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Reviving the Role of the Masjid | Part 1 | Dr Hatem Al Haj

Dr. Hatem El Haj M.D Ph.D



Written by Dr. Hatem AlHaj


As the primary religious institution, the masjid has the greatest role in community building, and its success in performing this role is essential for the wellbeing of the community, particularly where Muslims live as minorities. Sadly, the role of the masjid in many Muslim communities around the globe has recently been reduced to being a physical place where prayers are offered. It is time to reverse that trend and revive the role of this institution to what it was in the early history of Islam. Such a revival cannot be fully realized without first developing a clear understanding from the revelation, the Qur’an and Sunnah, about the importance, virtue, and role of the masjid in Islam.

The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,

“خَيْرُ البِقَاعِ المَسَاجِدُ وشَرُّهَا الأَسْوَاقُ

“The best patches [of earth] are the masājid and the worst are the markets.” [Reported by Ibn Hibbân]

Thus, Allah chose His Prophets to establish them, He said,

“وَإِذْ يَرْفَعُ إِبْرَاهِيمُ الْقَوَاعِدَ مِنَ الْبَيْتِ وَإِسْمَاعِيلُ”

“And [mention] when Abraham was raising the foundations of the House and [with him] Ishmael.”

[Q 2:127]

And He commanded them to purify them and keep them clean, He said,

وَعَهِدْنَا إِلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ أَن طَهِّرَا بَيْتِيَ”

“And We charged Abraham and Ishmael, [saying], “Purify My House…” [Q 2:125]

Furthermore, Allah made the reward of building the masājid most abundant. Regarding this, the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,

“من بَنَى لله مَسْجِدًا ولو كَمَفْحَصِ قَطَاةٍ بَنَى الله له بَيْتًا في الْجَنَّةِ

“Whoever builds a mosque for Allah, though it be the size of the ground nest of a sand-grouse, Allah will build for him a house in Paradise.” [Ibn Mâjah]

Allah made the masājid a refuge for the hearts of His righteous servants, as the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “There are seven [types of people] whom Allah will protect with His Shade, on the Day [of Resurrection] when there will be no shade except His Shade.” Of them is, “A person whose heart is attached to the masjid.”

It should suffice the caretakers of the masājid that Allah praised them with this description,

“إِنَّمَا يَعْمُرُ مَسَاجِدَ اللَّهِ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَلَمْ يَخْشَ إِلَّا اللَّهَ فَعَسَى أُولَئِكَ أَنْ يَكُونُوا مِنَ الْمُهْتَدِينَ

“The mosques of Allah are only to be maintained by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and establish prayer and give zakah and do not fear except Allah, for it is expected that those will be of the [rightly] guided.” [Q 9:18]

It was not a coincidence that the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) started his mission in Madinah by building the masjid, which he made in its center.

The masjid takes its name from one of the actions of salât (prayer), which is sujood (prostration). It is the action wherein the believer shows the utmost humility to Allah. The salat is the best of our actions, as the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) told us in the hadith of Thawbân. However, the role of the masjid is not limited to the performance of salat. The masājid should be places wherein Muslims learn how to prostrate their hearts before Allah, and not only their bodies. They are places of tarbiyah (refinement) of the Muslim character.

To the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his Companions, the masjid was not only a place where they prayed, but it was also a place where they learned, recited the Qur’an, made dhikr (remembrance) and du‘a’ (supplication), met with each other, socialized, received the delegations, prepared the expeditions and raised funds for various good causes. In fact, it was sometimes even a place for tending to the sick, and a shelter for the homeless. In the physical world, it was at the center of their lives. At the same time, it was the cradle of their learning and spiritual growth.

Whatever can be said about the importance of the masjid for Muslim communities throughout the world it is even more magnified when we talk about the Muslim minorities, to whom the masjid is truly the ark of Noah. In America, for example, Muslims are a small minority scattered throughout a large continent. For some of them, weeks or months may pass by without getting a chance to see another Muslim except in the masjid. The masjid, therefore, constitutes the link between them and their deen (religion). In it, they develop that emotional bond with their community, which is vital to the wellbeing of their allegiance to the ummah and faith in Allah. Many youth may find in the masjid the role models they lack at home. In addition to this, for Muslims to see a masjid– especially the youth who did not grow up in Muslim countries–is vital because it’s the most evident symbol of Islam in their tangible world.

The pressing question now is how to revive the role of the masjid in our times, particularly where Muslims live as minorities? Here are some of the things we need to do as a community –

I.      We need to educate ourselves regarding what may be done at the masjid

To begin with, one must emphasize that the primary actions in the masjid are salat (prayers), dhikr (mention of Allah), du‘a’ (supplication), tilawah (recitation), and ta‘leem (education). In light of that, priority must be given to the main jama’at (congregants) of the masjid and activities led by the designated imam. Those who do anything else, or do something other than what the main jama’at does, should not cause disruption. Abu Sa’eed narrated that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was in i‘tikaf and heard them raising their voices with recitation, so he said,

“ألا إن كلكم مناج ربَّه، فلا يؤذينَّ بعضكم بعضاً، ولا يرفع بعضكم على بعضٍ في القراءة” أو قال: “في الصلاة”

“Each one of you is in munâjâh (soft conversation) with his Lord, so don’t bother one another, and don’t raise your voices above each other in recitation (or salât).” [Abu Dawud]

If it is prohibited for someone who is praying or reciting the Qur’an to bother the other worshipers, then it is more prohibited for someone doing something inferior to that to bother them.

Having said that, there is still room for much to be done at the masjid, and while many actions are prohibited in it, such as conducting business, advertising, announcing lost items, many other practices are thought to be prohibited when they are not. Some of us Muslims have this mental image of the masjid as a sterile, extremely quiet place where people pray together and disperse thereafter. This causes some to enforce many restrictions in the masjid that would eventually make it an unwelcoming place for children and families, and even to adult men. However, a tour through the masjid of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) during his time may help us rid ourselves of this false conviction.

1)    Talking and socializing in the masjid of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him):

Jâbir ibn Samurah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said,

“كان لا يقوم من مصلاّه الذي صلى فيه الصبح أو الغداة حتى تطلع الشمس، فإذا طلعت الشمس قام، وكانوا يتحدثون فيأخذون في أمر الجاهلية فيضحكون ويتبسّم

“He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would not rise from his place where he prayed subh (the dawn prayer) until the sun rises, and when it rose, he would then stand up. They used to chat with one another, even about matters that happened to them in jahiliyyah (before Islam), and they would laugh and he ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would smile.” [Reported by Muslim and Ahmad, and in Ahmad’s report, Jâbir said that he witnessed this more than one hundred times]

2)    Eating in the masjid of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him):

‘Abdullâh ibn al-Harith raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said,

“كنا نأكل على عهد رسول الله r في المسجد الخبز واللحم”

“We used to eat bread and meat in the masjid during the time of the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).” [Ibn Mâjah]

3)    Playing in the masjid of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him):

Â’ishah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said,

“لقد رأيت رسول الله r يوماً على باب حجرتي والحبشة يلعبون في المسجد، ورسول الله r يسترني بردائه، أنظر إلى لعبهم”

“I have seen the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) one day at the door of my house, while the Abyssinians were playing in the masjid, and the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was covering me with his garment to watch their playing.” [Agreed Upon]

4)    Sleeping over and staying in the masjid of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him):

Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) told us that before his marriage, he used to sleep in the masjid of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). [Agreed Upon; al-Bukhâri collected it in “The Book of Salat: Chapter on Men Sleeping in the Masjid,” and Muslim collected it in “The Book of the Virtues of the Companions: Chapter on the Virtues of Ibn ‘Umar]

‘Â’ishah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) also told us that a tent was set up for an emancipated black girl in the masjid. [Collected by al-Bukhâri in “The Book of Salat: Chapter on Women Sleeping in the Masjid]

It is also known that Ahl as-Suffah used to stay in the masjid, and they were about seventy men, as reported by Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him). [Collected by al-Bukhâri in “The Book of Salat: Chapter on Men Sleeping in the Masjid]

5)    Tending to the sick in the masjid:

‘Â’ishah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said,

“أصيب سعد يوم الخندق فضرب عليه رسول الله r خيمة في المسجد ليعوده من قريب”

“Saad [ibn Mu’âdh] was wounded on the day of the [battle of] trench, so the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) set up a tent for him so that he may be close to him to visit him [often].” [Agreed Upon; Collected by al-Bukhâri in “The Book of Salat: Chapter on Setting Up a Tent in the Masjid,” and Muslim collected it in, “The Book of Jihad”]

6)    Women at the masjid of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him):

The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was well aware of the praiseworthy protective jealousy of the men of his nation. Still, he was careful not to let this protectiveness become a reason for Muslim women to be deprived of the chance to visit the house of their Lord. On the authority of Ibn ‘Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“لا تَمْنَعُوا إِمَاءَ اللَّهِ مَسَاجِدَ اللَّهِ.”

