Special Report: Post St. Louis Town Hall follow-up

“…Read! And your Lord Is the Most Bountiful One who taught man the use of the pen, taught man which he knew not. But man exceeds all bounds when he thinks he is self-sufficient…” (Qur’an 96:3-7)

“There is none amongst the believers who plants a tree, or sows a seed, and then a bird, or a person, or an animal eats thereof, but it is regarded as having given a charitable gift for which there is great recompense.” From the Life Example of Muhammed the Prophet (S)

Dear CWSC Supporter: As-Salaam Alaikum.

I pray you and your family are in the best of health and spirit.

This special report to the Community is a follow-up to the National Town Hall for Mutual Consultation: Towards An Intelligentsia, recently held in St. Louis, August 15-17, 2014. A press release is in progress, so please stay tuned to your email, social media, our website updates, Muslim Journal and the American Muslim 360 radio broadcast network.

I am honored to serve as the first Executive Director for the Community Wide Shuraa Conference (CWSC). I am even more honored to have received your unanimous support of my ratification to this new office of leadership in service to our Community. The oath and pledge that I and others gave publicly in St. Louis now require that we fulfill to the best of our abilities the duties of our offices of “servant” leadership.

As CWSC’s first Executive Director, a special responsibility is upon me to put into place the systems, processes, policies and procedures that will help future directors and all volunteers serve our Community for years to come.

This first report serves as a major overview of how we are working to help our total community life and why we’re asking for your continuous prayers, patience, and support in this work. I promise future updates will be shorter, except for our end-of-year Annual Report.

As I mentioned in St. Louis, the Town Hall was a continuation of the initial work begun last year in Fayetteville, North Carolina to establish a national intelligentsia that would serve all our institutions, the broader American Muslim and American public and help us focus as a national Association on the important issues, problems, and opportunities that present for us as American Muslim citizens in a global village.

Praise be to Allah (SWT), we have evolved to a much higher level of operations, communications and structure since the North Carolina session, but we’re not where we want to be. Our vision is big and to put it in a familiar adage, we understand the “journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”

To give you an example of the vision and scope that CWSC is aiming for, I’d like you to compare our organizational work and reach with that of such organizations like AARP or the NAACP. It will take time, intellect, people, work, commitment and of course faith to bring CWSC fully online as a national working nonprofit intelligentsia serving the life of our Community and the broader society…to become a powerful tool in remaking the world.

We want to proceed with great deliberation and wisdom. We’ve gone well beyond the initial launch in North Carolina, yet much work remains. We want to continue striving each day, each week and month with the sense of urgency that our group aspirations demand, so that by the end of each year, our stated goals and vision are met.

One of my key responsibilities is to ensure all of CWSC is kept informed and that we’re truly living up to the words in our organizational name: that is we are community wide meaning the entire group intellect; we want to be foremost in respecting and utilizing shuraa as a principal tool for engaging the group intellect and reaching the best conclusions as we confer on the model community vision and on how best to proceed with our responsibility to help remake the world into a better place for all.

CWSC’s initial aim is to link intellectually every institution and every believer in our Association into a dynamic working intelligentsia that serves all of us. Such a dynamic interchange is the only way to build an intellectual capacity capable of effectively tackling complex issues that are simply too big for a single individual, mosque, masjid, Islamic Center or community to tackle. But, we’re not going to stop at serving our Association. I pray very soon we can extend this work and have others join us.

We have come to the conclusion that to achieve our model community vision and to begin turning the tide toward greater responsible personal behavior and increased excellence in societal standards, we have to begin working more closely together in a scientific, more pragmatic way using Amruhum Shuraa Baynahum to unlock the answers to chronic problems affecting our families, communities and the world. The answers to the problems we face and the wisdom to pursue the correct course of action are present in the group intellect. CWSC is building the infrastructure to connect our intellect and using the key (shuraa) to unlock and harness the group intellect’s true power and capacity!

Without doubt as a whole, we are one of the most capable, educated, wealthiest, technologically advanced Muslim populations on the planet who are also not besieged with issues like clean running water, stable food sources, disease, pestilence, political instability, and lack of basic security and the list goes on. What are we doing with all the resources Allah (SWT) has so graciously placed at our disposal? Are we doing our best?

