A mosque or masjid is a ‘place of prostration’. It’s a house dedicated to Divine service. Islam considers every deed as worship if done with the objective of pleasing the Lord. For this reason, there is no need to have a separate house for each area of Islamic work, and it is possible to have a mosque that is multi-functional. However, to achieve this you need a clear vision, good management, leadership, and supporting organisational structures. My vision of an ideal mosque is one that seeks to reclaim three important domains of human culture and civilisation, they are:
- Education: religious and academic
- Family: entertainment, sport and art
- Society: politics and media
The mosque is the training college, people who have aspirations to serve Allah and the community. They should be provided support, encouragement and opportunities to use their God-given talent for changing society. They are provided mentors, guides and leadership to fulfil their role.
It is not sufficient for one to be a regular attendee or a good member of the congregation but to have the yearnings to transform oneself and others are key. That will then be a true Muslim, who is; Basheer – Giver of good news, Nazeer – Warner, Dai’y – Inviter to the truth, Shaheed – Witness for truth. The big question is does your mosque have such a comprehensive and holistic approach? Does the leadership believe in the members’ capacity to achieve their potential?
The serious challenge or a shortcoming of many leaders is their inability to make namazi’s (worshippers) good students, or disciples. When you passionately believe that the mosque is there to train people to become agents of change then that mosque will become the hub of the community, it will play a prominent role in community building. This is the perspective that mosques need to grasp, where they are dynamic, outward-looking, people-orientated, God-centred and following the Sunnah.
Mosque and Civil Society
In Britain the state runs the country, it is responsible for providing services like; education, health, social services and recreation. Nearly 50% of an individual’s income goes to the state as taxes. However, the family institution is also important and exerts a huge influence on the individual and society. In between these two powerful institutions, the state and the family, is a third very influential player that is the civil society. This is independent of the state, it is the engagement of the community with each other, its community at its best where it tackles its own issues independently of the state. It’s a sign of community vibrancy and true social capital of any society. For religiously active Muslims the mosque is an important institution that influences civil society. What the core values of a Mosque should be:
- Develop a sense of individual worth
- Instil justice and equality
- Provide mutual care
- Be sensitive to the needs of others
- Work with integrity and honesty
- Provide good value in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and economy
Aims of a Mosque
To build God-conscious, compassionate and a just society that provides its members with a balanced way of life encompassing inner and outer development of the person. The belief and values of Islam are a coherent set of principles for a successful and peaceful society. These values inspire and guide people to focus on goodness and refrain from evil. Thereby providing a means of nurturing good citizens.
Understanding the context
Mosques must develop strong working relationships with local councils and other community organisations to build a stronger society. The mosque must recognise the responsibilities of working in deprived inner-city areas with multiple deprivations including; educational underachievement, unemployment, poor housing, and high crime rates etc.
We believe that good family life helps to build stronger and healthy communities. Therefore, mosques must offer pre and post-marital advice and guidance as well as parenting seminars.
Young people are the future, they bring energy and enthusiasm to an organisation. They need to be guided and nurtured by those who are older and more experienced. Committees must make a special effort to involve young people and women in decision making and to give them responsibility. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not exclude young people or women from giving their opinions and ideas and from helping with carrying out tasks. The life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is full of examples of where young companions such as Ali, Ibn Abbas, Zaid, Usamah, Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with them all) were all involved in the decision-making process and regularly consulted.
It is also well established that women attended for prayers and other gatherings in the Mosque during the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his successors. So our mosques need to be more inclusive. May Allah give us the ability to strive in developing these model mosques as beacons of society.