Mosques

This is my re coursework and it is about Mosques. My essay is based on a Mosque in Luton. (Westbourne Road Mosque) A Mosque is a place of worship for Muslims. This essay also tells you about the Imam’s job in a mosque. It helps you to understand different points and opinions about mosques.Questions?By Sofia Rafiq11yA (i) Describe the main features of a specific mosque?Mosques have many different beautiful features that are exterior as well as interior. A basic feature of a mosque is a tower called the minaret. In Islamic countries the Muezzin enters the minaret and calls the people to prayer. In Britain this is not allowed so some Islamic communities broadcast the call to prayer on a radio frequency which Muslims can pick up in their homes and places of work using a small receiver.The first thing a person does before entering the mosque is to take off their shoes. There is always a shoe rack outside the mosque for you to place your shoes. Shows are taken of because they are entering a sacred place and it is a sign of reverence to Allah. Also, when a Muslim prays at the mosque at times they put their face on the floor. So there seems to be a sensible aspect to it as well.Muslims who come to the Mosque to pray must perform Wudu before doing so. This is a sacred wash that symbolises spiritual cleansing and purity in readiness for coming before God. When a Muslim performs Wudu they wash their hands, mouth, throat, nose, ears, arms up to the elbow and feet. When washing their hands, arms and feet’s they always wash the right one first. As in most places men and women have separate washing areas because once you enter the mosque you should only be thinking of Allah and a women has to stay covered from males at all times so they cannot obviously perform Wudu in the same washing area.Mosques usually have a Dome at the top of them. It is a semi-spherical shape. The mosque I studied had a green one. On top of the dome was a moon and a star. The dome is there to help the feeling of space inside the mosque and also resembles the universe. It helps the Imams voice to be heard throughout the Mosque when it is full of worshippers. In hot countries it also helps the mosque to stay cool as the air circulates in the dome. It is a distinguishing feature and is very different. It is also unique so people can recognise it as a mosque.When entering the prayer hall you immediately notice that there are no seats. This is because Muslims sit on the floor and pray using a prayer mat or a carpet that covers the floor. The carpet or prayer mat may have beautiful designs and colours. Green is used a lot in mosques as this was Muhammed’s (pbuh) favourite colour. Nobody will have a particular place in the mosque to worship, as this shows that everyone no matter what status, or place, is equal through the eyes of Allah. There is no furniture to help provide as much space as possible for worshippers. Space also gives of the feeling of peace and calmness. There are also no pictures on the walls. This is because Muslims believe you should not make images of God. They do not even consider it right to draw pictures of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) so that they remained focussed on God (Allah). In the mosque I studied there are cupboards on the walls with copies of the Qur’an in. The mosque had a minbar (set of steps) from which the imam (leader of the Mosque) may stand to teach the people.Because Muslims do not allow images or pictures in their mosques. This is because Muhammed (Pbuh) was afraid that people may be led astray and start following them, which is insulting towards Allah. They often decorate them with famous verses from the Qur’an (the Islamic scriptures) and geometrical patterns. Inscriptions taken from the Qur’an are sometimes made with gold leaf (or thread if woven onto a tapestry). This is type of writing is called calligraphy. There may also be stained glass windows and dangling chandeliers.Muslims always pray facing towards Makkah and the Ka’bah. The importance of Makkah for Muslims cannot be stressed. When Muslims pray towards Makkah they do so mainly to focus their minds on the origins of their faith. Alcove or arch in a mosque, indicates the Qiblah, the direction in which a Muslim shall perform his salat.The mihrab is the position of the person leading the congregation in prayer, and is by most Muslims considered the most holy place in the mosque, even if a mihrab is never dedicated to God, but frequently to religious personalities. A mosque will normally have only one mihrab. Mihrabs can be of wood, but is normally made out of masonry, and adorned with pillars. Mihrabs very often come highly ornamented.The minbar is used with the khutba, the Friday sermon, and the khatib ascends it. But he stops on one of the lower steps, as the top of the minbar is restricted to the Prophet only.An essential part of all mosques including the one I studied there is water supply. Usually from taps nowadays but in the olden days there could have been a fountain outside the mosque.A(ii) Analyse ; explain the role ; function of the Imam in a Sunni mosque?Every Muslim leader is called an Imam. The Arabic word imam means ‘in the front.’ This describes the main purpose of the imam in a Sunni mosque. The imam is the man [all imams are male] who stands in front of the lines of worshippers, leading them in the recital of the set prayers, or salah. He will usually read out aloud during his prayers so everyone can follow. The Imam stands on the minibar. The Imam may also give blessings or special prayers for his self and everybody.An imam has no special training, and he is not destined as a holy man. All Muslims are regarded as equal in the sight of Allah. An imam is an educated man who is chosen by the congregation because he is regarded as a good Muslim and because of his knowledge of Islam and the Qur’an.Apart from leading the prayers, imams often take on other tasks, as the religious leaders of the local Muslim communities. They often act as the khatib, the person who preaches the Friday sermon [the khutbah ]. They will teach about Islam to people of all ages, but particularly to the children who need to learn to read the Qur’an in the original Arabic.Imams sometimes perform religious ceremonies, and they will give people religious advice. Some imams also visit Muslims who are in prison. In small mosques the imam may take on these religious responsibilities as well as another job, such as the caretaker of the mosque; in big mosques the imam is usually employed full time.The Imam also organises many activities: educational and religious programmes at the mosque, financial and building projects, an Islamic school for children each evening and midweek classes for other groups occasionally. They may also visit many schools in the area, and speak to many non-Muslim groups. Also the authorised Muslim prison and hospital chaplain in some cases. The imam can be called out of the Mosque for something like visiting a sick person. The imam has to make sure he gives the correct advice to people that seek it and also