“Do not prevent Allah’s slave-women from going to Allah’s masājid.” [Muslim]

Even though the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) indicated in an authentic hadith (reported by Abu Dawood, al-Hakim, Ibn Khuzaymah, and others) that it is better for a woman to pray in her home than to pray in the masjid, the mothers of the believers and the believing women used to go out to the masjid of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)! They wouldn’t do what is inferior, so they must have understood that this instruction is to say that women are not meant to go to the masjid five times a day like men, and to assure women who need to be at home, that they will not miss the reward of jama’at. The reward of their praying at home will be greater than their prayer at the masjid, but this applies to situations when there is nothing to do at the masjid but prayer. If there are other benefits such as learning, for example, then it may be better, overall, to pray at times at the masjid.

7)    Children at the masjid of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him):

Imam Ahmad reported from Abi Bakrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) that he said,

كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يصلي بالناس، وكان الحسن بن علي رضي الله عنهما يثب على ظهره إذا سجد، ففعل ذلك غير مرة”

“The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used to lead the people in prayer, and al-Hassan ibn ‘Ali would jump on his back when he prostrated, and he did that more than once.” [Ahmad]

Al-Bukhari and Muslim also reported from Abu Qatâdah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) prayed at the masjid while carrying Umâmah bint Zaynab, and he would put her down when he made sujood.

As expected, it was not only the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) who brought his children to the masjid. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would even shorten his prayers at times when he heard the crying of a child, out of mercy for his mother.

8)    Non-Muslims entering the masjid:

It is known that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used to receive the delegations in the masjid. It has also been reported that a delegation of the Christians of Najrân stayed over at his masjid. It was also collected by al-Bukhari in “The Book of Salat: Chapter on Major Ablution,” that Thumâmah ibn Uthâl was kept in the masjid for a few days.

Muslims should reach out to everyone around them, and we should invite them to the masjid. Seeing it from inside, and watching the Muslims pray together, is likely to remove much of the fear generated by the anti-Muslim forces to define peoples’ perception of Islam and its people. The masjid should be a center for Sharia-compliant interfaith communication and dialogue. Furthermore, we should initiate, participate in, and further all activities of benefit for the communities we live in. If the Islamic center has the appropriate facilities, meetings to discuss issues of common interest should be held at the masjid, such as neighborhood safety endeavors, drug-free zones, and the like.

Having said all of that, it is paramount that we put all of these reports in their right context and understand that the main function of the masājid is still salât and dhikr. The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said to the man who urinated in the masjid,

“إن المساجد لم تبن لهذا وإنما بنيت لذكر الله وإقامة الصلاة.”

“The masājid have not been built for such purposes; they were built for the remembrance of Allah and establishment of the prayers.” (source?)

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) forbade all activities that will impede the proper establishment of these functions, to the point that he forbade people who ate garlic or onion from coming to the masjid in order to provide the best environment for those who seek to worship their Lord and engage in His munâjah (subtle conversation). It is therefore important that we keep the masājid clean and decrease the distractions as much as possible. If we could move some of these functions outside the prayer hall (masjid proper) to nearby rooms, then that would be warranted. The children must also be instructed about the etiquettes of the masjid. If possible, we should designate areas for them where they could be best tended to and positively entertained.


Dr. Hatem AlHaj is an AMJA scholar, a pediatrician and a PhD in Islamic Shariah. 

Dr. Hatem Al-Haj has a PhD in Comparative Fiqh from al-Jinan University. He is a pediatrician, former Dean of the College of Islamic Studies at Mishkah University, and a member of the permanent Fatwa Committee of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).



  1. Avatar

    Umm Hadi

    December 20, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    Masha Allah, May Allah accept all our efforts.

