By Dr. Abdul Ruff
“In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”
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 its general vitality to the Muslim Ummah (community).
A mosque brings the community together as it acts as many things, a social centre, a community centre and an educational centre etc as it has many events which welcome both old and new members of the mosque. It is required for all men to attend mosque on Friday for Juma’h. The sermons often have a strong practical slant, trying to integrate and apply Islamic beliefs and historical teachings into contemporary daily life. Sermons are significant in bringing the community together as the congregation is standing side by side in a line, facing Mecca, together, all united in their faith and worship of Allah
Mosques are study centres for new comers 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 . These are 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. Nearly all mosques provide libraries which 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.
Muslims prefer value based life which can be imbibed from various sources: from educational institutions, from genuinely principled parents or guardians, elders, friends, others. Mosques can also play very vital role in this respect. Islamic prayers learned properly and preferably in mosques will strengthen truly human values and sharpen human character so that Muslims can hope to attain perfection but also are useful to Islam and society at large.
Mosques are center of Islamic life in inculcating Islamic values onto Muslims seeking to imbibe Islamic cultural and religious ethos in order to live as genuine Muslims. It appears many Muslims, not taught by the mosques about Islamic prayers in a proper manner, pray as they know and in a deformed manner. That is not good for them and for Islamic faith. Though even a genuine visit to mosques by Muslims is itself has positive meaning for them, praying in the mosques is very important for Muslims.
However, prying in Islamic way in its proper format is a must for every Muslims.
Islam enjoins Muslims to offer five prayers throughout the day at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and night. In fact, Muslims can pray anytime except at the exact sunrise and sunset times. Prayer enables Muslims to physically and mentally take a break from their worldly activities to connect with God several times a day. In prayers the believers communicate with the Almighty in proper manner.
The prayers consist of praising God while standing, bowing and prostrating, maintaining the practice of Islamic prophet Muhammad (SAS), Jesus, Moses and all the other prophets, peace be upon them all.
On Fridays, Muslims attend a special congregational noon prayer in mosques, complete with a brief sermon. Muslims are not supposed to miss this unless they are unable to pray due to illness and journeys, etc. here one’s determination to participate in Friday prayers in mosques
Holy Quran, the Word of God. The Holy Quran, which literally means the ‘oft-repeated,’ is, according to Muslim belief, the final revelation of God to humanity. It provides guidance in all areas of life. The recitation, study and memorization of Quran form a central facet of worship for Muslims. The Quran is also recited during every prayer. Although it is widely read in its original Arabic, various translations in numerous languages are also available.
Since the beginning of human history, worship has played a central role in people’s lives. Devotion to a higher being continues to tie humanity together despite differences in customs and a variety of beliefs. We often associate worship with specific religious acts performed to a deity, distinguishing it from other facets of one’s life. However, the concept of worship in Islam is all-encompassing and incorporates ritual worship as well as common daily tasks. This pamphlet discusses the balance Islam encourages between our spiritual and worldly endeavors, while also explaining core rites Muslims perform to worship God.
In Islam, worship is the very purpose of our existence. God declares in the Quran, the holy book of Islam, “I did not create … mankind except to worship Me” (51:56). Muslims worship God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, out of love and submission. They believe that He is the One God (Allah in Arabic) who is completely unique and only He deserves to be worshipped.
Worshipping God is a comprehensive concept within Islam. Along with traditional rituals, such as praying and fasting, it also consists of any lawful action a person does with God-consciousness and in the hopes of earning reward from Almighty God. Therefore, devoting oneself to God in Islam does not require a person to enter a place of worship nor embrace monasticism. Rather, fulfilling this purpose of life is an active daily pursuit from the Islamic perspective. Hence, a Muslim can be engaged in worship throughout the day, be it at home, work or anywhere else.
