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Responsibility to the Masaajid

Zainab (AnonyMouse)

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broom.jpgHow many people have walked into their local Masaajid 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 Allah to the entire Muslim community.

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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 insha’Allah 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 Imam Bukhari 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 al-Bukhari: Vol. 1, #450]

What we must realize is that each and every one of us has a responsibility to the Masjid. It is Allah’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 Salaah, 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 Imam 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 Allah. 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 Allah 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 Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalah. Insha’Allah, it will benefit you in this life and in the Next.

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Zainab bint Younus is a Canadian Muslim woman who writes on Muslim women's issues, gender related injustice in the Muslim community, and Muslim women in Islamic history. She holds a diploma in Islamic Studies from Arees University, a diploma in History of Female Scholarship from Cambridge Islamic College, and has spent the last fifteen years involved in grassroots da'wah. She was also an original founder of MuslimMatters.org.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Mujahideen Ryder

    March 28, 2007 at 1:33 PM

    Our masjid has a paid cartaker, who mashaAllah keeps the masjid really beautiful. Like I actually want to use the bathroom there. hahahaha. sorry might be a nasty joke.

    But other masjids I been too, especially in the city, are not community centers they are just places where ppl go to pray during there break for work or etc. This masajid are pretty dirty. It’s hard becuase majority of the Muslims who go to these masajid just want to pray and go back to work. So people won’t even care if its dirty or not, cuz technically speaking its not ‘there’ masjid. there masjid would be where ever they live.

    thats just nyc though. it prob doesnt apply to other places.

  2. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    March 28, 2007 at 2:02 PM

    Perhaps I should’ve mentioned that I originally wrote this sometime last year, for my local Muslim newspaper, and was primarily addressing the ‘dirty masjid’ issue of my city… I didn’t have the time to write something new, so I was going through some of my old stuff and thought this was general enough to post here.

    -Mouse

  3. Avatar

    iMuslim

    March 28, 2007 at 3:46 PM

    Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah

    Wow, i was thinking of this exact, same topic, today! Most likely because someone made a mess in our hospital’s prayer room.

    Our prayer room is quite, er, ‘cosy’, so it doesn’t take much to keep it clean, mashallah. Funnily enough, it is the brothers who usually give it the once over, on Jumuah, i believe. It is only a prayer room for people like me, but for some brothers, it is their local masjid, because they live opposite the hospital.

    The problem we have is an awful smell. This is because we have a washroom connected to the prayer room, which has two sinks for making wudhu (no toilet, thank Allah!). However this washroom does not have an extractor fan, or a window that can be opened. Usually we just keep a normal fan running, to try and get an air flow going. In Summer, it is fine, because we keep the fire escape door open, and that keeps the air circulating and fresh. However, in Winter, we can’t really do this, not for long periods, anyway, and that’s when we tend to suffer!

    Canned air fresheners are only a temporary solution, and the continuous release perfume plug-ins tend to build up in the atmosphere, and become overpowering! What we really need is decent ventilation, but because it is NHS property, we can’t do what we like… so we must continue to strive in our olfactory jihad! hehe

  4. Avatar

    abu h

    March 28, 2007 at 4:06 PM

    Remind me of my old Masjid/musalla… the women side was always very clean. They get all the new carpet, and put nice setup. But when it came to ramadan iftaar… the whole place would stink of food. During the month the woman side get worse, and it seems sisters too hungry in the month to clean up :)

    It was nice finger pointing between brothers and sisters, who has cleaner side, and who cleans up afterwards?

    Why people don’t think of the masajids like they take care of their home (should be even better for masjid), I dont understand? It is sad but true. They come, they pray and the leave as if servants will clean after they left.

    The bathroom is worse thing in masjids usually. Esp. sometimes we have our tabligi brothers, esp if they come from like overseas pakistan, india, etc… they have different way of using toilets… They dont do delibrately, but there is big mess sometimes. But we still love them… they are very nice :)

  5. Avatar

    nuqtah

    March 28, 2007 at 5:16 PM

    Humm, our masjid is quiet clean actually, minus the bathroom- which can be nasty sometimes.

  6. Avatar

    Aidan Qassim

    March 28, 2007 at 5:33 PM

    I have a question, being from Southern California, I get the sense that the Muslim community out here is a bit more “liberal” and “professional” and “progressive”- just using those words in a loose fashion- but none the less, it does seem like we have a different approach to maintaining and running masajids, as well as the way the community functions.

    I think the last time i got this feeling as written in this post was in the late 1990’s like 1998 or something, I have not gone to a masajid and felt that way for a long time…unless….yes-UNLESS- it was some where in the outlying areas, outside the state or a small start up community mosque trying to get established.

    Is that why some of the mosques are this way? Have not travelled outside the West coast to much, but have been around to get this feel, and its not like I have regional pride or anything.