  2. Avatar

    Tadar Wazir

    December 21, 2014 at 9:23 AM


    Allah tells us in Surah Al-Anbiya’, 21; and Surah Al-Mu’minuun, 23 that from the Prophet Noah – Jesus (a.) including Prophet Muhammad (s.) – and by extension his followers – that we are one (1) ummah, He is our LORD, and that we are to give Him His proper due.

    Immediately after these, very slightly differently worded statements Allah tells us that it is man who causes the divisions. And Allah tells us in Surah Al-Mu’minuun, 23 immediately after that statement, that we are to leave them in their confused ignorance for a time.

    One must reflect on Allah’s teaching us in Surah Al-Ma’edah, 5 that if He wanted us to all be only one (1) religious Way to Be He would have made it that way. But He gave us each our own book, which we are to be judged by, our separate and individual law, and our separate and individual Way to Be. And Allah tells us that we are to use these to strive as if in a race towards all that is good for man.

    Allah tells us in Surah Al-Hajj, 22 that the people of prior revelations were called Muslims, and so are the adherents of His Qur’an. We must make our individual public announcement of our voluntary acceptance of Allah as our Deity, and Al-Islam as our Way to Be, and not have the Shahadatain reduced to mere ritual.

    Matters will be judged by intention, and we can palpably see that the Muslim world at-large does not have a clue about the meaning and value of the Shahadatain.

    Then we will have to humble ourselves, sincerely pray to Him for our needs to be handled by Him, seek His face (presence – know that He sees us although we can not see Him), and change from our wicked ways, then He will hear us and bless us.

    May Allah bless us to learn these lessons, and then be willing to apply them in ways that are pleasing and acceptable to Him? Ameen.

  3. Avatar


    December 21, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    The most pressing issue in our masaajids is the question of equitable space for women. Very little space is provided for women in most of the mosques I have visited. As a result, we have a whole generation of unmosqued women who have abandoned the masjid. We also need to remove this stupid barrier between men and women. There were no such barriers in the mosque of the prophet (pbuh) at his time and so it is a bid’a. We also need to empower Muslim women in the committee boards of the masaajid.


    • Avatar

      Abu Haazim

      December 21, 2014 at 5:10 PM

      My 2 cents advice for you: calling something “stupid” without sufficient knowledge does not bode well for a Muslim(ah).

      I still wonder what happened to the famous hadith where it is recommended for women to pray in the inner most part of the house. And before I get bashed by
      people and more importantly westernized feminists, I am aware that there are
      exceptions to this but living in Windsor, Ontario and having seen women drive for Fajr all by themselves made me wonder how hypocritical can we be in practicing Deen that fits our desires and discarding that which we don’t like but don’t speak about for the fear of getting labeled!

      • Avatar


        December 21, 2014 at 6:55 PM

        @Abu Haazim,

        You may be right brother, but how do you know all these sisters that drive all by themselves are ignoring other aspects of their religion?
        May be they are already fulfilling other aspects of their faith and this is an additional way of getting close to Allah. May be they are single ladies, or converts, so they have to come by themselves.
        In a western society, the only way you might get to know other muslims is by going to the mosque; it’s a way of forming community. If they choose to come it’s their choice.

    • Avatar


      December 21, 2014 at 6:48 PM

      Most of the mosques I’ve been to have sufficient space for women Alhamdulilah. And I woudn’t call the barrier ‘stupid’, there should be, however, some way for the sisters to communicate with the Imam, through writing, or through a female family member of the imam etc.

      There were a lot of things during the time of the Prophet (S) that are not there today. Like respect between the genders, loving each other for the sake of Allah, and a society that wasn’t hypersexualized. Maybe we need to work on those things before we can take down the barrier.

      Plus, I would feel more comfortable with the barrier. Getting distracted during classes, in the hallways etc. is one thing, being distracted when your full attention should be towards Allah is another.

    • Avatar

      M. Mahmud

      December 21, 2014 at 8:37 PM

      The barrier is not stupid. If you are going to “revive” another sunnah then you need to revive anything, not just what partially fits your whims. Why don’t we revive the manner of exiting the Masjid that the Sahaba RA did then? If you want to take down the barrier then women need to dress with the same modesty of the Sahaabiyat.

  4. Avatar


    December 23, 2014 at 7:39 AM

    It’s a good article, but it’s sad that you ended with – “let’s relegate these (other) activities to places other than the main prayer hall”.

    Didn’t the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) conduct all these (other) activities in the main prayer hall?

