Masjid is a term derived from the word sajdah (adoration. prostration) and is used for the place of performing sajdah. Sajdah is the act of utmost humility and adulation in front of the Supreme Source of all creation. Allah's Messenger (PBUH) said, 'The servant is never closer to Allah than when he is prostrating himself in worship. (Muslim). It was the act of sajdah that distinguished Shaytan from the angels. It is indicative of sincerity, loyalty, obedience, and submission to the will of Allah.
Everywhere on earth is a place of prostration for the Muslims. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
"..Wherever you may be at the time of salaat, you may pray for it [the earth} is all a mosque. "(Agreed).
Nonetheless. Special places are designated for the purpose of making sajdah and these are the mosques. Accordingly, the mosques are the places where we can distinguish between obedience and disobedience, humility and pride.
Three mosques have the most profound impact upon the faith of a Muslim. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
"Do not undergo the hardships of travelling except to visit three mosques: Masjid al-Haram, Masjid al-Aqsa and this mosque of mine (Masjid Nabawi)" (Bukhari).
This is not without a reason for Allah's Messenger (PBUH) said:
The prayer of a person ... in the mosque of Aqsa (i.e . Bayt al-Maqdis) has a reward of fifty thousand prayers; his prayer in my mosque (the Prophet's mosque in Medina) has a reward of fifty thousand prayers: and the prayer in the Sacred Mosque (Ka'bah) at Makkah has a reward of one hundred thousand prayers." (Ibn Majah).
MASJID AL-HARAM (KA'ABA)
..We see the turning of your face (for guidance} to the heavens; now shall We turn you to a Qiblah that shall please you.· Turn then your face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque: wherever you are turn your faces in that direction, (Q2: 144)
The Ka'aba is the first mosque on earth:
"The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakka full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings" (Q3:96).
It is a square building built of hard stone slabs. It is about thirteen metres in length, twelve metres across and fifteen metres high. It is shrouded almost down to its base in a rich black draper, the Kiswah, on which are embroidered in gold thread quotations from the Quran. The most striking feature of the Ka 'ba is however found in its spiritual significance for the faithful believers. The Ka' abah had always been the center for pure faith (Islam) but severally because of the perversion of men. idol worshipping were carried out therein. Before the advent of Muhammad (PBUH), the holy place played host to paganism and impuree worship but at the fall of Makkah to Islam, the House again played host to monotheism and for all time. The Muslims who had hitherto faced Masjid Quds as qiblah in salaat were ordered by Allah to face the Kaabah after its purification:
“turn then your face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque: " (Q2:144).
Kaabah from then became centripetal to the Muslims’ devotion as all worshippers are required to face its direction in salaat. It is a place that enkindles love and energy for life. It is the place to call people to Allah. It has been variously described as "the sacred House" (Q2:150), "the inviolable Place of Worship" (Q5:2), "the Inviolable House" (Q5:95), "the Ancient House" (Q4:37), "the Holy House;' (Q22:33) and "the House Frequented" (012:4)
"Glory to (Allah) Who did take His Servant for Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the fartherest Mosque whose precincts We did Bless in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the one Who hears and sees (all things)". (Q17: 1)
The "fartherest mosque" is masjid al-Aqsa. It is the second mosque on earth. Abu Dhar asked: "0 Rasulullah! Which mosque was built first?" He replied:
I asked, "Which (was built) next?" He replied:
"Al-Masjid-al-Aqsa (i.e. Jerusalem) "
I asked, "What was the period in between them?" He replied,
"Forty (years).” (Bukhari).
It is supposed that Ka 'aba and al-Aqsa were built by Prophets Ibrahim and Sulaiman respectively (PBUT) but the fact is that both houses of worship were built by Adam (PBUH) and there was a difference of forty years between them. Ibrahim and Sulaiman only rebuilt the places of worship. Al-Aqsa is a rectangular site which comprises AI-Aqsa mosque, the dome of the Rock mosque, and on its southwestern edge, the wailing wall, the last remnant (according to the Jews) of their Temple.
Al-Aqsa occupies a central position of importance in Islam. It was the first qiblah (direction) for the Muslims in Prayer and on the Prophet's miraj journey to Allah's presence, he led all the other Prophets in prayer on the site where the mosque now stands. The Dome of the Rock also houses 'the Rock' from which the Prophet's ascension to the heaven took place. Rasulullah (pBUH) himself stresses the significance of masjid al-Aqsa thus:
"If anyone puts on ihram for hajj or umrah from the Aqsa mosque to the sacred mosque, his former and latter sins will be forgiven, or he will be guaranteed Paradise. " (Abu Daud).
