“…the only masjid which can be compared to a sparrow’s nest in its size, or even smaller than that, is the masjid of time – the times of prayer – for each time of prayer is limited and demands that it be filled according to its properly appointed hour. And in the given circumstances, this could also point to a corner of our homes that we allocate for congregational prayers…”
”These days, we are largely confined to our homes for prayers, thus the commandment of “putting [our] minds and bodies in a state of tidiness” takes on an incredible new meaning.
Once, the Promised Messiahas commented on the need for prioritising our time exclusively for prayer. The following quote forces us to seriously reconsider how we spend our time at home nowadays. He said:
“At most, Salat might occupy an hour, although some prayers do not even require 15 minutes to offer. Then, it is a matter of great astonishment that the time for prayer is considered a waste of time, while it possesses such an abundance of good and benefit. And if the entire day as well as night are wasted in vain and useless pursuits, or in frivolities and horseplay, it is referred to as “being busy”. If such people were possessed of firm faith, let alone firm; if they had any faith at all, then why would their conditions be so deplorable and why would it get to this point?” (Risalat-ul-Inzar [as reproduced in Malfuzat, Vol. 1, p. 164 – Urdu edition])
A secret hidden in a sparrow’s nest
One would be hard-pressed to find a Muslim who is not familiar with the all-too-famous narration of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa in which he stated, “Whoever builds a house for the sake of Allah, Allah will build a similar home for him in paradise.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab-ul-Masajid wa al-Jama‘ah)
However, there is a particularly intriguing version of this narration in which he also said:
“Whoever builds a masjid (mosque) for the sake of Allah, like a sparrow’s nest or even smaller, Allah will build for him a house in Paradise.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab-ul-Masajid wa al-Jama‘ah)
The glaring question is, “What masjid is like a sparrow’s nest or even smaller?” Obviously, this is a metaphor.
Firstly, it is an established fact that the word masjid also refers to the times of prayer. Secondly, the word used in the narration is derived from the root ‘ammara, which refers to “filling a place or span of time.” (Lane)
Hence, the only masjid which can be compared to a sparrow’s nest in its size, or even smaller than that, is the masjid of time–the times of prayer – for each time of prayer is limited and demands that it be filled according to its properly appointed hour. And in the given circumstances, this could also point to a corner of our homes that we allocate for congregational prayers.
The philosophy of prostration and a heavenly vehicle
In 2011, while addressing a decorated audience at the opening of Bait-un-Nasr Mosque in Oslo, Norway, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa explained:
“The Arabic word for the mosque is masjid, and masjid is derived from the Arabic word sajada, which literally means ‘he prostrated himself’. So, if we analyse the literal meaning of ‘mosque’, it leads us only towards a path of prayer and prostration.
“One question that naturally arises is how should such prostration be performed? The answer is that when a Muslim bows down in prayer, his whole body should be encompassed by absolute humility, and he should consider himself to be worthless. In this spirit of humility, he should prostrate before God with total submission and obedience. In this subservient state, he should pray to God that may He enable him to follow God’s every command, perfectly. Thus, this is what a true mosque is; a place of total humility to bow before God Almighty.”
The Promised Messiahas described the daily prayer with a beautiful metaphor which, quite literally, transports one to cloud nine. He stated:
“Truthfully speaking, the rule is that if man wishes to arrive at a particular destination, then he has to walk for this. Whatever the distance to his destination, he must need walk with the same brevity, effort, determination and time. So, to reach God is also a destination and its distance and length is extensive. Hence, for one who seeks to meet God and possesses a yearning to reach His Divine court, the daily prayer is a vehicle by riding which he can arrive there more quickly. And as for the one who abandons prayer, how will he ever make it there at all?” (Malfuzat, Vol. 3, p. 189)
And so, while in this time, the dictates of mercy demand that the doors of the physical masjid be temporarily closed to protect mankind from the risks of Covid-19, may Allah the All-Knowing enable each one of us to open up the doors of the masjid which exists within each one of our homes, each one of our timetables and indeed, in each one of our hearts–mosques made from the impassioned flames of Divine love, fueled by the oil of anticipation to see the glorious day that our beloved mosques are opened for us once again.
And this time, may the mosques on the ground and mosques in our hearts race unceasingly toward each other like long-lost lovers together again at last.
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