Part II: Prayer (As-Salat)
The word Masjid is from Sajdah. It means a place where Sajdah is performed. In Islamic terminology, from Masjid we mean a building which the Muslims construct and declare it a place especially devoted and reserved for the purpose of prostration and prayer and worship of Allah, the God of the whole universe. The Mosque is essential to bring the Muslims together and to bind them as an organized community. In the Mosque the Muslims living in a locality or a village or a town, gather at least five times a day and hold prayers in congregation. So it is a pivot around which the life of the whole Muslim community revolves. Here they meet together, pray together, converse and know each other’s problems, share each other’s griefs and enjoyments. We cannot think of a Muslim habitation where there is no mosque.
To have a central place of worship is very important for the congregational services and for the organization of a religious community in a united body. The first thing which the Prophet of Islam did after his migration to Madinah was the construction of the Mosque. As soon as the Prophet reached Madinah, he got a piece of land purchased near the place where he intended to stay and started construction of the Mosque there. The Prophet himself worked as a labourer in lifting the stones and doing other work with his companions and so in a few days a simple and small Mosque was constructed which later on came to be known as mosque of the Prophet. That mosque is there even today, but now it has become one of the largest and one of the most beautiful mosques of the Muslim world.
Now we would see what the Qur’an and Hadith say about the mosque before we have further discussion about it.
The Qur’an about Mosque
The Qur’an (3:96) tells us that the first house (of worship) appointed for mankind is kaabah which is at Makkah. Kaabah is also called Bait-ullah (House of God). It was initially constructed by the angels for Adam and his children. But with the passage of time it disappeared. So God instructed Prophet Ibrahim to reconstruct it on the lost foundations of the previous one. Prophet Ibrahim reconstructed it with the help of his eldest son Prophet Ismail about 2000 B.C. Kaabah was declared Qiblah of the Muslims in the year 2 A.H.. Its Hajj (pilgrimage) was made an obligatory article of Islam for the Muslims in the year 9 A.H. So Kaabah is still there with all its grandeur, and it is Qiblah and centre of worship and pilgrimage and it would keep its position till the Last Day. The Qur’an has sometimes called it as Masjid-ul-Haram (The Sacred Mosque) also. The Qur’an has made mention of Kaabah and Masjid-ul-Haram in many of its verses, e.g. 2(125, 127, 144, 191), 3(96-97), 5(2), 8(35), 22(25-26), etc.
The Qur’an has also mentioned about Masjid Al-Aqsa (17:1) which is located at Jerusalem and where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stayed for a while during his journey (Ascension) to Heaven about one and half years before his migration to Madinah. According to a Hadith, this mosque was built by Prophet Ibrahim forty years after he built Kaabah.
The Qur’an gives great importance to mosque and declares it a place of worship for the believers. It has made mention of the mosque in many of its Verses like Verse No. 114 and 187 of its chapter 2, Verses No. 29, 31 of Chapter 7, Verses No. 17-18 and 107-108 of Chapter 9, Verse No. 40 of Chapter 22 and Verse 18 of Chapter 72.
Ahadith about Mosque
1. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The parts of land that are dearest to Allah are their mosques, and the parts most hateful to Allah are their markets. – (Muslim)
2. Osman reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Whoso builds a mosque for Allah, Allah will build an abode for him in Paradise. – (Bukhari, Muslim)
3. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Whoso goes at morn or at dusk to a mosque, Allah will prepare for him an entertainment in Paradise whenever he will pass at morn or at dusk. – (Bukhari, Muslim)
4. Hakim-bin-Hesam reported that the Prophet of Islam prohibited retaliation being taken in the mosque or recitation of poems therein and executing ordained sentences therein. – (Abu Daud).
