By Laura Fawaz, Contributing Reporter
Editorial note: This story shows the pathetic current state of our mosques–a symptom that is representative of an epidemic seen across this nation, that our mosques are too disorganized to field questions from media or the general public.
Metro Detroit, MIâ€“This past week consisted of a member of The Muslim Observer journalist team, myself, contacting eight different mosques within the Metro Detroit Area. The result, a disappointed wake up call.
An initiative going on all throughout the month of Ramadan is called â€œThe Ramadan Series Project,â€ in which I, along with a videographer, will be visiting local mosques as a photojournalist to get interviews, photos and video of how the holy month of Ramadan is more than just Muslims not eating or drinking. There is a whole family aspect to it with Muslims looking forward to the month for all the family dinners, late night gatherings, way early morning bakery runs, late night mosques visits, and so much more.
When calling the eight chosen Islamic centers, whose names will not be mentioned, a list was compiled that included the mosqueâ€™s name, address, contact information and any notes such as a message was left, awaiting a call back, etc.
On day one, eight mosques were called, and of those, there was only two where I was actually able to speak with someone, though both of which suggested I call back at a given day and time to speak with the person who can actually communicate with me on this project. As for the rest, a total of three messages were left, and itâ€™s only three, not the remaining six because of the other three centers, oneâ€™s voicemail box was full, so no messages could be left, another just rang and rang because they did not have an answering machine. As for the last of the eight, not only was there no voicemail set up, but also it was not even a working number.
After the above debacle, I thought it best to dedicate the next day to having the messages returned, and to allow my brain to recuperate. Though on this day, day two, not one phone call was returned. But on day three, two phone calls were returned centers each requesting a written request to my verbal one, so I waited till I was back at work on Monday, day five, to send in the written requests. As for the mosque whose voicemail box was full, luckily for us we had a friend on their board, so we were able to schedule a date that way. Now that we have at least one mosque visit scheduled, it seemed like a good time to call each of the four mosques back, and yet four more messages were left.
Day eight seemed to be fruitful after hearing back from one mosque that gave us a date of their upcoming interfaith iftar dinner, and that would be the best day for us, the media to come in. Two mosques visits are scheduled. We also received back word from one of the mosques that asked for a written request. After all of this, I am now given an e-mail address of the person that the request needs to be approved by, so I am basically starting all over with this mosque. I now feel as though they are making this too difficult, when we are trying to do something positive for the Muslim community here.
Now that we are officially in the first week of Ramadan, the series project has already begun, and we have just two centers that are able to take advantage of media presence just because they knew how to return their phone calls; or at least to have a working phone and voicemail. But still, I thought to give those centers one last chance, so today being day 12, I just called all mosques that we were waiting on, and of the remaining four, two, yet again I had to leave a message for, one center that Iâ€™ve left several messages for actually answered today and is to call me back with a prospective date. And once again, as for the last of the eight, there still was not even a working number.
Stay tuned to The Muslim Observer via the print and web newspaper, as well as online for the webcast where through all mediums, you will receive updates on this project. The final documentary, which will include all the mosques visits and gatherings, family dinners, photos of attendees, and interviews with a few of the Imams, will be played at The Muslim Observerâ€™s 3rd Annual Fundraising Dinner being held on Sunday, September 23rd at the Sheraton Hotel in Novi. For more information or for tickets, contact 248 426 7777 or 248 933 1479 or e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.