  7. Avatar

    Umm Layth

    March 28, 2007 at 9:10 PM

    In our community, the main masjid really is taken care of by a dear sister, may Allaah make her affairs easy on her, aameen.

    She’s Jamaican and a revert and an older sister. She does such a great job in keeping the entire Masjid clean, masha’Allaah, but it saddened me that people would complain even after she started working there. She did such an awesome job and still had to work other jobs to take care of herself and so if she fell behind for just a day, you would hear sisters saying, “Why is it so nasty?”

    I taught my son that he needs to clean up after himself every single time but I swear that it upsets me when the girls come in there to make wudhu’ for salah and they just leave it a mess. The sandals are all over the place, the paper towels are all over the floor and what not. I would have the younger girls clean up after themselves when I was in there but why couldn’t these teenagers or older sisters apply it without being told? Why would you complain about a mess that you are to blame for?

    I remember my son saw some pictures of animals drawn on the bathroom walls and he even got angered and goodness the child is 3. He told me, “Mama, we aren’t supposed to draw animals or draw on the walls!!!” and I felt proud but at the same time so disappointed.

    I asked this sister if I had her permission to post a big sign that says, “CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELVES AS THAT IS A PART OF IMAN” but she said she preferred not and that she would just do her job. But she was irritated at the behavior. And this is just some of the stuff – there is even nastier stuff that you would expect people would know – sort of like ABC’s of cleanliness.

  8. Avatar

    Tariq Nelson

    March 29, 2007 at 6:43 AM

    I really can’t say that the masjid closet to me is filthy either as it also has paid staff to clean it, masha Allah.

    Nonetheless, this is excellent advice Jazak Allah khair

  9. Amad

    Amad

    March 29, 2007 at 6:57 AM

    Hmm… so it seems from the experiences here:

    Paid/Hired Caretaker = Clean Masjid

    Do-it-yourself-depend-on-us = Dirty Masjid

    I bet though that those who have paid caretakers (esp. if they are old Masajids) used to depend on us Muslims before they recognized that it wasn’t happening, so they hired help; probably a good move.

    So, really, what does that say about us? What does that say about our attachment to the Masjid? I am asking everyone, including myself, to think about this sincerely. If anything, this post picks up on the desired connection with the Masjid, so perhaps next time, when the Masjid admin or even the paid caretaker asks for a hand, we will run forward with not one, but both hands.

  10. Avatar

    Ruth Nasrullah

    March 29, 2007 at 8:33 AM

    I would add that if we compare our masajid to churches or synagogues we should be ashamed.

    In some masajid the greater issue is money management. If the books aren’t being kept properly and responsibly and if there isn’t accountability for money coming in and how it’s spent there won’t be money to pay a caretaker’s salary. If physical improvements are made with no plan for maintaining them the place will fall apart eventually anyway.

    I have recently been going to my masjid far less because of the chaos that reigns there. Ironically, if I want to go to a house of worship that’s clean and quiet, where you can leave food out without fear of people taking it for themselves, where the kids aren’t running and screaming and damaging things, and where the women really participate in how the masjid is run I’d have to go to a church.

  11. Avatar

    Moiez

    March 29, 2007 at 8:55 AM

    Subhanallah the point is clean up after yourselves and stop criticizing people. Suck it up and just do it. Inshallah I’m gonna increase my efforts even if I see something small and hopefully everyone else will too. Lets go Muslims! :)

  12. Avatar

    BintMuhammed

    March 29, 2007 at 1:30 PM

    Assalamualaykum
    Wow wat an interesting topic, I am reading this just as I was about to get out of the house and go clean the masjid. Our masjid is new and doesnt have any caretakers/janitors so I guess they depend on the people to clean it. No one ever asked me to clean it, I just took it upon myself to do it, and walah if i missed one day then I doubt anyone would clean it.

    It drives me nuts when people think that cleaning after themselves is the hardest thing they ever had to do. Another thing is when mothers bring their children to the masjid and dont look after them and dont care what havoc and mess their children create. They think that there is some imaginary care taker who will clean it.

    For the person who mentioned churches are cleaner, I would agree with you. Churches are cleaner because their usually only full one day of the week and if their is mess created on that day the well paid janitor cleans it. Plus churches dont ask anyone to take off their shoes, i think thats where the havoc usually starts. When was the last time wudu was made at a church, one of the reasons why washrooms are soo dirty, no one knows how to make proper wudhu.

