Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Imam, Committee and the Mosque

Our troublesome local mosque makes regular appearances in the local paper, nothing good, the journalist always finds something controversial to report. In the last few years the headlines were generated by the local Pakistani factions (made of tribalistic (biradery) bonds) fighting over the management committee also known as the mismanagement committee. Things got so bad, the mosque was policed especially during the Friday prayers and on few occasions the police were forced to storm the mosque (with shoes on) to break the scuffle between the elderly men. This saga ended with the management committee being ousted by an alliance of various (biradery) factions through election, an election which the previous committee does not recognise, and the case continues.

However, the situation has improved since and just when things were getting back to normal, the mosque is making the headlines once again in the local media. This time its the Imam, who has been jailed for punching and kicking a nine-year-old boy, then beating him with a bamboo stick. He pleaded guilty and blamed ‘cultural differences’ to be the cause (as if its some big misunderstanding). The Imam is not new to this country, he was cautioned for similar offence in 2005. In the past 5 years, anyone would think the Imam would’ve overcome or bridged these cultural differences. Despite him coming to terms with the cultural nuances or otherwise, his Islamic knowledge pertaining to such behaviours should have been sufficient in him curtailing the use of his fist. Perhaps this incident highlights the dearth of the Imam in this area too.

These issues are not new. This happens to be the sad reality of mosques up and down the country especially those run by Pakistani Brelawi community. The imported Imams, unqualified, and non-English speaking committee members are often under the illusion that beating (children or anyone otherwise) is key in implementing discipline. Most often issues such as child abuse, excessive use of discipline, and even molestation are casually brushed under the carpet in a bid to avert unwanted attention to the mosque, its members and/or the community.  In this particular case, the committee members were politically motivated in their desire for the active removal of the Imam -as part of their agenda since the recent take over of the mosque management.

Our local mosque is one of the biggest in the borough generating thousands of pounds through friday collection and donations. Where does it all go? The mosque has failed to organise a single memorable event addressing the issues of the Muslims community let alone warm invites to non-Muslim members of community. They probably never will nor allow anyone else to. I guess we will just have to wait for these elders of ‘backhome’ mentality to pass on before even considering any  serious changes to the entire mosque management system.