A Building with a Difference
Dear readers, Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu.
I found this piece to be interesting and worth reading. Read on, Inshaaallah……
PROF. U MUHAMMAD IQBAL depicts how K’abah, other mosques and the entire earth, which is a miniature mosque, reverberate the Glory of Allah, the Exalted, round the clock.
Oversimplification is a fallacy. Evaluation of an identity without a holistic and comprehensive perspective leads to that fallacy. If one views the mosque as a building, he is not wrong but this view is a half- truth and not comprehensive. The onlooker has overlooked several other significant features. As a consequence, the view becomes a distressing over-simplification.
The Qur’ān says, “All that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth extols Allah’s Glory. He is the Most Mighty, the Most Wise.” (59:1) From this statement one can conclude: the entire cosmos is a mosque where Allah’s supremacy is evident. Every object in the cosmic frame is subject to the laws laid down by Allah and He sustains and cares for His creation: “Do you not see that all that is in the heavens and the earth, even the birds that go about spreading their wings in flight, extol His glory. Each knows the way of its prayer and of its extolling Allah’s glory.” (24:41) All creation, including humanity, worships and glorifies God, willy-nilly.
In the cosmic mosque, the earth is a miniature mosque. Different areas of the universe have centres of worship. On earth, it is the Kaabah of Makkah. It is the first place constructed for the worship of one True and Living God before humanity spread all over the earth. “Behold, the first House (of Prayer) established for mankind is the one at Bakkah: it is full of blessing and is a centre of guidance for the whole world.” (3:96)
All other mosques, according to a Muslim scholar, are but “daughters of this mosque at Bakkah.” No image is kept in the mosque because it is not approved by Allah Himself. This is not the contention of Muslims alone. Even the Bible offers its authority against idolatry. “And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them.” (Psalm 106:36) “The gods of the people of the earth, which were the work of the hands of man.” (II Chronicles, 32:19) “Neither be ye idolaters.” (I Corinthians, 10:7) So it is strange to say that the presence of an image is indicative of the presence of God and the absence of the image is a sure sign of the absence of God. The Book of Jeremiah is to be read to rebut such a viewpoint. “Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?….. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.”(23:23,24) Then how can God be absent in the mosque? It is a house of God. “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will still be praising thee.”(Psalm 84:4)
The concept that the whole earth is a mosque is to emphasise the fact that Allah is not afar off but quite near. “(O Muhammad), when My servants ask you about Me, tell them I am quite near, I hear and answer the call of the caller when he calls me.” (2:186) Allah is with us whenever we are. (57:4) Allah says that He is closer to the dying person than others surrounding the death-bed. “We are closer to him than you, although you do not see (Us).” (56:85) “Are you not aware that Allah knows whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth? Never is there any whispering among three but He is their fourth; nor among five but He is their sixth; nor fewer nor more but He is with them wherever they may be.” (58:7) In the mosque, therefore, God is there along with the Imam and the worshippers.
In such circumstances, going to mosques serves more purposes than one. Worshipping God in the beauty of holiness collectively is superior to worshipping Him individually even though both methods have their rewards. Worshipping Allah five times a day with Prayer timings regulated according to the movements of the sun and the moon has purifying and cleansing and soothing effect through the remembrance of Allah. Leading a Prayer Salath-oriented life yields rich rewards – constant touch with God, appreciation of His favours to us, bliss of total dependence on Him, hopefulness in the securing of His mercy and forgiveness, personal humbleness and hygiene, fraternal relations with co-worshippers, strengthening of social bonds, satisfaction that Allah appreciates the way we worship Him because it is the way taught by the last Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (May Allah bless and greet him), through whose obedience we will secure Allah’s love, (3:31), elimination of class, race and caste discrimination, etc. Interest in the regular attendance at the prayers in the mosque is recognised as an acid test of faith.
In view of this overarching importance of the mosque in the life of a Muslim, our beloved Prophet (peace and Allah’s blessings be unto him) gave top priority to the construction of a mosque on reaching Madinah. He encouraged the construction of a mosque by informing us that Allah builds a house in Paradise for him who builds a mosque for Him on earth. In Arabic a mosque is known as a masjid which means a place for sajdah or prostration. The Gita says, Prostrate before Me… come to Me. (18:65) The Qur’ān says, Prostrate yourself and get near (your Lord). (96:19) In a state of prostration, a worshipper is nearest to God. So, how can God be absent in a sanctified place of prostration?