    Neways thats my two cents
    wasalamualaykum

  13. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    March 29, 2007 at 3:53 PM

    As-salaamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatu,

    To tell the truth, I was pretty surprised to see the responses! From this I’ve concluded that larger masaajid, which cater to larger Muslim populations, are the cleanest because they can afford to pay caretakers; whereas smaller masaajid (like the one in my old city *and* my new one) which depend upon volunteers tend to be a little, erm, messier. This is, of course, just a generalization…

    iMuslim: LOL @ olfactory jihad! :D

    Abu h: Heehee, at my old Islamic centre it was always the women who made the biggest mess, but who also cleaned up the best! We definitely enjoyed pointing that out to the men, who always moaned and groaned about the slightest things… :D
    Eurgh, I agree – bathrooms are generally the worst place in the masaajid! My father and I both have low tolerance for dirty bathrooms, so either we’d clean the place up first, or go somewhere else altogether! Now that we have our own place for the madrasah, though, we’re quite strict about the bathrooms… before every class, it’s thoroughly cleaned – toilet bowl, toilet seat, and Lysol on all surfaces! Man, the cleaning supply companies are probably making a killing out of us…
    But guess who has to do all the cleaning?! Yup, yours truly! :P

    Aidan Qassim: Hmmmm, interesting point! Maybe it goes back to being able to afford a caretaker… in both my old and new city, the masjid is pretty small, and the people who attend are generally poorer immigrants, and volunteers are required for pretty much everything.

    Umm Layth: Yes, from what I’ve find out, it’s an older sister who undertakes the enormous task of cleaning out the women’s musallah area here as well… and it’s extremely sad to see people complain about the state of the area (before and after cleaning), when they don’t bother to do anything about it themselves. Awwwww, masha’Allah about your son! At least *he* knows what’s right and what’s not…

    Ruth Nasrullah: That’s a good point about managing finances, although I think that would apply more to the larger masaajid…

    Moiez: Al-Hamdulillaah! :) I know from experience that even just ONE person doing something small to help out with the cleaning actually makes a pretty big difference!

    BintMuhammad: One of the things that annoy me the most is when you ask someone to help you clean up, maybe by picking up even just ONE candy wrapper or something small like that, and they give you this look and go, “That’s not mine!” Then they turn their back on you before you can explain that it doesn’t matter whose mess it is, it affects all of us.

    D’you think it might help if someone asked the imam of the masjid to mention this issue to the congregation at some time? I think it’s a good idea, but not sure how effective it’d be because I’ve seen waaaaay too many times how someone will tell the people something, and the people all nod and go, “Yes, that’s a good point, etc.” but then never follow it up with actions!

  14. Avatar

    Umm Layth

    March 29, 2007 at 11:51 PM

    It is a good idea to mention it. I personally know it has been mentioned in previous khutbahs in this specific masjid but to no avail.

    Muslims tend to hear but allow it to go in through one ear and out the other.

    We are a sad Ummah.

  15. Avatar

    Pendarth

    March 30, 2007 at 1:54 AM

    As salaam alaikum,

    Interesting topic and suggestions.

    In my opinion, finances and paid-caretakers are not the way to go. Although they may expedite the resolution of the problem in the short term — for it is not the sunnah of the prophet s.a.w.

    The solution, for this and many other ills, lies (imho) in encouraging the ummah with targheeb of the virtues of cleaning the masaajid – “those who clean the masjid of allah s.w.t., allah will clean their hearts,” the rewards of picking up just one piece of “garbage”, the status of the khadim of the masjid on the day of qiyamat, etc… If only we truly “knew” (and realized) the rewards of the acts that allah s.w.t. has proscribed for us – for our own benefit – I doubt there would be any who would forego such a great service.

    I am sure the ulema in the local masajid would know a lot more about the promises of allah s.w.t. and his prophet s.a.w. on the rewards for those who help keep the house of allah s.w.t. clean and presentable – I am not an ‘alim. They, would – I should think – be more than happy to devote one fridays khutba to it’s benefits and virtues.

    Was salaam,
    Taalib duaa.

  16. Avatar

    ِAbu Bakr

    March 31, 2007 at 11:17 PM

    Subhanallah, its sad to see the state Muslims are in today when even the Houses of Allah, the most beloved of all places on the Earth to Allah are not respected. Even the mushrikin used to boast about being the caretakers of al-Masjid al-Haram. May Allah forgive us and guide us all

  17. Avatar

    UmmTaymiyyah

    April 1, 2007 at 5:25 PM

    BintMuhammad: Alhamdulilah i think you do a beautiful job cleaning the Masjid May Allah Reward you for it.

  18. Avatar

    khawla hurayrah

    April 2, 2007 at 8:39 AM

    Assalamu’alaikum
    May Allah forgive us!!!
    Clealiness is half of Imaan. This shows that we are lacking this half. Want to know the state of the Ummah? Look at piles of trash being left in the Masjid al Haram AND in Mina, AND in Arafat, AND in…… during Hajj time. Simple etiquette of cleaning up after ourselves should start from early childhood….i.e. it all boils down to good parenting.
    May Allah grant us righteous children and make us grateful parents.

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