Most of you have seen or know of our Mosque's new Minaret. It's a welcome addition to our Mosque for two reasons. First, it is beautiful and adds beauty to our Mosque. It is an important tradition in Islam to keep our Mosques clean and beautiful, for Mosques represent the communities that worship there. Second, the presence of the Minaret is a powerful symbol of one of the main duties of Muslims and their Mosques, namely, calling and inviting people to worship Allah the Exalted and to improve their lives and standing with Him. In our Mosques we pray and we learn; we find peace and tranquility; we seek counsel and help when we are troubled; and we offer charity to feed the hungry and help educate the ignorant.
So if we wonder how important a Mosque is, let us remember how important it was to the Prophet Muhammad (God's peace and blessings be upon him). Let's remember that his migration from Makkah to Madina is considered one of the most important moments in religious history; it signaled the independence of Muslims from the violence of the idolaters in Makkah, which the Muslims endured for more than twelve years. The move also made it possible for Muslims to live freely as a community.
The first thing the Prophet (God's peace and blessings be upon him) did when he entered Madinah was build a Mosque. The Prophet himself helped in the construction of the Mosque, carrying with his blessed hands the stones from which the Mosque was built. He and his Companions worked hand and hand, as they sang a song started by the Prophet: "O Allah, the true reward is the reward of the Hereafter. Have mercy, O Allah, on the Ansar and the Muhajirin." When the Mosque was built, the young Muslim community had public space in which to worship, learn, and grow. It immediately became the most important property of Madina, the foundation of their community. The Companions of the Prophet were always eager to pray in the Mosque. If they were tired or sick, they would still go there, even if it meant that they had to be carried. Some of them would feel that they lost a loved one if they missed praying in the Mosque. From this, we learn how essential a Mosque is to a community and its spiritual and moral health.
Going to the Mosque for prayer ensures that one's prayers will be performed in congregation with dozens of other people. The Prophet said that a prayer performed in congregation is 27 times more rewarding than a prayer performed alone. At home, it is more likely to perform the prayers late or to perform them while feeling rushed because of waiting until the last second.
In the Mosque, you have an opportunity to meet other brothers and sisters, and organize study groups in which Muslims may learn the Quran and the rules of its recitation, as well as commentary of the Quran from the great scholars of past and modern eras. The Mosque is a safe and wholesome environment for Muslim youth to meet and learn more about their faith. There is a reason that a Mosque is called the "House of God," since it is there that He is worshipped. The Mosque is a place to fulfill the obligation of the Friday Congregational Prayer. It is also a place in which to pray the wonderful prayer vigil of Tarawih during the blessed month of Ramadan.
The Mosque brings great benefit to a community for another reason, as well. When a community of Muslims-whether they are many or few-decides to establish a Mosque for the pleasure of Allah and the benefit of the community, the project becomes a source of blessings for all involved. When one gives money in charity to build a Mosque, it is considered sadaqa jariya, that is, perpetual charity that brings reward to the donor for so long as the Mosque stands. It is a charity that continues to be a source of light for the donor even after he or she passes away. The Prophet (God's peace and blessings be upon him) said that whoever helps in building a Mosque, Allah will build for him or her a palace in Heaven.
And once the Mosque is built, it provides an avenue for the community to be involved in its maintenance. Whenever people are given an opportunity to support a Mosque and its continuation, it is a sign of a healthy community. To work for the Mosque with the right intentions is sacred work. For so long as the Mosque is used properly-for the worship of Allah and learning more about His religion-it will bring untold blessings to those who frequent it. Upholding the functions of a Mosque is an honor that is reserved for "those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and who establish the Prayer and give the Charity, and who fear none but Allah. Thus it may be that these shall be among the guided." (Quran, 9:18).
A Mosque, therefore, has the capacity of bringing God-fearing people together. And when God-fearing people gather and work together for the benefit of the community, the quality and sum of their work increases far beyond imagination. There are sayings of the Prophet that praise those associated with the Mosque, those who pray in congregation there, and those who love the Mosque with all their hearts.
With the arrival of our new Minaret, let us revive the great prophetic tradition of being part of the Mosque and its gracious mission. May Allah protect our Mosque and bless those who serve it.
Sh. Jamal Said