by Falah Shams, Naib Amir USA, at West Coast Jalsa Salana Dec 26th 2016
First House of Worship:
Centuries ago a house of worship was built in the Arabian Peninsula, at the place now known as Mecca. The place of worship is called Ka’ba. Exactly how long ago it was built in not known. Since it was built in the pre-historic times, there is no authentic history about its original year of establishment. When we do not have authentic history about something, we refer to the traditional history for information. Traditional history is information passed down from one generation to the next over centuries. Problem with traditional history is that it gets change, convoluted and manipulated, sometimes intentionally and sometimes just due to the passage of time. The third way to find out about some event is through revelations of God to His prophets. We know that revelation is true information. Although it is possible that Ka’ba was established by Prophet Adam, based on the revelation to Holy prophet Muhammad, in the Holy Qur’an it is clear that at least since the time of Prophet Abraham it has existed.
Ka’aba was established to fulfil the need of human beings to worship one God. Philosophers have been asking questions over the centuries; why are we here? what is the purpose of our existence?, etc. Holy Quran has answered these questions by stating:
“I have not created the Jinn and men but that they may worship Me.” (Al Dhariyat 57)
So the first house of worship was built to fulfil the purpose of our being created, the worship of Allah. This House was built for the whole mankind. “Mankind” indicates that this house was constructed for neither Muslims, nor Christians nor any other particular nation. It was built for the whole mankind for carrying out the worship of Allah. It also had a hidden prophecy that one day the whole mankind would gather together under one prophet (Muhammad) under the banner of one faith and facing this house altogether. In this house, people of all races, rich or poor, men or women standing equal in front of God, have been worshipping their Creator.
Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:
“And remember the time when We made the House a resort for mankind and a place of security; and take ye the station of Abraham as a place of Prayer. And We commanded Abraham and Ishmael, saying, ‘Purify My House for those who perform the circuit and those who remain therein for devotion and those who bow down and fall prostrate in Prayer.’” (2:126)
First Mosque of Holy Prophet Muhammad:
A few centuries later, when Prophet Muhammad migrated to Medina, very first step that he took was to establish a Masjid, a place of worship. In Medina, it was a simple layout, made out of date tree stumps and leaves.
Hazrat Ibn Umar relates that in the time of Holy Prophet Muhammad, the pillars of his mosque were made of stumps from date trees and its roof was made with leaves of date trees. In the time of Hazrat Abu Bakr, the stumps and leaves had rotted with time so he rebuilt it with the same kind of stumps and leaves. When they rotted again, in the time of Hazrat Usman, he rebuilt the mosque with bricks. (Sunan Abi Daud Kitabus Salat Hadith 382)
Main use of the Mosque was the five daily prayers established in Islam as one of the pillars. However it was also a center of consultations/discussions on all matters.
Activities other than prayers included even sports and gathering for various needs of the society. Major decisions were made at the Prophet’s Mosque about troop’s selection, providing information and news to the Muslims. Study circles were formed in the mosques about fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence). Clinics were established in the mosques to help the sick people. It was a place to eat and drink for the poor and the needy.
Prophet’s mosque as the “Last mosque”:
After the Prophet’s mosque was well established, Holy Prophet Muhammad made a statement:
“My mosque is the last mosque.” (Reported by al-Bazzar and authenticated by Sheikh Albani in Sahih Targhib No. 1175)
We know that physically Prophet’s mosque was not the last one in the world since more mosques were built in Median as well as other parts of Arabia even in his lifetime. What this statement means is that all mosques built from that time onward will be replicas or extensions of the Prophet’s mosque.
In another way to describe is that the use of mosques will be based on the Sunnah of the Holy prophet. That is how they would be extensions of his mosque.
We also find in the Sunnah of the holy Prophet that his heart was in his mosque. Physically, when he came out of his residence, he was in his mosque. He conducted all of his public affairs in the mosque. He did not have a conference room or a private office. Any delegation, guests whether Muslim or Non-Muslim came to see him, he met them in his mosque.
We find similar example of Promised Messiah who spent good amount of time in the mosque even before his claims of being a Messiah and Mahdi. Al-Aqsa mosque in Qadian was built by his father. His father appointed Mian Jaan Muhammad Kashmiri to lead the prayers in this mosque. During his youth, Promised Messiah performed all his prayers in Aqsa Mosque. Mian Jaan Muhammad was uncle of my grandfather Mian Imamuddin. Whenever my grandfather and his two brothers would visit Qadian to see their relatives, they would go to Aqsa mosque to say the prayers. It has been related and is recorded in Seeratul Mahdi Part III, that many times there was no one else in he mosque at prayer times other than the Promised Messiah. He was always there.
Although Aqsa mosque in Qadian was at a close distance to the residence of the Promised Messiah, it was not close enough. So he established Mubarak Mosque which was attached to his residence. With this mosque, he had the same set up as the Holy prophet Muhammad did. When Promised Messiah would come out of his residence, he was in the mosque. It can be said that the mosque and residence were part of each other in both these cases.
Foremost use of the mosque-Prayers:
It is impossible to discuss the role or use of the mosques without its use for the congregational prayers. Prayers have to be in congregation. Surah Fatiha is a required reading in the five daily prayers. Required prayer, Salat, is not complete if Surah Fatiha is not recited at least once. Surah Fatiha uses plural form in addressing Allah. This Surah describes the glory of God and our relationship to Him as being dependent on Him. We read in Surah Fatiha:
“Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help.”
“Guide us in the right path.”
In both of these verses, plural form is used, being clear that it is being recited by a congregation and not a single person.
It is through the establishment of five daily prayers in the mosque that the Holy prophet established worship of one God around the globe twenty four hours a day and seven days a week. This is an accomplishment that no other prophet has been able to do.
When the five daily prayers were established, people did not know that the earth was round. Now we know that because it is round and revolves around the sun, at any moment, it is time for one of the five prayers somewhere in the world. So worship of God is being performed at every moment on this earth. It cannot be accomplished by weekly services.
In reference to the mosques, Holy Prophet also said, “also eat and drink while you pass by the gardens of Jannah (Paradise)”. Hazrat Abu Hurairah says that I asked Holy Prophet ‘O Prophet of Allah what are the gardens of Jannah?’ Holy Prophet replied that mosques are the gardens of Jannah. Then he asked ‘O Prophet of Allah what is meant from eating and drinking from the gardens of Jannah?’ Holy Prophet said it is the remembrance of Allah, ‘Tasbih’; repetitive utterances of short sentences in the praise and glorification of Allah and poem of Allah, to say SubhaanAllah, Alhamdulilah, La illaha illal Allah, Allah o Akbar. Saying all this is like eating and drinking from Jannah. (Sunan At-Tirmidhi 3509)
Importance of going to the mosque for prayers:
It is a well-known hadith of the Holy Prophet that congregational prayers has 27 times the reward.
Abu Hurairah relates: A blind person came to the Holy Prophet and explained that he does not have anyone who can walk him to the mosque so he should be allowed to say his prayers at home. Holy Prophet gave him permission. As he was leaving, Holy Prophet asked him if he can hear the Adhan from the mosque when he is home. He answered in affirmative. Then the Holy Prophet told him that he must perform his prayers in the mosque. (Sahih Muslim Kitabul Masajid Hadith 1044)
Hazrat Ibn Umr relates that once Holy Prophet was late in coming to the Isha prayer because of other activities that he was busy with. Many of us fell asleep and woke up again and again. When the Holy Prophet arrived he announced that there is no other community beside you who waits to say their prayers. (Sunan Abi Daud Kitabut Taharah Hadith 171)
Use of mosque also includes eradicating the wrong impressions about Islam. It provides a platform to announce to the world that Islam is a peaceful religion and does not promote hatred, chaos or turmoil. Islam is the religion that creates love of God and love for His creation.
Etiquettes of mosques:
Hazrat Wasila bin Aqsa relates: Holy prophet said to keep the following away from the mosques:
Very young children, adults who are not in senses, matters of trade/buying/selling, your disputes, raising voices, drawing your swords. He also stated that you should make washrooms near the doors of the mosques and use perfume when coming to Juma prayers. (Sunan Ibn Maaja Kitabul Masajid Hadith 742)
Keep mosques clean and presentable and show excellent behavior because it is the house of Allah. Allah says in Holy Quran 9:18 “He alone can keep the mosques of Allah in a good and flourishing condition who believes in Allah, and the Last Day, and observe prayer, and pays the Zakat, and fears none but Allah; so there it is who may be among those who reach the goal”.
Mosque is a place of spiritual development since all activities in mosques are for Allah’s pleasure. It provides facilities for spiritual advancement activities for children and adults, classes to be taught for religious education and a center for discussion of propagation of Islam.
Ahmadiyya Jama’at as Ashab-eKahf:
There is a special role of the mosques for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The Holy Qur’an has mentioned some details about the People of the Cave, Ashab-e-Kahf who existed two thousand years ago, followers of Jesus son of Mary. In the latter days, the Promised Messiah announced that his community is also Ashab-e-Kahf. He stated that this was a revelation from God.
