اَللَّهُمَّ لَكَ الْحَمْدُ كُلُّهُ وَلَكَ الشُّكْرُ كُلُّهُ
O Allah, for You Alone is all Praise. For You Alone is all Gratitude.
Hearts are overflowing with gratitude. Eyes are teary. Minds are reflective.
It’s an emotional moment for Muslims around the globe, as God reopens the doors of His house to the yearning worshippers after a three-month lockdown.
As we return to Allah’s house after the pandemic lockdown is lifted, we will be facing the new “Masjid Normal”. A visit to the Masjid will not be the same this time around. It won’t be as casual as before. It will not be as mechanical as before. It will require more deliberation and planning. It will be a more spiritual exercise. It will require more safety precautions on everyone’s part.
As we reunite with the house of Allah, we will look at the many blessings of a Masjid in a different light. We will be more appreciative of the opportunities we took for granted.
As we return to the new “Masjid Normal”, let us take a moment to be grateful for these blessings that we enjoyed until Allah took them away from us.
1. The melody & message of the Adhan - Being able to hear the call to prayer for the first time in the Masjid from the lips of the Muadhin (prayer caller) is in itself priceless. Very often Adhan is considered another announcement or ritual. Now, hopefully, we will pay attention to the words of this powerful call to success: “God is the Greatest. I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah. I bear witness that Muhammad, peace be upon him, is the messenger of God. Come to Prayer. Come to Success. God is the greatest.”
2. The beauty of Quran recitation - The Imam’s recitation of the Quran in the prayer is the highlight for Masjid attendees. The voice of the reciter and the rhythm of Quranic verses make the congregational prayer an emotionally moving experience. There are many in our community who were not fortunate enough to survive the pandemic. Let us not miss another chance to be mesmerized by this spiritual event: Salah (prayer) in the congregation.
3. The Khutba & lecture - While we must have attended many virtual lectures and Khutbas during the lockdown, there is no replacement of a real time physical sermon from the heart and mind of an Imam or a scholar. Our physical interaction with the Khateeb or a lecturer in a Masjid setting takes the transformative power of a sermon to the next level. Let’s hope we pay more attention to the message of the Khutba and make sure to come early to catch the whole session going forward.
4. The community spirit & cameraderie- This was the biggest loss experienced by the Muslim community during the pandemic. The Masjid has always been a springboard for community development. The bonds of faith and action that are developed among worshippers standing shoulder to shoulder in a Saff (row) on a daily or a weekly basis are inseparable. For many, this community spirit is part of their identity. For many, this community connection is what they need for positive mental health. For others, the daily or weekly physical congregation gives them the discipline to stay involved in the community. Let’s make sure to invest more time and energy in our Masjid buddies, as well as in community building through congregational prayers and community service.
5. The spiritual rewards - We know from the Prophetic traditions that the reward of praying in a congregation is 27 times more than praying alone; that every step you take walking to the Masjid counts as a good deed and wipes out a sin; and that on the Day of Judgement, the heart of a believer that is connected to the Masjid will be given a shade from Allah on that difficult day.
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, "He who purifies (performs Wudu) himself in his house and then walks to one of the houses of Allah (mosque) for performing an obligatory prayer (Salat), one step of his will wipe out his sins and another step will elevate his rank (in Jannah)'' (Muslim). The next time you visit the Masjid, you will hopefully drive or walk with an intention of gaining rewards from Allah and attaining spiritual purification.
6. The volunteer opportunity - Almost every Masjid in the United States and Canada offers an opportunity to help out and give back to the community in some way. There are dozens of volunteers directing cars in the parking lot, ushering attendees in hallways, selling food, collecting donations, running food drives, setting up prayer spaces, and maintaining IT and social media platforms. Now that you have the opportunity to return to Allah’s house, why not volunteer your time and talent weekly?
7. The Sadaqa - While most people got used to giving donations online, the red Masjid donation box has been missing you! Most Masjids saw a significant decline in their funds during the pandemic. The next time a donation box is passed in your row, make sure not to skip the donation. Maybe Allah is testing our spirit of giving every Friday with these “annoying” donation announcements and boxes.
8. The Imam & Masjid administration - A typical Imam in the U.S. and Canada is underpaid and overworked. They are expected to be superheroes, available 24/7, teaching, preaching, leading prayers, community building, counselling, saving marriages, saving youth, saving lives, and saving souls. Most Imams and Masjid leaders were still super busy during the pandemic with online programming, counselling, and community services. Yet, like the institution of the Masjid, we took our Imams and Masjid boards and volunteers for granted. Let’s show deeper appreciation for the presence and blessings of an Imam and the leadership in your Masjid this time around.
The new Masjid Normal will be different and perhaps difficult to get used to in the beginning. But it’s a moment to be grateful to Allah for all of the benefits and blessings of the Masjid that we often ignored or belittled at times. As we embrace the new Masjid reality, let us be intentional about our spirituality, charity, and community building.
Thank You, Allah, for allowing us to witness the sight of Your Masjid once again.
Thank You, Allah, for letting our hearts be filled with serenity with the sounds of Adhan and the Imam’s recitation once again.
Thank You, Allah, for permitting us to be reminded with inspirational sermons once again.
O Allah, allow us to be grateful to You and to take care of Your Masjid with love and sincerity, Ameen.
O Allah, let us not be neglectful of Your House any more, Ameen.
O Allah, do not deprive us from Your Masjid any more, Ameen.
Taha Ghayyur, is a not-for-profit leader, writer, public speaker, and a host on Muslim Network TV. He serves as the Vice President at Sound Vision.