    Also, some of the comments here show the backwardness of our culture that has seeped into the mosque. The barrier is a stupid thing that today prevents women from being full participants in the congregation – yet it is defended by some folks here. I hope you address this in the subsequent posts.

    • Avatar


      January 3, 2015 at 10:47 AM

      Another brother from Windsor here.
      For me, having a barrier actually brings me closer to my aunties and sisters. The women of today don’t dress like the way women dressed back in the days. Less fitnah, by being separate, means more love and respect. I agree with the brother who said let’s work on our manners first before we start going back to “how things were”.
      The Prophet (sallalaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) used to allow women to be praying behind the men in the last rows during his time without a barrier. Shortly after he passed away, women started coming to the mosque without a proper veil, plucked eyebrows, make-up, perfume, and speaking louder for whatever reason. Umar ibn Al-khattab upon noticing the change used to throw date seeds at them and reminded them to be more modest.
      The men are not like they used to be, except for a few and women are not what they used to be, except for a few. Bye the way, don’t endorse violence against anyone so don’t miss the lesson or the point of the story.
      Please keep the barriers for now it’s working very well.
      I also agree the prayer halls should be comfortable for women as well as men. But I don’t see a benefit for women to sit with men in committee meetings. Let your father or husband represent you. Please be patient sisters, we are facing hard times as Muslims.

      Your brother/nephew in Islam

  5. Avatar

    Abu J

    December 23, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    The Masjid / Da’wah centre / Da’wah Organisation

    1. To keep calling and having contact with the Scholars and the students of knowledge. To bring them to give talks in the Masjid. This is the job of those people who are responsible for this issue. These people should have the phone numbers of the Scholars and the student of knowledge. So it will be easy for them to be in contact with them.
    2. Establishment of more than one class a week especially in the main subjects of Aqeedah, Seerah, Fiqh and Adaab (good manners and etiquettes). With this it is important to choose someone who is qualified to supervise these classes so that (Insha’Allah) those classes won’t fall off which would prevent the people from benefiting.
    3. To use a board (news, message board) It should be placed at the end of the of the Masjid. (To announce to the lectures of the students of knowledge, seminars, classes and so forth). This board will benefit (Insha’ Allaah] those people who regularly attend the Masjid as well as those from out of town or other masaajid. So when they come they can see what is going on and be reminded to come back and benefit. You should have another board to announce all of the activities of the Masjid first. Then that which is needed for them to continue.
    4, Also if you place two boxes in the Masjid the first box is for the questions (AI-Fatawa) it should be placed in a clear place in the Masjid so that would see it. That is for the questions are for the questions of the people and the things they want to know about. I recommend that you take one day a week and contact the students of knowledge or the Scholars to answer these questions. Or if the Imam has the ability to answer these questions let him do so. By reading from the books of knowledge. By reading for the questions in the fatawa of the committee of fatawa in Saudia Arabia (Lajnah), reading the fatawa of Sheikh Bin Baz, Sheik Ibnu Uthaymeen, Sheik Al-Albaani and other from Ahul Ilm.
    5. Also to have a box in the Masjid for other good reasons. This box will be in the hands of responsible righteous people. In this box we gather the sadaqah and the other donations. You must have a plan to give it (Sadaqah) out and or use some or part of it to keep the expenses of the Masjid paid.
    6. Also one of the things that should be done in the Masjid is that you assign a person to be by the door of the Masjid having a box to collect donations for the Masjid. It is from the responsibilities of the Imam of the Masjid to choose some of the pamphlets that have the Da’wah Allaah To give to the person who attend the Masjid.
    7. Also from the things that that will help the Masjid in being active in calling to Allah that should be taken place in the Masjid is and distributing beneficial tapes, books and pamphlets. We have to take into consideration the times and the places so as to distribute the right tapes, books or pamphlets. For example if it is the first of the year then we give those things talk about the beginning of the year. If it’s time for Ramadan then they should be a bout Ramadan for every time and place we have to give, the proper da’wah package to the people.
    8. Also from the things that should be taken place in the Masjid is to have classes to memorize the Qur¹an. We should haw a strong program for the Qur¹an for the different levels of the community. Classes separately the men, women and children. The Shaykh said that this gathering is for memorizing the Qur’aan. I urge the people to support this effort and to put your money down to support this effort. This is (i.e. the memorization of qur¹an) one most important thing that the people should learn.
    9. Also the Masjid should hold community gatherings. If not once a week then once every two weeks or once a month. In this gathering the community comes together to discuss that which is needed to keep the efforts alive and that which is needed to benefit themselves and others. Also it will be a means for them to get to know one another and to check on one another.
    1O. Also another point that will bring the people together [Insha¹ Allaah) is to organize some days (i.e. Picnicks, community outings). Also to go and check on others. We have to plan for these things Insha¹ Allah so that they can be beneficial.
    11. Also he said that the Masjid should have a library, which includes the main books in the different subjects titles. And all that which is needed for the students of knowledge and those people who come to the Masjid so they may stay focus of the religion. Also you should organize quizzes. This library should be assessable to the people so that they can benefit from it.
    12. Also you should have a storage place (safe) to save the donations. Then some trustworthy and righteous people are appointed to take care of this storage place. To give it and divide it (donations) amongst the poor and needy people.
    13. You should have a committee of two or three people whose main job is to visit the Muslims. Especially visiting those people who don’t come to the Masjid often. (You see that sometimes people come to Masjid then all of a sudden they don’t come to the Masjid). Their main job is to go and see the people. They go to see why the people aren¹t coming to the Masjid. They go and talk to the people in a good way giving them advice trying to bring them back to the Masjid. To make salat in the Masjid. I recommend that the Imam and Mudazan be the head of this committee.
    14. You should select a committee from the people of the Masjid. Their job is make reconciliation between the people. When some disputes happen to members of the community or Muslims. I recommend that Imam be from amongst this group along with those righteous people who know with their wisdom, their knowledge, their understanding and character. The purpose of this committee is to bring people together and to reconcile In between them.
    15. Also the Muslims in the same Masjid should try to break the fast together especially in month of Ramamadhan and for the recommended times of fasting.
    16.To established a website so you can show the activities of the Masjid and show the role of the Masjid in Calling to AllaahI with the condition that righteous people who know what they are doing should take care of that project. [Isha¹Allaah)
    This is what Allaah has made easy for me to present to you. In making a clarification pertaining to the tremendous role of the Masjid In calling to AIIaah. If the Jama’aah of that Masjid follow these steps and put them into practice with sincerity They will see the fruit of their efforts [Insha Allaah) and they will see their real role of tile Masjid in calling to Allaah.
    Advice from Shaykh Khaalid Ar-Radaaddee

