World Muslim News
Imam Warith Deen Muhammad
QUESTION: What suggestions can you give to Imams in various masajid who seek to better utilize the qualified believers that they have at their disposal?
IMAM: Do what so many of us have done and that is, operate a masjid on principles of Islamic democracy. Islamic democracy requires that the Imam delegate authority, share authority with others — with his staff -- and include people in the productive activities of his community.
He is to search out persons who are qualified to be a part of the productive activity and he is to extend a hand to them, a welcoming hand to them. They shouldn't have to go knock on his door and knock his door down to get recognition. He should be trying to find them and he should be trying to convince them that their contribution is needed and welcomed.
He shouldn't fear qualification in others. This is another part of that ghost, that plantation ghost that haunts us. We fear qualifications in others. You fear, "Oh, he's educated — if I include him, he will take from me. They'll begin to want him over me."
Now, this is a bad thing in many of us and I wouldn't sit here and say I know all the Imams are free from this kind of problem. Most likely, some Imams have that problem; they fear that if someone comes in with qualifications, their own image or their own authority is going to be weakened somewhat.
They shouldn't feel that. If an Imam uses qualified people who are good Muslims — say his own education may be 8th grade, elementary; it may be a high school education or even less — if the people see that he is looking for qualified people, then those sincere people in his membership are going to see him in a better light and they are going to appreciate him more.
They are going to say, "Our Imam is not educated, but his leadership is not crippled, his leadership is not hurt, because he solicits the talents, the skills and the professions of those who are educated."
So it is in his best interest to open up and to share; if he doesn't, he will never grow. We have a 50-year history to prove that. If he doesn't include people who have professions and educated people who can make real contributions to him and to this community, then he won't grow. He will always be a small storefront preacher who can only expect chicken this Sunday, and that's all.