by Enver Masud
WASHINGTON, DC—While many voice the slogan "united we stand, divided we
fall," few realize what is required to achieve unity—common purpose, goals,
objectives, and fewer still are willing to surrender their personal ambitions,
or perhaps their hidden agenda, for the good of
the community. The organization needed to determine such goals and objectives
does not exist.
Informal organization are formed when the desired goal requires the
resources of two or more persons. Informal organizations become formal
organizations to overcome the limits of informal organization. Formal
organizations cooperate informally with other organizations to overcome the
limits of individual organizations. Ultimately, informal cooperation is
insufficient, and organizations enter into formal relationships,thereby,
augmenting informal organizations.
Washington is home to a few thousand such organizations representing the
common interests of their member organizations, but Muslim organizations remain
the exception. During the last decade, Muslim organizations have had modest
victories through informal cooperation among ad hoc groupings of Muslim
organizations, but have yet to move toward more effective formal cooperation
among member organizations.
Prior to the 2000 elections, several Muslim organizations announced their
support for candidate George Bush who was elected by a very narrow margin—the
Muslim vote in Florida helped get him elected. Following his election as
president, George Bush, launched a massive attack on Iraq, announced his
intention to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and gave the green
light to Ariel Sharon to attack Palestinian civilians with tanks and U.S. made
Now Muslims are asking: How was the decision to support candidate Bush made,
and what did we get in return for our support? Should Muslims support issues,
rather than a party or presidential candidate? What are the goals and objectives
of those Muslim organizations claiming to represent us? What are the sources and
uses of funds received by these organizations? How can we work together to
determine common objectives, and leverage our resources to achieve those
The answers are not forthcoming.
And while our organizations flounder, our competition is getting ahead. As a
minority community in the U.S., with less resources than our competition, the
only way to beat the competition is not merely by working harder. We must also work
In his classic text, "The Functions of the Executive," Chester I. Barnard
defines three essentials for successful organizations: common purpose,
communication, and willingness to cooperate.
Common purpose requires the participation of as many representatives of the
Muslim community as wish to do so, and effective participation requires a formal
organization. Let us, for ease of identification only, call it the American
Muslim Congress or Conference (AMC), a brief description of which follows:
The mission of the AMC would be to achieve consensus on goals and priorities
for the American Muslim community, and to facilitate cooperation toward those
goals among AMC member organizations.
Initially, AMC would meet annually. At these meetings, resolutions prepared
by task forces and committees drawn from member organizations would be submitted
to a vote. Resolutions passed by the AMC would form the basis of a briefing book which would aid AMC
members in presenting their position to legislative bodies and other
organizations. Using structured decision processes, the resolutions would also
be used to determine AMC's goals and priorities.
Membership in the AMC would be open to all Muslim organizations registered
with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. As a condition of joining AMC, each
organization would be required to submit its IRS tax status determination
letter, and its employee identification number. To retain its membership, each
member orgainization would submit annually its income statement for the
preceding year, a letter certifying the number of its contributing members, and
pay its assessed fee or dues.
The initial Board of Directors would be the nominees of the first 20
organizations to join AMC, and they would be selected annually from among the top 20
organizations based upon the voting triad described below. The chair would be rotated
annually within the Board of Directors.
Funding for AMC (essentially a virtual organization with a part-time person
for the first year, and one or two persons in later years) would be provided by
fees paid by member organizations. The fee would be a percentage of the member
organization's gross income—the AMC Board of Directors would determine the
percentage based on the budget they approve for AMC.
A 75 percent vote, based upon an equally weighted triad—number of member
organizations, number of contributing members in each organization, and the
organization's gross income—would be required to pass resolutions, and would
form the basis for all decisions by the AMC. An example of how votes would be
counted is given in the table below.
AMC would publish an Annual Report which would include the text and voting
results of resolutions passed by its members, together with the tax status,
membership count, and income statements of its member organizations.
To remain effective, AMC should exist solely to facilitate cooperation among
other Muslim organizations—on an organization chart, AMC would appear below its
member organizations. Its substantive work would be done by committees and task
forces drawn from its member organizations. It's own very limited staff,
described in a previous article as the organization service provider,
would merely facilitate this cooperation, thereby, leveraging the resources of
the entire American Muslim community.
The choice is ours. We can either continue to make marginal gains while our
competition gets ever farther ahead, or we can stand united to achieve our
common goals—it takes just two motivated organizations, with the right
resources, to begin the process of uniting the community. Will we rise to the
challenge, or remain our own worst enemy?
Enver Masud is a management consultant, and founder of The Wisdom Fund.
[After 1765, "it was this capacity of the British to sublimate individual
desires, greed, and dislike of other Englishmen to the imperative of working
together toward a national (or company) goal and obeying orders accordingly,
that helps explain the paramount position the Company Raj came to hold over all
of India."--Stanley Wolpert, A New History of India, p. 199]
[We are pushing these groups together into a political coalition around
grievances against the government that will not soon be forgotten.--Peter
's Muslims Never Had to Unite -- Until Now," January 5, 2003]
Susan Schmidt, "Spreading
Saudi Fundamentalism in U.S.," Washington Post, October 2, 2003
[The letter addressed to IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson includes a request for 990
forms, which are public documents that list a group's leaders and large donors, and 1023
forms, which organizations use to apply for tax exemptions as nonprofit groups.--Dan
Eggen and John Mintz, "Muslim
Groups' IRS Files Sought: Hill Panel Probing Alleged Terror Ties," Washington Post,
January 14, 2004]
Leslie Wayne, "Arabs in U.S.
Raising Money to Back Bush," New York Times, February 17, 2004
Arnaud de Borchgrave, "Islamist fifth
columns," Washington Times, April 7, 2004
[Pipes is currently seeking funding for a new organization, tentatively named the
"Islamic Progress Institute" (IPI), . . .
Stephen Schwartz, a writer and former Trotskyite activist who claims to have converted
to Islam in the mid-1990s, and Hussein Haqqani, a former Pakistani government official
now with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, unveiled plans for a new
"Institute for Islamic Progress and Peace" (IIPP) of which Schwartz identified himself
as executive director.
Schwartz, who has praised Pipes' work and claims to be personally close to Wolfowitz,
has published articles in The Weekly Standard and other neo-conservative publications,
where Pipes' writings also appear regularly.--Jim Lobe, "Neocons Seek Islamic
'Reformation'," Antiwar.com, April 7, 2004]
Ahmed Nassef, "Listen to
Muslim silent majority in US," Christian Science Monitor, April 21, 2004
[Abdurahman Alamoudi pocketed nearly $1 million from Libya and used it to pay
conspirators in a bizarre scheme to kill Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah--Jerry Markon and
John Mintz, "Plot to Kill
Saudi Ruler Admitted in U.S. Court," Washington Post, July 31, 2004]
Sentenced to Jail in Terrorism Financing Case," U.S. Dept. of Justice, October 15,
[. . . creation of a National Council of American Muslim Non-Profits by the Islamic
charitable community in the United States.--Juan Carlos Zarate, "Terrorist
financing & crime," United Press International, March 29, 2005]
[ . . . the number of reported members spiraled down from more
than 29,000 in 2000 to less than 1,700 in 2006--"CAIR membership plummets," Washington Times, June
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