Holy Qur’an says that Ashab-e-Kahf will establish mosques. We read in Surah Al-Kahf:
“And remember the time when people disputed among themselves concerning them, and said, ‘Build over them a building.’ Their Lord knew them best. Those who won their point said, ‘We will, surely, build a place of worship over them.’ “(Al Kahf-22)
Ones “who won their point” or “who were in control” (the administration) will say that we should build mosques. Hadrat Musleh Maood announced this in his address to the ladies Jalsa: (Alfazal 15 January 1920, p 2)
“Our missionaries who have gone to London and are propagating there, it happens that they are staying in a house and when work starts at a good speed they end up moving from there for one reason or another. This results in a loss for the Jama’at….second thing is that when a person going to a country and tries to make contacts with local people, they are cautious since they think that he is a stranger and is here for only a few days. But if we were to build something then local people know that he is there to stay. So considering these points we should think about building a small house and a Masjid.”
Masjid Fazal in London was built under the program laid out by Hazrat Musleh Maood in 1924. Up until then, Muslims used to buy a house or some other building and call it a mosque. He appealed and the ladies of Ahmadiyya Community contributed for the construction of a mosque. It is just a big room with only one entrance and no partition for ladies. But, Allah blessed this small mosque in a way that no one could predict it. The ladies who contributed to build this mosque could not imagine in their wildest imagination that this mosque one day will be the center of international activities and the Khalifa of the time would be leading the five daily prayers in it. It is an example, how use of the mosque is unpredictable and with blessings of Allah even a small mosque can be used in enormous ways.
It is our responsibility to raise funds and establish mosques everywhere. It is a means of a continuous blessing for our souls.
Hazrat Usman bin Affan relates that he heard the Holy prophet say that anyone who builds a mosque, house of worship, for the sake of Allah, Allah grants him a similar house for him in Heaven. (Sahih Muslim Kitabul Masajid, Hadith 828)
A new role of mosques was announced by the Promised Messiah for his community: the renaissance of Islam. He prophesized: “The foundation stone of the renaissance of Islam and a superior world order have been laid. Now, mosques will be built and people will enter them, and join the Divine movement in hordes.” (Noorul Haq Vol 2, p 42)
We need to build small mosques so they are used by people living around them.
Promised Messiah said: “Our Jama’at needs a lot of mosques. It is a house of God. Whichever village or town can build it, should build it. It should be well understood that (in that town) foundation of the progress of Jama’at is also laid with it. “(Noorul Haq p 42)
Promised Messiah also stated:
“At this time our Jama’at is in dire need to build mosques. A mosque is a house of Allah. Wherever, be it a city or a village, wherever our mosque is built consider it being the building block for the development of Jama’at in that area. If there is a village or city where there are no or few Muslims, just construct a mosque there. Allah will indeed Himself attract Muslims to that place. But there is a condition that the mosque shall be built with very true and honest intentions. It should be done merely for the sake of Allah and it shall not have any other personal or political means. It is then that Allah will bless it.” (Khutba Khalifatul Mesih V Nov 4, 2016)
Hazrat Khalifatul Mesih V stated in his Khutba of November 4, 2016: Build small mosques but do it in all the Jama’ats.
Promised Messiah further stated in Malfoozat Vol 2, p 42 first print: “This is not mandatory that the mosque must be embellished and be a brick building. Just enclose the plot and a room of thatched roof may be built. The Prophet’s Mosque also had its roof of a few palm tree branches which continued for a long time. It was Hazrat Usman who built it with bricks because he loved construction of fine building.”
We should populate the mosques according to the Sunnah and desire of the Promised Messiah.
Hadrat Abu Musa relates that the Holy Prophet said: Among the people who earn the highest reward from Allah are the ones who come to mosque from a distance. After them, the ones who come even from a farther distance. Person who waits and performs prayers behind an Imam earns more reward than the one who goes ahead and say his prayer so he can go to sleep. (Bukhari Kitabul Adhan Hadith 613)
At the end I quote Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V:
Merely being happy over the fact that we have constructed a mosque and then showing up very rarely for Salat, and embedding more fear of people than Allah’s fear, greediness for the worldly pleasures and giving importance to worldly matters and forgetting the true essence of the purpose of mosque, might help us earn a temporary good but will not be successful in earning Allah’s continuous blessings. Therefore Allah says that the true population of mosques is from people who grow through their faith and good acts.” (Nov 4, 2016 Khutba Juma)
Let us hope and pray that we can fulfil our responsibilities to build mosque all around the world as extensions of the Mosque of our dear Prophet Muhammad and fulfil the purpose of our creation: worship of one God. Amen