In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
'ALHAMDULILLAH' (All praise only to Allah), we had observed Eid Al-Adha on Friday, September 1st. More than one million Muslims were in the Holy Land performing hajj. The two great 'masajid' - the Haram Mosque in Makkah and Prophet Mosque in Madinah were in focus even though the latter is not a site to perform hajj 'manasik' (rituals).
As we are about to celebrate the Eid, I recalled my 'nostalgic presence' in both 'masajid' more than 10 years ago when I performed hajj. Regarding the experience in 'Masjid Nabawi' (the Prophet Mosque), this is among my notes:
"It was 2.45 am outside the many gates of Masjid Nabawi; groups of worshipers were seen waiting eagerly for the gates to open. Usually the gates of Babussalam would be opened first, but to avoid the congregation from converging at the particular door and rushing to the Raudhah (the part of the mosque between the Prophet's grave and his pulpit) sometimes other gates would be opened first.
"On that particular morning, I was on my way to Babussalam, the gate of Quba' suddenly opened in front of me sending tens of worshipers to the Raudah. People ran, I hastened my pace. I managed to get a place between a white carpet of the Raudhah and the red ones used in all parts of the mosque.
"I was only a few meters from the Prophet's 'mimbar' the Prophet's grave and that of his closest companion, Abu Bakr. Here is Raudhah, one of the garden of paradise as declared by the Prophet in his his 'hadith': "that which lies between my house and my pulpit is the gardens of paradise."
"The worshippers performed their prayers in very closed and tight condition. The undisciplined ones kept on pushing to get a place in the Raudhah. As I sat there, tears started flowing from my eyes, acknowledging the wrongs that I had done over the years. I turned around and saw some of the congregators too were shedding tears and sobbing."
These were some notes written by pilgrims who had visited the two great 'masajid':
Subhanallah'! What to say about Masjid Nabawi, the mosque of the Prophet is the most peaceful place on earth. No words can explain our stay at Masjid Al-Nabawi s.a.w. It is very relaxing, peace of mind and peace of heart. Amazing experience and unforgettable moments and an experience of a lifetime!
* Awesome, emotional - this is a place, every single Muslim wants to visit, a place full of history, and spirituality. I always feel an extraordinary feeling when I am inside the 'masjid'. It's neither because of the beauty of the architecture, nor the magnificence of the decoration, but it is the serenity, and the purity of the place.
* Life changing journey - a must visit for any able Muslim. It is beyond words spectacular. Amazing by writing words no justice can be done to the place. You will have to visit it to feel it.
* Extraordinary, speechless - this holy place is full of history and meanings. The Kaaba was built by Prophet Ibrahim a.s. and his son Prophet Ismail a.s. A visit to a place where worshipers from every nations are coming to worship the one and only God is a blessing in itself. If you add to that a visit either during Ramadan or even better during hajj, it shows the diversity in Islam.
* No words to express the feelings - this is one thing in the world I have seen which is absolutely stunning and unique. The more I see the more I want to see. Can’t take off your eyes… the blessed feeling of being there in front of Kaaba cannot be expressed. It is marvelous and pray every Muslim gets to see it and pray here at least once in their lifetime.
* Amazing - it is so amazing to see the Kaaba in front of our eyes, because usually we'll only position ourselves towards the Kaaba to pray anywhere on the world but now the Kaaba is in front of our eyes. Feel blessed because there are still some Muslim who did not have a chance yet to visit this holy city and we already did.
Well, dear readers, it should be the desire of every Muslim to be in the house of Allah at all times whats more in the Haram Mosque and the Prophet Mosque. In a 'hadith', Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said: "One prayer in this mosque of mine is superior to 1,000 prayers in any other mosque except the Sacred Mosque of Makkah (Masjidilharam) and one prayer in the sacred mosque is superior 100,000 prayers in any other mosque." (related by Ahmad Ibnu Majah)
In inter-Islam.org it was noted that A Muslim should feel that if he had no commitments, he would have spent his entire time in the 'masjid'. The heart should always yearn to be in the most beloved place. Any place beloved to Allah will certainly become beloved to that person who has love for Allah. Love for Allah is an essential requisite of 'imaan' (faith).
In one 'hadith', the Holy Prophet s.a.w. said the most beloved places to Allah are the 'masajid'. Even when he is occupied with the matters of the word, such as family, work etc, the heart of a Muslim should always be attached to the 'masjid'.
The Holy Prophet s.a.w. stated in another 'hadith' that the condition of a believer outside the 'masjid' is that of a fish out of water. A fish obviously has no desire to be out water, and if it is taken out will long to return, and will remain restless for as long as it is out of water. In the same 'hadith', the sign of a 'munafiq' (hypocrite) has been described as a bird in a cage longing to be released from there as soon as possible. A 'munafiq' anxiously waits for the 'salaah' (prayers) or speech (lesson) to end so he can leave.
