# WHY do we build mosques? The spiritual center

# Umma: the concept of Muslim collective group :

Let us ask ourselves : why do we need a mosque to begin with? After all, a Muslim can pray anywhere that is spiritually clean and The (whole) earth has been made a mosque (Hadith from Prophet Muhammed SAWS, Sahih Bukhari).

The point is, NEVER IN THE QURAN DOES ALLAH ADDRESS MUSLIMS AS BELIEVER BUT, ALWAYS AS BELIEVERS. Role of mosque in Islam is of vital importance because it gathers the Muslims five times a day irrespective of their race, color and financial status. It gives them a message to stay united and worship the Unik as a unit. Mosques represent unity among the Muslims and every Muslim have to stand shoulder by shoulder to the other Muslim to offer prayer to Allah almighty.
To understand the role of mosque in Islam, just consider the reward God gives you for donating even a few cents in the construction of a mosque. You, then, get rewards everytime someone offers a prayer in this mosque or do good (charities, education…) :

“Whoever builds a mosque for Allah, Allah will build for him likewise in Paradise.”
[Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim

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# The Mosque in God’s words : God encourages Togetherness in worshipping Him:

The Friday prayer or sermon, khutba, is considered to be compulsory for all male Muslims. And God made it more beneficial for everybody to gather in Mosques.

9:18The mosques of Allah are only to be maintained by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and establish prayer and give zakah and do not fear except Allah , for it is expected that those will be of the [rightly] guided.
Surat At-Tawbah (The Repentance) – سورة التوبة
Verse 18 – Sahih international
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Indeed the Masajids are the houses of Allah (swt), where His (swt) name deserves mention, be Glorified and Praised as Allah says. And they are the places where his name is mentioned through the day and through the night as Allah says:

24:36[Such niches are] in mosques which Allah has ordered to be raised and that His name be mentioned therein; exalting Him within them in the morning and the evenings
Surat An-Nūr (The Light) – سورة النور
Verse 36  –  Sahih International

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# The Mosque in the Prophet’s words:

The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said:

Salat in congregation is twenty-seven times more meritorious than a Salat performed individually.”
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

A mosque therefore becomes a meeting place for Muslims 5 times a day. All Islamic Services, the five daily prayers, the Friday noon service, the festivals and the pilgrimage to the house of Allah are so organised as to ensure the co-operation of all sections of the Muslim society.

Abu Huraira narrated that the Prophet said :

“The reward of the prayer offered by a person in congregation is multiplied 25 times as much as that of the salat offered in one’s house or in the market alone. And this is because if he performs wudu and does it perfectly and then proceeds to the mosque , with the sole intention of praying , then for every step he takes towards the mosque he is upgraded one degree in reward and one of his sins is taken off from his accounts.

When he offers his salat , the angels keep on asking Allah’s blessings and Allah’s forgiveness for him as long as he he is at his Musalla (place of prayer) .They say ‘O Allah ! Bestow your blessings upon him, be merciful and kind to him. And one is regarded in salat as long as one is waiting for the Salat.”
[Sahih Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 11 “Call to Prayers : Adhan”, Number 620]

# The Mosque in a non-muslim words:

Sir William Muir writes in his book “The Life of Muhammad” (p 177):

“Though crude in material, and insignificant in dimensions, the Mosque of Muhammad is glorious in the history of Islam.
Here, the Prophet and his Companions spent most of their time; here, the daily service, with its oft-recurring prayers was first publicly established; and here, the great congregation assembled every Friday, listening with reverence and awe to messages from Heaven. Here, the Prophet planned his victories; here he received embassies from vanquished and contrite tribes; and from hence issued edicts, which struck terror amongst the rebellious to the very outskirts of the peninsula. Here by, in the apartment of Aisha (one of the wives of the Prophet), he breathed his last, and there, side by side with his first two successors he lies buried.”

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# WHAT does a Mosque look like ?

culture# Get it right :

A mosque may look like every thing and any thing, its a chameleon that adapts to human cultures while affirming the faith in the One.

Just like Muslims may look like anybody and everybody, they are Chinese, Arabs, Indians, Indonesians, French, Australians, Malian, Japanese, Turkish, Inuit while affirming the faith in the One.

# A main symbolic place:

A mosque is symbolically very important to Muslims, and is a humble way for man to recreate pure divine presence on earth. Mosques are not built according to divine patterns – they are divinely guided. Nor are there very clear rules to what a mosque should look like, except on some few points : it clearly indicates the direction of Mecca (this direction is called Qibla), the indication is in most mosques a mihrab; there can be no doors in the wall where the mihrab is placed.

# Evolution in the designs and introduction of the minaret:

The design of the mosques developed in short time from being very simple to becoming complex structures. In the first mosques in Hijaz there was minimal attention paid to the form of the mosques. The first minaret (the tower from which the prayer callings are made) came probably in 703, in Kairouan, Tunisia, almost 100 years after the Madina mosque. The minaret was absent in the early mosques, and its implementation was both for embellishment of the mosques, and for the functionality. But even for some time after the introduction of the minaret, the adhan was still performed with the muezzin walking through the streets while inviting for prayer (can you imagine how amazing it was? I could not refuse such an invitation !) The addition of adornments to the mosques was strongly discussed, and many Muslims opposed this process, and thought of it as a way of jeopardizing the purity of Islam, and they disliked letting Christian elements in, as well as using converted churches. Today, most mosques have elaborate domes, minarets,  and prayer halls.

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# The true architecture of the true mosque for true Islam ?

The original architecture used in the Malay world is more of this triangle rooftop. There was a discrepancy between Javaneese muslims on whether they should use Dome or triangle rooftops. The advocates of the first one claimed that this was the “true” mosque in the “true” Islam as Islam conquered the region throught the honest and friendly behaviour of Arab traders. Their opponents would rather recall that their cultural architecture is the triangle one and that it should be the one used for Mosques as well. Of course, there is no such a thing as an Islamic architecture in the sens of one advocated by the Sources. And the Mosque of the Prophet SAWS has been built very simply, without neither a dome nor a geometrical rooftop but rather the simplest straight rooftop. Therefore, the expression of the different cultures through the architecture of the most symbolic place is to me a proof of God’s Greatness and a blessing for mankind:

30:22And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge.

Ar-Rum 30:22

So I felt it is a pity when I saw those retailer of aluminium domes in the countryside of Java and Sumatra. Many retailers along the street sell ready-to-use dome that you only have to carry and put on the top of your building, as a cherry on the top of a cake or a seal on an enveloppe. It is as if the building needed this dome as a certificate of its Islamic identity.