# 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.

# WHAT is a Mosque ? Masjid ? Jaami’ ?

earth-08.jpg# The Earth as a Mosque:

The Prophet Muhammad once remarked, “The (whole) earth has been made a mosque (or a place of prayer) and a means of purification for me, so wherever a man of my ummah may be when the time for prayer comes, let him pray.”
(Sahih Bukhari, 335)

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# What does Masjid mean?

The word Masjid literally means any place in which one performs the act of Sujud (prostration) and acts of worship or devotion.

The Arabic word Masjid is derived from the word Sajada, meaning “he became humble or submissive or he bent himself down on the ground before God”. It is prostrating oneself in prayer by dropping gently upon the knees, placing the palms of the hands on the ground, a little before the place of the knees, and then putting the nose and the forehead on the ground, the former first, between the two hands.

In other words, Masjid or mosque is the place of the public religious service. The word Masjid is used in the Quran, especially in connection with the Meccan sanctuary, Masjid Al-Haram, or the Sacred Mosque of Mecca.

In the Quran, the same word, Masjid, has been used for the places of worship belonging to the Christians and Jewish people as well. The Quran declares:

18:21

“And similarly, We caused them to be found that they [who found them] would know that the promise of Allah is truth and that of the Hour there is no doubt. [That was] when they disputed among themselves about their affair and [then] said, “Construct over them a structure. Their Lord is most knowing about them.” Said those who prevailed in the matter, “We will surely take [for ourselves] over them a masjid.”

 Surat Al-Kahf (The Cave) – سورة الكهف – Ayah 21
Sahih international

The famous historian Ibn Khaldun has also used the word Masjid generally meaning a place of worship of any religion in Muqaddimah.
Today the Arabic ‘Masjid’, and the English ‘mosque’ are used exclusively for religious houses in Islam.
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# What is a Jaami’ ?

Another word is used sometimes for Mosque : Jaami’. Similarly, Jami is a congregational mosque or the mosque in which a congregation assembles to perform the Friday prayer. A Mosque is, properly speaking, a place of meeting in the general sense of the word. This is the reason why it is also called Jami, a place of gathering.

AMOSQUEAfriDAY #3: Bilal Mosque, Mianwali-Kala Bagh Road, Daud Khel town, Punjab, Pakistan

# HISTORY:

Masjid Bilal, has an interesting formation history. Construction of masjid Bilal was initiated in 1986 by a local volley-ball club team, as there was no place for the team-members to offer prayer, in a rather remote and open-space area where team-members would assemble to play volley-ball. With the financial support of the volley-ball team-members, and road transport members and passengers using this route to travel to different cities of Pakistan, the masjid’s construction was completed in 1990, and it was inaugurated by Peer Muhammad Baqir Shah (from Kot-Galla Shareef).

The outside architecture of masjid Bilal resembles the architecture of the tomb of Imam Ahmed Raza Khan (rehmatuAllah aliye), regarded as a Mujadid (revival of religion) by the Muslims of Hind (current day Pakistan, India and Bangladesh).  While the inside of the masjid uses concept of Mughal architecture, using hand cut glass and marbles, embodied using hand.

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# Why Bilal’s Mosque ?

On a picnic trip from Mianwali to Kala Bagh, one of my friend, a native of Daud Khel, suggested that we make a stop-over at Masjid Bilal, located on the Mianwali-Kala Bagh Road, on the outskirt of Daud Khel town.

While, I rejoiced on the thought of stretching my legs and breathing mint air after a long ride on the car, in an area surrounded by miles and miles of farm-land, and sheep-herd munching grasses. The spectacle at the masjid, and its surrounding vicinity was no short of another excitement.

As we jumped off our car, we first marched toward a river adjacent to the masjid, which feeds its water supply from river Indus – Pakistan’s longest river – to enjoy the view. The air was cool, despite the intensity of the sun in the midst of the day. In this part of the world, hand-powered water pump is used to draw drinking water from underground sources, which makes the water naturally purified and high in mineral content.

The water drawn from deep underground makes it cool and refreshing day and night, and ideal for performing ablution. With my soul refreshed, I walked inside the masjid Bilal.

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# My jumu’a in Bilal Mosque:

This small masjid has capacity for close to 100 people at any given time.

The mosque is located in a town known as Daud Khel, which is a town in the province of Punjab. Punjab is the name of a province in Pakistan, and also the name of a province in India. Before the partition of Hind, these two Punjab were like one province under the British colonial rule.

