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Offline Joseph Islam

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What is the Role of the Masjid?
« on: December 10, 2011, 06:32:13 PM »
LINK TO THE ORIGINAL THREAD
http://www.salaatforum.com/index.php?mode=thread&id=319#p389

by Joseph Islam  , On God's Earth, Friday, December 09, 2011, 21:45 (12 hours, 25 minutes ago) @ Shabbir Ahmed


Brother Shabbir,

Salamun Alaikum

I agree with your sentiment with regards numerous women (especially those with a Western background) relating similar experiences to sister Laurie.

However please note my response in two sections which I also impart for the benefit of wider readers.


(1) The Role of the Masjid (From a Quranic perspective)
(2) The Role of the Masjid from your perspective


THE ROLE OF THE MASJID FORM A QURANIC PERSPECTIVE

It appears that the real essence of the mosque seems to have become lost.

Here are my views in light of the Quran.

If one reads verse 2:125, it is clear what the purpose of the ancient house that Prophet Abraham built intended to provide:

- A place of return (mathabatan) - a place of visitation, a resort
- A place of security (aman) - where one finds refuge, protection, assistance.
- A place of seclusion, stay, attachment, to give one self up to in purpose, to be devoted, to be resident (akifina) . This is also supported by verse 2:187 (akifuna fil-masajid)
- A place of worship - ruku (bow) and sujud (prostrate).

Furthermore:

- A place where God's name is glorified much (fiha us'mu-allahi kathiran 22:40); 2:114.
Mosques (in the spirit of Prophet Abraham's ancient house) should function not only as places of worship but as central institutions responding to the needs of the community and for learning.

I infer support for 'learning' from verse 9:122 in the Quran which intimates that there should always be those that should devote themselves in acquiring knowledge of religion (liyatafaqqahu fi-dini) so that they may be able to warn others. This is in my view, a cue for 'acquired knowledge' through dedicated endeavour. Therefore, as a focal point of a community it would not be inconceivable that a Mosque would also provide a place for such learning.

However, it does appear that the true essence of a multifunctional centre is absent in Mosques which today sadly remain extremely sectarian and incongruent with the image I understand mosques should fulfil in light of the Quran.

Today's mosques can be run by power hungry trustees with some religious leaders bent on extracting funds out of their worshippers with little answerability or transparency. They often provide little or no support to the communities with matters of real need but rather, breeding grounds for extremism, rote learning and instilling sectarian bias.


THE ROLE OF THE MASJID FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE

However, with respect, I find little (if any) support for your perspective in the way you have presented the role of the Masjid from my studies with early Islamic literature as a keen historian.

You say:

RUKOO' (Bowing) was understood allegorically as bowing before the commands of Allah.
SAJDAH (Prostration) meant complete mental submission to Him.


For this statement, you seem to provide tacit support by mentioning an isolated quote from Hasan al-Basri.

"Hassan Basari wrote that physical Rukoo' and Sajdah were considered immodest especially since men and women congregated together in the Masjid and so, not ordained"

Readers should appreciate that we have nothing of the writings of Hasan al-Basri (d. 728CE) from his own pen. To garner support from secondary sources of such kind is unacceptable to any student or academic that professes to understand their 'religion' from the Quran.

Furthermore, to say Hasan al-Basri 'wrote' something is akin to saying the 'Prophet said' and have the statement recorded by later compilers as noted in the Hadith corpus. The literary corpus that is attributed to Hasan al-Basri in his name is often known to be forged. Sources are often contradictory and often cannot be reconciled.

'The literary corpus transmitted on his authority consists mainly of sermons and letters related to piety. Several of these, however, were attributed to him falsely, either intentionally or as a result of name confusion, Whether actually his or falsely attributed, this growing corpus of anecdotes, sermons, and letters on piety and spirituality helped the expansion of al-Hasan's posthumous legacy and its dissemination in later scholarship and attracted still more followers to him' [1]

A significant number of anecdotes are transmitted on the authority of Hasan al-Basri which seems to clearly reflect the views of later theologians.

Historians only start to see images of Hasan al-Basri from around the late 8th / early 9th century CE emphasizing his extreme piety through the lens of later writers.