The mosque is the center for all Islamic activity as it used to be in the mosques of the Prophet in Medina. In these mosques, not only prayers took place, but it was a school of knowledge where companions used to study the Quran and ask questions. It was a place for the Government to receive delegations from foreign countries. It was a treasury from which charity work was done and it was a war-room where decisions and planning for wars imposed on Muslims were made. In fact, the mosque extended to the care of the needy and orphans, and the sick as well as a place for giving D’awa to non Muslims who love Islam. Thus we need our mosques not only to be a place of prayer but, a place for seeking Islamic Knowledge for Muslims
Building a mosque is a prophetic and Islamic tradition of Muslim Communities. One of the first things that the Prophet Mohammed “Peace be upon him” did when he entered Medina, is to build a mosque, the mosque of Quba. Subsequently wherever the Muslim’s have gone, they have built a Mosque for their needs in that community. Factually the number of Muslims or the number of Mosques could reflect the true parameters in the strength of Islam? Unless we build a community around the mosque to support and maintain the Mosque and strengthen the community, the mosque itself will not protect the community.
Anti-Islamic forces always target mosques and Muslims. For instance, at the peak of communist rule in Russia, there were only 400 mosques left in the whole of the USSR while during the revolution in 1914, there were 24, 000. Most of these mosques under communist operations were closed on week days and open only for Friday Prayer or Sundays. 700 mosques in Bosnia were destroyed by Serbs and there are many mosques in India that have been left behind, abandoned, or converted to Hindu Temples. Many mosques are still under Hindu occupation, backed by the governments and courts and there has been a serious threat to mosques by Hindutva forces that now rule India with the backing of USA that leads anti-Islamic forces at global stage to target Islam and Muslims.
Indian government and then Opposition BJP, seeking to keep Hindus sin good humors, jointly engineered the demolition of historic but defenseless Babri Mosque in 1992 in the broad day light. Since the Hindutva forces, backed by the Congress government, pulled down the Islamic Babri Mosque on fake pretext, the many state governments ruled by Hindus, their police and military media and even courts backed the anti-Islamic conspiracy against an innocent Mosque. They have shown in India only Hindus have the power and right to do what they want.
Collective communication with Allah
Muslims do need mosques for collective prayers. Of course, a Muslim can pray at home where he can live a comfortable Islamic life with himself and his family, but and his home cannot be a mosque. However, we must remember that Islam is a religion to be practiced collectively therefore, all good things if they are done together has more of a reward than the same things done alone. Never in the Holy Quran does Allah address Muslims as believer but, always as believers.
The Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) did allow non Muslim delegations not only to come and talk to him about Islam but, he allowed them to stay and pray in their own way too. This is Islamic compassion. That is indeed the true Islam of the Holy Prophet who trusted in Allah, almighty. Anti-Islamic fanatics spread false stories of making Islam popular by “sward”.
The house of worship in Islam is called a mosque. Many Muslims congregate at mosques for prayer while others choose to pray at home, work or wherever they may be. While the primary use of a mosque is prayer, it also serves as a community center with people gathering to listen to lectures, attend study groups or enjoy communal dinners. Mosques are especially active on Fridays for the congregational noon prayer and during Ramadan for the nightly prayers.
Mosques are in the centre of all Islamic activities starting from regular prayers and as such they could play vital role in making the prayers of Muslims as perfect as possible so that they worship with clear s conscience and confidence of doing the right thing in prayers. .
Unless worship in other religions, Islamic payers are performed in a systematic manner and different methods some Muslims use are their own and they are accountable for any imperfection caused to the prayers. Of course, Muslims can pray in mosques five times under the Imam appointed by the Mosque committee as per the time table of each mosque. Since the believers stand behind the Imam for offering prayers and pray apart of team or Jamaat, they need not know the Arabic prayers themselves. But when they pray additional prayers (Sunnah) they need to know the prayers thoroughly.
Islamic prayer in mosques consists of verses, expressions said silently during the worship and steps of movements and their repetitions to make prayers complete. These verses and expressions Muslims have to learn by heart. Prayers in mosques with Jamaat are considered the best way of offering prayers to God. Most Muslims prefer prayers in Jamaat and avoid individual prayers for fear of using faulty sayings and in wrong ways.
