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Mosques in Islam: Purpose and Role

The masajid should be places wherein Muslims learn how to prostrate their hearts before Allah.

The masajid should be places wherein Muslims learn how to prostrate their hearts before Allah.

As the primary religious institution, the masjid has the greatest role in community building, and its success in performing this role is essential for the wellbeing of the community, particularly where Muslims live as minorities.

Sadly, the role of the masjid in many Muslim communities around the globe has recently been reduced to being a physical place where prayers are offered. It is time to reverse that trend and revive the role of this institution to what it was in the early history of Islam. Such a revival cannot be fully realized without first developing a clear understanding from the revelation, the Qur’an and Sunnah, about the importance, virtue, and role of the masjid in Islam.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “The best patches (of earth) are the masajid (mosques) and the worst are the markets.” (Ibn Hibban)

Thus, Allah chose His Prophets to establish them, He said:

And (mention) when Abraham was raising the foundations of the House and (with him) Ishmael. (Al-Baqarah 2:127)

And He commanded them to purify them and keep them clean, He said:

And We charged Abraham and Ishmael, (saying), “Purify My House”… (Al-Baqarah 2:125)

Furthermore, Allah made the reward of building the masajid most abundant. Regarding this, the Messenger of Allah said:

“Whoever builds a mosque for Allah, though it be the size of the ground nest of a sand-grouse, Allah will build for him a house in Paradise.” (Ibn Majah)

Refuge for Hearts

Allah made the masajid a refuge for the hearts of His righteous servants, as the Prophet said:

“There are seven (types of people) whom Allah will protect with His Shade, on the Day (of Resurrection) when there will be no shade except His Shade.” Of them is, “A person whose heart is attached to the masjid.”

It should suffice the caretakers of the masajid that Allah praised them with this description,

The mosques of Allah are only to be maintained by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and establish prayer and give zakah and do not fear except Allah, for it is expected that those will be of the (rightly) guided. (At-Tawbah 9:18)

It was not a coincidence that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) started his mission in Madinah by building the masjid, which he made in its center.

The masjid takes its name from one of the actions of salah (prayer), which is sujud (prostration). It is the action wherein the believer shows the utmost humility to Allah. The salah is the best of our actions, as the Prophet told us in the hadith of Thawban.

Beyond Prayer

However, the role of the masjid is not limited to the performance of salah. The masajid should be places wherein Muslims learn how to prostrate their hearts before Allah, and not only their bodies. They are places of tarbiyah (refinement) of the Muslim character.

To the Prophet  and his Companions, the masjid was not only a place where they prayed, but it was also a place where they learned, recited the Qur’an, made dhikr (remembrance) and du`aa’ (supplication), met with each other, socialized, received the delegations, prepared the expeditions and raised funds for various good causes.

In fact, it was sometimes even a place for tending to the sick, and a shelter for the homeless. In the physical world, it was at the center of their lives. At the same time, it was the cradle of their learning and spiritual growth.

Whatever can be said about the importance of the masjid for Muslim communities throughout the world it is even more magnified when we talk about the Muslim minorities, to whom the masjid is truly the ark of Noah. In America, for example, Muslims are a small minority scattered throughout a large continent. For some of them, weeks or months may pass by without getting a chance to see another Muslim except in the masjid.

The masjid, therefore, constitutes the link between them and their deen (religion). In it, they develop that emotional bond with their community, which is vital to the wellbeing of their allegiance to the Ummah and faith in Allah. Many youth may find in the masjid the role models they lack at home.

In addition to this, for Muslims to see a masjid– especially the youth who did not grow up in Muslim countries– is vital because it’s the most evident symbol of Islam in their tangible world.

What Else?

The pressing question now is how to revive the role of the masjid in our times, particularly where Muslims live as minorities? Here are some of the things we need to do as a community.

We need to educate ourselves regarding what may be done at the masjid…

To begin with, one must emphasize that the primary actions in the masjid are salah (prayers), dhikr (mention of Allah), du`aa’ (supplication), tilawah (recitation), and education.

