Let's Build and Maintain a Masjid

By: Dr. H. Atabik Luthfi, MA

[This article written to support IAMC to build its Masjid Istiqlal and Center in Houston]

“Only those shall maintain the mosques of Allah who believe in Allah and the last day, establish regular prayer and practice regular charity and fear none (at all) except Allah. It is they who are expected to be on true guidance.” (At-Taubah: 18)

There are two verses in the Qur’an that speak of empowerment for mosques in the sense of building and maintaining it, namely, chapter At-Taubah , verses 17 and 18. Verse 17 talks about the nature of the idolaters who are so reluctant to maintain the mosque because their hearts are sealed that they shall abide in Hell eternally. Conversely, verse 18 talks about the qualities that should be present in every believer, namely their readiness and sincerity to build and maintain the mosque with a great assurance that Allah will keep and maintain their faith: “they are expected to be on true guidance.”

Rasullulah (saw) gives a similar assurance in Hadith, narrated by Imam Tirmidzi and Al-Hakim, that the existence and the continuity of a person’s faith rest on his frequent visits to the mosque, where he becomes involved in the activities of the mosque (read: maintaining the mosque). “If you see a person frequently present in a mosque, then bear witness that he is a believer.”

Rasullulah (saw) then read verse 18 of At-Taubah chapter. Therefore, it is quite clear as stated by Imam Asy-Syaukani in his interpretation, ‘Fathul Qadeer,’ that through this verse of the Qur’an, Allah wants to show the best group of those believers, that is to say, those who have concerns over the primary means of worship to Allah, called a mosque.

In the Arabic language, the word “masjid” itself literally means “a place of prostration” (in prayer). However, terminologically, a mosque can be interpreted as a special place to perform a variety of activities valued as worship in the broadest sense of the word. One form of worship activities relate to teaching and education. Through a non-formal institution called, a mosque, Rasulullah (saw) for the first time undertook a series of actions designed to develop moral, mental, and spiritual of his followers, making the mosque during that time to function strategically as an effective educational institution toward galvanizing the potentials of his followers who came from different backgrounds and elements.

According to Syekh Abdurrahman An-Nahlawi, an expert on education, a mosque as a non-formal education center has a considerable level of application, which includes:

First, to educate people in the community the importance of having the spirit of devotion to only Allah (swt) in all activities they perform.

Secondly, to instill a love for knowledge and implant a sense of solidarity among people in the community, and to make aware of their rights and obligations as a person, a social human being, as well as a member of the community and a citizen of the country.

Thirdly, to give a sense of peace, strength, and prosperity and to develop the potentials of human spiritual through the teaching of patience, sincerity, optimism and other high moral values. So that alumni of the institution of mosque have good intellectual, emotional and spiritual qualifications as the moral basis of the community. To that end, the community needs to have the creativity and innovation to make effective use of mosques as an educational institution in order that the goal of education toward creating a society of faith and fear of Allah (swt) in a heavenly blessed and prosperous state (tayyibatun wa rabbun ghafur), could be accomplished as we are all yearning for.

At the application level of making effective use of mosques, according to Imam Ar-Razi, maintaining the mosque could be carried through two activities performed in an integrated and synergy fashion, namely by providing physical comfort for acts of worship and expanding acts of goodness inside the mosque. In line with this understanding, Abu Su’ud stressed that activities relating to maintaining the mosque must be understood in the broadest sense of the word. It includes: constructing or building, cleaning, keeping, and preserving the aesthetic value of the mosque. Also, performing acts of goodness justified by Sharia law, as encouraged by Rasulullah (saw), constitute part of maintaining the mosque. In particular, Rasullulah (swt) gave assurance in a direct way that building physically a mosque will be rewarded with an admission to Allah’s Paradise:

Whoever builds a mosque because Allah, then Allah will build him (her) a palace in His Paradise.” (H.R.Bukhari Muslim)

In another Hadith, Rasulullah (saw) also said:                                                                           

“To Allah, the most beloved places on Earth are His mosques.” (H.R. Ahmad)                 

Don’t we want to receive such a noble privilege in the Hereafter? Just like when we acquire in this world a new luxurious home as a reward to soothe our mind after we are so exhausted following hard work in our job. The answer lies in our readiness and sincerity to build in this world a mosque as a symbol of Allah’s house He most loves, and maintain the mosque with an assortment of activities: worship, good deeds, and other acts kindness in order that our life in this world will receive blessings from Allah. Amien!

(Dr. Atabik Luthfi, Chairman of the Sharia Study Program, the State Institute of Islamic Studies (IAIN) Syekh Nurjati Cirebon)

Translated by: IAMC

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