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A Muslim perspective on Church

Basma Elshayyal's picture

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I'd like this piece to be a little different, so I'll start off quoting:

 

To Allah belong the east and the West: Whithersoever ye turn, there is the     presence of Allah. For Allah is all-Pervading, all-Knowing.                    (2:115)

 

The building

The physicality of the mosque itself is not regarded as the most important element, for all mosques, although sanctuaries and special, are not holy or sacred in their own right - all being regarded equally as houses of God, apart from the three ‘Holiest Sites' - Makkah and Madinah in the Arabian Peninsula; and Masjid Al-Aqsa in Palestine respectively.

 

In houses which Allah has permitted to be exalted and that His Name may be remembered in them, there glorify Him therein in the mornings and evenings.' (24:36)

 

This is clearly apparent when looking at the Arabic root meanings for the words s-j-d and jami`. The former literally means ‘place of prostration', which is where masjid (and hence, mosque) is derived. Given the above verse, and the legal rulings that Muslims may offer their prayers anywhere they please, as long as the place is clean - at home, work, in a ‘mosque', in the park, on a plane (takes place, quite often!) then that function does not make it unique. As mentioned before in other pieces, some of the most significant congregational prayers (e.g. Eid) are actually performed in the open air whenever possible.

 

There have been many beautiful mosques throughout the history of Islam (as well as contemporary buildings) that are truly stunning examples of human artistic expression and amazing feats of engineering - the Blue Mosque in Turkey, Al-Aqsa in Palestine, Muhammad Ali in Egypt, etc.

 

The community

What is really special, though, and far more important in my opinion, is the dynamic role that a jami` plays in the creation, sustenance and fabric of the Muslim community. A jami` is a place of ‘congregation', or ‘gathering' for the common good, which is actually what most ‘mosques' are referred to as in the Muslim world. As such, it is not physicality of place, rather action itself which takes place within, which has real meaning.

 

A jami` which is alive would be one which acts as a welcoming home for all - Muslim and non-Muslim, where knowledge can be sought, offered and shared - where advice is readily and (perhaps more importantly?) non-judgementally available, where communities can go to spread their good news, partake in each other's happy times and celebrations and be of support and solace to each other in times of sadness or trouble. A place where leadership and pastoral care are continuously in evidence.

 

 

In short - where everyone belongs.

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