Friday Sermon: Ideal Spirit of Building and Populating Mosques

Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih inaugurated Bait ul Amaan, a new mosque in the city of Manchester, UK and gave a discourse on the ideal spirit of building and populating mosques. He began by citing the following Quranic verses:
‘And remember the time when Abraham and Ishmael raised the foundations of the House, praying, ‘Our Lord, accept this from us; for Thou art All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
‘Our Lord, make us submissive to Thee and make of our offspring a people submissive to Thee. And show us our ways of worship, and turn to us with mercy; for Thou art Oft-Returning with compassion and Merciful.
‘And, our Lord, raise up among them a Messenger from among themselves, who may recite to them Thy Signs and teach them the Book and Wisdom and may purify them; surely, Thou art the Mighty, the Wise.’ (Surah Al Baqarah, verses 128 – 130)
These verses mention a great model which illustrates high standards of humility, meekness, sacrifice, prayer for one’s progeny to remain connected to God and prayer to become servant of God. The first verse depicts the great sacrifice of Hazrat Ibrahim and Hazrat Ishmael (peace be on them). Each stone with which that they constructed the House of God bore witness that the father and the son and their generation to follow was going to settle around it. They both had conviction of belief that one day the House would become the centre of faith but they had no idea when that would be. At the time, all they were aware of was to make their sacrifice. In spite of their great sacrifice they expressed the greatest of humility when they prayed to God and acknowledged that it was all due to His grace. There was no sense of importance in their expressions, they did not expect any reward, prompt or otherwise. Rather, they prayed to the All-Hearing, All-Knowing God to accept their prayers that they had made sacrifice and pledged to do so in the future. They submitted to God that He was aware that what they said and what they did was to seek the pleasure of God. They prayed for the place to become House of God and for it to be populated by virtue of being House of God. They realised for it to be truly populated was dependant on God’s grace, so they prayed for the insight and vision which takes one to God.
This is the spirit in which mosques of Muslims are built, indeed it is the spirit in which they should be built, otherwise a beautiful building in itself is nothing. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be on him) said there should be no decoration or embellishment in mosques but monarchs and the wealthy have made ornate mosques, some of these mosques even have gold-plated embellishments. But the beauty of mosques is in how they are populated, that is populated purely to seek the pleasure of God.
Hazrat Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him) once related that on a visit to a Middle Eastern country he went to see a beautiful mosque where he observed that a handful of worshippers were offering Salat in a corner. The Imam of the mosque explained that because people did not come for Salat, he was embarrassed to lead from the Mihrab, so they offered Salat in a corner of the mosque so that no one would know that it was the main congregation. Then, there are mosques which are populated but it is done with empty hearts and worldly matters are at the forefront during the time spent there.
We should be mindful that when we build mosques it should be to seek the pleasure of God. Rather than feel pride we should be grateful to God for any sacrifice that we are enabled to make for this. Any sacrifice we make is not even a fraction of the sacrifice made by Hazrat Ishmael (on whom be peace). Our sacrifice is limited to financial sacrifice and that too is mostly within our means. Certainly, in the materialistic world of today it is a big way of giving and building of mosques is a commendable act and people who do this have their reward from God. With the grace of God our Jama’at is greatly drawn to building mosques in the Western countries. This has changed the preferences of some people to the extent that they put themselves in difficulties but contribute towards building of mosques. Yet, we should always remember not to display any sense of pride for this.
The cost of building of Baitul Amaan was £1.2 million and 75% of the promises/pledges have been paid. Members of the Jama’at have made tremendous sacrifices for this. Individual contributions of up to £84,000 and £78,000 have been made as well as contributions of £15,000 to £30,000. The pledges of around eleven people total more than £300,000. These are huge sacrifices in this day and age, but they should incline us towards humility because the model God has put before us is that our sacrifice is naught and is truly beneficial when a mosque is populated. The place where once the House of God was built was desolate and deprived of inhabitants and from a spiritual perspective the West is also a barren land and we have to make it spiritually verdant. It is with this viewpoint that we build mosques in Europe. Mosques should not be populated only on Fridays, rather we should pray ‘Our Lord, accept this from us; for Thou art All-Hearing, All-Knowing’ and supplicate for spiritual advancement. We should pray to be enabled to keep mosques populated and pray that may people who advance in spirituality inhabit the area. May God accept our sacrifice and take us to the spiritual station of His nearness and make us the recipients of His Paradise.
Hadith relates that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that on the Day of Judgement God will state that those gathered will know who the esteemed and the honoured will be. These will be people who held assemblies for remembrance of God in mosques. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) also said that a person who goes to the mosque each morning and night, God will prepare hospitality for him in Paradise.