  6. Avatar

    Abu J

    December 23, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    Above is an excellent advice to masajid admin from the Shaykh from Madeenah University.

  7. Avatar

    Abu J

    December 23, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    In the time of the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam at the beginning there was only one entrance for the male and female to enter and exit from. Then one of the Sahabah (Umar r.) I recall) suggested a separate door to be made for the females. And they used to pray right behind the men and used to walk out of the masjid first before the men, so it doenst cause any fitnah. Yet they were the most pious of mankind. Even though the prayer of a female in her inner most part of her house is better than praying in the Masjid, it is still allowed if she wished to pray in the masajid. If those who dont want a separate hall/room for females in our time with all the fitnah and hypersexual society, check your intention. Imagine, male and female in one hall in this time and age….caos, fitnah, corrusption. Aesha r. mother of the believers also mentioned in the latter part of the Sahabah, her time. If Rasool s.. was alive to witness what was going on in society, he would prevent women from praying in the masajid. That was fitnah in her time, what about us, in out time. Muslim women not dressed properly, showing off the beauty. The correct Hijab is not worn. Some wear the khimar (head cover) yet wear trousers, or showing their arms, etc…

  8. Avatar


    December 23, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    Very well written article mashaAllah.

    Now about the ‘stupid barrier’ flame war. Let’s not call it a barrier in the first place. Let’s open our mind to new ideas and call it, let’s see… how about a veil instead? A veil that provides some privacy for the sisters. It doesn’t have to be a wall. it could be a room divider, or a light curtain or any sort of a partition.

    It’s a veil, just like the niqab, which I’m am pretty sure, is not a barrier in communication. Or like the radio, when it was used, it was not considered a barrier either, in fact it was perfectly understood what the person on the other side was trying to tell us, even if we could not listen to them. Or take emails for instance, even though we cannot see, or here, or talk to the person, I feel it’s a quite useful way of communication.