Possibly many Muslims pray faulty and using wrong prayers. Even frauds, criminals, and crooks pretend to be praying in mosques, in fact more obediently than others do both in Jamaat and on their own. They have no fear of Allah and no respect for the Holy prophet or Holy Quran. They do not believe in the Hereafter. Maybe they don’t even now they are going astray or they just don’t bother about it all. Many people think since they are punished for their crimes or wrong doings or even mischief, there is no way they would be punished later. Many Muslims are indeed rebels and they fight Allah but they are not aware of their wrong steps. May Allah forgive them if they are really innocent!
Prayers in mosques are highly structured and not every abled Muslim is able to perform prayers correctly, let alone perfectly. Perfection, of course, is a boon if at all some Muslims at least have acquired. Muslims should believe that only God can make a true redelivers pray perfect. Prayers offered at home or any place by individuals and groups are the least perfect, to say the least.
The Tableage organizations functioning across the world to impart Islamic education, prayers, explain the Holy Quran and Prophet’s life and teachings, etc, but usually take away people to another place, preferably another town for 40 days, or 4 months or six months or 4 one year, etc as per the convenience of the interested Muslims. But today’s high speed world, time off from duty or work like months is difficult. But they refuse to do their services in their own mosques and benefit the Muslims of the locality. One has no idea why should prayers be taught in the mosques where Muslims pray.
Muslims are the believers who trust God, Holy Quran and Prophet Muhammad (SAS). Muslims are those who have complete trust in God; those who believe that God is with them, knows what they think, say and do.
Muslims seek knowledge. Islam prompted mankind to learn. Thus, from the beginning of Islamic history, the concrete symbol of Islam (the Mosque) became the centre of learning. The Arabic word for university, Jami’a, was derived from Jami’ (mosque). The Quran recurrently urges the faithful to acquire knowledge, knowledge that would bring them closer to God and to His creation. Many verses of the sacred book command this act, for example: Then ‘Say [unto them, O Muhammad]: Can those who know and those who do not know be deemed equal? But only those who are endowed with insight will keep this in mind’ (Quran 39: 9).
The mosque played a major part in the spread of education in the Muslim World, and the association of the mosque with education remained one of its main characteristics throughout history , and, the school became an indispensable appendage to the mosque. From the earliest days of Islam, the mosque was the centre of the Muslim community, a place for prayer, meditation, religious instruction, political discussion, and a school. And anywhere Islam took hold, mosques were established, and basic religious and educational instruction began. Once established, mosques developed into well-known places of learning, often with hundreds, even thousands, of students, and frequently contained important libraries.
The first school connected to a mosque was set up at Medina in 653, and by 900 nearly every mosque had an elementary school for the education of both boys and girls The basic format in which education took place in the mosque was the study circle, better known in the Muslim World as “Halaqat al-‘Ilm”, or Halaqa for short. A Halaqa is literally defined as ‘a gathering of people seated in a circle’ or ‘a gathering of students around a teacher’
Enemies of Islam blame the decline of Muslim civilization on Islam rather than on the occupation and devastation, by powerful anti-Islamic forces, of its centres of learning, such as Cordoba, Baghdad, and Seville, we conclude that from its earliest days, Islam went hand in hand with scholarship and knowledge. As well as the verses of the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet which urged people to learn and seek knowledge, the mosque, the concrete symbol of Islam, was the most important centre of learning in the Muslim world. Indeed, in most Muslim countries, the word Jami’ means at once both mosque and school. Muslims consider mosques, where Muslims offer regular prayers, as places or houses of God that are very dear to them.
Muslims are very sure that their actions are being watched by God and they are accountable for any wrong doings. Muslims do not take god for granted thinking that He does not immediately punish the guilty and hence people keep committing crimes and thefts.
Muslims should know that they are bestowed with good favors of God for good things they do or intent and they are denied good things if they commit wrong things, and they are answerable for their mischief.
Charity and supplication
Muslims must give 2.5% of their annual savings to help the poor, the needy and the oppressed. This act of devotion acknowledges that all wealth comes from God and purifies the soul from material greed. In addition, Islam encourages voluntary acts of charity, be they monetary or physical. A famous prophetic tradition states, ‘Smiling is charity.’