Some of the anecdotes with regards al-Basri are received in the name of three individuals, 'Abd Allah b. al-Mubarak (d. 797CE), Waki b. al-Jarrah (d. 812 CE) and Ahmad b. Hanbal (d.855 CE) who make use of the same title 'Kitab al-Zuhd' (book of Asceticism). Other information can be gleaned from the works of al-Jahiz's (869CE) al-Bayan wa-l-tabyin (On Rhteoric and Exposition), 'Uyun al-akhbar (The Jewels of Narratives) by Ibn Qutayba (889 CE) and al-Kitab al-Kamil (The Complete Book) by al-Mubarrad (900CE). [2]

"Yet the strongest image of al-Hasan that comes out of Ibn al-Mubarak is the one that presents him as overwhelmed by sorrow and the fear of eternal punishment and preoccupied with constant worship, as the following anecdote shows" [3]

(B9) Al-Mubarak Al-Mubarak [b. Fadala] reported that al-Hasan said: "I was told that if the worshiper sleeps while prostrating, God would say: 'Look at my worshiping servant. His soul is with me and his body is in my service" [4]

Scholars are aware that the number of accounts with regards the piety of Hasan al-Basri and his spiritualism seems to snowball in content in medieval literature with material in respect to his personality and life considerably expanding. There seems to be different presentations appearing of him within this literature.

"It has been argued above that the presentation of al-Hasan al-Basri in the early medieval literature reveals two persons: the highly pious al-Hasan who renounced this world and lived in constant sorrow, and the highly sociable al-Hasan who loved the delicacies of this world and the company of people" [5]

Piety focused literature is against the spirit of the Quran which clearly informs believers not to assign piety or purity to human souls as only God knows best the state of one's being from the time when they were created and when they lay hidden in the womb of their mothers (53:32)

Born in the year 21 A.H, his very childhood is surrounded by the mist of fable. Significant, if only as a symptom, is the endeavour of tradition to bring him into the sacred circle of Muhammad himself. He is said to have been suckled by the wife of the Prophet 'Umm Salama; or to have imbibed heavenly wisdom by having once drunk from a pitcher that had been used by Muhammad; upon hearing him speak, 'A'isha exclaims that he talks with the tongue of prophets.' [6]

"...fala tuzakku anfusakum..." (Do not ascribe piety / purity to yourselves). - 53:32. See also 4:49.


Regards,
Joseph.


REFERENCES:

[1] MOURAD. S.A, Early Islam between Myth and History, Al-Hasan al-Basri (d.110H/728CE) and the Formation of his Legacy in Classical Islamic Scholarship, Brill NV, Leiden, 2006, Epilogue, Page 241
[2] Ibid., Page 64
[3] Ibid., Page 65
[4] Ibid., Page 66
[5] Ibid., Page 93
[6] OBERMANN. J, Yale University, Published by the American Oriental Society, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol.55, No.2 (Jun., 1935), page 138


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'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
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Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: What is the Role of the Masjid?
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2011, 04:49:45 AM »
LINK TO THE ORIGINAL THREAD

http://www.salaatforum.com/index.php?mode=thread&id=319#p399
by Joseph Islam  , On God's Earth, Sunday, December 11, 2011, 07:52 (12 hours, 58 minutes ago) @ Joseph Islam


Dear Readers.

Please note a 'typo' correction and an addition for clarification purposes:


Typo:

"Yet the strongest image of al-Hasan that comes out of Ibn al-Mubarak is the one that presents him as overwhelmed by sorrow and the fear of eternal punishment and preoccupied with constant worship, as the following anecdote shows" [3]


Should read:


"Yet the strongest image of al-Hasan that comes out of Ibn al-Mubarak is the one that presents him as overwhelmed by sorrow and the fear of eternal punishment and preoccupied with constant worship, as the following anecdotes show" [3]


[Changes in bold]


Between reference [3] and [4] in the post, the following note is to be included.

"The author then cites 8 examples [B5-B12]. One example involving worshipping and prostrating is cited below from the various examples given [B9]".

Regards,
Joseph.

--
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act'
George Orwell

http://www.quransmessage.com
Copyright © 2010 Quransmessage.com


'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell