Monday, March 4, 2013

Life is the Coffee

A  group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – asking them to help themselves to the coffee. When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: "If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups… And then you began eyeing each other’s cups".

Now consider this: Life is the coffee The jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us." God brews the coffee, not the cups………. So start enjoying your coffee today!
"The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything." Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to GOD !

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Month Of Muharram

The Month Of Muharram
By: Sheikh Mufti Taqi Uthmaani (Hafidhahullah)

Muharram is the month with which the Muslims begin their lunar Hijrah Calendar. It is one of the four sanctified months about which the Holy Quran says, “The number of the months according to Allah is twelve months (mentioned) in the Book of Allah on the day in which He created heavens and the earth. Among these (twelve months) there are four sanctified”. These four months, according to the authentic traditions are the months of Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. All the commentators of the Holy Quran are unanimous on this point, because the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) in his sermon on the occasion of his last Hajj, has declared: One year consists of twelve months, of which four are sanctified months, three of them are in sequence; Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram, and the fourth is Rajab. 

The specific mention of these four months does not mean that any other month has no sanctity, because the month of Ramadhan is admittedly the most sanctified month in the year. But these four months were specifically termed as sanctified months for the simple reason that their sanctity was accepted even by the pagans of Makkah. In fact, every month, out of the twelve, is originally equal to the other, and there is no inherent sanctity which may be able which may be attributed to one of them in comparison to the other months. When Allah Almighty chooses a particular time for His special blessings, the same acquires sanctity out of His grace. Thus, the sanctity of these four months was recognized right from the days of Sayyidina Ibrahim (Alayhis salaam). Since the Pagans of Makkah attributed themselves to Sayyidina Ibrahim (Alayhis salaam) they observed the sanctity of these four months and despite their frequent tribal battles, they held it unlawful to fight in these months. In the Shariah of our Noble Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) the sanctity of these months was upheld and the Holy Quran referred to them as the “sanctified months”. The month of Muharram has certain other characteristics peculiar to it which are specified below.

Fasting During The Month:

The Noble Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) has said: ‘The best fasts after the fasts of Ramadhan are those of the month of Muharram.”

 Although the fasts of the month of Muharram are not obligatory, yet, the one who fasts in these days out of his own will and choice is entitled to a great reward by Allah Almighty. The Hadith cited above signifies that the fasts of the month of Muharram are most rewardable ones among the Nafl fasts i.e. the fasts one observes out of his own choice without being obligatory on him. The Hadith does not mean that the award promised for fasts of Muharram can be achieved only by fasting for the whole month. On the contrary, each fast during this month has merit. Therefore, one should avail of this opportunity as much as he can.

The day of ‘Ashurah’

Although the month of Muharram is a sanctified month as a whole, yet, the 10th day of Muharram is the most sacred among all its days. The day is named ‘Ashurah’. According to the Holy Companion Ibn ‘Abbas (Radhiallaahu Anhu). The Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam), when migrated to Madinah, found that the Jews of Madinah used to fast on the 10th day of Muharram. They said that it was the day on which the Holy Prophet Musa (Moses) (Alayhis salaam) and his followers crossed the Red Sea miraculously and the Pharaoh was drowned in its waters. On hearing this from the Jews, the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “We are more closely rotated to Musa (Alayhis salaam) than you” and directed the Muslims to fast on the day of ‘Ashura’. (Abu Dawood) It is also reported in a number of authentic traditions that in the beginning, fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’ was obligatory for the Muslims. It was later that the fasts of Ramadhan were made obligatory and the fast on the day of ‘Ashura’ was made optional. Sayyidina ‘Aisha (Radhiallaahu Anha) has said: “When the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) came to Madinah, he fasted on the day of ‘Ashura’ and directed the people to fast it. But when the fasts of Ramadhan were made obligatory, the obligation of fasting was confined to Ramadhan and the obligatory nature of the fast of ‘Ashura’ was abandoned. Whoever so desires should fast on it and any other who so likes can avoid fasting on it.” (Sunan Abu Dawud) However, the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to fast on the day of ‘Ashura’ even after the fasting in Ramadhan was made obligatory. Abdullah ibn Musa (Radhiallaahu Anhu) reports that the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) preferred the fast of ‘Ashura’ on the fasts of other days and preferred the fasts of Ramadhaan on the fast of ‘Ashura’. (Bukhari and Muslim)
In short, it is established through a number of authentic Hadiths that fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’ is Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) and makes one entitled to a great reward.
According to another Hadith, it is more advisable that the fast of ‘Ashura’ should either be prefixed or suffixed by another fast. It means that one should fast two days: the 9th and 10th of Muharram or the 10th and 11th of it. The reason of this additional fast as mentioned by the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) is that the Jews used to fast on the day of ‘Ashura alone, and the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) wanted to distinguish the Muslim way of fasting from that of Jews. Therefore, he advised the Muslims to add another fast to that of ‘Ashura’. Some traditions signify another feature of the day of ‘Ashura. According to these traditions one should be more generous to his family by providing more food to them on this day as compared to other days. These traditions are not very authentic according to the science of Hadith. Yet, some Scholars like Baihaqi and Ibn Hibban have accepted them as reliable. What is mentioned above is all that is supported through authentic sources about Ashura. However, there are some legends and misconceptions with regard to ‘Ashura’ that have managed to find their way into the minds of the ignorant, but have no support of authentic Islamic sources, some very common of them are these: This is the day in which Adam (Alayhis salaam) was created. This is the day in which Ibrahim was born. This is the day in which Allah accepted the repentance of Sayyidina Adam (Alayhis salaam) This is the day on which the Qiyaamah (doomsday) will take place. Whoever takes bath in the day of ‘Ashura’ will never get ill.
All these and other similar whims and fancies are totally baseless and the traditions referred to in this respect are not worthy of any credit.
Some people take it as Sunnah to prepare a particular type of meal in the day of ‘Ashura’. This practice, too, has no basis in the authentic Islamic sources.
Some other people attribute the sanctity of ‘Ashura’ to the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu) during his battle with the Syrian army. No doubt, the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu) is one of the most tragic episodes of our history. Yet, the sanctity of ‘Ashura’ cannot be ascribed to this event for the simple reason that the sanctity of ‘Ashura’ was established during the days of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) much earlier than the birth of Sayyidna Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu). On the contrary, it is one of the merits of Sayyidna Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu) that his martyrdom took place on the day of ‘Ashura’. Another misconception about the month of Muharram is that it is an evil or unlucky month, for Sayyidna Husain was killed in it. It is for this misconception that people avoid holding marriage ceremonies in the month of Muharram. This is again a baseless concept which is contrary to the express teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. Such superstitions have been totally negated by the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam). If the death of an eminent person in a particular day renders that day unlucky for all times to come, one can hardly find a day, free from this bad luck, out of 360 days of the whole year, because each and every day has a history of the demise of some eminent person. The Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) have made us free from such superstitious beliefs, and they should deserve no attention.

 Another wrong practice related to this month is to hold the lamentation and mouming ceremonies in the memory of martyrdom of Sayyidna Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu). As mentioned earlier, the event of Karbala is one of the most tragic events of our history, but the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) has forbidden us from holding the mourning ceremonies on the death of any person. The people of jahiliyyah (ignorance) used to mourn over their deceased through loud lamentations, by tearing their clothes and by beating their cheeks and chests. The Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) stopped the Muslims from doing all this and directed them to observe patience by saying “Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon”. A number of authentic Ahaadith are available on the subject. To quote only one of them: “He is not from our group who slaps his checks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of jahiliyyah“. (Sahih Bukhari) All the authentic jurists are unanimous on the point that the mourning of this type is absolutely impermissible.

 Even Sayyidna Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu) at shortly before his demise, had advised his beloved sister Sayyidah Zainab (Radhiallaahu Anha) at not to mourn over his death in this manner. He said, “My dear sister, I swear upon you that you, in case I die, shall not tear your clothes, nor scratch your face, nor curse anyone for me or pray for your death”. (Al-Kamil, ibn Kathir vol. 4 pg. 24) It is evident from this advice of Sayyidna Husain, (Radhiallaahu Anhu) that this type of mourning is condemned even by the blessed person for the memory of whom these mourning ceremonies are held. Every Muslim should avoid this practice and abide by the teachings of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) and his beloved grand child Sayyidna Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu).  

