are what caused fractures in these communities and impeded our ability to focus on what was really important. It’s all well and good to have goals and vision, but what are we doing in our communities to encourage these visions to be met? And are we truly appreciating and encouraging those who work to meet them? This is really important, because these people create the future of our ummah’s communities, and I know from personal experience that trying to cope with mismanagement leads to burnout and alienation. We cannot afford to alienate our experienced and willing members, and we should be maintaining proper professionalism as Muslims if we seek to start businesses or organizations.

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4 Comments

  1. Aaminah Hernandez said,

    Asalaamu alaikum.

    I just recently saw an issue in my own community that showcases what you are talking about… actually, a couple of issues.

    1) They were seeking volunteers to teach in the masjid’s school and asked a particular candidate who agreed based on the info given. Then she was never contacted again and heard “around the way” that there was to be a meeting for the volunteers. Out of that meeting that she missed, she then heard “around the way” that some of what she had originally agreed to was drastically changed and wouldn’t work for her anyway, but she still contacted the school to let them know she was happy to volunteer as a teachers’ assistant instead and again never heard anything from anyone. While complaining that they couldn’t find volunteers, they were also judging potential volunteers on criteria that included “how active they have previously been in the community”, which effectively stops “new” Muslims or newly-freed-up Muslims from earning good deeds that they didn’t have the time to engage in previously!

    2) A sister wanted to augment a current charity/dawah project being run by the masjid. The masjid gives out food to the homeless weekly, and she wanted to organize a clothing drive to also be distributed to the homeless. Now, she could have just done her thing and gone down and distributed the stuff herself, but she proposed that it be a team effort. But then she was kept waiting for a couple weeks because “we have to get permission from the imam” and she wasn’t supposed to talk to anyone about it until his permission was granted. I cannot imagine why anyone needs the imam’s permission to organize and do a good deed. But apparently, without the imam’s permission people will not get involved either! Also, the sister was not allowed to present her idea to the imam herself and try to “sell” it, but had to wait on others to act as agents for her, which makes for an unnecessary hierarchy, overburdens some people who are expected to be those agents, and discourages regular Muslims from actually doing anything.

  2. Linda Delgado said,

    Salaams- I have a 6 yr old book retail business and an almost 4 year old publishing business. I have been tested many times because of the lack of professionalism by Muslims in business dealings I have had. I contract work-for-hire for many tasks in projects. I make agreements for work to be completed with established dates and established payment of fees. I generally pay immediately for the work. But… over the years I have had editors hold work for months and then not perform it, keep the money and send me discourteous emails making excuses for their unIslamic and unprofessional practices.

    I have sponsored book fairs with Islamic schools over the past 3 years, sending books and display items and footing the bill up front. Schools have kept or sold the books and display items and never sent me a penny they owed. In 2 years I have lost $5,800.

    Three Muslim retailers pleaded for me to sell them books on consignment and then they failed to pay and refused to respond to emails requesting payment.

    Several large Muslim distributors offered to sell the books I publish for myself and other authors, but they insited I first had to give dozens of free copies and said they would begin paying for books on a second order! Free books and me paying all shipping costs for them to profit and their retailers? What about the authors’ and my right to receive fair payment for our work?

    Then there are the for profit publications which ask for free content from writers each month while they sell their publications, profit from sales, and tell the writers they should be content with getting published! This goes on all the time in the Muslim business world of magazine and newspaper publications.

    A Malaysian print magazine took articles I wrote and put on my website and had them translated and then republished them in his for profit magazine. He did not ask my permission to do so and when confronted with these copyright violations he said he had a right to make a living and what was I complaining about! He felt he had a right to profit from my work but was not concerned that he was taking profits from me… he didn’t even think I had a right to be paid for my work!

    Years ago… several times I asked a large Muslim national organization to help me promote a drive to put books in Islamic school libraries. The response was it wasn’t their purpose or goal to do this… but it was their purpose and goal to put books in secular public libraries. … they raised over 1 million dollars for this daw’ah effort but felt no responsibilty to help Muslim kids have books to read… no books on their empty library shelves! Wouldn’t even give some free blurbs in the national-monthly news letter. Nada support.

    When I first reverted to Islam I worked with another sister. We made a written proposal for the masjid leaders to form a committee for community services: visiting-identifying sick and elderly, matching male mentors to Muslim boys who did not have a father or mal Muslim in the home/relative, setting aside a portion of money each month to help feed the poor in the community, etc. etc. I was told to give the proposal to the Imam/leaders (got copies each) for their consideration. After a year and no action… I gave up and so did my friend. She created her own non profit food bank and with help from non Muslims got it stocked. After several years Muslims in the community began donating and the masjid made a one-time donation!

    So.. her am I complaining a lot… it doesn’t change anything. I vent like now given this opportunity… but mostly….. I just do the things I can that are my duty to do. I leave it to Allah to deal with unethical Muslims in organizations and businesses. I set goals and work to meet them. I rely on Allah for guidance and help and not Muslims. 🙂 When I get the gift of help from brothers and sisters in Islam.. I thank Allah for the gift.
    I don’t allow what others fail to do intentionally or unintentionally to keep me from what I know is my responsibility as a Muslim. And many times this is sufficient to get others to also work and be responsibile and ethical.

    Salaams
    Widad

  3. Safiyyah said,

    Salaams:

    I, too, had a similar experience with an Islamic Sunday school. The school was failing and what little success it had was due to Allah (swt) and the hard work of one sister. Some in the masjid got together and asked for volunteers and others interested in the success of the school to attend a meeting. It was a nice meeting, and a lot of “new blood” pledged support. When it was all said and done, the Board chose the same old people to run the school who were responsible for running it into the ground to start with. None of the new people were contacted and offered positions in the new school structure. It wasn’t too long before it all went down the tubes again. The worst part is that they ran off the original sister who was holding down the school 😦

    I know of another masjid that was operating for close to 30 years without non-profit legal status. A few doctors in the masjid were making all the decisions and performing all monetary transactions amongst themselves (well, it was there money). But eventually, the government got all involved in the masjid and the accounts ended up frozen, etc. Alhamdulillah that the masjid now has 501c3 status.

  4. Akbar Jimah, Abu Ikrimah said,

    Salamualaykum
    Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
    Assalaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatahu,
    I hope that you and your family are in the best of health and ee’man, insha’Allah
    I came across your blog, and I really liked it, the simplicity and design, as you can see from mine, I started one last year (I have had some from time to time, I get bored or have a lot of jobs at a time so I just abandon them) but this time am not abandoning this, Insha Allah, but what I need your help with is do you have any tutorial, which I can read to make mine more beautiful, lol?
    Hope you reply.
    Jazakallahu Khayran
    Salamualaykum.

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