Well, actually, we stopped at the mosque, on our way from Mianwali to Kala-Bagh, for a short rest.

Word Glossary

Masjid – Mosque.
Mianwali, Kala Bagh, Daud Khel – Towns in Punjab, Pakistan.
River Indus – One of the five major rivers of Pakistan.
Kot-Galla Shareef – Name of a local Sufi institution.
rehmatuAllah aliye – May Allah’s mercy fall upon him.
Mujadid – revival of religion (usually during times of moral corruption).
Hind – Geographical region stretching current day Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
Mughal – Name of the dynasty of Muslim emperors who ruled Hind.

# Where is Bilal Mosque, Pakistan ?

Jalaluddin Qureshi

About Me :

A soul which re-located to one of the most rural part of Pakistan, surrounded by lake, mountains,  and acres of farm-land, in a partial attempt to live the life of the Salafis far from the chaos of modern day city life. Currently serving as Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at Namal College, a non-profit private education institute aiming to uplift the standards of higher education sector in improvised and rural parts of Pakistan.

AMOSQUEAFRIDAY #2: University of Houston, Texas, United States

#HISTORY:

The University of Houston, founded in 1927, is deep in the heart of the 4th largest city in the United States: Houston. Along with the economic growth of the city, and as the energy capital of the world, Houston has seen a large number of foreigners settle down and contribute to its prosperity. Houston, with its very diverse population, welcomes each year thousands of international students coming from all around the world.

For about 30 years, passionate and good willing Muslim students have been building a strong organization within the University: The Muslim Student Association (UH MSA). Their mission is to facilitate and provide for the needs of Muslims on campus as well as educating the University of Houston community at large. Thus, all sorts of events, meetings, and activities are organized during the academic year. Also, daily prayers and Jumuah prayer are held on campus. Hence, Muslim students could easily purify, reinforce their faith and worship God.

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Two different locations are offered to the Muslim community:
– A peaceful area within the library: MD Anderson Memorial Library. One would be studying for his exams, perform his prayers on time, and ask God for His knowledge.
– A wider place where each religion represented on campus is provided with infrastructures and amenities: the AD Bruce Religion Center.

houston1

Jumuah prayers are held in the religion center, which isn’t by the way a mosque even though one may consider the following hadith from our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

“The (whole) earth has been made a mosque (or a place of prayer) and a means of purification for me, so wherever a man of my ummah may be when the time for prayer comes, let him pray”

Sahih Bukhari 335

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# WHY UOH’s “Mosque” ?

houston2

Although it isn’t exactly a mosque, I still considered sharing my experience of Jumuah with you on AMOSQUEAFRIDAY. It isn’t its architecture but its people that encouraged me to tell you about my Jumuah at UofH. It is always great to meet fellow Muslims with different backgrounds, from different countries. It’s even better when brothers our age do khutbahs. As a matter of fact, one cannot imagine such a possibility in a French University, where performing the daily prayers all together and on time is still a dream. No one would even think of the University offering those infrastructures and amenities to its students.

And here are an overview of the amazing organisation that leads me to write this article:

And if you want to know more about UHMSA 🙂

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# MY JUMUA AT UOFH:

The MSA leading team is doing a great job in preparing Jumuah prayer. I feel like Khutbahs in the English language are awesome. I don’t know why but I guess it’s because of the American way of giving speeches.

houston3

Todays’ Khutbah was about dealing with adversity. What should be our mindset when facing difficulties and hardships? To cut a long story short, going through difficulties doesn’t mean God is punishing us, but instead, reality is otherwise. God is trialing us so that we become better. The speech was illustrated with various verses of the Quran as well as Hadiths.

# WHERE IS THE UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON’S RELIGIOUS CENTER?

Ilyes S.

About me:

I am a French Biomedical engineering student pursuing my last year of masters. I just started and I am already learning lots of things. 
I hope getting involved in the majority of the MSA’s activities and make long life friends during my journey in the US. GO COOGS ! 

I hope you really appreciated reading this small article.  And, InshaAllah, if so, I ll find time to share with you my wonderful experience in different mosques.

 
Peace be upon you,

AMOSQUEAFRIDAY #1: Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia

# Quran recitations in the morning:

Gili Air is a small little island that you could literally walk around the island in about an hour or two. It’s just off the coast of Lombok, neighbour to the famous (should I say infamous) Bali. The only motor vehicles are the motorboats. For transportation in the island, you can travel around in a “Sodomo” which is a horse cart or on a bicycle which you can easily rent.