 -Mufti Taqi Uthmaani    

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Moon sighting Issue - To sight or to calculate?

So we are close to that season when the bickering happens when it comes to deciding when to start the 1st day of Fasting in Ramadan and when to end Ramadan. It is always interesting to see that the same arguments happen EACH AND EVERY YEAR during Ramadan (and Eid ul Adha). We need to get past this issue but at the same time, scholars should not avoid answering questions about this issue. The Ummah is really divided because of these small issues because the scholars fail to address these issues. But I'm not going to lay all the blame on the scholars, everyday Muslims also need to pick a side, let others pick the side they want, and move on with their Ibadah, supplication and fasting.

So we all know that this issue for sighing the moon or calculating comes mainly during the Ramadan/Eid ul Fitr time and then again during the Eid ul Adha time. For some, it starts during the month of Shabaan (right before Ramadan). But my question to those who are hardcore moon sighters, do you sight the moon for every month of the Islamic calender or just for selected months? If you sight the moon only for certain months, then its best to keep you mouths shut and go with the opinion you have chosen to follow and not hinder those who choose to follow the calculation method...which they follow throughout the year. And for those who follow the calculation method, its best to keep you mouths shut and let the moon sighters do their sighting because it's actually the recorded sunnah. Don't go about making excuses why its the better one to follow because people can set dates ahead of time and let their employers know ahead of time and on and on. It does make life a bit easier in the west, to deal with your employers and non Muslim colleagues, friends, and acquaintances.

I have been on the side of both Alhumdulillah. My Islamic Center that I follow tends to do everything the calculation method. They even came out with a small book the explains why the calculating method works over the moon sighting view (but its mainly directed towards the west i think...sorry, its been a while since I read it). It seems to work for our community since its so big and people use it for their benefit. I think there is a benefit to using technology and that Muslims need to be on top of technological advancements that are going to benefit Islam, Muslims, and the general Insan/human being.

As for the moon sighting, I was was in a place where they followed moon sighting strictly. It was a small community so that worked for them. I went with a few friends to go and sight the moon with them and I'll tell you, that was an AMAZING experience. The sky wasn't clustered with all the lights and the nightly brightness of the sky like it is in the United States so it was an amazing view to look for the moon. There were a few of us and one brother spotted the moon just as it was about to be covered with a cloud. His sharp eyes (alhumdulillah) had us all excited and he pointed out the moon to the rest of us. (when I refer to the moon, I mean the small crescent that indicates the start of the new Muslim month). I'll tell you, we were all so excited that he was able to sight the moon and point it out to the rest of us that it's an experience to remember. There were about 7 to 10 of us who sighted the moon and I'm pretty sure it was an experience for all of them and they can probably remember it like it was yesterday. It was purely amazing Alhumdulillah.

The last thing I will talk about is addressed to the scholars. PLEASE address this issue. It IS an Issue weather you like it or not and will continue to be an issue for more years to come. Address this issue and explain to them the two views and which one you recommend them to follow or which one fits you and let them decide their view. You are responsible to address issues that are in people's minds, but at the end of the day, the individual person will follow the view they feel deemed fit for them after being informed. All you have to do is address the 2 views inshaAllah.