In light of that, priority must be given to the main jama`ah (congregants) of the masjid and activities led by the designated imam. Those who do anything else, or do something other than what the main jama`ah does, should not cause disruption. Abu Sa`eed narrated that the Prophet was in i`tikaf and heard them raising their voices with recitation, so he said:

“Each one of you is in munajah (soft conversation) with his Lord, so don’t bother one another, and don’t raise your voices above each other in recitation (or salah).” (Abu Dawud)

If it is prohibited for someone who is praying or reciting the Qur’an to bother the other worshipers, then it is more prohibited for someone doing something inferior to that to bother them.

Having said that, there is still room for much to be done at the masjid, and while many actions are prohibited in it, such as conducting business, advertising, announcing lost items, many other practices are thought to be prohibited when they are not.

Some of us Muslims have this mental image of the masjid as a sterile, extremely quiet place where people pray together and disperse thereafter. This causes some to enforce many restrictions in the masjid that would eventually make it an unwelcoming place for children and families, and even to adult men. However, a tour through the masjid of the Prophet (peace be upon him) during his time may help us rid ourselves of this false conviction.

To be continued…

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Source: muslimmatters.org

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Acts of Worship New Muslims

What One Should Do after Pronouncing the Shahadah

By Abdul-Rahman Al Sheha

After pronouncing the Shahadah, it is from the Sunnah that a person do the following things:

It is recommended that one perform a complete bath (ghusl) with pure water a

What One Should Do after Pronouncing the Shahadah

It is recommended that one perform a complete bath (ghusl).

nd then perform a prayer consisting of two rak`ahs. In a hadith, a person named Thumamah Al-Hanafi was taken captive while he was a disbeliever. The Prophet (peace be upon him) would repetitively approach him saying:

“What do you say, O Thumamah?” He would say, “If you decide to kill me, you would be killing (in right) because I have killed; if you let me free, you would be letting free one who shows gratitude; and if you desire wealth, we will give you what you please.” The Companions of the Prophet liked to ransom captives, and so they said, “What would we gain if we killed him?” So finally one day, the Prophet decided to set (Thumamah) free, and [upon that] he accepted Islam. The Prophet untied him and sent him to the walled garden of Abu Talhah, commanding him to take a complete bath (ghusl). He performed a complete bath and prayed to rak‘ahs, and the Prophet said, “Your brother’s Islam is sincere.” (Sahih ibn Khuzaimah)

A Complete Bath (Ghusl)

The Intention (Niyyah). One must intend in his heart that he is performing ghusl to remove himself from a major state of impurity – whether janabah (a spiritual state of impurity which one enters after having sexual intercourse, or after ejaculation of men or the release of orgasmic fluid for women), menstruation or postpartum bleeding – without uttering such intention vocally.

Mentioning the Name of Allah. One should say, ‘Bismillah’ (In the Name of Allah).

He should wash his hands, and then his private parts removing the filth.

Next, he should perform a complete ablution (wudu’) as he would for the Prayer. He may delay washing his feet until the end of his ghusl.

He should pour (at leas) three handfuls of water on his head, running his fingers through his hair and beard so that water reaches the roots of his hair and scalp.

Then he should pour water over the rest of his body, rubbing it, beginning with the right side and then the left. He should take care that water reaches his armpits, ears, navel, and in between the folds of the skin if he were fat, for these folds of flesh which form in the obese prevent water from reaching the areas of skin concealed within the folds, and thus may remain dry. He should then wash his feet if he had not already done so while making wudu’ (before performing the ghusl). `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported:

“When Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) would perform ghusl due to sexual intercourse, he would first wash his hands, then pour water with his right hand into his left, washing his private parts. After that he would perform wudu’ as he would for the Prayer, and then take water and rub it in to the roots of his hair with his fingers. (Lastly) he would wash his feet.” (Muslim)

Ghusl becomes obligatory after one of the following things:

1- Ejaculation, whether the semen of men or the fluid released by women upon having an orgasm, due to desire, nocturnal emission, or the like.

2- Sexual intercourse, even if it does not result in ejaculation.

3- Following the cease of one’s menses, and

4- Following postpartum bleeding.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “How to Become a Muslim”.

