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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Spiritual Nuggets: The Mosque That COVID-19 Could not Close (Series 1)

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“…even if the doors of the masjid made from bricks and mortar are closed for some time, the masjid woven from the metaphysical fabric of time unravels its red carpet for us five times a day–Fajr, Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Ishai – each one, a literal masjid; each one, a time for prayer…”
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”While the extenuating circumstances brought upon us by Covid-19 have temporarily forced the doors of mosques, high and low, to be closed, there is another masjid whose doors still stand invitingly open, with welcoming arms for each one of us.

The question is, can we find it in time?

The Arabic word masjid, which is traditionally taken to mean the physical structure where Muslims offer their five daily prayers, contains a universe of profundity within itself. It does not merely convey the archetypal meaning of a physical structure, but also connotes the time of prayer. In fact, the word masjid follows the form ism zarf, which conveys the meaning of both the place as well as the time of its root word.

The illustrious and pioneer translators of the Holy Quran in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community – Hazrat Maulvi Sher Ali(ra) and Hazrat Sir Chaudhry Zafarulla Khan(ra) – have both incorporated the dimension of time into their respective translations of the word masjid.

Hazrat Maulvi Sher Ali(ra), for instance, for the following verse:

قُلۡ اَمَرَ رَبِّیۡ بِالۡقِسۡطِ ۟ وَ اَقِیۡمُوۡا وُجُوهکُمۡ عِنۡدَ کُلِّ مَسۡجِدٍ

translates it as:

“And say, my Lord has enjoined justice. And fix your attention aright at every time and placeof worship…” (Translation of Surah al-A‘raf, Ch.7: V.30)

Similarly, the august Hazrat Sir Chaudhry Zafarulla Khan(ra) translates the word masjid in a similar light. He writes:

“Tell them: My Lord has enjoined justice and that you fix your attention aright at every time and place of worship…” (Translation of Surah al-A‘raf, Ch.7: V.30)

The mosques made of time

It is marvelous how the language of the Holy Quran throws open galaxies of understanding which abound in the stars of spiritual and intellectual secrets.

While we may not be able to fill the physical structure called masjid in these days, we can certainly fill another mosque made from the intangible and imperceptible fabric of time. The truth is that by its very definition, each time of prayer is literally a masjid – one which waits in anxious anticipation for us to set aside our self-isolation and quarantine – activities and fill it with our “minds and bodies”.

And so, even if the doors of the masjid made from bricks and mortar are closed for some time, the masjid woven from the metaphysical fabric of time unravels its red carpet for us five times a day – Fajr, Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Ishai – each one, a literal masjid; each one, a time for prayer.

More fascinating still is the fact that God Almighty begins the above verse by inviting mankind towards justice. After all, what connection is there between an invitation to justice and offering prayers on time?

The word for justice in Arabic is ‘adl and the Promised Messiahas has defined this as “the putting or placement of a thing in its proper place at its proper time.” Hence, the very words with which Allah the Almighty opens the verse are a key to unearthing the troves of spectacular treasures contained therein.

The Promised Messiahas has explained that the concept of justice extends to God Almighty as well as His creation. So what does it mean – to do God justice? The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa explains that while offering our prayers, it is “to look at God as though you are seeing Him, and if not (this), then to pray as though He is looking at you.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Iman).

Promised Messiah
And so, even within the masjid erected by the walls of time, there are towering, lofty standards expected of us. In addition to being particularly focused in mind and body and establishing a pristine “tidiness” at our place of worship, a believer stands before his Lord as though he is looking at Him.

(to be continued)

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