by Salina Khan (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 42, No. 4, Rajab, 1434)
The cliques that run mosques in North America pursue their own narrow agendas without addressing the burning issues or paying attention to the needs of the people. This has resulted in alienating most Muslims.
My three sisters and I spent most of our weekends at our Islamic center, attending youth meetings, fundraising dinners and, of course, Sunday school, but I haven’t fallen in love with a masjid yet where I can continue that tradition with my kids.
And I’m not the only one.
According to a recent survey of American masjids, 90% of Muslims in America do not attend any of the 2,000-plus masjids across the country...
An upcoming documentary called UnMosqued, the Movie discusses widespread Muslim disenchantment with masjids in the United States. According to a recent survey of American masjids, 90% of Muslims in America do not attend any of the 2,000-plus masjids across the country. “Everyday, Muslims that have grown up with or near a masjid [mosque] are rethinking their committment to the Muslim community and dropping out. They are unMosqued [adjective coined from the term unchurched, which means not connected with a masjid],” as explained on www.unmosquedthemovie.com.
Indeed, the promotional teasers of the documentary, slated to be released later this year, indicate the film aims to highlight a multitude of reasons why Muslims (especially youth, reverts and second and third generation Muslims) are turning away from masjids. These include cultural bigotry, intolerance, marginalization of women and language barriers. Muslim leaders interviewed in the trailer include Suhaib Webb, Nouman Ali Khan and Waleed Basyouni.
But what the documentary does not promise to do is delve into the root problem of masjids across the world today.
But what the documentary does not promise to do is delve into the root problem of masjids across the world today. Like the munafiq-run and (Byzantine) Empire-backed Masjid al-Diraar at the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), most masjids today are controlled by the powerful elite establishment and support their hegemonic agenda. They are no longer centers of awareness, critical thinking and problem-solving focused on achieving their God-given mission of ending oppression and establishing social justice in society like they were supposed to be.
Allah (swt) says,
“And [there are munafiqs] who have established a [separate] masjid in order to create mischief, and to promote denial and rejection [of Allah’s authority], and disunity among the believers, and to provide an outpost for all who from the outset have been warring against Allah and His Apostle. And they will surely swear [to you, O Muslims], ‘We had but the best of intentions!’ —the while Allah [Himself] bears witness that they are liars” (9:107–108).
Our masjids don’t need to be reformed, as the filmmakers suggest. They need to be revolutionized. We can learn from Jesus, whose mother Mary (a) — one of the four perfect women of all times — was dedicated (bound) to the service of the masjid by her own mother while still in utero. Jesus taught us that all struggles for socio-economic justice in society begin with a cleansing of the “temple,” the God-centered power base from which truth, mercy, justice and peace should emanate in society. He embarked on his bid to purify society by first overturning the tables of the greedy and oppressive money-changers in the House of God in Jerusalem and throwing them out for good. “Consider your houses as way stations, and the masjids as your residences,” Jesus said. “Upon my life! You have directed yourself to what is other than God. What has corrupted you? Are you afraid of becoming lost if you direct yourself toward God.”
Indeed, the masjid needs to be transformed from the House of Empire back to the House of Allah (swt) by focusing on its ultimate mission of establishing social justice in society for the pleasure of Allah (swt). In the process, it will also be able to solve its many infrastructural problems as well as attract not only greater numbers of Muslims but also peace and justice-loving non-Muslims.
“The Qur’an is not a history book, it is not an entertainment scripture,” says scholar Muhammad al-‘Asi, imam of the Islamic Center in Washington. “The Qur’an presents us with the hard facts of life, and what happened at that first Masjid al-Diraar right now is happening at a much larger scale because that clique of munafiqs in Madinah at that time has become now the rulers in the Islamic world. And in the time of Allah’s Prophet (pbuh) they could not get away with building one masjid, but today they have gotten away with controlling 99% of the masjids in the world.”
In direct opposition to the teachings of Jesus, most Christian churches in America have for centuries supported the imperialist agenda by, if not actively encouraging genocide, slavery and war, then, remaining silent regarding them. Unfortunately, masjids have followed suit, and documentaries like UnMosqued are not doing anything to change that. In fact, one imam interviewed for the film declared, “The masajid should keep clear from politics abroad. The mosque must be a place of worship but it is not supposed to be a place to discuss politics.”
On the bright side, throughout American history there have been God-fearing people and religious organizations that remained committed to struggling for social justice in the harshest of times, such as the Quakers when they opposed slavery...
On the bright side, throughout American history there have been God-fearing people and religious organizations that remained committed to struggling for social justice in the harshest of times, such as the Quakers when they opposed slavery, the African American churches when they mobilized against racism, and the Methodist Church when it recently decided to boycott goods coming from illegal Israeli settlements. It is these groups that Muslims should study if they take the filmmakers’ advice to learn from other religious institutions “to see how their houses of worship are running and how they are catering to their respective constituencies.”
The late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority. If the church does not participate actively in the struggle for peace and for economic and racial justice, it will forfeit the loyalty of millions… If the church will free itself from the shackles of a deadening status quo and, recovering its great historic mission, will speak and act fearlessly and insistently in terms of justice and peace, it will renkindle the imagination of mankind and fire the souls of men, imbuing them with a glowing and ardent love for truth, justice, and peace.”
Ditto for masjids.
Salina Khan runs the blog: theperfectionistas.blogspot.com/