The masjid is the primary religious institution in Islam. The masjid itself has a very lofty role in the process of community development. Community development is of utmost importance especially in places where Muslims are minorities. Unfortunately, around the world, masjid’s have simply become physical buildings where only prayers are offered. The time has come to end that trend and properly revive this institution. The revival however cannot take place until there is a proper understanding of what the masjid is suppose to be.
“Whoever builds a mosque for Allah (swt), though it be the size of the ground nest of a sand-grouse, Allah (swt) will build for him a house in Paradise.”
Source: Ibn Majah
Allah (swt) made the masjid a refuge for the hearts of His righteous servants, as the Prophet (saw) said, “There are seven types of people whom Allah (swt) will protect with His Shade, on the Day of Judgment when there will be no shade except His Shade.” Of them is, “A person whose heart is attached to the masjid.”
It’s not by any means a coincidence that the first action the Prophet (saw) did when he got to Madinah was construct a masjid. The root word for masjid comes from the Arabic word to prostrate (sujood). The issue is that the role of the masjid isn’t just to be a place where salah is offered. Yes, that is the primary purpose, however nowadays the role is exclusively that. The masjid is a place where Muslims learn how to behave in front of Allah (swt). They are places where a Muslim refines his/her character. The Prophet (saw) used the masjid as a place where they would learn the Qur’an, make dhikr and duah, socialize with each other, receive delegations, etc. In fact, it was even a place for the sick to come, as well as a place for the homeless members of the community.
Children and youth of today, especially in the west can take pride in their masjids as being places where they can meet other like minded youths. Aisha (ra) said, “I have seen the Messenger of Allah (saw) one day at the door of my house, while the Abyssinians were playing in the masjid, and the Messenger of Allah (saw) was covering me with his garment to watch their playing.” It is also known that whenever the Prophet (saw) would hear a baby crying he would shorten the prayer out of mercy for the mother.
Even acts of sleeping and resting were common in the Prophet’s Masjid. There was a group of around 70 people at the time of the Prophet (saw) who were very poor and destitute. They were known as the Ahla-Suffah and they used to stay in the masjid.
Delegations from around the Arabian Peninsula used to frequent the Prophet’s Masjid as well. For example, it’s been recorded that the Christian delegation from Najran stayed at the Prophet’s Masjid. It is important for Muslims, especially in the West that we invite our non Muslim friends into the masjid and educate them about our way of life. If they see first hand how beautiful and peaceful Muslims are then the misconceptions can finally be cleared up. The masjid should never be a place of dirtiness. The Prophet (saw) strictly made sure that the masjid remain clean and not have any foul smelling scents by even instructing people to not eat garlic or onion before they come to the masjid. All of us should be constantly reminded about the importance of this beautiful institution. Just like anything else, there is proper etiquette that must be followed when going to the masjid.
The virtues of the masjid are many and this is just meant to be a quick read about some of the virtues. Insh’Allah as Muslims, we have to always make sure that we make the intention to visit the masjid for the sake of Allah (swt).