    I am sure that everyone will agree that we do not completely follow the sunnah in our everyday lives. We still gossip, hurt other’s feelings intentionally etc. We have a long way to go before we can perfectly follow the sunnah and become better muslims. The sahabas were people who were ready to give their lives for each other. They had the sort of love for each other that we have yet to achieve. Let’s work on that before we bring down the veil.

  9. Pingback: Reviving the Role of the Masjid | Part 2 | Dr Hatem Al Haj -

  10. Avatar

    Adnan Mukhtar

    January 2, 2015 at 12:51 AM

    Re: Source of the hadith of the bedouin urinating in the masjid — one of the many hadith:

    Sahih Muslim, Book of Purification, Book 2, Hadith 127
    إِنَّ هَذِهِ الْمَسَاجِدَ لاَ تَصْلُحُ لِشَىْءٍ مِنْ هَذَا الْبَوْلِ وَلاَ الْقَذَرِ إِنَّمَا هِيَ لِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَالصَّلاَةِ وَقِرَاءَةِ الْقُرْآنِ
    ‏ أَوْ كَمَا قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم
    “These mosques are not the places meant for urine and filth, but are only for the remembrance of Allah, prayer and the recitation of the Qur’an, or Allah’s Messenger said something like that.”

    Anas b. Malik reported:
    While we were in the mosque with Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ), a desert Arab came and stood up and began to urinate in the mosque. The Companions of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: Stop, stop, but the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: Don’t interrupt him; leave him alone. They left him alone, and when he finished urinating, Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) called him and said to him: These mosques are not the places meant for urine and filth, but are only for the remembrance of Allah, prayer and the recitation of the Qur’an, or Allah’s Messenger said something like that. He (the narrator) said that he (the Holy Prophet) then gave orders to one of the people who brought a bucket of water and poured It over.

  11. Avatar


    June 1, 2015 at 4:09 PM


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The Spirituality Of Gratitude

Shaykh Tarik Ata




The Quran tells the reader of the importance of gratitude in two ways. First, worship, which is the essence of the relationship between man and the Creator, is conditional to gratitude “and be grateful to Allah if it is [indeed] Him that you worship” (2:172). The verse suggests that in order for an individual to truly worship Allah then they must express gratitude to Allah and that an ungrateful individual cannot be a worshiper of Allah. The second verse states the following “And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me” (2:152). The Arabic word used, translated here as ‘deny,’ is kufr which linguistically means to cover up. The word was adopted by the Quran to refer to someone who rejects Allah after learning of Him. Both the linguistic and Quranic definitions are possibly meant in this verse and both arrive at the same conclusion. That is, the absence of gratitude is an indicator of one’s rejection of Allah; the question is how and why?

What Does Shukr Mean?

Understanding a Quranic concept begins with understanding the word chosen by the Quran. The word shukr is used throughout the Quran and is commonly translated as gratitude. From a purely linguistic definition, shukr is “the effect food has on the body of an animal” (Ibn Qayyim v. 2 p. 200). What is meant here is that when an animal eats food it becomes heavier which has a clear and visible effect on the animal. Therefore, shukr is the manifestation of a blessing or blessings on the entirety of a person. From here, spiritualists understood the goal of shukr and added an extra element to the definition and that is the acknowledgment that those blessings are from Allah. Thus, the definition of shukr as an Islamic spiritual concept is “the manifestation of Allah’s blessings verbally through praise and acknowledgment; emotionally on the heart through witnessing the blessings and loving Allah; and physically through submission and servitude” (Ibid).

Based on this definition, the goal of shukr can be broken into five categories. First, gratitude that brings about the submission of the individual to his benefactor. In order for an act to be worthy of gratitude, the beneficiary must conclude that the benefactor’s action was done for the sake of the beneficiary – thus making the benefactor benevolent. In other words, the benefactor is not benefiting in the least (Emmons et al 2004 p. 62). When the individual recognizes his benefactor, Allah, as being completely independent of the individual and perfect in of himself, one concludes that the actions of the benefactor are purely in the best interest of the beneficiary resulting in the building of trust in Allah. The Quran utilizes this point multiple times explicitly stating that Allah has nothing to gain from the creations servitude nor does he lose anything from because of their disobedience (Q 2:255, 4:133, 35:15, 47:38). Through shukr, a person’s spirituality increases by recognizing Allah’s perfection and their own imperfection thus building the feeling of need for Allah and trust in him (Emmons et al 2002 p. 463).

