U.S. Muslim leaders launch fundraiser to support mosques and imams

The Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan. Editorial credit: Nagel Photography

A crowdfunding initiative led by four prominent American Muslim leaders is aiming to protect the livelihoods of imams and mosque staff around the country.

The initiative has raised over $167,000 to maintain mosque staff’s income. The funds will be distributed to mosques and Islamic centres that apply for assistance in grants ranging from $5,000-$10,000.

The initiative is spearheaded by Muslim crowdfunding platform LaunchGood, the American Muslim Community Foundation philanthrophic organisation and four of the country’s most recognisable Muslim leaders: Imams Zaid Shakir, Omar Suleiman, Yasir Qadhi and Suhaib Webb.

The campaign states: “Severe financial strain for masajid across America threatens the employment of thousands of Imams & staff. Since mid-March, 2020, the precautions related to limiting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have meant that masjids and Islamic centers, among so many other institutions, have had to close their doors and disallow daily prayer services, Jumuah prayer services, and all programs and activities.

“In addition to the spiritual and emotional impact on the congregation who can no longer attend their masjid/Islamic center, there has been a very severe impact on the donations being collected to meet the monthly expenses related to the masjid/Islamic center operations. The consequences of this impact have varied but some masjids/Islamic centers have had to make the difficult decisions to either reduce the salary of their Imams and other staff members to half or worse, to terminate their contracts…

“The Caring for Our Own campaign is designed to provide small, one-time grants ranging between $5,000 – $10,000 (based on amount collected) to eligible masjids/Islamic centers in order to bridge the gap in income for their respective Imams and staff members.”

Mosques rely on donations collected during Friday prayer services as well as nightly fundraisers during Ramadan. But with the doors to masaajid closed, many have been left wondering how to keep up with monthly operational costs while also paying staff.

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Muslims must not neglect their clergy and spiritual institutions, particularly mosques in underprivileged communities, during times of crisis, Yasir Qadhi told Religion News Service.

“Most mosques in America are already struggling financially, and many people who work for mosques — clergy and staff — are underpaid and overworked as it is. Many have chosen these professions and careers not for the sake of financial rewards but for the benefits of giving back to their communities.”

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