You know, we have to be careful that we don’t get comfortable choosing the easiest route to make ourselves feel as though we’ve done all we can to address crises from our local communities to the international level. A familiar hadith intersects Al-Qur’an on the matter of faith and work. Allah (SWT) wants us to go beyond the minimum if we have the ability. Our Lord says to us He “will not change the condition of a people until they (first) change that which is in their hearts.” Al-Quran, 13:11. And our Prophet (S) said, “there are three ways to change a wrong: by our hand, with our voice, or upon the weakest of faith, by an ill feeling in the heart against wrong.

So if we want to truly advance our Community life…if we really want to help our neighbors and the world, we have to be willing to go beyond the heart stage. We have to be willing to go beyond the feeling, speech, and petition stage. We have to go all the way, especially when G-d has given us abundant resources and opportunity. We have to go all the way and place ourselves on the line as our predecessors have done; that means going beyond letters or petitions; such measures have their place, but with all we have been given, can’t we do more? That’s the urgent question that CWSC is posing to our Association and soon to the broader American Muslim Community. We must find ways to do more―together!

The most powerful thing that Allah (SWT) has placed at our disposal is the intellect. And if you put group in front of that intellect, man-oh-man, you have a “solid cemented structure” that can help the whole world! Will you stand beside me and your fellow Muslims from throughout the nation to help build our national intelligentsia? Are you ready to use some of your free time and intellect to join us in this effort? If you answer yes, then I ask you to do the following (disregard some steps if you’ve already done them):

1. Add cwsconline@gmail.com to your approved email sender list so we can communicate quickly while bypassing your spam folder. CWSC email will be an essential tool in communicating monthly tele- and or video conferences, updates, training webinars, or other matters.

2. Visit facebook to like CWSC and invite others. Connect on twitter. These social media will be crucial later when we approach large corporate and other entities for partnerships. Imagine a CWSC credit card in which our purchases nationwide can benefit our operations. But we’ll need to show a certain level of likes or follows to attract the type of sponsorship and charitable partnerships we need to benefit the Community.

3. Become familiar with the CWSC site to learn about our mission, vision and guiding principles as well as its history, organizational structure, see how we’re collaborating with others and more. You can share a comment or submit an idea for everyone no matter how big or grand or small for even if we are unable to tackle it today, we may be able to address it sooner if we can place it on a wish list. While you’re here, I ask you to accomplish four easy tasks:

a. Click the “Get Involved” tab to become a volunteer resource in your area of expertise so you can help any institution registered in the CWSC Model Communities National Resource Directory (MCNRD). You’ll be helping masajid, schools and other organizations nationwide with their operations via remote or onsite assistance. You’ll communicate directly with the requesting organization. For those who have already registered as a resource, please be patient as we process the incoming registrations. We will soon be contacting you to form teams.

The Directory will also help us form self-directed teams who along with their teams leaders, will study major issues affecting all of us nationally and internationally. Several teams have already formed out of the National Town Hall and are doing tremendous work. CWSC will be publishing white papers, studies, surveys, and accomplishing other tasks to address major concerns inside our Community while seeking to influence thinking beyond our Association. The Directory will also serve as a primary staffing resource for our governance, administration and committee requirements.

b. Speak with local administrators to encourage your masjid, school and every nonprofit institution in our Association to register to receive benefits including accessing MCNRD consultants. As we grow, we expect to provide re-grant opportunities to help fund community outreach projects across the U.S. Businesses too will be able to register to access intellectual talent via MCNRD.

CWSC has, by notice to the IRS, indicated its intentions to make scholarship opportunities available to student interns volunteering to help CWSC registered nonprofits. Students are not only some of CWSC’s future leaders, but they bring fresh new thinking and knowledge of the latest technology that CWSC needs for its operations. When we offer an important role in our community for youthful leaders, we’re helping to ensure a secure future for our model community vision for generations to come.

c. Follow the CWSC website to receive instant updates the minute we post any news. It’s easy to follow, just look for the follow box near the top and to the right of any of our web pages.

d. The most important contribution we need is intellectual capital, but the work we’re seeking to accomplish also requires operating funds. While CWSC will seek corporate and charitable grants, and other professional fundraising, the bulk of our support, especially at this stage will come from individual donors.

