Islamic community centers and mosques in the United States have not always been able to support the needs of the members of their community. American Muslims are a diverse population of young, educated people and require Islamic centers and mosques to extend their services and outreach so that they can be a more integral part of their lives.
Here are some initiatives which every Islamic community center and mosque should consider:
Put up a ‘Welcome’ sign at the door: These signs should be visible at the entrance of all Islamic community centers and mosques and should read ‘All are Welcome.’ A sign such as this will allow visitors to feel comfortable as they enter the premises. Additional signs regarding appropriate dress codes should also be displayed so that such rules may be adhered to by all members of the public.
Connecting with the outside world: People who belong to Islamic community centers and mosques should be able to communicate and collaborate with others. All outside parties, whether belonging to other community centers or nonprofit organizations, should be able to contact the administration of Islamic centers. Good social media strategies should also be adopted so as to connect with such organizations.
Create a recreational space: Each Islamic community center and mosque should have a designated area for recreational activities where the youth can participate. Having sports and other fun activities will encourage youngsters to come to the center.
Introduce initiatives to involve senior citizens: The American Muslim community should consider functions which involve senior citizens who want to connect with their local Islamic community centers and mosques. These can include regular meetings for them to voice their opinions and weekly lunches for them to socialize and discuss any important matters.
Feed the hungry: Soup kitchens should operate out of Islamic centers and mosques to feed those who are dealing with poverty. Feeding others should be done on a regular basis and in this way they can establish good relations with the needy community.
Use a suggestion box: Suggestion boxes are an ideal way for the community to voice their opinions so that there can be an improvement in services.
Promote entrepreneurial skills: With the growing number of young Muslims who are interested in building a career for themselves, Islamic centers and mosques should host entrepreneurial classes. Islamic community centers can provide a platform for successful entrepreneurs to give inspiring talks to the youth in the community.
Organize social events for singles: Monthly events can be held to encourage Islamic singles to mingle and perhaps meet a potential spouse. The centers can screen individuals beforehand to ensure that trustworthy individuals attend.
Provide interest-free education loans: Islamic centers and mosques can assist American-Muslim students with their expenses. Tuition fees are on the rise, and many will not be able to afford to go to college. They should set up endowment funds offering interest-free loans to students who need financial assistance.
Launch women empowerment initiatives: Islamic community centers and mosques should host women empowerment initiatives which are organized by women from the local community. Events such as this will benefit Muslim women by serving as a safe environment for them to discuss their issues and challenges. It would also be a good idea to hold workshops that enable them to empower themselves and other women.