To describe a mosque as a mere building without God is therefore not to see the wood for the trees. To find no God in a mosque is to deny the omnipresence of God. The mosque is a building as every house is and the house of God is a building wherein Allah’s name is remembered and “people glorify Him in the morning and the evening.” (24:36) The Qur’ān says, “Mosques belong to Allah, so do not invoke anyone with Him.” (72:18) The Qur’ān says, “Monasteries and churches and synagogues and mosques wherein the name of Allah is much mentioned.” (22:40) Allah does not want them to be pulled down. Prophet Abraham (unto him be peace) pulled down the idols and not the temple.
As mosques belong to God, the acquisition of the land for their construction should be through means fair and unquestionable. There should be no force, no usurpation, no demolition of any temple, no ill-gotten resources. In principle, what belongs to God should remain so, come rain, come shine.
A Muslim worshipper may be anywhere but he yearns to return to the mosque again and again. Is it because the mosque is a mere building? When he dies, his body is taken to the mosque. With the coffin in front, worshippers invoke Allah to forgive the living and the dead, the present and the absent the young and the old, men and women and request Him to grant us the life of total surrender to Him and death in the state of faith. Muslims pray in the mosque as though they were seeing Him if they are spiritually evolved and the lesser ones are keenly aware that Allah is watching every move of theirs. When such is the case, they are aghast to receive the information that God is conspicuously absent in the mosque.
The mosque has some architectural features which enable the onlookers to recognise it as a mosque. People of Switzerland agitated for the demolition of minarets because they thought that the minarets symbolised, not hands raised in supplication, but pillars of unbending arrogance. They succeeded. Still a mosque remains a mosque, minarets or no minarets. A most important feature of the mosque architecture is the direction of the building. It is so erected that its relationship with the K’abah is highlighted. Mosques in all the continents face the K’abah and maintain it as their centre. Doesn’t this feature distinguish the mosque most radically from other buildings?
Arrangements are in place to call the worshippers five times a day to visit the mosque. Hayya alas Salah – this statement is repeated twice in each call. Salah in Arabic stands for both mosque and prayer. This call makes it clear too that Salah is the key to Falah – prosperity in this world and the world to come. Prosperity is used here in the same sense as it is used in II Chronicles 20:20. The name ‘Allah’ is repeated eleven times. The greatness of Allah is emphasised six times. The incomparable oneness of Allah is stressed three times. The name of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and Allah’s blessings be to him) is uttered only twice to declare that he is the (last) Messenger of Allah (sent to be obeyed). His name is associated with the name of Allah as a mark of honour and divine recognition.
So the call contains supreme and holy truths and the call makes an impact on the surroundings and the whole atmosphere reverberates with Allah’s glory. Devotees respond and visit the mosque to honour Allah with their physical structure. During every transition from one physical posture to another, Allah’s greatness is indubitably stated by every worshipper six times in the first rakah and five times subsequently. Angels join the rows of Muslim worshippers too. All mosques resonate with Allah’s greatness and with Allah’s own words. Parts of the Qur’ān are recited. Allah will naturally be pleased to hear His own beautiful words being recited by His ardent worshippers. This recitation underscores God’s presence in the mosque. God talks to us through the Qur’ān; we talk to God through Salah, which is better offered in the mosque.
When people in hell are asked how they have come to be there, they reply, “We were not among those who offered Prayer and we did not feed the poor and we indulged in vain talk with those who indulged in vain talk, and we gave the lie to the Day of Judgment until the inevitable event overtook us.” (74:43-47)
Sal-lal-laahu ‘ala Muhammad, sal-lal-laahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.
Note: The above article is taken from Radiance.
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April 14, 2015 - Posted by MuQeet | Ka'bah, Muqeet's (assorted), Reblogs | Allah, Direction of Mosque, Glorying Allah, God in Islam, Grand Mosque, Holy Place, Ibadah, Islam's holiest place, Islamic site, Kabah, Makkah, Masjid, Mosque, Prophet Muhammad, Prostration, Qiblah, Quran resources, Sajdah, Tasbeeh, Worship in Islam, Yassarnalquran
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