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Monday, 12 January 2015 17:16

Pivotal role of mosques in Muslim & non-Muslim societies

Every year, one of the 31 provinces of the Islamic Republic of Iran hosts a nationwide conference for promotion of the sublime culture of the ritual prayers. This year, Ahvaz, the capital of the southwestern province of Khuzestan was the venue of the 23rd such conference. In his message to the conference, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, praising the benefits of such a gathering, said the ritual prayers, which are obligatory for all adult Muslims five-times-a-day, enlighten minds, soothe the souls, and grant tranquility to hearts.

 

No wonder, Islam considers the ritual prayers as the Pillar of Religion, he said. The Leader’s message called on the public to promote the culture of prayers through construction of mosques in the neighbourhoods, holding prayers at schools and universities, making arrangements in trains and airplanes for observing this obligatory tenet of Islam, and writing articles and books on the beauties of this wonderful act of worship.

The Mosque plays the fundamental role in promoting the sublime culture of the ritual prayers in societies, including in those countries where Muslims are a minority. The Mosque is the identity of Muslims and is the place where the faithful gather to pray, to read the holy Qur’an, to learn the teachings of Islam and to acquire spiritual values, away from the rat race of the material world. Following the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, mosques have sprouted all over the country, as the population has increased, and new towns and satellite cities have sprung. The Mosque also serves as a place where the believers socialize and discuss solutions to their problems, in addition to increasing awareness of the current issues at home and abroad. The Mosque is thus an ideal place for the youths to strengthen the spirit of virtue, and refrain from idle pursuits, frivolities, and lawless behaviour. It is worth noting that the house of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) was attached to the principal mosque of Medina, known till this day as Masjid an-Nabi or the Prophet’s Mosque. As a matter of fact, God Almighty had allowed the opening into the courtyard of the mosque, of one of the doors of the Prophet’s house as well as that of his vicegerent, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), while the doors of others were ordered closed, in order to preserve the sanctity of the mosque. The Prophet himself would lead the daily ritual prayers five-times-a-day, and explain to the steadily growing number of Muslims the meaning and purport of the ayahs of the holy Qur’an as they were gradually revealed to him by God Almighty. In addition, the Prophet’s Mosque served as the centre of social, political and scientific activities of the fledgling Muslim community.

Throughout Islamic history, the Mosque has been considered as the beating heart of the Muslim society. For this reason, we find the Jame’ Mosque in the centre of all towns and cities, ideally located near the main bazaar or marketplace. Here, the faithful gather to worship, pray, supplicate to God, recite the holy Qur’an, discuss solutions to the problems of the individuals and the community, organize classes for both religious and scientific studies, hold cultural programmes, and in times of disasters, including natural catastrophes and wars, mobilize relief efforts. As a matter of fact, before the emergence of modern schools, it was the mosque to which the maktab or traditional school was attached, where education in different fields was imparted to the young and the old. Once when the Prophet of Islam entered the mosque he saw two groups of people; one engaged in worship, and the other in teaching. He remarked that both groups are doing good deeds, but added: “I have been sent for promotion and spread of teaching.” This is indicative of the pivotal role of the mosque in teaching and learning, since it is the place where people from all walks of life are welcome, and there is no difference in any of them, regardless of their social positions. In other words, the Mosque is the House of God and thus belongs to all, whether rich or poor, whether white or black, whether young or old, whether the scholar or the unlettered person, and for people of all ethnicities. There is neither an entrance fee in a mosque nor membership. This unique characteristic makes the Mosque in Islam more attractive than any modern social or cultural club. No doubt, the Mosque in Iran played the vital role in the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran.

The role of mosques in societies where Muslims are a minority is more important. The Mosque in such places helps the Muslim minority preserve its Islamic identity through religious, cultural and social programmes. In fact, it is the role of the Mosque in non-Muslim countries that has saved Muslim youth from the immoral and indecent culture of the West. This is evident by the fact that even after three generations in Western Europe and the Americas, the Muslim citizens of these countries have remarkably preserved their religious and spiritual values. In addition, they are attracting the seekers of truth and conscious persons in the West towards the dynamism of Islam. This has frustrated the plots of certain non-Muslim regimes to deprive Muslims of their identity through the deceptive slogan of assimilation in the national mainstream. No religion is conspicuous in the West as Islam. Every year the number of persons in the West embracing the truth of Islam is steadily on the rise. This is one of the reasons that ignorant elements in the West have made the fatal error of targeting mosques and Muslims. Unfortunately, over the past few weeks three mosques have been the target of arson attacks in Sweden, a country which claims to head the ranks of European states in terms of peace and co-existence. In reaction to such acts of vandalism and blasphemy, more and more people in the West have become curious in knowing about Islam, and the result has been more and more cases of conversion. The Mosque is thus the guiding spirit of not just Muslims but also all conscientious persons and seekers or truth. This explains for the Islamophobia unleashed by the frustrated regimes of the West, and their creation of terrorist outfits such as the Takfiris, to destabilize Muslim countries.

MG

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