Please place us on your list of charitable organizations. You can donate conveniently and securely online by clicking the donate button on any page of our site. All contributions are tax deductible as allowed by law under IRS Code Section 501(c)(3) under IRS title 26 of the United States Code. Our Federal Tax Tax ID is 46-3505809. Business donors are encouraged to become corporate sponsors with a national listing on the website. Interested businesses please email cwsconline@gmail.com for additional information. Praise be to Allah (SWT), after start up and Town Hall expenses, we have a current net operating capital of $530.16.

4. Save the date Sunday, September 7, 2014 @ 10 a.m. EST for our first Community Wide teleconference. This initial teleconference will eventually become for now, the “monthly progress call” connecting all team leaders and CWSC governance and administration to discuss the goals, progress of teams, and CWSC’s total work. We’re also planning a CWSC interview with key leaders on http://blogtalkradio.com/AmericanMuslim360. Please stay tuned for more information.

CWSC aims to also be a learning organization offering training webinars including how to employ the latest online technology to accomplish the work of the intelligentsia. And time is of the essence, for while much of the technology services and resources we can use to become organized are free for now, it does not mean they will be free in the future, so let us move with a sense of urgency.

Our leadership team is also looking to take CWSC to the believers around the country via workshops and seminars. While the Town Hall was necessary for 2014, we’re looking at ways to use regional sessions and technology to replace mass travel around the country and the accompanying high costs of hotel accommodations and other incidental expense to get our work done. We‘re looking for ways to work while retaining valuable dollars inside of our community and in the believers’ pockets, so we can have more resources to support our institutions. If you know of a free or low cost technology that can benefit the type of work we’re seeking to accomplish, please share that information.

Because we left St. Louis with a very full agenda and items continue to pour in, we are looking at holding the next Town Hall in 2016 when we will have had Insha-Allah the time to build capacity and to bring all systems online. We will then be justified in having a grand celebration of the tremendous work and progress we will have made. We will continue to discuss the next Town Hall in monthly teleconferences.

As was mentioned in St. Louis, we want to position CWSC as a think tank on par with the Brookings Institute. We as a Muslim American voice should be in a major and public way at the table of dialogue on the major issues of our time. We have the ability to offer Qur’anic-based solutions and problem solving to issues ranging from what’s happening on the ground in Ferguson, Missouri to the Gaza Strip and not in a reactionary manner, but with thoughtful and sustained study and presentation of strategies that can make a difference.

We envision CWSC making announcements at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to the nation and the world. But we must move step-by-step, stay focused and move with the wisdom our leader demonstrated. He was not one to be taken off course by headlines; rather Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra) remained focused on a strategic and long-term plan to bring us to the destiny.

CWSC is embarking on a sustained and strategic path to bring online a national intelligentsia―a body capable of effectively addressing concerns, exploring solutions, and implementing strategies. We will be fulfilling a vision shared by Imam Mohammed (ra) for a national, broadly representative organization, intellectually interdependent and dedicated to serving the interests of our institutions across the country.

I know this was a lengthy report, but I felt it was necessary to give you a thorough update and clearer picture of how CWSC is working to help our Community; I appreciate your taking the time to digest it. Please send me comments or leave a comment here on the CWSC website.

Thank you for your prayers, support and patience…together we can remake the world.


Your brother in this work.

Thomas Abdul-Salaam

P.S. Please click here to see current opportunities to work in CWSC governance and administration. Help us identify qualified resources urgently needed to manage our national intelligentsia, think tank, and resource directory. We need to staff the following committees too including Audit, Bylaws, Capital Campaign & Fundraising, Finance, Recruiting, Strategic Planning, Think Tank Intake & Review, and Training & Development. The faster we bring talent aboard, the more areas we can tackle and the more shared work we can accomplish. Next update: Focus Teams’ progress.

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