Adapted from a Khutbah by Imam Osamah Salhia
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) said “Indeed the house of God is the house of every God-fearing believer”
For many Muslim Americans, the mosque is neither a central nor a primary influencer. It takes a backseat in the list of priorities. When moving to a new locality, the question of “Is there a mosque nearby?” is not always prominent. Primary considerations are instead about how nice the neighborhood is, how lovely the houses are, the quality of schools, jobs opportunities etc.
Prophet Muhammad advised us that those whose hearts are attached to mosques will, in the Day of Judgment be shaded under the throne of God. When the leader of the faithful, Umar (May God be Pleased with Him) missed the Asr prayer in the mosque, he became so sad. He admonished himself, “You missed the Asr prayer in the mosque, oh Umar,” He then donated his garden for the sake of God seeking forgiveness for this error. He treated this as something major. Some of us may not even feel that seriously about missing Jumu’ah (congregational prayers) in the mosque.
Who did God say in the Quran should maintain the mosques?
“The mosques of God are only to be maintained by those who believe in God and the Last Day and establish prayer and give zakah and do not fear except God, for it is expected that those will be of the [rightly] guided.” – Qur’an 9:18
We have to take care of the mosque like our homes and we should feel at home when we come to the mosque. Unfortunately for most families, the parents themselves do not come to the mosque except from one Eid to another. How then, will our children grow with an attachment to the house of God? Everyone has to assess his or her own condition. When was the last time I went to the mosque? Was it last Friday? Is the mosque only worthy of an hour of my time a week?
Prophet Muhamad honored the mosque so much that he uniquely distinguished the caretaker of the mosque. When this woman who was the caretaker of the mosque passed away, Prophet Muhammad was only informed after her burial. He asked the Companions, “Couldn’t you tell me that she passed away?” and then, even though it was late at night, he went with his Companions to her grave and prayed her janazah (funeral prayer).
When Prophet Muhammad left his home Makkah due to religious persecution and migrated to Medina, he journeyed for days and throughout the nights. However, the first thing he did when he reached the outskirts of Madinah was to visit the first mosque of Islam, Al Quba. Once he arrived in Madinah, he did not rest until he designated the ground for the mosque to be built there. The Prophet and his companions then built the mosque brick by brick with their own hands. They were chanting poetry “Oh God, the true reward, is indeed the reward of the Hereafter. Oh God, have mercy upon the helpers and the emigrants.”
Does anyone own the mosque? Do the mosques belong to wealthy investors? Do they belong to a particular organization or people? The mosques are all owned by God, they are all places where we gather together as believers seeking God alone, seeking to grow in our faiths and seeking to remember Him. If this is our intention, then God will bless our efforts and bless our mosques.
We need to ask ourselves, does the mosque fill a space in my heart and the hearts of my children? Our mosques must become our community hubs. If you are moving to a new community or a new city and you choose to live in a place that is half an hour away from any mosque, you are choosing for your children to have a weak relationship with the house of God.
The role of the mosque is not limited to prayer alone. During the time of the Companions, the mosque was central to all of their affairs. In the mosque they socialized, ate, gained education, tended to the sick and homeless, received delegations, and made important community decisions.
We must revive this understanding of the mosque. Ask God to make us of those whose hearts are connected to the mosque and make the mosque the center point in all Muslim community affairs.