The Contribution of the Mosque to Family Life and Towards Building a Community in the West (Islam 5.9)
Objectives: Describe and explain the contribution of the mosque to family life, and consider its importance.
The centre of community life: The mosque is the centre of the local Muslim community, and it contributes to life in many different ways. It is primarily and above all else a place of worship (establishing the five daily prayers), glorification and prostration to the One God worthy of worship, Allāh (the Most High). The adhān is called from just outside the mosque (or masjid) five times a day, inviting the Muslims to come and pray.
In some areas of Britain, the mosque provides support and advice to families in English or in the language the family speaks (such as Arabic, Urdu, Somali, etc). A mosque is also a place where people who live alone can meet other members of the community and partake in collective worship – it gives them an opportunity to socialize and it removes the sadness of living alone without friends. Those living alone are often neglected, sad, uncared for or prone to misguided influences, sins and even radicalization – so a mosque that truly follows the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah really helps.
The Madrassah: A madrassah is an Islamic school that is often part of the mosque. It educates Muslim children about their religion, they learn about Tahweed and Sunnah, the Arabic language, how to recite the Qur’an, how to pray and Islamic beliefs according to the Sunnah and the way of the Companions. This helps parents to bring up their children as good Muslims. Classes for adults will offer advanced studies in the Qur’an, its explanation (tafseer) and Islamic teachings so that parents learn enough to be able to practice Islam correctly and to bring up their children properly upon the true faith. Many mosques offer lessons that women and girls can attend that focus on topics related to women in Islam just as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to do in his time.
Festivals and pillars: The mosque plays an important part in the celebrations legislated in Islam as well as its other religious duties. The mosque sets out the official times for prayer; and for the beginning and end of Ramadan. These are based on moon-sightings and the motion of the Sun through the sky and the shadows it casts. The mosque provides a meeting place for families so that they can come together, worship, learn and become stronger as a community. Without such a centre many families would not get to know the other Muslims in their area. Also, they would not have the moral support that comes from being a member of a God-fearing community, all trying to achieve the same goals.
Weddings, divorces and funerals: These are important events in family life and the mosque can help organize them. Some mosques may have community rooms connected to them large enough for weddings feasts (walīmahs) or just a small room to perform a nikāh (a marriage ceremony). A representative or an imām of the mosque may conduct the ceremony. Experts in Sharee’ah law based at the mosque can grant women divorce (or an annulment), or give rulings on issues such as inheritance, child custody and maintenance. Some mosques will have facilities where the family can prepare the body for funeral and burial – and the funeral prayer can be performed in the masjid in most cases.
A place for young people: Many families worry about what their teenagers do with their time. Some larger mosques have outbuildings connected to them. They provide social facilities like gyms and outdoor courts, just for the use of young people. The aim is to keep the youth off the streets where they could get into trouble. So mosques organise activities that are aimed at keeping young people away from harmful practices that are common among the non-Muslims such as taking girlfriends, listening to music, smoking and drinking. Most non-Muslim teenagers have lifestyles that contradict the teachings of Islam, and Muslim teenagers may be tempted to copy them when living as minorities, so that is why mosques and educators need to offer the correct teachings and safe alternatives. At the same time, teenagers who are well-versed in Islam and its teachings and also have a good rapport and influence in their neighbourhood community can invite others to the teachings of Islam, and explain to them the importance of using their time more productively. Britain has a thriving community of converts to Islam, and all praise is for Allah who has guided them.
Advice and support: Larger mosques that are used for Friday (Jumu’ah) prayers, often have experts available to give information, advice and support on issues to do with Islam. Many families need these sheikhs (respected and learned men) to help settle disputes between parents and their children, the husband and wife, or within families, between business partners and to show them the right way to behave as God-fearing Muslims. They could also advise on matters such as correct male and female dress. The law of Islam covers so many aspects of life that Muslim families are very often in need of their questions being answered, and only people of Shariah knowledge are able to answer because Islam forbids ignorant people from speaking about religious affairs. Also, the mosque may have people who can advise regarding Prophetic medicine and the importance of health and diet in Islam.
Business (buying and selling) is never conducted within a mosque – its central purpose is worship and the remembrance of Allah.
So the mosque is truly a treasure in any community so long as it adheres to the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah upon the understanding of the Companions and the Pious Predecessors of the Ummah.
Summary: You should now be able to describe and explain how the mosque contributes to family life, and its great importance to the family and to the local community.
- How does the mosque support the religious life of a family?
- How does the mosque support the social life of a family?
- Describe three important functions of a mosque.
Abu Khadeejah (2015)