State of the Foundation
by Dr. Hassan Elannani, President of NAFIS
5th Shura Council
Chicago Mosque, Chicago, IL
Saturday, September 01, 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters, As-Salamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh
In the Name of God, the most Gracious, the most Merciful. We thank Him and ask Him to shower His greetings and blessings upon the Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his companions, and his followers.
We thank God for allowing this 5th Shura Council to take place in Chicago Mosque, in this blessed month of dhul hijja, and among our dear sisters and brothers from Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida to discuss the affairs of NAFIS, and to set the stage for future development and growth of this blessed organization.
The Shura Council according to NAFIS Bylaws is the general consultative and legislative authority of the foundation. Its responsibilities include approving the vision, mission, and the strategic plan; amending the bylaws; electing the Board of Trustees; electing the president, vice-president, and chair of the Shura Council; assessing the overall performance of the foundation; and deciding on any items proposed by the Board of Trustees. In today’s meeting, we will be able to perform some of these responsibilities, but above all, our most significant contribution to this Shura Council is our coming together as a community (jama’a) bonded with the companionship (suhba) of the believers.
The theme of this 5th Shura Council is ( العلم إمام العمل) “Knowledge is a leader and action is its follower” based on the aya 28 from sura fatir: (إنما يخش الله من عباده لعماء) “Indeed those who fear God from His servants are those who have knowledge”. What kind of knowledge does the verse refer to? Is it the knowledge required to be an educated person? Is it the knowledge necessary to succeed in life? Or is it something else?
Abu Bakr – May God be pleased with him – summed up the nature of required knowledge in these words of wisdom: “The more knowledge you have, the greater will be your fear of God. Without knowledge action is useless, and knowledge without action is futile. Knowledge is the life of the mind. When a noble man learns knowledge he becomes humble, when an ignoble person gains knowledge he gets conceited. When knowledge is limited, it leads to folly; when knowledge exceeds a certain limit, it leads to exploitation.”
Imam Yassine, may God shower him with His mercy advised the students in his book “Day and Night Schedule of the Believer”: “If you are a student, do your best and spend the requisite time in studying. The first of your duties after the Ritual Prayer, recitation of the Qur’an and God’s Ritual Remembrance is to acquire the minimal share of Islamic knowledge. Then you should strive hard to succeed in your academic studies, for the latter are the Jihad of your age. You had better choose books that will benefit you in this world and in the Hereafter. A wise man said: tell me which books you read, I will tell you who you are.”
As students in the blessed school of Justice and Spirituality living in this country filled with educational opportunities, we need to implement the Imam’s advice and take full advantage of grants and scholarships so that we can develop our skills and build the much needed capability among NAFIS membership. Alhamdulillah, the pursuit of academic knowledge has become a general trend among many NAFIS members. More and more brothers and sisters have earned college degrees and have improved their employment and income status. Others are taking the same challenge despite their family and da’wa responsibilities.
In terms of Islamic knowledge, the weekly meetings continue to educate members in aspects of the Prophetic Method and Islamic sciences. Recently, there has been a growing interest to study classical works, most notably on fiqh and Arabic, at the hands of experts in these fields. In addition, several programs and initiatives in NAFIS mosques and centers such as weekend schools and specialized educational programs provide adults and schoolaged children with opportunities to learn the Quran, Arabic, and Islamic studies. However, there is more work to do in this strategic aspect, especially in developing and reviewing programs that serve the vision and mission of NAFIS, and integrating the best practices and tools in the delivery of these programs. For example, one area of significant need is training workshops on leadership and parenting skills.
Now let me introduce to you a summary of achievements and areas of development for the year of 2017 based on NAFIS Strategic Table and Key Performance Indicators that I will present to you in great details, along with a three-year summary report, right after this speech:
- Overall, we have not met our targets in five of the seven keys to success. In tarbiya, we have noticed a 5% decline in the frequency of meetings compared to the previous year. In terms of new centers, the opening of a NAFIS mosque in Pennsylvania has faced some challenges but we are hopeful that PA members will find the best and convenient property, God Willing. In addition, the strategic plan to acquire a camp is still under consideration and visits to potential properties were made last year. However, we are cognizant of the financial responsibilities that such a project entails and hope that NAFIS members and centers give it their full support.
- Despite not meeting most targets, we have made a slight progress in da’wa compared to the previous year. Still, we need to add more members from different backgrounds. Two major initiatives could contribute to this objective. First, the new NAFIS structure approved by the 4th Shura Council last year could encourage more states to increase their membership, and the annual Myrtle Beach camp in SC, the Open House and dhikra events in NC, SC, MA, and PA that have made dozens of Muslims interested in the message and work of NAFIS.
- As far as finance is concerned, there is a noticeable decrease in donations and in the number of monthly dues’ payers. Even though one may explain that decrease in terms of the financial needs of mosques and centers, not all members contribute to their local fundraising events and many pledges are not collected. This situation requires an evaluation of the whole process and a development of new plans to support NAFIS general account, including more focus on tarbiya and the effective use of technology in the collection of donations and monthly dues.
In order to both sustain the above achievements and successfully address the above areas for improvement, the engagement and contribution of each of you are essential.
Before I conclude this speech, please let me quote Imam Yassine – may God shower him with His mercy – in the book “The Last Testament” as he advises us to seek the beneficial knowledge: “I advise of seeking knowledge – knowledge which guarantees the felicity of each individual in the Hereafter and knowledge of those sciences and disciplines that guarantee strength for the umma. Intellects capable of organization, production and creativity are necessary in gaining this strength before strong hands and well-spent wealth.”
May God Almighty give us all the success in following the wasiyya of the Imam, and may His Blessings and Peace be upon the Messenger, his family, his companions, his brothers, and his party.