A mosque is generally a very symbolic place for a Muslim, being a humble way for Muslims to recreate pure divine presence on earth. The primary purpose of the mosque is to serve as a place where Muslims can come together for prayer. Nevertheless, mosques are known around the world nowadays for their Islamic architecture but most importantly for their general vitality to the Muslim Ummah (community). Allah says:
“إِنَّمَا يَعْمُرُ مَسَاجِدَ اللَّهِ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَلَمْ يَخْشَ إِلَّا اللَّهَ فَعَسَى أُولَئِكَ أَنْ يَكُونُوا مِنَ الْمُهْتَدِينَ “
“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.” (Surah At-Tawbah 9:18)
Most religions have places for their worship, in religion Islam, there is a Mosque for worship. A mosque is a place where Muslims worship and pray to Allah Almighty. In Arabic Mosque is called a Masjid. The mosque is a kind of any house or open area where Muslims offer Salah (Namaz) in the congregation.
Some mosques are also used as places where Muslims get together and discuss things or where religious education takes place. It is not only a place for praying, but it’s also the centre of the community and where many wonderful pieces of Islamic art have been created. Thus, Allah chose His Prophets to establish them, He said,
“وَإِذْ يَرْفَعُ إِبْرَاهِيمُ الْقَوَاعِدَ مِنَ الْبَيْتِ وَإِسْمَاعِيلُ”
“And [mention] when Abraham was raising the foundations of the House and [with him] Ishmael.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:127)
It is required for all Muslim men to attend mosque on Friday for Jummah prayer. Muslims also offer five times prayer in Mosque come and learn about the Islamic faith, about the teachings of the Holy Quran with learning how to read and pronounce it from Ulama. Muslims are required to give money to a charity they often donate it at mosques. And He commanded them to purify them and keep them clean, He said,
“وَعَهِدْنَا إِلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ أَن طَهِّرَا بَيْتِيَ”
“And We charged Abraham and Ishmael, [saying], “Purify My House…” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:125)
There are many rules that worshippers must obey when they are in a mosque. In most mosques, a religious leader called Imam is in charge of praying. Muslims must clean themselves before they enter a mosque. There are washing areas where they can make wudu before entering the prayer hall.
The floors of such a hall are normally covered with carpet. It is not allowed to step on it with shoes as Muslims offer Salah on it. Loud talking is forbidden in mosques.
وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مَسْجِدًا ضِرَارًا وَكُفْرًا وَتَفْرِيقًا بَيْنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَإِرْصَادًا لِّمَنْ حَارَبَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ مِن قَبْلُ وَلَيَحْلِفُنَّ إِنْ أَرَدْنَا إِلَّا الْحُسْنَىٰ وَاللَّهُ يَشْهَدُ إِنَّهُمْ لَكَاذِبُونَ
“And there are those who put up a mosque by way of mischief and infidelity – to disunite the Believers – and in preparation for one who warred against Allah and His Messenger aforetime. They will indeed swear that their intention is nothing but good, But Allah doth declare that they are certainly liars.” (Surah At-Tawba, 9:107)
It is also disrespectful to walk in front of Muslims who are praying. It should suffice the caretakers of the masājid that Allah praised them with this description. It was not a coincidence that the Messenger of Allah started his mission in Madinah by building the masjid, which he made in its centre.
The first mosques were modelled on the place of worship of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in the courtyard of his house at Medina. Those were simply plots of ground marked out as sacred.
Using concluding the following suggestions to make our mosques attractive and appealing for attendance:
- The chief Imam of each central mosque must identify members of his congregation to know their professions. He can then use the opportunity to interact with them on how members of the congregation can benefit from such a profession.
- For instance, if there is a medical doctor in a mosque, through interaction the doctor can organise a short talk on medical or health issues for the congregation in the mosque. Others like this can also follow suit.
- Pragmatic steps should be taken to ensure reliable means of sourcing funds for its upkeep.
- The mosque should be made alive by organising different activities that will make it lively.
- Such can be in the form of da‘wah and enlightenment programmes on contemporary issues affecting Muslims.
- Modern mosques that will accommodate the library, dispensary, multipurpose hall and other facilities should be given utmost attention by the individual Muslim community.
- This may not be attainable in the nearest future, but provision should be made for this through the acquisition of vast land for future use.
