The Ideal Masjid
We want to help make our local mosques amazing places to be! By sharing best practice, and supporting innovative ideas, we hope to inspire mosques of all sizes to serve their communities more effectively - even if they have limited resources. Our first part of the Ideal Masjid will be to launch a website where people can collaborate and share knowledge about how to make our mosques better places - from photos of great ideas, to policies and procedures, and advice from experts and specialists.
The Need for This Project
The masjid (lit: the place of prostration) represents one of the greatest and most abundant resources available to Muslims around the world. From the richest communities to the poorest, there is almost always a mosque, or one which is planned. Mosques also represent one of the most common reasons that people seek charitable donations - perhaps the most common reason that Muslims raise money, after international aid relief.
One common problem that many mosques suffer from is that they are being underused, and are not serving their community in the best possible way. Problems vary from facilities to fundraising, and from personnel to policies. Another related problem is that of waste and inefficiency. This impacts almost every aspect of the mosque, from the initial build, to the day-to-day running costs.
However, there are many mosques around the world that excel in many of these problem areas. What is needed is a project to share ideas and best practice, as well as to bring together experts and volunteers to solve problems faced by many mosques. Of course, every single mosque is different, but by sharing hundreds of innovative ideas and well tested policies that do work, and by sponsoring the development of solutions to common problems, the overwhelming majority of mosques can find ways to make more use of this amazing resource, and to reduce waste and inefficiency.
This project is centred around the website idealmasjid.org, as follows:
- To develop the website such that it is divided into categories of everything that goes into building, renovating, and running a masjid.
- To allow people to share and collaborate on developing wiki-style pages, with everything from ways to save money and reduce waste, to child protection policies and building design ideas.
- To allow people to post photos through social media of things that they like in the mosques that they visit, which can then be used to inspire others.
- To bring together expert volunteers, such as experts in law, finance, building design, and administration, to encourage them to volunteer by providing information, and amending the existing material with corrections and improvements.
In the course of doing so, it is expected that certain problems will be brought to light for which a new solution can be developed, and this is one of the aims of the project. One such example is improving the communication between the mosque and the congregation by providing an easy and cheap way for the mosque to keep people updated. One solution would be to recycle an old iPad, which could be securely mounted on the wall of the masjid, and used to update people via their phones as to local congregational prayer times, and upcoming events. It could even be used to live stream audio from classes and the prayer. This particular solution would cost no more than developing a simple app, and encouraging people to donate an old device. It wouldn't need much in the way of electricity (and wouldn't be vulnerable to power cuts), and wouldn't necessarily need an expensive broadband connection - just a cheap SIM card.
At this moment in time, we have a volunteer who is able to work on this project, so we are not currently looking to raise funds for this project. The initial website structure is simple enough that hosting costs should be minimal, and the idea is based upon existing technology.
Cost is likely to become a factor when we start looking at custom solutions to problems, but this is not planned until 2016.
We aim to have completed the first version of the website by the end of 2015, in shaa' Allah. In the first instance, this is likely to rely heavily on existing solutions, such as Instagram and Flickr for photos, rather than developing anything complicated or expensive to host.
Where Are We Now?
We have already started gathering photos and ideas of amazing things that we've seen in mosques around the world, as well as sketching out ideas for the website structure. This isn't a high priority project, but we're hoping to see some progress before the end of the year, in shaa' Allah.