Since my presence in US, I noticed couple of things related to mosques in the Bay Area specifically, and mosques around the country in general that they rely mostly on donation for their community wide services extension.
However there are few notable mosques namely Muslim Community Association (MCA) in Santa Clara and South Bay Islamic Association (SBIA) in San Jose are trying to create a sustainable business model by renting extra space on their location.
This is a good idea for any mosque to copy and move forward with it, but there is a rub. Unlike Gurdwaras, you will find at least two mosque within 5 mile of radius in to densely Muslim populated cities like New York, San Francisco, Fremont etc.
That renting model is good for those mosques who already own a large piece of land where they can build or already built spaces put on rent. But how about mosques which are really squeezed in to the mezzanine floor of big towers? How about those mosques which have a piece of land but they don’t have space to rent out?
I believe there is a very creative solution or two, this not only going to help the Muslim community but a whole neighborhood beyond their religious belief in general.
- Vocational Training Center
- Startup Incubator
- Micro Finance Center
Vocational Training Center
Muslims are considered as a educated population in United States. They are well-versed in science and technology and they have ample amount of “know-how” which can be utilized to help the community members to get the job related training. Mosque can do the following:
- Start some weekly courses specific to the popular jobs.
- They can charge certain amount to the course participants.
- Keep 35% of the revenue from the course fees and 65% should go to the instructor.
- Provide at least 50 people space in their mosque.
How I came to this idea? I noticed that one of my friend in Fremont offered his garage to the lady who was teaching Art & Craft for Kids. His kids were getting some discount because of his garage usage. So why don’t Mosque can get inspiration from this event?
Startup fever is getting hotter in 2016 especially after 1999 bubble burst things these days are not that crazy, startup industry is very mature now. There are few kinks, but they are kind of seasonal. This what mosque should do, because Muslims are in to tech sector and they have resources and connection already.
- Get inspiration from Google Incubator approach or Y Combinator idea.
- Let have three teams per 6 months come up with the idea and give them at least $10,000 per team to build whatever they want to build. Obviously it will involve some kind of filtering, which I believe community is capable of.
- - If startup get a good amount of funding and they gain traction they can at least pay back mosque with the set percentage.
- - Let the high-tech community member can become the board member for startups and act as a resident-expert in to their Mosque Incubator.
This kind of model is best suited in the San Francisco Bay Area, NYC and Austin like areas.
Now, this kind of business could be bit controversial, because interest is a complicated topic among Muslims. Some scholars says that paying interest on fix assets like House etc is permissible for Muslims, and some are not in favor of it. But we can find a good solution to it if we can bring our mind on it. I think one of the way to deal with this kind of idea is to take a certain profit from the business which was financed by the mosque as a service fees. Here I am not exactly sure how things will work because a) I am not an expert in to it b) it is a fragile topic among Muslims and I let the experts talk about it.
Ideas are great, however acting on them is the biggest thing. I wish we can create the type mosques which not only serving Muslims in their neighborhood but they can help community in general regardless of ones religious belief. This will have one more positive impact on community that Muslims are part of the American Society.