Muslims supplicate to and address God directly for their needs and desires anytime and anywhere. This direct relationship is an essential element of worship in Islam. Whether asking for guidance, seeking solace or beseeching God for forgiveness, Muslims reach out to God at any time, without an intermediary. The practice of confession to another being does not exist in Islam.
Nothing is a mere formality in Islam. Even the usual wishing ‘assalamu alaykum’ has a message and importance. Fasting is not a just formality that every Muslim has to observe but we must observe it with heart and soul so that God gives the necessary changes in our hearts thoughts, lives.
It would be better if the honorable Islamic pundits (Ulema) request all mosques to impart proper education on regular prayers so that Muslims pray properly and their prayers don’t go a waste. They also need to explain the best ways of independent learning of prayers so that Muslims correct themselves. .
Muslims fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, by refraining from eating, drinking and sexual interaction from dawn to sunset. Fasting instills self-restraint, provides spiritual cleansing and strengthens one’s willpower. While fasting, Muslims strive to increase charitable acts and control bad habits such foul language, gossip and anger.
Worship: A Holistic View
Worshiping God adds meaning to our lives and constantly renews our purpose. In the good times, we are thankful for His blessings, and in challenging circumstances, we trust God will see us through. Therefore, worship strengthens our relationship with the Creator – instilling a sense of gratefulness for the countless favors we enjoy as His creation as well as enabling us to develop values such as patience, perseverance and resilience when faced with trials and tragedies. As a result, it helps us achieve humility, recognizing God as the Originator and Sustainer of the universe and surrendering to Him in worship.
Muslims consider their earthly existence as temporary and prepare for the real life ahead, the eternal life of the hereafter. As God clearly states in the Quran, He “created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed” (67:2). Salvation in Islam is connected with doing good deeds and refraining from bad ones. One who excels in goodness will be rewarded generously, but one whose evils outweigh his virtues will be punished. The fear of accountability and hope for God’s mercy in the afterlife inspires Muslims to be mindful of God in their daily lives, encouraging them to more fully worship Him.
Indeed, Islam enjoins Muslims to lead balanced lives in this world while striving for success in the hereafter by living righteously. Therefore, the concept of worship in Islam encompasses not only the outward religious duties, but also the development of a strong moral character, good relations with people, and striving for just and harmonious societies.
Worship in Islam is as broad as life itself. It could be removing an obstacle from the road, helping someone in need, being good to your family, doing an honest day’s work, sharing food with your neighbor, visiting a sick person, attending a funeral and so on. Of course, the above-mentioned criteria apply here as well: to be considered worship, the act must be done earnestly to please God and should be consistent with divine guidance.
Therefore, Islam blurs the line between ‘religious’ and ‘worldly,’ because practically any action can become spiritual in nature and is rewarded by God – whether it is seeking knowledge or maintaining good neighborly ties. When someone keeps this comprehensive approach in mind, they naturally steer clear of cheating, lying and exploiting others. Instead, they strive to be honest, compassionate and tolerant in their dealings.
When it comes to worship, Muslims draw inspiration from the life of Muhammad (SAS), the final messenger of God. He was the quintessential human being who successfully fused his ‘worldly’ and ‘religious’ acts into a seamless whole. His entire being was focused on submission to God, whether he was with his family or in the mosque. Muslims endeavor to follow his example and stay mindful of God throughout their day.
In the end, worship in Islam extends to all aspects of life, transforming mundane tasks into spiritual ones. Muslims balance their religious duties and everyday responsibilities, aware of their accountability to God in the hereafter. When people fulfill their true purpose of worshiping God, it enables them to attain a profound sense of peace that results from submitting to the Creator, the only One worthy of worship. “… Truly it is in the remembrance of God that hearts find peace.” (Quran, 13:28)
Foundations of Worship: Morality in Islam
However, since Muslims, particularly the youth are not properly taught and trained in Islamic prayers by elders, mosques or by Islamic organizations, they pray as they have learned in their own ways. Muslims who are denied proper teaching and training in Islamic worship are not at fault for their faulty prayers.
