One-day Workshop on
The Role of The Mosque, London (Part-1)
Dr. Mozammel Haque
One-day Workshop on the Role of the Mosque was organised by the Islamic Cultural Centre, London, in cooperation with the Masajid International Organisation, Riyadh, on Saturday, 4th of June 2016, at the Conference Hall of the Islamic Cultural Centre, London. The participants were from Mosques, Islamic centres and Islamic organisations. They attended the workshop in one way or the other as in the capacity of Imams, Directors, or may be responsible for any aspect of education in Mosque, or in the Muslim community. “Our event today is really very important; it is about the role, the purpose and the message of the mosque and that most of you are either working in mosque, Islamic organisations in one way or other as imams or directors, or may be responsible for any aspect of education,” said Dr. Ahmed al-Dubayan, the Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre, London, in his inaugural speech.
Dr. Ahmed al-Dubayan:
While speaking about the duties of the Mosque, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned, “We all know when Muslims come from anywhere, or go anywhere, the first thing they start to think is about the place of worship which is called, in Islam, in Arabic, Masjid or mosque; but of course, after living long times in the societies where the Muslim communities lived; now there are many Mosques grown up in the societies. These Mosques have various needs. These needs, of course, must be addressed by the Muslims and that’s why mosques are to expand their duties and expand their role in the societies.”
Duties of the Mosque
“You find some Mosques have only some course, for example, have courses on education; some mosques have even general services; some mosques have also social services, like marriage or whatever, arranging this, the marriage contract; some mosques give some more concentration on the youth, the young generation some of them; some mosques have classes on others,” mentioned Dr. al-Dubayan.
The ICC chief mentioned that there are some criticisms about the role of Mosques. He said, “Mosques have been also criticised by Muslims and by others also. Sometimes, the Mosques were criticised for lack of some duties; it is said, the message missing in this mosque about the new generation; about the societies itself. True mosques have been playing the role that is we need from them; or just they open their doors for everybody to pray.”
Mosque of the first generation of Islam
Speaking about the activities of Mosque in the early days of Islam, Dr. al-Dubayan said, “We all remember, of course, in the early days of Islam, the first generation, the Mosques were playing at that time as places for worship; as schools. All the great scholars of Islam were studied in these mosques in the history of Islam. And usually those who had problems used to go to Mosque. Think of the Prophetic Mosque (peace be upon him) in the Madinah Al-Munawwarah, Muslim community started to go there; they used to sit in the Mosque, to meet delegation; and also act sometimes as judges; the mosque was acted as a court at that time. Of course, in the new modern society, we have many organisations, many ministries who have taken lots of these duties in the modern times. But the mosques still have subjects to be discussed.”
Purpose & Partner of this Workshop
Speaking about the purpose of this workshop on the Role of the Mosque and the partners in this Workshop, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned, “What is the main purpose of this workshop today? Why we are called and invited here today? You are invited here today to discuss; we would like to hear from you your contribution. Dear brothers and sisters it is important that we actually try to form vision about how our mosques want to work to be. Your contributions today would be really very very important.”
“Our partner in this Workshop today is the Riyadh-based Masajid International organisations, affiliate of Muslim World League, Makkah al-Mukarramah. It’s a new organisation actually founded only a few years ago and their works focus only on masajid, on mosques. We here, at the Islamic Cultural Centre, of course, do a lot of things; it is also our duty to highlight this area which we wanted to be highlighted,” said Dr. Al-Dubayan about the Masajid International Organisation.
Aims of this Workshop
Speaking about the aims and objectives of the Masajid International Organisation, Dr. Al-Dubayan mentioned, “The Masajid International Organisation aims to prepare documents on mosques. This document will define the role and will give advice to Muslims in the societies; will give advice to the Muslim rulers, leaders how the mosques are supposed to operate; what duties they should perform the new dimension; or new needs arisen out of new situation which now we need to take in this discussion. So that is the main purpose of this workshop.”
Workshop throughout the world
Speaking about this workshop, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned that Masajid International Organisation has been organising this type of Workshop throughout the world. He said, “Workshop has been held in South America, North America; and there will be another one in some counties in England, in India and of course here today. We are having today in London to collect these inputs from Muslims as many as we can. Then finally all these inputs will become one document.”