 

So it was our second night there and at around 4am, there were recitations played quite loudly from the nearby mosque. I was quite surprise because there weren’t any recitations on the first night.

Also, initially, we have had this expectation that the Gilis (there are three Gili islands) are predominated by western travellers who seem to be party revelling quite a fair bit. Alhamdulillah, Gili Air still retains its natural islamic environment and thus I was quite pleasantly awaken in the early morning.

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# The cool walk to the mosque:

The night air around Gili Air is surreal. As I woke up just before Subuh, I rushed to wash my face and groggily made way through the dark roads (there were no street lamps) to the mosque. My eyes were pretty much half closed actually.

But with just a few long strides, the blast of cold air on my wet face was a really refreshing wake up blast. Then I noticed how beautiful the fajr sky is.

Unfortunately our camera was not sensitive enough to capture the thousands of flickering stars lacing the sky around the crescent moon.

Occasionally I would hear loud thuds on the ground. I presume it must have been coconuts as the loud thud sounds always seem to come from the direction of coconut trees. To which, I stayed very far away from coconut trees at night.

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# Prayers for Fajr:

I do realise that this was supposed to be AMOSQUEAFRIDAY for Friday prayers but we were pretty much travelling and doing musafir prayers so Fajr was the most convenient time to pray together in a congregation. Hope it’s okay with you yeah.

gili6Praying outside the main hall: During main congregational prayer, women pray outside. If you missed the main congregational prayer, you can start another after but outside.

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Well, most of the jema’a were men. There was only one woman during the congregational prayers. It seems to me that the mosque has only one prayer hall and the only woman prayed just outside the main prayer hall.

With reference to most mosque in Indonesia, the mosque is comparably big. It was a surrounding compound and brick walls around the perimeter. It’s quite cosy and I think this is great as Gili Air is really a small island. I mean you could do your morning runs, running around the island as your laps.

The main prayer hall

It appears to have the same group of people visiting the mosque on a daily basis. Occasionally you would get tourist like me but I guess if you’re visiting, it’s quite unlikely that you would visit a mosque during your travels, no?

Let me know if you do find mosques when you’re on your travels too!

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# Invited for Tea:

So I hurried back with the intent of catching the sunrise in the morning. Personally I love sun rise as compared to sunsets because the beautiful sceneries last longer. Just along the path out of the mosque, an elder man appeared to walk behind me as well. He smiled and I give my salaam to him. And we talked for a while. Surprisingly he suddenly invited me back home for tea.

Of course, I said yes.

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Well it’s just normal tea and we didn’t have much to chat about anyways but I find the gesture very welcoming and warm. I never thought of inviting any Muslim tourists who come to Singapore for their travels but the elder man made it look as though it was a very natural thing to do.

Perhaps, the next time I meet a Muslim tourist in my own country, I would invite him back for tea or at least have a cup of cuppa with him at a nice cafe.

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# Recommend Gili Air?

Definitely. (By the way, it’s pronouced, locally as Gi-li A-yer not AIR)

It’s a beautiful island populated by mostly Muslims. However, I think it would be quite crowded around the July/August period. Try to avoid this period as prices get really exorbitant.

So yeaps, that’s my story. I do hope to hear more stories from other fellow brothers/sisters visiting different mosques in different countries!

# Where is Gili Air ?

Amin Nordin

About me:

I’m an reclusive hermit who’s socially very adept. However, I prefer to spend time alone, designing beautiful digital products and finding hidden gems around my everyday surroundings. I run my own tech company and if you wish to connect, email me at a@qiscus.com.

AMOSQUEAfriDAY #0: One concept, Your articles, Our Mosques

# THE CONCEPT:

Dear readers, friends, brothers and sisters… and soon colleagues 😉

Thank you for your feedback (which were quite positive) and suggestions of great Ideas. Here is one for our common future :

Thank’s to God’s Blessings (El HamdouliLah) and to your support and interest, this AMOSQUEADAY-Ramadhan2013 project has been pretty successful -given the number of visits and views, your feedback by e-mail, comments or in live and the interest of the media on it.

So why stop short of our Mosques visit and culture discovery ?

We can continue our Islamic world tour through the center of the muslim communities, which are the mosques. Let us think BIG, let us think Oumma ! So, you yourself submit an article about your jumua (friday prayer) experience in the Mosque you grew up in, the one you celebrated your union in, the one you passed by on a trip or any mosque of your choice that made an impression on you for some reason. We would keep a common skeletton with a short historical part and paragraphs on prayer, architecture or whatever? Any idea ?