Certain criteria determine whether an act can be considered worship. For instance, Islam teaches that the merit of a person’s action depends on the intention. Muslims believe that God looks at people’s hearts, not just their physical deeds. For an action to be regarded as worship, it must be performed with the pure intention of pleasing God. Therefore, the concept of worship in Islam encourages people to connect with God in every action they take, strengthening their bond with their Creator.
In doing so, a person gains a sense of true peace that comes with carrying out their purpose in life. In addition to purifying one’s intention, a person’s deeds must also be consistent with divine guidance. While God has inspired an intuitive moral sense in every individual, people do not always act in a just and ethical manner. In fact, our ability to judge between right and wrong can often be muddled by external influences, outward appearances or ulterior motives. Hence, having a moral compass alone does not enable one to internalize righteousness or bring one closer to God.
In order to guide humans to His worship and to truly differentiate between good and evil, God sent prophets as teachers and role models. He also revealed Holy Scriptures which provide us with knowledge directly from God and serve as manuals for virtuous living. The combination of prophetic examples and divine scriptures reinforces our moral inclinations and equips us with the knowledge to discern between right and wrong. They also provide us with the criterion which enables us to assess our own motives and deeds. Above all, they teach us how to worship God and to lead a life that pleases Him.
Islam is the culmination of God’s message since the time of Adam. The God of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and all the other prophets, is the same God who sent Muhammad as His final messenger to humankind and revealed the Holy Quran, God’s last scripture, to him. The Quran, the only divine book to remain intact in its original text, upholds the pure teachings of previous revelations. It is a testament to the continuity of God’s message from the beginning of human history, guiding people to achieve their fundamental purpose in life.
The guidance of the Quran and the example of Prophet Muhammad, whose teachings have been meticulously preserved, form the basis of worship in Islam. It must be noted here that while Muslims esteem all of the prophets sent by God, including Jesus and Muhammad, they do not worship any of them. In fact, worshipping any one besides the One God is strictly prohibited in Islam. Rather, Muslims invoke God to send blessings upon all the messengers and prophets.
Indeed, every single aspect of a person’s life can fit under the umbrella of worship in Islam, so long as the person’s intention is to please God and the action is consistent with the Quran and prophetic example. At the same time, certain core rituals form the basis of a Muslim’s worship of God.
Holy Hajj: The Journey and achievement of a Lifetime- not every year affair
The pilgrimage to Mecca must be performed by every Muslim once in their life if they are physically and financially able. It symbolizes the unity of humankind as Muslims from every race, nationality and social status assemble together in equality to worship God, following the traditions of Abraham.
The two Eid festivals mark important holy days for Muslims. Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated at the completion of Ramadan while Eid-al-Adha falls during the days of Hajj. Both occasions begin with a congregational prayer and a sermon; these are followed by festive meals, gift-giving and socializing.
Every Muslim has a right to know and practice real Islamic worship. When mosques take the responsibility of imparting Islamic worship, including prayers in detail, Muslims would learn the prayers properly and confidently.
When Muslims make mosques the centre of their life activities the quality of their life would change drastically for the better and much better. As more and true Muslims come to mosques the fake ones who use them for personal benefits alone would withdraw themselves from Mosques.
Muslims should have in their mosque a reference library where they can go and study Islam. From the mosque, there should be collection and distribution of all Sadaqa and Zakat. It would benefit the community if each mosque would incorporate a free medical clinic which can meet after Friday Prayer or after Sunday school. Muslims without insurance or those who are in need of emergency help can receive treatment.
Muslims are not those who think since Allah has not punished those who are anti-Islam, who have boldly committed crimes against humanity, crimes against believers, they can also do exactly what they want against the Islamic teaching.
Allah knows everything we do and hide, Allah has His own way of judgment and punishment.
May Allah save us and guide us away from devils that are eager to destroy Islam in us.