“It would be very important for everybody; it would be useful for every organisation, for every mosque; it would be useful for those who manage mosque; it would be useful also for those who are in the level of management in the mosque. We have some complications. We know; some people like to run mosque in an old-fashined way. It is very plain simple way which does not meet the needs of the societies. There are also those who want to take the whole mosque like to be school. There are also those who have different opinions about this. So we need today from everybody all your advices, all your inputs, all what you think mosque should do in the societies, in the UK today. This is very very important,” said Dr. Al-Dubayan.
What People think about Mosque
Speaking about people and mosque, Dr. Al-Dubayan mentioned about different opinions of different people about the mosque. He said, “I am sure when we are talking about mosque we talk about people. There are people who think mosque should only be a place for worship; there are those who think mosque should really be open for an organisation or for everything; which is, of course, practically not possible.”
Recollecting his memory when he first came to run this Centre, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned; “I remember when I came to this place I almost found it has been doing many many things, different things, starting from circumcision for boys, funeral services etc; (some of them have been stopped long time ago); but when we see this we notice that there are these views that where they think Islamic centre should not do everything. Schools or kindergartens – are this the role of the mosques? Or the mosques should take another dimension.”
Speaking about the modern time, modern age, the information age, when information is available everywhere, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned, “Of course, we know in modern times we have new things. Now we are attending in the real beginning of the information age. Now we have information from everywhere; where we have no borders of information around the world. We expect lots of changes in the societies, not only in the Muslim societies but everywhere in the world. Many countries in the world ready to plan for change; start to plan for change in social life based on the information now exploding around us. Internet is now playing a big important role in our life. It will also play a more and more role in the life of the new generation. You have seen your children, your daughters, yours sons now are spending, in a way or another, some time during the day hours; have also spent in this new technological devices, enter into communication with other people; with us living here or may be in another part of the world.”
Need to Revise for the future of Mosque
Under the circumstances, when so much changes have been taking place, especially in the information world, Muslim world has to think about the future of their organisation, future of their Mosques as well as future of the country. Speaking about the future of Mosques, Dr. Al-Dubayan said, “Now we need to revise our duties; to revise for the future of Islamic organisations, for the future of mosques in this country. I hope what we will get from you today will be, Insha Allah, written; will be formed in a way beneficial, not only for the Muslims in the UK, but also for all Muslims everywhere. InshaAllah when other Muslims in other countries have their inputs, that would be useful for us; find it suitable in this society. And, of course, there are differences in the cities, in the countries in the regulations and in the nature itself. May be, there is a need in London which is not necessary in New Delhi, India or may be, in the United States or in South America or in the Middle East. There are different trends and we think mosque should always try to meet the need of the society; not to try to play the role out of imagination; role which does not exist in reality itself.”
The ICC Chief expressed his thanks to all those brothers and sisters who came out of their homes on this Saturday weekend to attend and participate in this workshop for the benefit of the community. He prayed to Allah the Almighty to bless them all and said that somebody has to do this job so that everybody can enjoy better life and all these atrocities around the world may be stopped Insha Allah.
Themes of the Workshop
This particular workshop is going to be interactive to your opinions and your intentions in term of the role of the mosque. This is organised by the Islamic Cultural Centre, London in cooperation with the Masajid International Organisation Riyadh. There are five main themes; first of all, determining the issues and challenges regarding the mosque, focusing on universal guidelines in administering the Mosque.
Session two: preparing some of the guidelines, justice and practical rulings regarding the Mosque; and also discussing interactively the social and juridical role of the mosque.
The fourth point is about the opinions of the Muslims about the role of the masajids and the issues that are faced by the mosques and the final theme would be to reflecting on the new challenges that the imams may encounter in playing their role in the mosque with specific reference to the western context.
Dr. Ahmed Al-Dubayan in his introductory speech said we will divide you into five groups; each group will have only we have sisters they are sitting there in group to discuss about the first point; the first point would be juristic and practical rulings regarding the mosque. [To be continued]