How many people have walked into their local masājid or Islamic centers, and then either fallen over backwards or scrambled for the door immediately, repulsed by the smell? Or stood horrified in shock at the disgusting state of the musallah? Unfortunately, too many. It is sad how common it is to find a masjid or Islamic center in bad conditions.
However, it is even sadder that people complain about it, use it as an excuse to not go to the masjid, but don't do anything about it. The masjid does not belong
to any one person or organization; it is a trust from Allāh to the entire Muslim community.
The problem is as follows:
people who go to the masjid – men, women, and children alike – go there, make a mess, don't clean up after themselves, and then have the gall to complain about it the next time they walk into the masjid and find it littered with crumbs, wrappers, and certain unidentifiable substances – or when the washroom is filthy with dirty sinks and unflushed toilets.
But you know what? We are those people. WE are the one who goes to the masjid. WE are the ones who do not put his/her shoes on the rack; the ones who don't flush after using the toilet; the ones who don't wipe up after ourselves after making wudhu; the ones whose children are running around unchecked, making a lot of noise and disturbing other people and leaving food crumbs lying around.
So don't complain. The next time you see that your masjid is a mess, why don't you clean it up? It's not going to kill you, you know. And please, don't have that, “It's not my mess!” mentality. If you see wrappers lying on the floor, pick them up and throw them in the garbage. If the floor has crumbs all over it, ask for a vacuum and vacuum it. If there is no vacuum, why don't you donate a vacuum to the masjid? It doesn't have to be a new vacuum or anything; any old one in working order will do. If the bathroom is filthy, take the time to clean it up. It will not hurt you. In fact, it will be a benefit to you, because inshā'Allāh you will be rewarded for that act of Sadaqah (charity), for the Prophet said: “Each person's every joint must perform a charity every day the sun comes up: to act justly between two people is a charity; to help a man with his mount, lifting him onto it or hoisting up his belongings onto it is a charity; every step you take to prayers is a charity; and removing a harmful thing from the road is a charity.” (Reported by Abu Hurairah and recorded by imām Bukhāri and Muslim.)
Also: Abu Hurairah narrated that: “A man or a woman used to clean the mosque.” (Most probably a woman according to a sub-narrator). According to another hadith, the Prophet offered her funeral prayer at her grave. [Sahih Bukhāri: Vol. 1, #450]
What we must realize is that each and every one of us has a responsibility to the masjid. It is Allāh's House, where we gather each day to worship Him. Should we not, then, care for it more than we care for our own houses? How many of us are concerned by the state of our houses – floors must always be clean, everything put away neatly, air smelling nice and fresh. Yet we let the masjid rot and we don't care. We don't even notice. And when we do notice, we place the blame on others and wash our hands of responsibility. This is wrong. It shouldn't be like this at all. The masjid should be more beloved of us than our own homes, and we should be caring for it more than we do our own homes. When we go to the masjid, after our first duty, the ṣalāh, has been fulfilled, then take another five minutes to look around and see what you can do. Vacuum, clean up the washroom, bring some perfume to cleanse the air of that sweaty food smell that's always hanging around. Even better, go to the imām or director of the masjid or Islamic centre and ask about the cleaning crew. Is there even a cleaning crew? If not, why don't you start one? Volunteer to come to the masjid an hour or two once or twice a week to clean up. Bring some friends to help! Make it sparkling clean and smelling fresh.
In fact, make it an occasion! Bring your children along to teach them the importance of the masjid and show them just how much we should care for it. If they're old enough and capable enough, give them a task to do – such as vacuuming a room or area, washing the sink, cleaning the floor – and then praise them and let them know what a good thing they did in the eyes of Allāh. If the children are still young, then you can still get them to help by doing simple things like picking up toys, or helping you by giving you what you need. Make the masjid as nice as possible. It doesn't matter that after a couple days it'll be messed again; the point is that you've done your part in caring for the House of Allāh and that you have done it for His sake.
However, besides this, there is another thing. Whenever a masjid or Islamic centre holds an event (whether or not it includes food), there is always a mess once it's over. Unfortunately, as soon as it's over everyone hightails it out of there, leaving the event organizers – who by that time are already sporting massive headaches – to clean up. I am sure that you have no idea just how grateful those organizers would be if you only offered to stay for even half an hour to help them clean up. Seriously, even one extra hand is appreciated by those hard-working event organizers. So, the next time you attend a fundraising dinner, an educational program, or any other event, ask the organizers if they need help (they usually do). When the program is finished, offer to help with the cleaning up.
This sort of thing is the responsibility of us all, and we all have to stand up and take responsibility for it individually. You can't have the 'someone else will do it' mentality because if we all waited for someone else to do it, no one would do it. So take the time: half an hour, an hour, two hours, whatever; and donate it Fee Sabilillaah – for the Sake of Allāh Subhaanahu wa Ta'aalah. Inshā'Allāh, it will benefit you in this life and in the Next.