Mistakes in Masjid Governance

Mistake: The absence of a Board of Trustees to provide direction and oversight often leads masjids to lose sight of developing and maintaining its vision, mission and goals.

One of the main purposes of a Board of Trustees is to develop a clear vision, mission and set of goals for the masjid, which are founded in the message of Islam to strive in the path of Allah to establish Islam in our hearts and the world; and then to provide course correction if the executives of the masjid stray from that vision, mission and set of goals.  In other words, a Board of Trustees provides direction and oversight.

The problem is that too many masjids do not have a Board of Trustees; and if they do, many Board of Trustees do not provide direction and oversight.

My contention is that masjids, which are at least medium in size, must have a Board of Trustees to provide the essential services of direction and oversight.  The unfortunate reality is that almost half of masjids (46%) with a Jum’ah attendance over 200 have only one governing body.  Small masjids with Jum’ah attendance under 200 might be excused from having a Board of Trustees and an Executive Committee because of their size.

The problem with having only one governing body, whether called an Executive Committee or Board, is that the governing body will undoubtedly become consumed with the details of running the masjid on a day-to-day basis, and as a result direction-setting and oversight will be compromised.  Also, oversight requires a separate body to evaluate and make course corrections.

Even when a masjid has both a Board of Trustees, often the Board is not active in seeking to set the vision, mission and goals of the masjid; and neglectful in providing oversight.

Setting vision, mission and goals of a masjid is essential in order to inspire and energize leaders and attendees.  Without the inspiration of a vision, mission and goals which are tied to the vision of Islam, energy wanes, volunteers are few and fundraising is more difficult.

To make sure that a Board of Trustees fulfills its role in direction-setting and oversight, clear guidelines for the responsibilities of the Board of Trustees need to be written, Board training should be required, and an annual evaluation of the Board itself needs to be conducted.


Author:  Dr. Ihsan Bagby
Associate Professor of Islamic Studies,
University of Kentucky

Researcher of mosques in America for the last 30 years.

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