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Acts of Worship New Muslims

The Obligatory Acts of Wudu’ (the Ablution)

By: Sayyid Saabiq

Wudu’ (ablution) has certain components which, if not fulfilled according to the correct Islamic procedures, make one’s ablution void.

The Obligatory Acts of Wudu’ (the Ablution)

Washing the face involves “pouring”” or “running” water from the top of the forehead to the bottom of the jaws.

1- Intention

This is the desire to do the action and to please Allah by following His command. It is purely an act of the heart, for the tongue (verbal pronouncement, and so on) has nothing to do with it.

To pronounce it is not part of the Islamic law. That the intention is obligatory is shown in the following: `Umar related that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Every action is based on the intention (behind it), and everyone shall have what he intended” (Al-Bukhari, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majahh, At-Tirmidhi)

2- Washing the face

This involves “pouring” or “running” water from the top of the forehead to the bottom of the jaws, and from one ear to the other.

3- Washing the arms to the elbow

The elbows must be washed, for the Prophet, upon whom be peace, did so.

4- Wiping the head

This means to wipe one’s head with his hand. It is not sufficient just to place the hand on the head or to touch the head with a wet finger. The apparent meaning of the Qur’anic words, “…and wipe over your heads…” (Al-Ma’idah 5:6) does not imply that all of the head needs to be wiped. It has been recorded that the Prophet used to wipe his head three different ways:

1- Wiping all of his head. ‘Abdullah ibn Zayd reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, wiped his entire head with his hands. He started with the front of his head, then moved to the back, and then returned his hands to the front. (the group)

2- Wiping over the turban only. Said `Amru ibn Umayyah, “I saw the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) wipe over his turban and shoes.” (Ahmad, Al-Bukhari and Ibn Majah).

Bilal reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Wipe over your shoes and head covering.” (Ahmad) `Umar once said, “May Allah not purify the one who does not consider wiping over the turban to be purifying.” Many hadiths have been related on this topic by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others. Most of the scholars agree with them.

Wiping over the front portion of the scalp and the turban

Al-Mughirah ibn Shu`bah said that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, made ablution and wiped over the front portion of his scalp, his turban and his socks. (Muslim)

There is, however, no strong hadith that he wiped over part of his head, even though Al-Ma`idah: apparently implies it. It is also not sufficient just to wipe over locks of hair that proceed from the head or along the sides of the head.

Washing the feet and the heels

This has been confirmed in mutawatir (continuous) reports from the Prophet (peace be upon him) concerning his actions and statements. Ibn ‘Umar said, “The Prophet lagged behind us in one of our travels. He caught up with us after we had delayed the afternoon prayer. We started to make ablution and were wiping over our feet, when the Prophet said, ‘Woe to the heels, save them from the Hell-fire,’ repeating it two or three times.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Needless to say, the preceding obligations are the ones that Allah has mentioned in. (Al-Ma’idah)

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s translated book “Fiqh Us Sunnah”.

 

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Major Sins New Muslims

Polytheism: Its Meaning and Categories

Polytheism or ascribing partners to Allah (the Exalted) nullifies faith in the Oneness of Allah and since the most important and greatest obligation in Islam is to have faith in the Oneness of Allah and to single Him out for worship alone, then clearly the worst sin possible is to ascribe partners to Him.

Polytheism.. Its Meaning and Categories

Polytheism corrupts and invalidates acts of obedience.

It is the only sin that Allah, the Most Merciful, never forgives, as stated in the Qur’an:

Verily! Allah forgives not (the sin of) setting up partners in worship with Him, but He forgives whom He pleases sins other than that, and whoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, has indeed strayed far away. (An-Nisaa’ 4:116)

Worst Sin

And when the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was asked which sin is the worst in the sight of Allah, he replied:

“To ascribe partners to Allah while He created you.”

Polytheism corrupts and invalidates acts of obedience, thus an act of obedience is not accepted and the slave is not rewarded when accompanied by the occurrence of polytheism, as Allah has stated in the Qur’an:

If they had joined In Worship others with Allah, All that they used to do would have been of no benefit to them. (Al-An`am 6:88)

Polytheism requires that its perpetrator be doomed to Hell forever if he dies as a polytheist, as Allah the Most High has stated in the Qur’an:

Verily, whosoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, then Allah has forbidden Paradise for him, and the Fire will be his abode. (Al-Ma’idah 5:72)

Categories of Polytheism

Polytheism is divided into two categories:

First: Major Polytheism which is in opposition to the very foundation of faith in the Oneness of Allah and expels a person from the religion of Islam.