The point to reflect upon is that do we feel restless outside the Masjid longing to return to it? And if not then are we not displaying the sign of a 'munafiq'?
This 'hadith' encourages us to inculcate love for the 'masjid', thereby visiting them frequently and remaining within them as long as possible. It is indeed regrettable to witness that even when we are not preoccupied with necessary commitments, many Muslims, at 'salaah' (prayer) times remain seated in their comfortable chairs with their eyes glued to the television, or wondering the streets waiting for the 'salaah' to be completed.
If they do attend, they will try their utmost best to come late and then leave immediately after 'salaah' has been completed, only then to hang around outside the 'masjid' chatting away with friends. Many have become so neglectful that in their haste to leave, they discard the performance of a 'sunnah muakkadah' (important recommended prayers) as well.
If however, an inclination to remain in the 'masjid' does not exist within the heart then it should be created by compelling oneself to come to the 'masjid' at least ten minutes before the prayer starts and the person should then engage in some form of 'ibaadah' (act of devotion) until the prayer starts.
If one finds it difficult to come any earlier then one should try their utmost to spend time after 'salaah', moreover it would also be beneficial to participate in the regular lessons of the Holy Qur'an or 'hadith' or similar Islamic lectures that take place in the 'masjid'.
The benefits of visiting the 'masjid' are numerous. The Holy Prophets.a.w. has said the he who purifies himself in his house and then walks to one of the houses of Allah for performing an obligatory act, one step of his will wipe out his sins and another step will exalt his status in paradise. Subhanallah!
May Allah first give me the ability to act upon the 'hadith' and spend more time in the 'masjid' and create more love for the 'masjid' and may He also give you the ability.
Unfortunately, during my lifetime I had witnessed several Muslims who had never stepped on a 'masjid' once - but one very sad thing when they die, their remains were brought to the 'masjid' for the final prayer before they were quickly carried to the graveyard for burial.
At last, as a Muslim 'he' or 'she' finally made it to a 'masjid', perhaps it was 'his or her first and last' to the house of Allah SWT. The question is why many of us shy away from the masjid; it was a standard yardstick during the five times daily compulsory or obligatory prayers i.e.'subuh', 'zuhur', 'asar', 'maghrib' and 'isyak' only a row or two are fill with congregators.
'Subhanallah' (All praise is due to Allah) there are people 'who totally boycott' 'masjid' during their lifetimes - they had never set their foot on the floors of any 'masjid' but the irony of it when they die, their remains would be brought to the 'masjid' and to be prayed to. But they themselves had never prayed to Allah SWT in the 'masjid'.
To those dear men who choose not to 'salaah' at the 'masjid' thinking they have a very good reason for it, 'please digest' these 'hadiths' - It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah r.a. that the Messenger of Allah s.a.w. said: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, I was thinking of ordering that wood be gathered, then I would have ordered that the call to prayer be given, then I would have told a man to lead the people in prayer, then I would have gone from behind and burned the houses of men who did not attend the (congregational) prayer down around them. By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if any one of them had known that he would get a bone covered with good meat or two sheep’s feet with meat in them, he would have turned up for the 'isyak' prayer.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 618; Muslim, 651)
Even a blind man who could hear 'mu'azzin' was not given concession: It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: A blind man (Ibn Umm Maktoom) came to the Prophet s.a.w. and said, “O Messenger of Allah, I have no one to lead me to the mosque,” and he asked the Messenger of Allah s.a.w. to grant him a concession allowing him to pray in his house, and he allowed him that. But when he turned away he said, “Can you hear the call to prayer?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “Then answer it.” According to a version narrated by Abu Dawood (552) and Ibn Maajah (792) he said: “I do not think there is any concession for you.” Al-Nawawi said concerning this hadith: its isnaad is saheeh or hasan.
The 'adhan' are constant calls by Allah SWT to us to go the 'masjid' but we choose to ignore Him. We do not want to go the 'masjid'. Why is it so? What are we 'up to' or 'busy with'? Perhaps we are 'sombong' (proud and ignorant) to accept orders from Allah SWT. 'Nauzubillah' (God forbids)...Please note the warning of Allah SWT in Surah 'Abasa: "From what thing doth He create him? (18); From a drop of seed. He createth him and proportioneth him (19); Then maketh the way easy for him (20); Then causeth him to die, and burieth him." (21)
If during your lifetime you are 'sombong' to go the masjid, you just wait...one day surely 'you would be forced go to the masjid' - perhaps it would be your very first and last because your are already dead for after life it is death. Nobody could escape it. So before you 'are forced' to go the 'masjid', please allocate your precious time to be in touch with Allah SWT in His house that is 'masjid' or better still in the Haram Mosque and the Prophet Mosque.