This will enable us to travel all over the world, through the cultural and personal prism. To give you an idea, these are the countries from where you, readers-contributors, visited the website:

countries

So we will have a very rich and colorful overview of the muslim communities and initiatives all over the world !

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# YOUR CONCEPT:

You got the broad picture ? Now, you design the future of AMOSQUEADAY:

Thank you dears 🙂 Looking forward to our collaboration !

AMOSQUEADAY #30: AIDILFITRI EN-NAEEM MOSQUE

# HISTORY:

Built under Phase Two of the Mosque Building Fund, the masjid with its box-like structure and tall minaret stands out amid the HDB nearby. 

En-Naeem_Mosque

Built in 1983, the mosque had undergone a major upgrading in 2006 which increased its capacity to 2,500 worshippers.

It offers daily kindergarten and madrasah classes.  Muslims can also benefit from its computer classes, which are jointly organized with self-help groups.

naeem1

Here are some of the services offered by the Mosque:

“Center for Islamic Thinkers” as stated on the Mosque’s facebook page, which is a greatly ambitious description.
“Islamic Education Centre” where some of my closest Singaporean friends have had their part-time madrassah classes.
“Marriage Preparatory and Counselling”, take note of this, it might be useful one day; otherwise they also provide witl “Family Counselling”.

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# EID PRAYER:

When I first saw the mosque, I thought it was a portable prefabricated building. I decided to pray in En-Naeem mosque on Eid day for two reasons:

  • It is my neighborhood mosque and I find this pure serenity and happiness when walking to the mosque on Eid day while singing the Takbir:
  • It is the mosque where some of the greatest people I have met during my stay in Singapore grew better as muslims and human beings -basically, it was their part time madrasah.

images (1) First impression when reaching the mosque?

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Malay Rainbow !

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In France, for Eid, women would wear any color from the black ‘abaya to -very- moderately colorful clothes. Men would wear the bright with qamis which gives an image of purity going out of the mosque. In Singapore -and certainly Indonesia and Malaysia- a joyful rainbow surrounds the mosque. En-Naeem is not so small but many worshippers were waiting outside for the second round of Eid prayer as muslim flow to mosques to celebrate Eid altogether. And it is not for no reason that we start our joyful gathering with a communication with God the Greatest.

And the mosque seemed to have been decorated especially for this day with the child works and paintings:

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After the prayer, we would wish a Blessed Eid -Eid moubarek- to the sisters who shared this “Opening ceremony” of Eid celebration with us and we would great them the same way as after any prayer. In France, it seems much warmer because it highly contrasts with the regular days. Uselly, we would only say salam to everybody when entering the mosque while waving our hand or at most shake people’s hands. But after Eid prayer, we would kiss each other (including people you don’t know) and wish a Blessing Eid and good for every year: Eid moubarek, koul ‘am wa anetoum bikhayr.

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After the colorful prayer, we went back home to offer my Singaporean mum and landlord a humble gift for Eid. She was really moved, it is not part of the local culture, people would rather give an enveloppe with money to the children and elder people in every house they visit. It is the same in Arab countries. But I guess I owe this to my french background, I love to spend time thinking about what would make the other one happy. Money is very convenient because then your friend may buy anything he wants, but there is not the friendly and lovely intention. I would cherrish the time I spend thinking about a great personalised gift idea, the time I spend wrapping the gift and the moment when I can observe the amazement, happyness, love, gratefulness in the other’s eyes.

eid4Then, we had the start the tough part of Eid, the HOUSE RALLYE ! I’m kidding, I am currently completing my master degree and I’m still studying, I qualify for the Paket Raya (envoloppe of money, ;))

I would go from one grand mother’s house to another and the next day from one aunt’s house to another. The atmosphere is so homely and joyful and people are so welcoming even when it is a family gathering and it is the first time they meet you. However, I think I have grown 50 poungs bigger because of their generosity and the very dangerously delicious biscuits and briyani.

eidSo this is the last article of the Ramadhan 2013 in Singapore, we raised up to the challenge and completed the Race, with God’s Help and Blessings. Tomorrow, I will share with you are next project to which all of us will contribute inshaAllah 🙂

Thank you for your support, thank you to the welcoming Mosques, thank you to the amazing people I met this month and Thank you all of you, awesome readers, for your feedback !

BarakaAllah feekoum, May God Bless you !

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