Second: Minor Polytheism which is in opposition to having complete faith in the Oneness of Allah, however it does not expel a person from the religion of Islam.

First Category: Major Polytheism

It is to divert any form of worship to anyone beside Allah such as calling upon someone other than Allah- for something that only Allah is able to do- entrusting one’s affairs to someone other than Him, or prostrating to anything as a form of worship. Allah has said in the Qur’an:

And invoke not besides Allah, any that will neither profit you, nor hurt you, but if (in case) you did so, you shall certainly be one of the wrong-doers. (Yunus 10:106)

“Wrong-doers” here means ‘polytheists’. And Allah said:

And put your trust in Allah if you are believers indeed. (Al-Ma’idah 5:23)

And Allah said:

So fall you down in prostration to Allah, and Worship Him (Alone). (An-Najm 53:62)

Since calling upon, entrusting one’s affairs, and prostrating are acts of worship that Allah has commanded, whoever diverts them to Allah is someone who has faith in the Oneness of Allah, and whoever diverts them to anything besides Allah is a polytheist.

Moreover assigning partners to Allah by obeying them in what they make permissible and prohibited falls under this category of polytheism, as Allah informs us in the Qur’an:

They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah (by obeying them in things which they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered by Allah and (They also took as their Lord) Messiah, son of Mary, while they (Jews and Christians) were commanded in the Torah and the Gospel) to worship none but one God (none has the Right to be worshiped but He) Praise and Glory be to him, (Far above is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him). (At-Tawbah 9:31)

This verse was revealed in regards to the Jews and Christians who obey their rabbis and priests regarding their making permissible what Allah forbids and their prohibiting what Allah permits. On the authority of `Adi ibn Hatim (may Allah be pleased with him):

I came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) wearing a golden cross around my neck. He said:

“`Adi! Throw away this idol,” and I heard him recite the verse:

“They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah” (At-Tawbah 9:31)

He said: “Verily they were not worshiping them, however when their monks and rabbis made something lawful for them, they deemed it permissible; and when their monks and rabbis made something unlawful, they deemed it as forbidden.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Second Category: Minor Polytheism

It is anything that leads to the major polytheism and it is divided into two parts:

1- Apparent Polytheism

Apparent Polytheism can be committed with words or actions. It is committed with words by doing things like swearing oaths by other than Allah, such as swearing by the Prophet Mohammed or Jesus (peace be upon them), and by saying ‘Things will happen according to whatever Allah and you will’. For indeed the Prophet (peace be upon him) has said:

“Whoever swears by other than Allah then he has fallen into disbelief or polytheism.” (At-Tirmidhi)

And the Prophet (peace be upon him) replied to the one who said: “Whatever Allah wills and you will”:

“Have you made me equal to Allah? Rather say, what Allah wills alone.” (Ahmad)

Apparent polytheism is committed through actions such as wearing amulets and threads used as charms to ward off misfortune, and believing that they are a reason nfor that happening.

2- Hidden Polytheism

It is the polytheism that is related to intentions and wishes such as doing something to show off and for the sake of reputation, such that the act is not done for the sake of Allah the Exalted, rather it is done seeking praise or compliments from people. For example, a person might pray or fast so that people will say how upright or excellent his religious commitment is. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“The thing that I fear most for you is Minor Polytheism.” They said: “O Messenger of Allah, what is Minor Polytheism?” He said: “Showing off. Allah will say to them on the Day of Judgment when people are being rewarded for their deeds: ‘Go to those for whom you were showing off in the worldly life, and see if you find a reward with them.” (Ahmad)

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The article is excerpted from the book “A Beneficial Summary of Rulings for New Muslim”, published by The Ministry of Endowments & Islamic Affairs, Kuwait- 2nd Edition 1436/2015.

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