My Opinion/Last Words:
The main thing one can do is to follow the Masjid/Islamic Center they always follow for everything else during the year. There are conflicting issues and we as individuals have to make an informed decision on what we have to follow. Islam in not blind belief so you have to be informed on the issue and pick a side. Yes, you can change your view/side later on but please DO NOT call the other side wrong. If you want to say anything, just state your side and your belief and move on. Don't try to impose your view on others. The Prophet (S) did things many different ways and scholars who follow each method also have supporting evidence for their views. All we can do is make an informed decision and accept our decision. Just stop calling the other side wrong.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Questioning Organizations - Just got some legitimacy

So after my last blog post about questioning "Islamic" Organizations, someone who read it from an organization got a little antsy and said that I was coming after their organization and trying to tarnish it. (Im not going to say which one it is but you all can speculate on it). But this person wrote the email stating that I am trying to "tarnish" the name and reputation of the organization and that all I wrote were allegations without any basis. BUT, if that person picked up all the points for their organization, then it means its has some basis to it. If an organization is not guilty of the allegations listed, then there is no need for them to get back to me and say that "legal action will be taken" or any other threats just from one simple thought put out there. The only reason anyone would feel like that it is targeting them or their organization is if and only if they ARE guilty of those allegations. If they are not, then they should not worry. But if they feel that it is targeting their organization, instead of making threats, that person and their organization should try to fix the problems outlined. But unfortunately, as I have written in that post and in previous posts, I will write it again. People are too hungry for power and will stay in their positions no matter what. They will not change their organization for the better, they will not hold ANYONE in their organization accountable let alone them self, and they will not take advice when offered. As for accountability, one thing I have noticed, those who are doing something wrong or nothing at all are not held accountable, but those who try to do something right in their respective organization get hammered and questioned for their work.

Unfortunately it has all been predetermined in various hadiths of the Prophet (S) where he for told that Muslims will be large in number but very week. And that Muslims will not practice what is in Islam and everything that leads to the deterioration of Islam in the way it is practiced. In todays Khutba at the mosque that I attended, the Khateeb stated a simple story of Umar (R) where he said that he is scared that he is in Madina, and if in Damascus falls in a pothole, Umar (R) will feel accountable for it...something along those lines. Those were the Companions, the best of the generations of Muslims. They knew what accountability was. Unfortunately, we can all talk about accountability and what not, but the ignorant, arrogant, and unqualified will continue to lead without any question. And unfortunately, our "Islamic" organizations have no proper model that they follow in their actions nor do they have any thing written down in their bylaws or what not (even though the Quran and Sunnah should be enough laws to abide by).

Last note/advice: Seen in almost ALL non-Muslim run companies/organizations, if an allegation is made for any form of misconduct against a "leader", that "leader" is usually put on administrative leave until pending inquiry and someone else takes over. But in "Islamic" organizations, the people who do the misconduct stay in power and are HELD in power by those higher then them and told to keep things hush hush but Haqh (truth) will always prevails iA and people will get what they deserve. Our organizations can really learn a thing or 2 from non Muslim held Companies and organizations (unfortunately). 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Where are the Muslims?

Amazing and thoughtful video. Reflect and ACT, just don't watch, feel bad, and move on. Lets start something inshaAllah.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Islamic Organizations" One of the biggest deceptions

Any organization that calls its self an "Islamic" organization is nothing short of a deception. They might look good on paper but in reality, they aren't really up to their standards. These organizations are run in a few ways. One, they have people leading who are not properly qualified or not properly trained or both. Second, all efforts and advice to better the organization are completely ignored because they are given by those who are "outside" the organization. Third, members of these organizations tend to stay disappointed, bring up their disappointments here and their, rather than in their meetings (assuming they have meetings). These are just some of the many faults with those organizations that call themselves Islamic.

So to address point one, many of these organizations, from what I have come to know, have people how are only "leaders" because they completed some sort of course or something within the organization and something that is "Islamic" related. They hear and read from books about how Islamic work should be done (some of which is not followed at all) and talk or discuss those topics. All literature pertains to Islam and the Islamic movement or something Islamic related. They never go outside their bubble and explore secular books on leadership which could offer some great advice. Nor do they look at books pertaining strictly to leadership from an Islamic perspective. Everything seems to be improvised on how to run things. There is no consistent model followed [within an organization]and there is no way to "overthrow" a leader [for poor workmanship or leadership]. To overthrow a leader is considered "haram" in some people's minds. Not training individuals on how to become leaders or how to properly run an organization leads to many organization's demise. Having a leader who is untrained or under qualified might work in some instances but it is usually because of a strong support system and great brothers/sisters who surround these leaders. These are very minor cases and are very rare to find these days. Masajids and Islamic organizations are starting to die or slowly fade because of bad leadership. 

