Masjid: a place of worship or more?
Credit: Amna Anwaar
A Masjid, which is the Arabic term for ‘Mosque’, entails a house dedicated to the worship of Allah (SWT). It is a place of prayer and prostration. The four walls of this building sanctify the name of Allah (SWT) and Allah (SWT) alone. A Masjid is a place where Muslims stand before their Lord, shoulder to shoulder with their Muslim brothers, with the sole purpose of Divine worship united by their common love for Allah (SWT). The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) likened the mosques of this world to gardens of paradise:
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), said, “When you pass by the meadows of Paradise, then graze as you like.” I said, “O Messenger of Allah, what are the meadows of Paradise?” The Prophet said, “The mosques.” I said, “O Messenger of Allah, what is its grazing?” The Prophet said, “To declare the glory of Allah, the praise of Allah, the greatness of Allah, and that there is no God but Allah.”(Tirmidhi 3509)
The term ‘Masjid’ is derived from one of the most beloved actions carried out by a believer, the Sujood, i.e. prostration, which is performed in our daily Salah. The act of Sajdah (singular of Sujood) is a position where the believer is closest to Allah (SWT) and it is where the believer bows down in utter surrender and humility before Him.
However, a Masjid is not confined or limited to the performance of Salah only, it stands for something much more. It is a safe place dedicated to the purification and refinement of all human beings, whereby they not only learn to make outward Sujood with their bodies but where they learn to prostrate their heart, mind, and soul before God. Upon entering the Masjid, a believer leaves the cares of the outside world and enters the comfort of Allah’s (SWT) refuge - what could be more beautiful than that.
Hence, a Masjid holds great significance in the realm of Islam. More than just a place of worship, it serves as a primary religious institution in any community and plays a major role in the community building of that area; the role of the Masjid is beneficial to the overall well-being of the society itself. Throughout Islamic history, the Masjid has served as a center of social, educational and political activities as well, marking it a focal point in any given society. All activities are geared towards one common goal: strengthening faith and establishing a sense of unity in the community. Islam is a religion that not only encourages Muslims to come together in their spirituality but to develop kinship ties with our fellow brothers and sisters through community gatherings as well, such as the regular Friday prayers and sermons.
There is a reason Allah (SWT) encourages His servants to offer their prayers at the mosque instead of offering them at home. Going to the mosque plays a great role in developing and refining a Muslim’s sense of religious identity. Each and every human being that stands shoulder to shoulder in a mosque is different. They may differ in class, culture, background, experiences etc. but before Allah (SWT), they stand as equals. What unites them is their faith in Allah (SWT) and the desire to please Him.
During the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) time, he and his blessed companions utilized the safe space of the Masjid to learn and recite the Holy Quran, engage in Dhikr and Dua, socialize amongst one another, receive various delegations and prepare campaigns to raise funds for the cause of Islam. The Masjid also served as a shelter for the poor and the sick. It was not just a pivotal institution for spiritual matters, but also for their worldly matters, which still holds true in today’s world.
Hence, the Masjid is a cornerstone of every community and at the end of the day, solidarity in religious beliefs is what preserves a community’s Islamic identity.