- Mosques are places for the worship of Allah alone, free from idolatrous practices since Islam is a purely monotheistic religion.
- Mosques can attract non-Muslims to Islam by showing them some of the religious activities of the Muslims such as the prayer, making them curious about Islam and its beliefs, and allowing them to find out more.
- Mosques are centres of learning and study of the Qur’an, hadeeth, Sunnah, Seerah (the Prophet’s life) and more.
- Mosques are a meeting place for the community where they are informed of important religious events and duties.
- Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) informed the men that they are not allowed to prevent women from attending the Mosques, because Mosques are important places for them too.
- Some Mosques are negligent and do not follow the Sunnah, nor do they give importance to Tawheed.
- A very small number of Mosques open their doors to radical ideas – good Muslims who want to follow the Sunnah should be not deceived by these types of Mosques or the people who speak there.
- The Friday prayers are obligatory upon every adult male, and these are conducted in the larger Mosques.
The masjid takes its name from one of the actions of salât (prayer), which is sujood (prostration). It is the action wherein the believer shows the utmost humility to Allah. The salat is the best of our actions, as the Prophet told us in the hadith of Thawban. Allah says:
وَمِنْ حَيْثُ خَرَجْتَ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَإِنَّهُ لَلْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكَ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ
“And from wherever you start forth, [so] turn your face (in the) direction (of) Al-Masjid Al-Haraam. And indeed, it (is) surely the truth from your Lord. And not (is) Allah unaware of what you do.” (Surah Al-Baqara, 2:149)
Mosques are study centres for newcomers of the faith to come and learn about the Islamic faith, about the teachings of the Holy Qur’an, learn how to read it and pronounce it. These often take place on weekends or in the evenings. Some mosques provide full-time schools if you depend on the mosque to provide a full-time Islamic education. Allah says:
وَاقْتُلُوهُمْ حَيْثُ ثَقِفْتُمُوهُمْ وَأَخْرِجُوهُم مِّنْ حَيْثُ أَخْرَجُوكُمْ وَالْفِتْنَةُ أَشَدُّ مِنَ الْقَتْلِ وَلَا تُقَاتِلُوهُمْ عِندَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ حَتَّىٰ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِيهِ فَإِن قَاتَلُوكُمْ فَاقْتُلُوهُمْ كَذَٰلِكَ جَزَاءُ الْكَافِرِينَ
“And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from wherever they drove you out, and [the] oppression (is) worse than [the] killing. And (do) not fight them near Al-Masjid Al-Haraam until they fight you in it. Then if they fight you, kill them. Such (is the) reward (of) the disbelievers. “(Surah Al-Baqara, 191)
Nearly all mosques provide libraries that offer a variety of books on Islam which will expand knowledge on Islamic teachings. Education is very important in Islam and is very important to mosques too as it is often thought that the Minaret is shaped like a pen/pencil which is thought of as representational of education.
Features of Mosques
Some common elements developed throughout Islamic history and are commonly seen in mosques around the world, although each mosque is unique in its way.
- The most important room of a mosque is the prayer hall. It can be either covered by a roof supported by many columns or covered by a large dome.
- This room is often decorated with religious calligraphy and is usually free from furniture, to help fit more people.
- Mosques should be large enough to fit the entire male population of the community, which can be many people. Therefore, some mosques have an open courtyard complementing the prayer hall to accommodate more people.
- The minaret is a tall tower, commonly located in a corner of the mosque. Some mosques have more than one. The minaret is used for calling to prayer.
- The mihrab is a niche on the wall that indicates the direction towards Mecca. It’s usually semicircular and all Muslims inside the mosque align towards the mihrab for prayer.
- The minibar is an elevated platform inside the prayer room that the leader of the congregation uses to deliver speeches.
- It consists of the actual platform and a ladder to access it.
- Arches are constructive elements often found in mosques. They can be used for structural support and also for decoration.
- Horseshoe arches are frequently used in mosques in Northern Africa and Spain, while pointed arches are popular in mosques in Iran and Central Asia.