Moving on to point two. Some people in these organizations have a problem when someone who is probably a volunteer and not on the "inside" of the organization brings up a problem within the organization. Yes, that sounds confusing. But I'll try to explain. I see a problem in organization X, I try to bring it up to the "leader" of organization X but I can't. And if I do, it is coming from someone who is a mere volunteer or someone with only a slight attachment to the organization. I might be right 110%, but since I'm not a "member", the advice or issue is only someone moving their mouth. Now, this could be a sincere advice to move the organization in the right direction, or a fault that needs correcting, but I am not a member so my word is meaningless. But to avoid this "volunteer" trying to talk and better the organization, some organizations are starting to hire people for work that can be done for free (so be careful who you donate to. And trust me, even if an organization looks amazing or has had a good "record", always do your research time and again before you open you wallets and checkbooks now-a-days). More and more organizations, to avoid and sort of conflict, are hiring individuals for work that can be done by volunteers [sometimes just as good or even better]. Im not saying don't hire people, but if there is something you can get for free, people should go for it. But even after hiring an individual, these organizations really dont have a proper way of firing an individual or dont fire at all. 

As for those wondering what is a difference between a member and a volunteer, well it could mean 2 things. One is members pay to be part of the organization and have more rights and decision making calls because they pay into the organization. The other thing in some organizations is that a person has to take some sort of "oath of loyalty" for the organization. That he/she will work to the best of their abilities and follow all the written rules and blah blah blah... Then those who are already members somehow magically believe that this person is part of them. I personally like the pay to play version bc if you dont pay, you are automatically kicked out. in the other way, its REALLY hard to kick someone out (but easy to get in if you have the right connections). 

Because of this dilemma of volunteer vs member, it brings me to my third point. I have seen many different "members" (remember, these are the individuals who have paid to play or taken some sort of oak), who are distraught with their organization or the way things are being done talk here and there but never seem to bring it up in their meetings. They never talk about it in the channel that it is supposed to be talked at (AKA their member's meeting). You will hear disappoints of things here and there, and even the leader (which they probably elected or not) and it just seems sad. But at the same time, it might make one angry why they are not just bringing it up in their meeting. Maybe others feel the same way and they will back them up. But then again, some organizations just don't have meetings for all their members. They just get rid of it all together because the leaders know they are doing a poor job and don't want anyone to bring it up. So what do these leaders do, they hold small meetings with a select few of these members and talk about small points and get it over as quickly as possible. 

I can write MANY more things about organizations and their destructing structures, but keeping it at these 3 should just make you think, are these "Islamic Organizations" really Islamic? Ask questions, demand answers or people will continue to spend the money you as individuals give them any way they like. And they will continue to do things how its seems fit to them because there is essentially no challenge for them. The earlier Muslims in general start to realize that it is OK to ask questions, raise their voices, and not shy away from organizational politics that are meant to shut them down, then only will we start moving back on the right track. Problems exist everywhere, but to address them and solve them are the only way to fix them. To hide them under a rug or a curtain or anywhere else, only makes things worse. 

May Allah guide us on the straight path and help us get rid of tyrant and/or unqualified leaders so we can become a strong Muslim Ummah once again. Ameen

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dysfunctions of an Islamic Organization

I got this a while back but being involved in an Islamic Organization myself for a while, I think I should share this. It is a really informative piece, specially for those in the "leadership" positions of Islamic Organizations. 

Five Dysfunctions of an Islamic Organization

This information should benefit anyone involved in Islamic organizations, but it really needs extra attention from those in leadership positions in their communities to start to effect the type of change needed to prevent dysfunction.

The Five Dysfunctions Are
  1. Absence of Trust
  2. Fear of Conflict
  3. Lack of Commitment
  4. Avoidance of Accountability
  5. Inattention to Results
These are laid out by Patrick Lencioni in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable. While the pertinence to a professional or corporate environment is obvious, these are at the core of the problems faced by Masajid and Islamic organizations across the country.

