Dear Al-Iman Parents and Community Members,
I pray this email finds you all in the best of health and iman. On behalf of the Shura, I wanted to provide an update on the Al-Iman School expansion vote that I messaged about on September 3, 2023. This detail on the process and transparency is being provided to help answer the many questions the community has and to uphold the trust the community has put in the Shura by electing us.
The Shura Vote
The Shura conducted a 7+ hour meeting on September 10, 2023, to thoroughly vet, debate, and understand the nuanced implications of the expansion of Al-Iman school to 2400 Weston Parkway (“Weston Project”) to ultimately cast a vote to approve or deny the expansion. The Al-Iman School Committee joined the discussion, including the chair and key supporting figures to aid in answering any questions about the project. Community members were also present and given the opportunity to voice their opinions in favor or against the project for our consideration.
The Shura then privately conducted a blind vote, meaning members of the shura do not know how any individual voted. This was done to not cause a division or personal attacks for any member’s vote, but to instead allow everyone to vote as they deem best based on the months long process, thousands of hours of diligence, and amazing work put forth by the Al-Iman School Committee.
The vote was 9 in favor, 5 against, and 1 abstention to approve the Weston Project.
The Shura sent an email on the night of September 10, 2023 and I called the chairman of the board of directors to notify him of the outcome of our vote.
The Board of Directors Veto
The Board of Directors met on Saturday, September 16, 2023 to discuss the Weston Project approval from the Shura.
On Sunday, September 17, 2023, the Shura was informed in an email of the board directive stating,
“The IAR Board of Directors (BOD) recognizes the continued and tireless efforts of Al-Iman School administration, teachers, and volunteers and expresses its sincere gratitude for their efforts and dedication. BOD wholeheartedly supports expansion of the School. However, after carefully examining all available data, BOD Concluded that Weston Parkway Project poses an existential threat to IAR. Hence, said project could not be approved. BOD directs shura to find and evaluate alternate expansion projects. Furthermore, in collaboration with Al-Iman School officials, all measures should be taken to eliminate ongoing costs and liabilities associated with the Weston Parkway project.”
Termination of the Weston Project
On Monday, September 18, 2023, the Al-Iman School committee terminated the expansion project. If the project was not terminated on September 18, a $100,000 due diligence payment would have become due and nonrefundable. In addition, the board was explicit in their instruction to the shura that no additional monies could be spent or committed to the project.
However, prior to termination, the committee exhausted all efforts to find creative ways to extend the deadline. The Al-Iman school committee asked for an extension on the diligence deadline, a reduction in price on the property, and requested the board to extend the time for the implementation of their directive by two weeks. Unfortunately, all efforts were unsuccessful. Al-Iman also put forth a proposal to the Shura requesting separation from the IAR. The motion was not approved by Shura as this option needs to be further vetted and discussed.
What Happens Next?
I understand that there are a lot of unanswered questions, heartbreak, and energy around the expansion. As I committed to you prior to the vote, the entire community and leadership stands behind an expansion, even if the Weston Project did not come to pass.
To start, the Shura will host a public forum tonight (9/21) at IAR between Maghrib and Isha. This is a time for anyone who wants to ask questions and seek transparency to come and speak openly with the leadership, including the BOD.
The Shura will work alongside the Al-Iman School Committee to assess the next best option to help the school achieve expansion that prioritizes the school’s best interests. This includes, but is not limited to assessing a governance framework where Al-Iman can be an independent entity to ensure there is no existential threat to IAR from the school’s expansion.
A Closing Thought
While the Weston Project not passing rightfully feels like a huge loss, many of those involved prayed istikhara, made tons of dua, and spent countless hours asking Allah for His guidance on this decision. While we are sad about the outcome, we trust that Allah has khair in it for us as a community.
Additionally, please know that we are elected members of Shura to represent your voices as the community. Pushing us for transparency and answers is your right, and we plan to fulfill your rights to the best of our abilities.
Lastly, know that the unity of the community is paramount. Let’s stick together as we navigate the next steps. Please also know that unity does not mean uniformity. We may disagree, and that’s ok. But we should do so with respect and adab that our beloved Prophet (PBUH) taught us.
We hope to see you tonight at the public forum and pray that Allah continues to bless our community, facilitates an expansion for Al-Iman, and unites us all in goodness in this life and the next.
Dr. Osama Said
Islamic Association of Raleigh