5. Muawiyyah-bin-Qurrah reported from his father who narrated that the Apostle of Allah has prohibited these two plants, that is garlic and onion, and he said: Whoso eats them must not come near our mosque. He said: If you have got no other alternative but to eat them, then make them ineffective by cooking. – (Abu Daud)
6. Abu Saeed reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The whole earth is a mosque except a grave-yard and a bath-room. – (Abu Daud, Tirmizi)
7. Anas-bin-Malik reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Prayer of a man in his house is one prayer, and his prayer in the mosque of the tribes is prayer of 25 times, and his prayer in the congregational mosque is prayer by 500 times, and his prayer in the farthest mosque (of Jerusalem) is prayer by 50,000 times, and his prayer in the mosque of mine is prayer by 50,000 times and his prayer in the sacred mosque of Kaabah is prayer by 100,000 times. – (Ibn Majah)
8. Abu Saeed Khudri reported that the Apostle of Allah said: When you see a man going to and coming from the mosque again and again, you should give evidence of his belief, because Allah says: Only those habitate the mosques of Allah who believe in Allah and the Last Day. – (Ahmad, Tirmizi, Ibn Majah)
9. Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet said: Whoso performs ablution and then goes to Allah’s house (mosque) for discharge of an obligation to Allah, then one of the steps he takes remits his sins and the other step elevates his rank. – (Muslim)
10. The Prophet said: On the terrible Day of Resurrection when there would be no shade except that of the Throne of God, the person whose heart remains inclined to the mosque will be one of those who will be provided space under the shade. – (Bukhari)
Thus the mosque is the dearest place to Allah and there are many merits and rewards promised for those who offer their prayers in the Mosque. Offering prayer in the Mosque in congregation has, therefore, been made obligatory for an adult male Muslim, except in case of a valid excuse.
Manners and Etiquettes regarding the Mosque
1- When you enter the Mosque, place your right foot in it first. and then say:
Allahumma aftah li abwaba rahmatika. (O Allah! Open for me the doors of your Mercy).
2- And When you intend to come out of the Mosque, place your left foot out of it first and say:
Allahumma Inni As’aluka min fadlika (O Allah! I ask for your bounty)
3- After entering the Mosque, you should offer two Rakaah of Nafl prayer to greet the mosque as enjoined by the Prophet: “When any of you enters a mosque, he should not sit till he has offered two Rakaah of prayer”. – (Bukhari, Muslim)
4- Enter the Mosque humbly with fear of God and sit wherever you find a place. Do not disturb the people or jump over their shoulders to get your desired place or place in the first row. Neither run in the mosque to join the Imam in a Ruku to get a Rakaah.
5- Sit in the mosque with calmness and dignity. Do not sit idle. Engage yourself in offering Nawafil, in reading the Qur’an or in remembrance of Allah or in offering Darud on the Prophet. Do not engage yourself in vain talk, or in passing comments on political or worldly affairs or in indulging in trade or discussing irrelevant matters.
6- Do not make noise in the mosque or talk aloud as it would disturb the others who are busy in their prayers or who are reading the Qur’an. Even do not recite the Qur’an in your prayer or otherwise in loud voice. Do not ridicule others in the mosque as it is against its sanctity.
7- Keep the mosque always neat and clean and perfumed. Do not spit in the mosque, do not blow your nose, do not pass urine or stool in the mosque. Do not bring or clean the dirty shoes in the mosque, do not throw water of your Wudu, do not shake off water from your wet parts of the body or from your wet clothes in the court yard of the mosque. You are forbidden to do anything or any act which results in making the mosque dirty. Sweeping or cleaning the mosque is an act of great merit and reward.
8- Avoid coming to the mosque when you have eaten something which gives bad smell. The Prophet had enjoined: Do not come to our mosque with your mouths smelling of garlic or onion, because anything which disturbs human beings, disturbs the angels also (Bukhari, Muslim).
9- Do not make the mosque thoroughfare. Do not make it place for sleeping or staying or for passing time, unless you are observing I’tikaf in the mosque or you are on journey having no other place to stay.
10- Enter in the mosque in decent dress, not in shabby or undignified dress. Nor enter the mosque in a dress which does not cover your Satar.
11- You are not allowed to enter the mosque in a state of sexual impurity i.e. after having sexual intercourse or wetdream, till you have taken bath. Nor a woman can enter the mosque in Haidh (Menses) or in Nifaas (blood associated with childbirth) till she has taken bath. However, passing through it is allowed in case it is unavoidable.
12- You should have love and inclination for the mosque. Go to it with zeal and devotion for every prayer, always waiting for the next prayer. There are many Ahadith of the Prophet which highlight the rewards for those who regularly and punctually attend the mosques.
13- Above all, the people of the locality should make proper arrangement for regular Adhaan and congregational prayer in the mosque five times a day. Competent Imam and Muadhin should be appointed and it should be ensured that the mosque remains well attended.
14- The Prophet, according to Ibn Abbas, said: I have not been commanded to build splendid and tall mosques (Abu Daud). So building of the mosque should be simple. The tendency to build splendid mosques, and decorate and furnish them lavishly, must be curbed.
15- If the government of an Islamic country needs, the mosque can be used for imparting education to the children or adults. It can be used for Da’awah (preaching) activities or for conduct of important social and community affairs. However it cannot be used for imposing Huddud and for punishing the criminals as Prophet has forbidden it.
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