The Muslims cannot now do that for the mosque is in the hands of the enemy of Allah (The Jews) who are threatening to raze it down. Why don t we join the efforts to regain AI-Aqsa. How? For now, just put Al-Aqsa onto your travel agenda again so the world can see its significance to Muslims!
MASJID NABAWI (MADINA)
It was not the first masjid of the Prophet (PBUH) that honour belongs to masjid at taqwa (mosque of piety) at Quba; but It was the notable mosque that was set up by the Rasul (PBUH). According to Anas ibn Maalik (RA) the mosque was built about two weeks after he arrived in Yathrib; 'the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to pray in the folds of the sheep and goats, before the mosque was built. (Muslim).
The Prophet (PBUH) sought to purchase the land, but the owners (the al Najjar clan) said: 'No, by Allah, we would not demand the price but reward from the Lord'. (Muslim)
Anas (RA) further narrated that in these lands were trees, graves of the polytheists (mushriks) and ruins but Rasulullah (PBUH) ordered that the trees should be caught. The graves should be dug out and the ruins should be levelled. The first mosque on the sight of today's glittering structure was supported by trunks of standing palm trees arranged towards the qibla and the Prophet (PBUH) himself worked on the construction. As they were building, the companion sang these verses along with the Rasulullah (PBUH):
"Oh Allah! There is no good but the good of the next world. So help the Ansars and Muhajirun ". (Muslim)
Thus the Masjid an-Nabawi was established to seek the good of the Hereafter.
"Whoever comes to this mosque" said Rasulullah (PBUH), "let him not come but for good works which he may learn or which he may teach; for he will be In the grade of the Mujahid (the jihadist) in the service of Allah ... " (Ibn Majah).
So the companions trooped to this mosque to grow their iman, to learn and teach true knowledge, to perfect their moral conduct and to seek the good of the Hereafter. Hearts became transformed, growth developed. civilisation occurred and small Yathrib became Madinatun-Nabiyy (the City of the Prophet (PBUH» and centre of world civilisation: all because of that small mosque - the Masjid an-Nabawi,.
MASJID IN LINBO
"There is a mosque whose foundation was laid from the first day Oil piety; it is more worthy of your standing forth (for prayer) therein. .. "(Q9: 108)
The masjid is critical for the survival of the Muslim ummah just as blood is critical for the survival of the body. Uthman ibn Affan (RA) narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said:
"He who builds a mosque for Allah while he seeks the Pleasure of Allah, Allah would build for him a house like that in Paradise. (Muslim).
Building for Allah and seeking only His Pleasure are the main intention of building the masjid; where this is lacking, the masjid will be in limbo and so will be the Muslim ummah.
The mosque is the centre of Muslim life. It beckons on the Muslim, five times a day, to come and receive a shot that will purify and boost the spiritual blood flowing in his vein; thus keeping his mind busy with higher thoughts and his heart alive. The mosque is the training ground where the equality and brotherhood of mankind is put to practice as all stand shoulder-to-shoulder in rows before their only Creator-Allah, Then at the masjid, the social life and conduct of the Muslim is shaped through soul-inspiring sermons and regular learning sessions.
As long as the mosque remains a place of spiritual upliftment and learning" then it will be a pivot of advancement and progress for Islam and the Muslims. Once the mosque is in limbo, then the spiritual and social life of the Muslim is equally in limbo and the decline of the ummah sets-in. The size, shape and decorations of the mosque is not important; nor is the height of the minaret or the number of crescents that adorn the masjid. What is important is whether the masjid is alive or whether the mosque is in limbo.
Consider your own contribution to this symbol of Islam in your own neighbourhood. - are you a cause of its growth or a cause of its decline? The answer lies in the kind of house you want in the Hereafter. Do you want a house that is dirty, desolate, unattractive to guests and reeks of urine, or a house where words of inspiration are not heard and signs of progress do not sprout? Then keep away from your masj id and leave it in limbo. Or do you prefer in the Hereafter a clean, spacious, attractive house where words that inspire progress are spoken and where guests are forever visiting and staying? Then set the foundation from here with your neighbourhood masjid.
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited