shehla

Tackling the misconceptions about Muslim places of worship.

President Obama recently made his first official visit to an American mosque. The President’s visit to the mosque was a welcome effort towards combating fear and an opportunity for Muslims to show the practices of their mosque. This historic mosque visit was welcomed by Muslim Americans and appreciated by many non-Muslim Americans. Unfortunately, in recent times, the mention of the word “mosque” brings apprehensions and fears to the minds of some and perhaps understanding the purpose of a mosque may quell those fears. 

A mosque in light of the Quran, Sunnah and Hadith has to be an abode of peace, security, friendship and harmony for all. The Quran says, “And God calls to the abode of peace, and guides whom He pleases to the straight path” [10:26]. His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Khalifa of Islam elucidates that any mosque built on principles of true Islam is only a place to unite people and is open for all as a source of peace, whether or not they choose to worship. Further proof of a mosque being a house of welcome is noted when studying the attributes of God mentioned in the Quran. God is cited to be “Lord of all the worlds, the Gracious, the Merciful” and with these attributes blesses all indiscriminately, even those who do not believe in Him. A mosque for Muslims, therefore, is considered a house of God and should be constructed with the sole purpose for peace to emanate from it. Provided these qualities are present the mosque will be recognized as a place of worship, and a place that allows for true worship that saves its worshippers from vices.

Mosques should also promote service to the community and never be a center of hatred or extremism. The Quran warns about those who seek to harbor extremist ideology within a mosque in the following verses, “And among the hypocrites are those who have built a mosque to injure Islam and help disbelief….. And they will surely swear: ‘We meant nothing but good;’ but God bears witness that they are certainly liars” (9:107), and “Never stand to pray therein. A mosque which was founded upon piety from the very first day is surely more worthy that thou shouldst stand to pray therein. In it are men who love to become purified, and God loves those who purify themselves” (9:108).This warning is a caution to all to be vigilant about the practices and teachings that are being taught in the mosques for all who attend. These verses also warn that mosques, if its followers are not vigilant, can sadly become a breeding ground to injure the reputation of Islam. 

Much of the fear regarding mosques in today's world stems from the extremist ideology. Terrorists have shown that they are not only enemies of humanity but they are also the enemies of all faiths. The extremist ideology among some Muslims has been a grave insult to the religion of Islam. In order to protect Islam, Muslims must safeguard the purpose of their house of worship by ensuring that the practices within the mosque are not in any manner an opportunity for extremism to breed. His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad has advised that all mosques should be transparent and open for all to hear and see what is being preached, allowing zero opportunity for anyone to wonder about the teachings offered. Members of the surrounding areas should be welcomed and encouraged to visit the mosque so as to dispel any fear or concerns they may have as a result of the extremist ideology.

For those mosques in the world that have been noted to breed extremism, its members should recognize that their mosque fails to be an “abode of peace” and sadly serves to increase its followers in transgression instead of purifying them. Extremists of any faith move away from the teachings of their Prophets and thus deviate from the essence of their religions. In doing so, they make religion a tool of power to control the masses for their gain. The false ideologies of extremists are hurting everyone and must be extinguished. Campaigns such as the True Islam and the Extremists is one such effort. This campaign is for Muslims and non-Muslims to unite against extremist ideology and to recognize the 11 areas that extremists use to justify their radical behavior. The True Islam campaign is a non-sectarian effort for reclaiming the true teachings of Islam that have been distorted by the extremists. These 11 points remind Muslims everywhere to be stronger in the knowledge of their faith as well as not succumb to extremist ideology and help non-Muslims to understand what Islam really teaches.

During his mosque address, President Obama urged Muslims to work together in the fight against those who perverse the teachings of Islam and use it as a tool for terror. The True Islam campaign is in line with the President’s advice to defeat extremism in the name of Islam and is an opportunity to ensure that all mosques are a safe haven. Now is the time for Muslims everywhere to unite with the True Islam campaign’s efforts to guarantee their mosques will always remain an abode of peace and heed the words of the Quran stating, “And help one another in righteousness and piety; but help not one another in sin and transgression” [5:3].

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