The Place of the Mosque in Islam
By Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usamani
Every Muslim is aware of the position of a mosque in Islamic Society. It was only recently that I discovered what that really means.
An Example of South Africa
It was about seven years ago that I visited South Africa I went to Cape Town and found that many Malaysians lived there. Of the total number of Muslims there, Malaysians formed an 80% majority. I was anxious to know how they reached South Africa and was told of an interesting historical fact which, indeed, is worth learning from.
The Malaysians Reach Cape Town
These people were of the stock of those Malaysians who had fought the British Colonisers unsuccessfully and had failed to drive them out of their country because of inadequate weapons of war. The Britishers took them as captives and put them in fetters and brought them to Cape Town as slaves. These white people talk of democracy to day but they subjugated, these brave people and chained them at their feet. They disallowed them to offer prayers in accordance with their religion; not even in their homes. They whipped anyone found offering prayers.
Prayers in the Dark of the Night
These people were made to labour hard and oppressed cruelly. When their masters prepared to sleep in the night, they unchained these Malaysians so that they could go to their barracks and sleep. But instead of sleeping after a gruelling day’s work they would sneak out one by one to the nearby mountains. Do you know what for? To offer they day’s prayers all together in congregational form!
Let us Offer Prayers
Soon after, Allah (swt) decreed that the Dutch attack Cape Town and seize it. The Britishers knew that the Malaysian were very good fighters and warriors. They were very brave. So, they asked them to drive away the Dutch but the Malaysians said that it made no difference to them whether the Britishers had authority over them or the Dutch; for they were slaves either way. However, they were willing to fight the Dutch on condition that they be permitted to offer prayers in Cape Town and allowed to build a mosque.
Only the Demand to Build a Mosque
We must heed this fact – these people did not demand monetary remuneration. They did not ask to be set free, and they did not put forth any material condition. Their only demand was that they be allowed to build a mosque. Accordingly, they fought the Dutch very bravely and compelled them to retreat.
The Malaysians then reminded the Britishers of their demand and were allowed to build a mosque. These poor people built the first mosque in Cape Town in very trying conditions. They lacked proper tools, materials and money. They even could not determine the Qiblah with the result that even today it is off the mark by 20 to 25 degrees. Today, the prayer mats are spread at the proper angle which leaves them misaligned with the walls.
These brave people did not ask for a house to live in and they did not demand money. They did not seize the opportunity to demand proper food and drink. Their demand was that they should be allowed to construct a mosque. This is the history of the Muslim people. They preferred a mosque over everything else and did not omit the duty of building it in their pitiable condition, too.
The Savour of Faith
In fact, it is such people who receive the sweetness of faith. We are the ones who have received the religion without effort. We are born to Muslim parents and had to make no sacrifice for Islam. Most of us have spent no money and put in no effort. The result is that we do not realise the worth of Islam. Only those who have worked for it, made sacrifices and undergone trials, know the real worth of it.
We Must Be Thankful
I have narrated this event so that we may be thankful to Allah (swt) that we face no restriction on building mosques. We are able to build a mosque whenever and wherever we like. Hence, it is our great fortune that we build this mosque and everyone who takes part in it, in whatever way, is indeed worth congratulating.
Mosque is Inhabited by the Worshippers Who Pray
I must state here that a mosque is built not with its walls, the bricks and building material. The first mosque which the Prophet (saws) built in Islam at Madinah – the Masjid Nabawi – did not even have a solid roof or firm walls but its walls were made of leaves of date palm. In spite of that, there is no mosque more meritorious than it besides the Masjid al-Haram at Makkah. A mosque is not the area within the walls with towering minarets and the niche. Rather, it is the name of a place where people prostrate.
We may build a very large mosque, beautiful in all respects and with walls well adorned, but if it is bereft of worshippers, what is the use of its beauty? A real mosque is one which is inhabited with the worshippers who offer prayers.
Mosques When the Hour Approaches
The Holy Prophet (saws) said that one of the signs of the approaching of the Last Day would be that that the Mosques will seem busy and full and they will be well-built, very beautiful to look at, but, in reality, they will be deserted from within. There will be very few worshippers inside. Very few people will use them for the purpose for which they are built. Allama Iqbal has said about building of mosques that, it is much easier to build a mosque overnight than to become a regular worshipper in that mosque.
Anyway, all those who are participating in building mosques are very fortunate. May Allah make their task easy. Aameen. We must remember, however, that our task does not end with the erection of the mosque. In fact, our duty begins after putting the edifice up. We have to inhabit it with worshippers who offer prayers, who recite the Qur’an in its precincts and remember Allah (swt) often.
The Mosque occupies a central position in Islamic society. It is here that life is fashioned, character built and manners shaped. Mosques are built for these purposes. It is, then, that it can be called occupied in the literal sense and the figurative sense.
[Courtesy: Discourses on the Islamic Way of Life, Vol. X]
Quiz on Endangered Species and Fossils
- The Quagga was a species of:
(a) Horse (b) Deer (c) Wildebeest (d) Hog
- Which of the following is endangered?
(a) African violet (b) Yheb net bush of North Africa (c) Rafflesia of Malaysia (d) All
- Which of the following Indian owls has become extinct?
(a) Blewitt’s owl (b) Spottes owlet (c) Collared-scops owl (d) India Eagle owl
- Where was the now extinct pink-headed duck found?
(a) Punjab (b) Maharashtra (c) Kerala (d) Bengal
- Where was the now extinct gigantic elephant bird found?
(a) Madagascar (b) Sri Lanka (c) New Zealand (d) Japan
- Which of the following quails has become extinct?
(a) Himalayan Mountain quail (b) Common quail (c) Blue-breasted quail (d) Little Bustard quail
- Which of the following animals is on the verge of extinction?
(a) Tiger (b) Prairie dog (c) Barking deer (d) Hispid hare
- Which of the following birds is on the way to extinction?
(a) Reed warbler (b) Lesser florican (c) Indian pipit (d) Blue-tailed bee-eater
- Which of the following is nearing extinction?
(a) Pygmy hog (b) Alpine marmot (c) Noctule bat (d) North American vole
- Which of the following is nearly extinct?
(a) Orinoco crocodile (b) Mediterranean monk seal (c) Sumatran rhinoceros (d) All
Answers: (Please put on next page):
- He that makes himself a sheep shall be eaten by the wolf.
- He who makes no mistakes makes nothing.
- A man alone is either a saint or a devil.
- A man without religion is like a horse without a bridle.
- Man is the head, but woman turns it.
- Man proposes, God disposes
- The Shariah looks at the action, God at the intention.