Do you know the last public place where the Messenger of Allah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam was seen? He was seen in the Masjid. About 3 days before he passed away, Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu was leading the prayer and the Masjid was full with an ummah of men and women prepared to illuminate the world with their jihaad and da’wah. The Prophet’s house opened up to the Masjid; there was a curtain separating his room and the prayer hall. He opened the curtain, saw the congregation, and saw his khalifah, Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu, leading the prayer. The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam smiled like the moon. The companions saw him while they were in prayer, and from their happiness, almost lost control of the prayer. The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam then drew his curtain, and three days later returned to his Lord Subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala.
During the life of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, there was a woman who used to sweep the Masjid with her hands, picking up the dirt and disposing of it. In the sight of the community her status was not that high, but in the sight of Allah and His Messenger sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, she held a different rank. She passed away one night and the Companions, not wanting to disturb the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, washed and buried her without informing him. The next day, the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam recognized her absence and inquired about her. They told him about her demise and how they had not wanted to disturb him. The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam was not happy at the action they took. He went to her grave and prayed for her there.
What is a masjid? Many have misunderstood the role that the masjid plays in the development of the community. In some countries, it is a place where the tribal Imam is buried and worshipped. In other countries, it is a place that only prayers may be performed therein; absolutely nothing else will be tolerated. And in yet other countries, not even prayers are performed in it, so-much-so the country may finally decide to convert it into a museum or a church.
Dear brothers and sisters, I would like to introduce you to our friend, the masjid:
In the literal term, masjid means a place of prostration. However, in the technical sense, a masjid is any clean place on earth, as the Messenger of Allah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said:
"The earth was made for me a Masjid (i.e. a place to pray), pure." [Bukhari]
However, a specific place was attributed to the word masjid (the place where the 5 daily prayers are held). This was done in order to distinguish the masjid from the musallah (the place where Eid prayers are held and so forth, so that the rules of the masjid do not apply to it).
Masjid is a word derived from sujood, or prostration. The masjid, or place of prostration, was named such due the honorable position the sujood holds in salah. Thus, it was not called marka’ derived from ruku’.
The first house of Allah ever built on earth was the Ka’bah. Allah Subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala says:
"Verily, the first House [of worship] appointed for mankind was that at Bakkah (Makkah), full of blessing, and a guidance for Al-Aalameen." [A’le-Imran 3/96]
And Allah Subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala commanded us to honor and enliven the masjid with His remembrance:
"In houses (masajid), which Allah has ordered to be raised, in them His name is glorified in the mornings, and in the evenings." [An-Noor 24/36]
Ibn Abbaas, Mujahid, and Al-Hasan commented: "The ‘houses’ are those masajid that were dedicated to the worship of Allah. And verily, the masajid light up the earth for the inhabitants of the heavens, just as stars light up the heavens for the inhabitants of the earth."
Everyone wants to build a retirement home to be proud of, so listen to this offer. The Messenger of Allah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said:
"Whoever builds a masjid, seeking the pleasure of Allah, Allah shall build a house for him in Paradise." [Bukhari]
He sallallahu alayhi wa sallam also said:
"The most beloved places to Allah on earth are the masajid, and the most hated places to Allah on earth are the markets." [Muslim]
The masjid has played a variety of roles in our history. Here is a short tour of some of the roles that the masjid has played:
Children: The masjid was a place where the children would accompany their parents and grow up under the shade of its walls. Abu Qataadah narrated:
"The Messenger of Allah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam used to pray and carry Umamah, the daughter of Zaynab. When he would fall into prostration, he would rest her aside. And when he stood up again, he would again pick her up." [Bukhari]
Education: The masjid was the nucleus of education. Throughout history, the masjid was the university that graduated scholars and imams. To name only a few, we have Masjid of Al-Azhar, Masjid Al-Umawee in Syria, and Masjid Az-Zaytoonah in Tunis.
The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said:
"No gathering gathers in a house from the houses of Allah, reciting the book of Allah and teaching it to one another, except that serenity befalls them, mercy envelops them, the angels surround them and Allah mentions them to (the inhabitants of the heavens)." [Muslim]
Organization: The masjid is where hundreds of Muslims come; all in straight rows; all following the lead of Allahu Akbar; all beginning when the imam begins; all ending when the imam ends.
Shelter for the weak and traveling: In Masjid An-Nabawi, we know that there was a platform, known as the Suffah. The poor and the strangers would find shelter there, and the Messenger of Allah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam would grant them shares of the collected charity.
Socializing: The masjid is where the Muslims would meet one another. When someone missed a prayer, he was inquired about and followed up on. Relationships were reared, brotherhood was built.
Think tank: When important issues came up, the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam would gather the Companions in the masjid and consult them on the matter.
Charity: The charity would be collected and distributed from the masjid. It was in the masjid that the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said:
"Give, if only with a half a date."
Jihaad: It was from the masjid that battalions were organized and set off for jihaad. During the crusades, many masajid became the podium for inciting the feelings of the Muslims to fight off the transgression.
Serenity: Whenever the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam felt sad he would go and pray. And he sallallahu alayhi wa sallam would say to Bilal, "Relax us with (the prayer) O Bilal."
The Rights of the Masjid
The masjid is the house of Allah Subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala, and it has rights like anything else. Amongst these rights are the following:
First: When someone enters the masjid, they should pray 2 raka’ before sitting down. The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said:
"If any of you enters the masjid, let him not sit down until he prays 2 raka’."
Second: No business should take place in the masjid. The Messenger of Allah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said:
"Whoever sells in the masjid, say to them, ‘May Allah not grant success in your sale."
Third: The masjid must be kept clean and fresh smelling. The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said:
"Whoever eats from this tree (i.e. garlic) should not attend our place of prayer."
Fourth: Advice should be given to fellow Muslims. When the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam would see someone not praying correctly he would advise them to repeat their prayer and teach them how to pray.
Fifth: Allah Subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala should be remembered much during one’s stay in the masjid. As Allah Subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala says:
"O ye who believe, remember Allah with much remembrance." [Al-Ahzab 33/42]
And finally, Allah Subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala tells us of the kind of people that are recognized as the people of the masjid.
"In it are men that love to purify themselves, and Allah loves those who make themselves pure." [At-Tauba 9/108]
May Allah Subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala give us the blessing of being amongst those that establish the masjid and are included amongst those whom Allah Subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala loves.