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The Mosque

musallah, viabinaria By Leila Adam

“The mosques of Allah are only to be maintained by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and establish prayer and give zakah and do not fear except Allah, for it is expected that those will be of the [rightly] guided .” (Qu’ran, 9:18).

I have met people who get frustrated with their local mosque and leave to form other groups. I know that a lot of good can come from such groups, yet I feel disturbed at the process of distancing oneself from the mosque. Sometimes, groups are forced to have classes somewhere else besides the mosque. I understand that and I’ve experienced it, but this can lead to such a distance that the group decides to  set up its own musallah (prayer space), which then becomes a mosque environment — an environment of like-minded individuals.

I know the mosque can be frustrating sometimes, like a big family where different personalities clash and vie for attention; where mealtimes are noisy and people step on each other’s toes in the kitchen; where certain siblings deem their rooms to be out of bounds to other siblings. You see the similarities—but  that’s the point; the local mosque is one big, untidy family.

Things are not perfect in our mosque. There are several ugly issues that crop up from time to time that get us all down. Despite this, I’ve always resisted the temptation to disconnect from the local mosque.

We have a long standing tradition in Ramadan where, every weekend, different groups host a big open-invitation community iftar (breaking the fast program) in the mosque. One evening last year, I remember being greatly touched by the sight of a Somali friend coming into the mosque and sitting down, exhausted after helping to cook iftar for 500 people. Then I saw another friend, a Cambodian woman, who was among those who came to eat, get up and go over to give her a shoulder massage. That same night, I saw a Pakistani woman praying next to a Somali woman, putting her hand out to gently try to stop a child (not her own) from disturbing her neighbor. At the end of the prayer, the Somali woman smiled at her and said, “Don’t worry, I feel no disturbance from these children while I’m praying.”

How beautiful are these women in our local mosque family, subhan’Allah (all praise be to God). These women spend several hours together in classes each week, smile at each other every Jumu`ah (Friday), see each other come and go over the years, and stop in the hallways to coo over their latest babies and rescue each other’s toddlers from causing havoc in the toilets. These are the same women who truly don’t mind whether a Malaysian or an Arab or an African teaches their child in Sunday madrasah (school); they’re just grateful that someone is kind enough to volunteer to teach.

I know there are groups out there that are experiencing success and like-minded synergy of action and learning. I will even join such groups and InshaAllah (God willing) benefit from them, just as a child from a family will go and join a karate club or play a team sport. But at the end of the day, I will return to my beautiful, jumbled and precious local mosque family.

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  • Salaam. A fine article. Sadly, the experiences the author relates are not shared everywhere. In some mosques (i.e., in North America), ethnicism is rampant, often with one group more or less dominant. The question is — and I honestly don’t know! — how do we get from ethnicism to true Islamic brotherhood and sisterhood in some of our mosques so all (perhaps especially including “new” Muslims) feel welcome and truly part of the local Muslim community?

  • I hope more people felt the same way towards their local mosques. Unfortunately I think many people at mosques behave in offensive unislamic ways when it comes to preaching or lecturing others.. May God help us bring back the Islamic spirit to the Houses of God on earth. Much Love xx

  • Thank you for this piece. It reminded me of my time in a small muslim community in Strakville, Mississippi. Although we were a small community, I always felt as if I had an extended family cooking up a potluck right across that fence we used to jump over to get to the mosque.

    I do feel disappointed that mosques in the Arab world have only becomes places to do your “raka’s”. They no longer have the attribute of being a center of knowlege, spiritual or physical. I pray for the day that changes.

    • Salaam. Please let us not single out just one or another ethnic group as not having the best attitudes and behaviors. My personal observation, limited though it may be, has been that many mosques and Islamic institutions suffer from ethnicism and/or “in group” insularity to the practical exclusion of others, with this, that, or the other dominant group taking over. Allah (swt) knows best, but how do we overcome this so that true universal Islamic brotherhood and sisterhood may prevail? It is not only a matter of one group.

      • WA,

        I think you’ve misread my comment Paul. I was pointing to a geographical region and not an ethnic group. I’m also Arab but feel that the role of the mosque in the Arab world has diminished as I’ve mentioned above in my comment. And this is not always the case. Nonetheless it presents itself as the general case from my experience.

        I’ve heard about stories regarding the issue of ethnic singularities in the mosque from friends abroad but I think this piece has been written to show us that even if you have issues or problems with your brother muslim, try and solve these issues with full disregard of ethnicity and trying to solve them the same way you would with your family. And that is a beautiful take on mosque etiquette.

  • Assalamu alay-kum… nice article about mosque. It helps us to connect more muslim brothers & make our knowledge improve about Islam.

  • In Past! Masajid Plays a very vitla role in Muslim Community where Muslim share knowledge and their daily routine matter with each other where masajid is not just the place of worship but also play a role of community centre.Inafact the past role of masjaid must be revived for the bettermnet of Muslim Ummah.
    Learn Quran for kids

  • Assalamo-alaikum, In reply to this wonderful article and to which I can relate, because it is also the Mosque which I frequently attend,I wish to add the following comments:-

    If we could just somehow always be aware of the following, I am sure none of the ethnic differences would be apparent in some mosques throughout the world: Be aware that Allah Sees and Knows all things. We do not see Allah, but He Sees us and He Hears what we say. Is it not advised that we should Worship Allah as if we see Him? All our kindnesses are also a form of Ibadir, so why not also practice these kindnesses in our Mosques? Every move we make can amount to Ibadir if performed with Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah). Always keep in mind also that our goal in this life on earth is for our soul to be good enough to return to Jannat. A true believer should constantly be reminding himself or herself of this goal. If we cannot strive for this goal, side by side, how can we hope to achieve it??? Jean Khan.

  • mosque is the institution of Muslims. but Muslim people think that it is hard work to go to the mosque a Muslim can get education about this world and about the next world. very good message conveyed by this article good effort made by author appreciate your effort good concept discussed by author may Allah give you more time to clear more concepts like this. May Allah give you more strength to write articles like this article has got a place in my heart. in these days Muslims has gone away from the true teachings of Islam. the authors like you can play a good role to create a society which would be based on the true teachings of Islam. i really appreciate you.

  • Mosque is the institute for the Muslims. we pray for the five times in mosque it is our basic by full filling this responsibility we can get success in this world and also in the next world after death. I appreciate the effort made by author. Very good article is written by author. Excellent work is done by the author.

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