وَمَا لَهُمْ أَلَّا يُعَذِّبَهُمُ اللَّهُ وَهُمْ يَصُدُّونَ عَنِ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَمَا كَانُوا أَوْلِيَاءَهُ إِنْ أَوْلِيَاؤُهُ إِلَّا الْمُتَّقُونَ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
“But what (is) for them that not (should) Allah punish them while they hinder (people) from Al-Masjid Al-Haraam, while not they are its guardians? Not (can be) its guardians except the ones who consciously rever but most of them (do) not know.” (Surah Al-Anfal, 8:34)
Though the mosque as such has undergone many architectural changes, the building remains essentially an open space, generally roofed over, containing a Mihrab and a Minbar. A common feature of many mosques is a minaret, a tall thin tower that is usually located at one of the corners. From the minaret, a muezzin or Imam proclaims the call to worship (Adhan) five times each day.
“ألا إن كلكم مناج ربَّه، فلا يؤذينَّ بعضكم بعضاً، ولا يرفع بعضكم على بعضٍ في القراءة” أو قال: “في الصلاة”
“Each one of you is in munâjâh (soft conversation) with his Lord, so don’t bother one another, and don’t raise your voices above each other in recitation (or salât).” (Abu Dawud)
The prayer hall of Masjid normally does not have any benches or chairs. Worshippers pray in rows facing Holy Kaaba which is the centre towards which Muslims around the world face and offer prayer. There are no pictures on the walls of Mosques.
Some mosques show verses of the Quran on the walls to assist worshippers. Every mosque has a Mihrab, a niche in the wall that points to the Holy Kaaba. From Minbar the imam delivers his speech.
Importance of mosques for imparting proper Islamic worship and knowledge:
- Mosque provides libraries that offer a variety of books
- Mosques are study centres for newcomers of the faith
- Mosque all united in their faith and worship of Allah
- Mosque required for all men on Friday for Juma’h
- Mosque provides a full-time Islamic education
- Mosque as a centre of economic activities
- Mosque as a place of accommodation
- Mosque as a centre of socialization
- Mosque acts as a social centre
- Mosque as a healing centre
- Mosques provide full-time schools
- Mosque sharpen human character
- Mosques are the centre of Islamic life
- Mosque acts as an educational centre
- Mosque strengthen truly human values
- Mosque brings the community together
- Mosque welcome both old and new members
- Mosque invoke the teachings of the Holy Quran
- Mosque initiate to come and learn the Islamic study
- Mosques can also play a very vital role in this respect
It is therefore important that we keep the masājid clean and decrease the distractions as much as possible. If we could move some of these functions outside the prayer hall (masjid proper) to nearby rooms, then that would be warranted.
The children must also be instructed about the etiquettes of the masjid. If possible, we should designate areas for them where they could be best tended to and positively entertained. Allah says:
فِي بُيُوتٍ أَذِنَ اللَّهُ أَن تُرْفَعَ وَيُذْكَرَ فِيهَا اسْمُهُ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ فِيهَا بِالْغُدُوِّ وَالْآصَالِ
“In houses (which) Allah ordered that they are raised and be mentioned in them His name. Glorify [to] Him in them in the mornings and (in) the evenings.” (Surah An-Nur 24:36)
Prayers in mosques with the congregation are considered the best way of offering prayers to Allah Almighty. Most Muslims prefer to offer prayer in the congregation and avoid individual prayers for fear of using the wrong ways. We all should try to offer prayers with the congregation in mosques for getting greater rewards in the best manner. Allah says:
كَيْفَ يَكُونُ لِلْمُشْرِكِينَ عَهْدٌ عِندَ اللَّهِ وَعِندَ رَسُولِهِ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ عَاهَدتُّمْ عِندَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ فَمَا اسْتَقَامُوا لَكُمْ فَاسْتَقِيمُوا لَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَّقِينَ
“How can (there) be for the polytheists a covenant with Allah and with His Messenger, except those (with) whom you made a treaty/covenant near Al-Masjid Al-Haraam? So long as they are upright to you then you be upright to them. Indeed, Allah loves the righteous.” (Surah At-Tawba, 7)
Holy Quran, the Word of God. The Holy Quran, which means the ‘oft-repeated,’ is, according to Muslim belief, the final revelation of God to humanity. It guides in all areas of life. The Quran is also recited during every prayer. Allah knows everything we do and hide, Allah has His way of judgment and punishment. All those who serve the cause of mosques and Islam are blessed. May Allah save us and guide us away from devils that are eager to destroy Islam in us.