1. Absence of Trust
The fear of being vulnerable with team members prevents the building of trust within the team.
Understanding trust means refining our notions of the term. Trust means knowing the others around you have good intentions, and that you don’t need to shield yourself around them. It is distinct from reliance, which is “trusting” that a peer will perform a given task reliably. Trust is being able to open up, and show vulnerability while knowing that those vulnerabilities won’t be used against you.
What we find with many Islamic organizations is that people’s actions are dictated by what others will think about them. Think about the person elected to be the Masjid treasurer with no accounting or financial experience whatsoever. This person continues to do this job day in and day out, despite not being able to do it well. Instead, this person is focusing on holding this position for strategic reasons vis-a-vis others within the organization. He is constantly trying to protect himself. If trust existed within the organization, he would be able to display that vulnerability and instead be 100% focused on performing the treasurer duties to the best of his ability.
It is commonplace that the higher ranking members in these organizations are usually the “well-educated” ones (e.g. the “doctor uncle”). One thing we often fail to realize is that these people have been trained their entire lives to be competitive with their peers and constantly outperform them. Personal reputations are at stake. If these instincts cannot be ‘turned off’ for the betterment of the organization, then a lot of time is invested into managing the fallout. Examples of this include having constant meetings to manage people’s behaviors, and seeing a decrease in the willingness of organization members to help one another.
Organizationally, another factor that contributes to a loss of trust is not identifying and utilizing people’s skills. How can trust exist in a masjid construction project when a Muslim contractor who has been managing construction projects for a living for over 20 years is sitting around while the organization turns over the masjid construction plans to a pediatrician?
This is the fundamental building block to freeing Islamic organizations of dysfunction, and it is perhaps the hardest because it requires the greatest overhaul in attitude and environment.
Once established however, it can foster constructive conflict.

2. Fear of Conflict
The desire to preserve artificial harmony stifles the occurrence of productive, ideological conflict.
-Important concept to understand: Ideological conflict vs. Personal conflict-
Have you ever met a husband and wife who never had an argument with one another? Have you ever met a parent that never had a disagreement with his or her children? Didn’t think so.
Why do we expect that Islamic organizations should operate under some kind of happy-go-lucky utopia? To preserve this naive notion of how things should be, we avoid engaging in any kind of conflict. What ends up happening then is that direct conflict is avoided within the organization, but it is replaced with back-stabbing, personal conflicts, and politics.
You have seen the organization where there may be a body of 7 people. 3 of them meet separately, and 4 of them meet separately. Then they concoct conspiracy theories about how the opposing camp really feels about an issue, and why they are pushing a particular position over another. Then they get riled up, and go out to the community seeking more support for their own side. Next thing you know, it’s an all out community conflict with name-calling, people not talking to each other, and the conflict finally erupting at a dinner party at some innocent person’s house while the innocent bystanders try to enjoy some chicken biryani.
Muslim organizations simply seem to want to avoid having any healthy conflict (discussion). This is why they all dread meetings that are boring, and where nothing gets done. When organization members trust each other, they can talk freely with one another and debate the merits of different ideas. Sit down and completely hash it out. A certain level of maturity is of course required, so that the debate does not turn personal. The element of trust is what allows people to freely credit or discredit ideas without worrying about hurting someone’s feelings (and then later making personal attacks behind their back).
Meetings should be lively and focus on the concepts and ideas being discussed – even if they become emotional. Let people be passionate about why they feel that a certain project is a waste of money, or that the dome of the masjid should be 25 feet in diameter instead of 30 feet, and so on.
This is important because once the merits of an idea have been thoroughly discussed, everyone has had a chance to air their objections or concerns, and people can respond to them. So let the best ideas win. Once that is done, even the people who initially opposed the idea, can support it from an organizational perspective. Contrast this with a board member who unwillingly votes in favor of a certain project, waiting for it to fail, then running around telling the community, “I told you so!”