has to teach Muslims right from wrong when necessary. Many imams are hafizes. This is someone that knows the Quran of by heart. They are respected a great deal. An imam will also help non-believers learn about Islam and increase their knowledge about the religion.Imam’s daily task start as early as 3am which would be Morning Prayer. He may then read the Quran for some time before eating breakfast.Imams can also be part of Islamic weddings during the Nikah. This involves contracts being signed. The imam may also go through the rules and regulations of the purpose of marriage in Islam. He may also attend births of a newborn baby and give blessings.A (iii) Analyse & explain the role & function of the mosque in the Muslim community?A mosque is a place where Muslims meet to worship God (Allah). The word ‘mosque’ is linked to an Arabic word meaning ‘bow oneself’ and it is a place where Muslims bow before God to announce their duty to God’s will.There are thousands of mosques across the world, because the Muslim community tries to build one as soon as possible for them. An Islamic law requires a mosque as soon as there is a 40 adult male Muslims in any one place.Muslims go to a mosque to pray and worship our God called Allah. Mosques are buildings where Muslims gather together to learn about their religion and worship God.Muslims pray five times a day and prayer times are fixed by the sun and change daily. Each period for prayer has a special name and each time is separated by two hours. These times are Fajr (before dawn and sunrise), Zuhr (after midday), ‘Asr (between late afternoon and sunset), Maghrib (between sunset and the end of daylight) and ‘Isha (night until dawn).Muslims often go to the mosque simply to read the Qu’ran and may use prayer beads recite the 99 ‘Beautiful Names’ of Allah. Mosques are also used as community centres, people can get married there and sometimes hold evening schools so that particularly children may have an Islamic education in a non-Islamic country (E.g. learning to read and write Arabic and understanding the teachings of Islam and the Qu’ran).Muslims also go to mosque to seek advice about Islam and matters that they are not sure of. They can discuss anything that they want to know about, to the imam. You can learn a lot about Islam in mosques as classes are held.Alongside the above, mosques also hold funerals, marriages, Friday prayer, Eid prayers, etc. Friday prayers are very important. Friday prayer means “day of assembly”. It is a chance for all men to go to mosque to talk about Islam and issues that are happening in the world. Muslims also go to mosque for some space and peace.(b) “You do not need to go to a mosque to be a good Muslim”.Do you agree give reasons for your opinions, showing that you have considered other points of view? Your answer should refer to Muslim teaching.Most Muslims believe that it is important to go and pray in a mosque as it makes you feel as part of an Ummah (community). This way it is also easier to know what is happening in the Ummah and events taking place. You can also receive help and have any questions about Islam answered. Going to a mosque will help you to socialise with people that have the same beliefs as you and it will be easier to bond with people in your Ummah. It also helps you to stay motivated and committed. Muslims can pray anywhere, but it is especially good to pray with others in a mosque. Praying together in a congregation helps Muslims to realise that all humanity is one, and all are equal in the sight of Allah.”The world, the whole of it, is a Mosque.” “Wherever you turn, there is the face of God.” (2: 115Q.)Therefore as God is everywhere, He can be remembered anywhere on the globe. God does not live only in Mosques. He lives in every particle of earth. So it is not obligatory to go to mosque to be a good Muslim because there can be many reasons to why you cannot attend the mosque but still be a good Muslim. These can be many reasons such as: Illnesses, Disabilities, No separate area for women, Periods, Pregnancy, Transport problems, etc.There is nothing wrong with going to the mosque to spend time there, so long as you stick to the conditions required by shari’ah, such as not being on your period, for women.The Prophet (PBUH) said,”Do not stop the female servants of Allah from attending the Mosques of Allah but let them go there without applying perfumes.”But prayer in her own house is best for her according to Abdullah Ibn Omar, who reported that the Messenger of Allah said,”Do not prevent your women from (going to) the Mosques, though their houses are best for them.” (Abu Dawud).Abu Hurayrah, who said that the Prophet (PBUH) said,”For the woman to offer her prayer in her chamber is of greater merit than to offer it in her courtyard, in her courtyard than in the mosque of her people, in the mosque of her people than in the congregational mosque and in the congregational mosque than going out for prayer in Eid day.”So in this case if a women decides that she will pray at home it does not necessarily mean she is not a good Muslim.Males are preferred to be praying and worshipping in a mosque, unless there is a very good reason. Some people may use reasons which are not good enough such as: they are too busy, etc.Our Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) commanded men to try to go mosque to offer Salat (Bukhari). But if it is not possible because of any strong reason then one can offer Salat in home but they will loose the actual value of Salat (Bukhari).Therefore, one can offer his Salat at home but male should try to go mosque for Salat and Offering Salat with Jammat provides 27 times greater virtue than personal Salat (Bukhari).Peoples opinions:Different people can carry different views because of their cultures and traditions.Most Muslims feel that it is not compulsory to attend a mosque in order to be a good Muslim because they feel that they can relate and perform prayers at home just as well.Although, some Muslims feel that if you attend a mosque you are a better Muslim because you are part of an Ummah and they think it is important and some prayers (Friday and Eid prayers) cannot be performed at home.In my point of view, I think it is important for males to attend the mosque unless for a valid reason because it is commanded by our prophet (PBUH) for males to offer Salat with jammat. Every Friday is considered a holy day for Muslims. It is compulsory for males to attend the Mosque around mid-day for sermon and prayers. Females can attend but do not have to.Overall, by looking at many different opinions I came to a conclusion, that you do not have to attend a mosque to be a good Muslim, but it is preferred by Islamic teachings for males to attend. The facts of the Qur’an are that its message is a universal message without any differentiation between male and female regarding goodness, observance of religious duty and religious obligations. The attitude of the vast majority of the Muslim jurors is not against women’s attendance at the mosque.

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