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Written by: Hamzah Moin
So after attending practically every Muslim event in existence, I’ve realized a startling pattern. The volunteers are essentially the same. Regardless of the type of event or organization, you’ll see the same faces event after event. Some Muslims can’t get enough of volunteering. It’s like they get high off of it or something. They take abuse upon abuse and keep on trucking until the next event. It’s not human. Muslim volunteers must be some sort of other species because no possible human being can take this sort of stuff.
I’ve broken down several volunteer roles that you can find at a lot of Islamic events. I want to know what keeps volunteers coming back for more.
Importance Scale: Extremely low.
Description: The volunteer that is probably the lowest on the totem pole is the one stuck at entrances checking name badges. They have an important position because they essentially keep all those pesky thieves from stealing Islamic knowledge. They do this by shouting at people to take out their name badges. More often than not, the people who attend Islamic events have a sense of rebelliousness in them and would dangle their nametags around their waists or leave them lying at the bottom of their purses. Some rebels would even write lewd comments on their nametags to get their jollies on. This makes the Badge Checker a wee bit agitated.
Possible Harassment Ideas: Have your nametag stuffed deep in your back pocket and occupy both hands with either dhikr beads, a book about weight loss, ice cream or all of the above. This would force the Badge Checker to reach into the abyss that is your pocket to get the nametag out. If you’re a brother, please don’t do this tactic if it’s a sister Badge Checker and vice versa because it can get pretty Haram, pretty fast. I found this out the hard way.
Additionally you could also take out your original name tag and just write the name of the speaker or scholar on the back of your nametag. Something like Captain Taqwa or The Speaker or PhD in Islam would do the trick. It’s funny to see the Badge Checker just get all scared and nervous and go “Oh Shaykh… I didn’t know you were here… please go right in”. You get the best seats in the house you know. The downside is that you may have to make up a 40 minute speech on the spot or something.
Another harassment idea is to just run through the entrances pretending you don’t have a badge. You can even make it a game with your friends and listen to see how long the “Brother! Wait! Brother please! I need to see your badge! Wait! Brother no!”-shouts last for. I think the Guinness Book pegs the record at 42 minutes.
Importance Scale: Low
Description: Apparently navigating oneself around a room can be quite cumbersome which is why organizers plant little things called ‘Ushers’ to help you in reaching some sort of destination. You ever walk around somewhere and have this voice come out of nowhere go “Excuse me brother, you are going the wrong way. The prayer area is THAT way.” You think for a moment and realize that you indeed took your pills this morning and there shouldn’t be any random voices speaking to you but the voice comes back. “NO BROTHER NO! THIS IS THE SHAYKH’S PRIVATE BATHROOM”. You look down and realize the voice was coming from a mouse-like human. This actually is the Usher which for some reason is usually someone that is 1/3rd the size of you. Ushering is empowering for such a young adult.
Possible Harassment Ideas: Since ushers are usually the ones that have to take the brunt of all the questions and such, it’s best to just launch an all-out question-and-complaints blitz at them.
“Excuse me brother, where are the bathrooms?”
“Excuse me sister, I can’t find my daughter. She is wearing a pink hijab… should be easy to find”
“Excuse me brother, someone just did wudu in the bathrooms and I think someone just drowned in the excess water on the ground”
“Excuse me sister, what is your wali’s phone number?”
They’ll be sure to explode or break down in tears or giggle emphatically or something.
Importance Scale: Low
Description: There are different types of moderators. Some come in forms like the ‘MC’ and essentially run a session by introducing a speaker to the stage. They can either be ‘moderate’ moderators by merely sticking to the script and announcing the speaker to the stage or they can be heroes and take up half the time-slot by ‘summarizing’ what the speaker will say in the next five minutes because that’s all the time that is left.
The other type of moderator is the generic announcement guy who essentially stand-up after prayer and make random announcements that we probably already know about.
Possible Harassment Ideas: Most session at Islamic conferences take question & answers in written form. The best thing to do is write things on paper and have someone pass it up to him. Some examples include:
“If you screen my question I will kill you after the session”
“Your voice is soothing. I want you to speak more. Please slip the ‘5 minutes left’ paper to the speaker right now. I know he just started. I don’t care. I want you to sing. Are you in a Nasheed band?”
“You looked cuter on Facebook.”
Of course that would entirely backfire if the moderator neglects to screen them and just pass them off to the speaker. Ouch.
Importance Scale: Supposedly High
Description: After years and years of being a meager volunteer doing menial tasks, the ‘Sarge’ has finally moved up the ranks in the organization and is finally able to spread his or her wings a bit… by bossing around other volunteers. Unfortunately by merely being in a higher position, the stress levels of Sarge have increased exponentially. It’s a rare sighting to see a Sergeant without a vein bulging out his forehead. No one really understands why Sergeants get so stressed because if you were to observe them for a few hours, you’d notice they don’t really do much … they just walk around like they’re about to explode. Perhaps deep down that’s probably the only qualification for the position … to get stressed easily.
Possible Harassment Ideas: Since sarge is already stressed enough, it’d be interesting to see if you could create the straw that would break the poor camel’s back. Make-up some story about how you’re getting harassed by a volunteer.
“Excuse me. I’m having a great time at this generic Muslim event but there was this volunteer who has been calling me names and throwing hard candy at me. How Un-Muslim of him.
“WHAT? WHO IS THIS?!”
“I think I saw his name badge. I used to check name badges a year ago. Loved it. His name is Akbar Alam.”
“DAMMIT. THAT GUY HAS BEEN GIVING ME PROBLEMS ALL NIGHT. STAY HERE MA’AM. I”LL GET ON THIS”
I think it might take a few hours for the Sarge to realize that Akbar Alam doesn’t exist. Pranks don’t work to well on Sergeants because they have a short attention span and they’d get caught up in a real problem like finding someone’s misplaced hijab or finding the Imam’s missing shoes that disappeared after prayer.
Importance Scale: Fairly high
Description: This is quite the important task because if not done properly, it can affect people’s worship and whatnot and we don’t want to mess with that. One time I went to an event where the prayer co-ordinator didn’t show up and as a result we all sat around for 20 minutes for dhuhr waiting something to happen. I think someone made the athaan twice because he got nervous.
Possible Harassment Ideas: This isn’t really a harassment idea because I think prayer is something we shouldn’t really harass. But true story, once I was at an event that had a very large congregation with no mic system. You know what that means right? It means a brother had to step up and shout the ‘Allahuakbars’ and whatnot so the sisters could hear us. They depend on the Repeater. We were in a place that sisters couldn’t see the brothers as well.
For some reason The Repeater stopped doing the ‘repeats’ in the middle of prayer. The sisters depended on him… damn. I could only imagine what the sisters section was like:
The Burn Outs
Importance Scale: None
Description: The optimism of the volunteers suddenly fade and they become Muslim emos. No longer with the volunteer flare, they just sit back and merely ‘attend’ Muslim events and quietly criticize everyone.
They might be burnt out because they found their purpose to volunteering:
Importance Scale: ???
Description: Suddenly the purpose of volunteering makes complete sense. The reason why there is so many volunteers is because Muslim volunteers marry each other and create baby volunteers. It’s an endless supply!
So what are you waiting for? Get volunteering!