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The role of the mosque and the imam.

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    The role of the mosque and the imam.

    Blindly following the western culture, the muslims have done great harm to the institution of mosque.

    Mosque is not merely a place for prayers. A mosque is supposed to be the epicenter of our lives. Its a place where we pray five times, socialize with other muslims, meet with scholars, discuss matters confronting the ummah and issue explanations to every day problems.

    The west promoted the concept of keeping church separate from the state. The reason was simple. The church had become too powerful. The priest and the pope were the demigods, selling the tickets to paradise (check out the origins of Protestant movement), and were the main road-block to progress and do-as-you-please culture. In this great tug-of-war, eventually the church was defeated and hencetofor is not permitted in the corridors of power or legislature.

    Based on my experiences in Pakistan, it is worse, compared to the west. The mosque and the imam are severely maligned in our society. The mosque is only deemed as a nuisance, since it creates loud noise in the form of azaan, five times a day. If a house is near the mosque, its price goes down. It doesn't help that some maulvis decide to use the loud-speaker to keep people awake all night in the sacred months of Moharram and Rabi-al-Awal.

    The imam is presented as a bigger nuisance. He is treated as someone who gives weird rulings, is incapable of understanding the requirements of modern day lives, is uneducated and is good for only two things: (1) nikkah, and (2) namaz-e-janaza. At one time, I had a question, so I went to the imam of Jamia-Ashrafia in Lahore, subsequently many people who got to know about it, tried to redicule me for giving so much importance to a 'maulvi' (yeah, they can make this word sound like the worst insult). I never understand this generalization, although its probably true that the maulvis, in many case, have only rudimentary knowledge of world sciences and are fed a rigorous dosage of Quran and religious education only in whichever madrassah they got their education.

    It is important to distinguish that in islam, a maulvi is not a similar person like a priest is to christianity. A priest is supposed to be their channel to reach God, whereas in Islam all muslims should communicate directly with their Creator, and a maulvi is a scholar who is knowledgeable about issues so that you can go and seek clarifications for questions from him. He is not a doorman to allow you entry to get to Allah T'allah.

    I remember when I was in Pakistan, our mosque merely 4-5 rows for five daily prayers, whereas for Friday prayers, there were thousands upon thousands of people there. It means that for most people there, visiting mosque is merely for Friday prayers, and that too, come so late so as not to be bored by the khutba. People actually had to struggle to leave as early as possible after the salam even before du'a.

    In the west, the mosque, or Islamic Centers as they are commonly called, are more encompassing. A place of socialization with the community, discussion, debates, family nights, children activities and a host of other features.

    There must be ways, to improve the efficiency of our mosques in the Islamic countries. To take them out of their role as mere prayer-rooms and make them into a vibrant hub of the community. In addition, true Islamic scholars need to be identified and given respect just like true ulema of our history were given respect and their opinions sought in all matters of government and religious questions.

    These are just my personal views, and since this is not a copy-paste so there is no web link provided.

    [This message has been edited by Pristine (edited January 08, 2002).]