3. Lack of Commitment
The lack of clarity or buy-in prevents team members from making decisions to which they will commit.
Commitment only comes from the step above – once everyone’s perspectives and opinions have been heard, they can all buy into the concept knowing that all ideas have been considered. And of course, that discussion cannot take place without step 1 – establishing trust.
According to Lencioni, the two biggest factors hindering commitment are:
  1. Desire for consensus
  2. Need for certainty
It seems many Islamic organizations refuse to move forward even one step without both of those being in place. Finding consensus is a nearly impossible task, and consensus is usually sought out of fear of backlash. It seems leaders are unwilling to make decisions without 100% support in case something goes wrong, they can defend themselves. This is unhealthy for the growth of any organization.
People do not need to agree with a decision in order to support it. As long as their ideas have been properly heard (explained in the step above), then they can rally around the decision – even if they disagree with it.
The need for certainty is closely related to the phenomenon of analysis paralysis. Organizations are unwilling to make a decision until a certain amount of data is available to them – at which point it might be too late. They have an innate need to feel like they have made the correct decision. Often times, a decision will need to be made quickly, and without the benefit of having all of the relevant information available. It is important to decide, and move on. Better to go down swinging then not show up at all. We are blessed with Istikharah and shura. Utilize them. Constantly delaying a decision, or flip-flopping back and forth will not help you make the correct choice, instead it will just kill your credibility.
Symptoms of lack of commitment include: ambiguity about direction and priorities, lack of confidence, fear of failure, and revisiting issues over and over for discussion. Islamic organizations need to clearly define their goals, rally around those common objectives, create an environment of learning from mistakes, and moving forward without regret.
The Prophet (sal-Allahu ‘alayhi was-Sallam) said the believer is not bitten from the same hole twice. We cannot demand perfection, but we demand the best effort.

4. Avoidance of Accountability
The need to avoid interpersonal discomfort prevents team members from holding one another accountable.
Lack of clarity and direction (as explained in the step above) makes it impossible to hold anyone accountable. How can someone be accountable if they do not know what is expected in the first place?
Successful organizations must have an environment in place where people are able to call each other out for not living up to their standards. This should be the case whether positions are paid or unpaid. People are uncomfortable letting others know that their performance may not be up to the expected standards because they fear losing a volunteer, or perhaps even a friendship. Letting these feelings fester though, will only cause those relationships to deteriorate. It is time for Islamic organizations to stop settling, and demand the best – even if it requires some personal discomfort along the way. Doing this will actually develop mutual respect amongst the people working within the organization because they know they are equally being held to the same high standards by one another.
If this accountability is not there, then people begin to simply look out for their own self-interests over and above the interests of the organization.

5. Inattention to Results
The pursuit of individual goals and personal status erodes the focus on collective success.
Once an organization has clearly defined its goals and objectives, it must focus on meeting them. When an organization loses sight of those results, their attention shifts elsewhere. Lencioni says ‘elsewhere’ in this case would be team and individual status:
Team Status: For [some], merely being part of the group is enough to keep them satisfied. For them, the achievement of specific results might be desirable, but not necessarily worthy of great sacrifice or inconvenience. As ridiculous and dangerous as this might seem, plenty of teams fall prey to the lure of status. These often include altruistic nonprofit organizations that come to believe that the nobility of their mission is enough to justify their satisfaction … as they often see success in merely being associated with their special organizations.
Individual Status: This refers … [to people focusing] on enhancing their own positions … at the expense of the team.
The collective results must be more important than individual aims and objectives. One important note is the relationship of this dysfunction to the issue of trust (step 1). Individuals getting involved must also cleanse their hearts of any ill intentions such as seeking fame and credit in the community. The eventual breakdown of an entire organization can start from the simplest of individual wants or intentions.

Concluding Thoughts
Lencioni summarized it best:
And so, like a chain with just one link broken, teamwork deteriorates if even a single dysfunction is allowed to flourish.
Another way to understand this model is to take the opposite approach – a positive one – and imagine how members of a truly cohesive team behave:
  1. They trust one another.
  2. They engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas.
  3. They commit to decisions and plans of action.
  4. They hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans.
  5. They focus on the achievement of collective results.