Observations at the AGM

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One of the founding “mothers” of the Islamic center who cooked the first few meals for the center when there were no more than 10 families now thinks she can boss around the entire board. If she doesn’t like what’s being preached from the pulpit, then either the religious leader is fired or she starts to issue her own Islamic rulings.
As the months of summer are upon us, many of us realize that this is also the time for our respective communities’ annual general meetings! These AGMs are great shows of puffery and politics that can be quite entertaining for most of us, provided we do not fall in one of the following categories of the infamous characters we typically see surfacing at these events every year:

The I-Want-to-be-Part-of-the-Adults Kid

Aged anywhere between 17 and 27, this youth group reject has trouble sleeping at night unless (s)he sends out an 800-word email with a step-by-step guide on how exactly the board needs to improve the way the Islamic center is run and that a different religious leader must be hired who can “speak English properly”, followed by a cute “P.S.” note which threatens “serious action” if the adults don’t comply. While we love the spirit of being concerned for the welfare of your community, perhaps gearing your passion into something like violent video games or soccer will help cool you down a bit.

The Doctor

One of the highly “educated” men in the community who studied some obscure field of biology or engineering for an unnecessarily long period of time, he thinks he is smarter than the religious leader because he has a PhD from an uptight “civilized” university. Sorry to say, but if your education was of any use to you, then we don’t seem to understand how you are able to stand up at the AGM yelling at the top of your lungs that everyone except you is going to hell and that you and your followers should be the ones in charge of the center, not the lunatics who have been running the place for the last decade. Take a chill pill, uncle, nobody said doing a doctorate would be easy.

The Center Leech

This guy pays his membership dues three years late, and when he finally does, he’s willing to risk his life making the most of every cent. Consuming half a dozen cups of tea, triple the meal serving size, and helping himself to four (if not five) times the tabarruk every time he comes to the center, it’s a miracle of God that this guy is not clinically obese. Accusing the community treasurer of fraud and hassling him for a copy of the community’s financial statements, this guy honestly doesn’t realize how big of a role his huge appetite plays in denting the community’s savings account. Being so unnecessarily stingy and never contributing towards a noble cause, we pray to Allah to grant his wife patience and forbearance.

The This-Community-Ruined-Our-Children Parents

The parents who never seemed to understand the concept of weekend Islamic school as only being additional and supplementary religious guidance for their children are now experiencing the biggest guilt trip of their lives. They blame the imam, the board, the volunteers, other people’s children, and even the food served at the center because their children came out wrong. It is with great regret that we inform them that they are 20 years too late to addressing the problem. The solution to their disobedient un-Islamic children was proper Islamic spouse selection, not burning down the Islamic center.

The Neglected Housewife

The lady who doesn’t seem to get enough attention at home has voluntarily taken on the role of being the community’s BBC reporter. With all the latest gossip on which board member did what un-Islamic act and whose teenage son is “involved” with someone else’s daughter, somebody seriously needs to tell her husband to pay more attention to her at home. Comparing the community’s achievements with those of other communities and always expressing her dissatisfaction of misbehaving children of much younger mothers, this lady needs to make better use of her time by teaching at the Sunday school and help put them on the “right path” if she wants to make a real difference.

The I-Hate-the-Youth-Group Adults

The adults who were unable to participate in any youth-type activities during their younger years really need to stop competing with the community youngsters and making the board think the youth are their enemies. While some youth ideas like painting the Islamic center purple or investing in a shoe stacker robot are a bit impractical, it’s worth cutting the youngsters some slack as they are the ones who do all the cleaning and who will stay back for hours on end just to finish counting the donations for their Save-the-Whales campaign. For those adults who perceive the youth speeches, Qur’an, Ziyarat, and other recitations as a threat to their regime, then perhaps openly telling them to back off your territory would be a better alternative to spreading rumors about how the youth group representatives lack morals as they have nothing better to do but smoke apple sheesha and get high on candy during their summer break.

The I-Own-the-Islamic-Center Aunty

One of the founding “mothers” of the Islamic center who cooked the first few meals for the center when there were no more than 10 families now thinks she can boss around the entire board. If she doesn’t like what’s being preached from the pulpit, then either the religious leader is fired or she starts to issue her own Islamic rulings. As her relatives make up half the center’s population, it’s best to avoid messing with this lady, or you’ll be up against an entire army. While we thank you for all the services you provided the center during earlier years, learning to “give and forget” and not claiming the place of worship to be solely yours would surely attract more believers to the mostly empty center.

The My-Culture-Is-More-Organized-than-Your-Culture Guy

It doesn’t matter what age this guy is, one thing for sure: he is Captain Harmony’s worst enemy. Upon hearing about the sponsored food being slightly overcooked or that somebody’s badly parked car is blocking off the entire street, it’s second nature for this guy to yell out: “It’s in the blood of Hyderabadis to burn food!” or “You Iraqis are hopeless drivers!” or “If only people from MY organized culture ran this place, things would be so much better!” Nobody dares stand up to this guy, as at the end of the day, he might be right. While we salute you for being so proud of your culture, perhaps refrain from investing $2000 of the community’s money into installing neon signs outside the building which read “Proudly run by [insert culture] Shias” and put that instead towards that urgent appeal you didn’t let the center donate to as you claimed it was being collected by an “unreliable” organization, since of course, it wasn’t run by your people. News flash: unity in the community is more important than pride!

The Progressives

Usually in their mid-late 30’s, this couple is very “modern”. They “value” all Islamic beliefs and practices, with a few minor exceptions, including prayer and Hijab. Sure, it’s necessary to maintain a balance between life in the 21st century and our Islamic faith; however, perhaps they go a bit too far by labeling all our Maraja as uneducated extremists and refusing to follow the core beliefs of Islam, as all that is necessary to enter paradise and have all our sins overlooked is to “believe in Allah and the Prophet”. Either these guys are mixing up their faith with Christianity or they’re living in fantasy land. Whatever it may be, anonymously calling the FBI and reporting the overly religious board members with thick beards is NOT a good idea. Do us a favor: please go back to work and come back when you’re not having such a bad day.

Sitting on the Fence

When it comes to community politics, this group of adults don’t really care which side they are on; their main concern is being on the “winning” team. Found one weekend at the “Let’s boycott the center” luncheon and the following weekend at the “Let’s keep the community together” dinner party, it seems as though this crew just fly with the wind. Everybody knows not to trust these adults, yet surprisingly, they are found invited to every social gathering regardless of which side they take. To be honest, we think it’s these guys who are the real glue when it comes to keeping the community together…

Because the Islamic center is the only place where you will have random people picking your shoes up for you, bending down to offer you water, and giving you hugs and kisses every time you walk in, not to mention the free food, sweets, and spiritual enlightenment, how about everyone just takes it easy and let go of these ridiculous grudges and stop partaking in the community politics? As we can see, everyone is a contributor to the oh-so-awful community politics, regardless of how uninvolved we like to think we are. Let’s keep in mind that our Imam (may Allah hasten his reappearance) is keeping an eye on our community politics, and rest assured he is only striking people’s names off the list of potential believers who are to be of his 313 most sincere followers.

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