Gratitude in Knowing That Allah Loves Us

The second category is love for the benefactor. Similar to the previous category, by identifying the motive of the benefactor one can better appreciate their favors. “Gratitude is fundamentally a moral affect with empathy at its foundation: In order to acknowledge the cost of the gift, the recipient must identity with the psychological state of the one who has provided it” (Emmons 2002 p. 461).[1] That is, by recognizing Allah’s perfection one concludes that his blessings are entirely in the best interest of the beneficiary despite not bringing any return to Him. Thus, the Quran utilizes this concept repeatedly and to list a few, the Quran reminds the human reader that he created the human species directly with his two hands (38:75), he created them in the best physical and mental form (95:4), gave him nobility (17:70), commanded the angels to prostrate to him out of reverence (38:72-3), made him unique by giving him knowledge and language (2:31), exiled Satan who refused to revere him (7:13), allowed him into Paradise (7:19), forgave his mistake (2:37), designated angels to protect each individual (13:11) and supplicate Allah to forgive the believers (40:7-9), created an entire world that caters to his needs (2:29), among plenty of other blessings which express Allah’s love, care, and compassion of the human.

The remaining three categories revolve around the individual acting upon their gratitude by acknowledging them, praising Allah for them and using them in a manner acceptable to Allah. In order for gratitude to play a role in spirituality the blessings one enjoys must be utilized in a manner that connects them with Allah. Initially, one must acknowledge that all blessings are from him thus establishing a connection between the self and Allah. This is then elevated to where the individual views these blessings as more than inanimate objects but entities that serve a purpose. By doing this one begins to see and appreciate the wisdoms behind these created entities enlightening the individual to the Creators abilities and qualities. Finally, after recognizing the general and specific wisdoms behind each creation, one feels a greater sense of purpose, responsibility, and loyalty. That is, engaging the previous five categories establishes love for the benefactor (Ibn Qayyim v. 2 p. 203). Observing the care and compassion of the benefactor for his creation establishes the feeling of loyalty towards the one who has cared for us as well as responsibility since He created everything with purpose.

Blessings Even in Hardship

One may interject by referring to the many individuals and societies that are plagued with hardships and do not have blessings to appreciate. No doubt this is a reality and the Quran address this indirectly. Upon analysis, one finds that the blessings which the Quran references and encourages the reader to appreciate are not wealth or health; rather, it is the sun, the moon, trees, and the natural world in general. Perhaps the reason for this is what shukr seeks to drive us towards. There are two things all these objects have in common (1) they are gifts given by Allah to all humans and all individuals enjoy them and (2) humans are dependent upon them. Everyone has access to the sun, no one can take it away, and we are critically dependent upon it. When the Quran draws our attention to these blessings, the reader should begin to appreciate the natural world at a different level and Surah an Nahl does precisely that. This chapter was likely revealed during the time of hijrah (immigration); a time when the companions lost everything – their homes, wealth, and tribes. The chapter works to counsel them by teaching them that the true blessings a person enjoys is all around them and no matter how much was taken from them, no one can take away the greater blessings of Allah.

In sum, these verses bring light to the crucial role shukr plays in faith. It serves as a means to better know Allah which can be achieved through a series of phases. First, the individual must search for the blessings which then leads to a shift in perspective from focusing on the wants to focusing on what is available. This leads to greater appreciation and recognition of the positives in one’s life allowing the person more optimism. Second, the person must link those blessings to the benefactor – Allah – which reveals many elements of who He is and His concern for His creation. Once this is internalized in the person’s hearts, its benefits begin to manifest itself on the person’s heart, mind, and body; it manifests itself in the form of love for Allah and submission to him. Shukr ultimately reveals the extent of Allah’s love and concern for the individual which therein strengthens the trust and love of the individual for Allah and ultimately their submission to Him.

Allah knows best.

Emmons, Robert A., and Charles M. Shelton. “Gratitude and the science of positive psychology.” Handbook of positive psychology 18 (2002): 459-471.

Emmons, Robert A., and Michael E. McCullough, eds. The psychology of gratitude. Oxford University Press, 2004.

Jawziyyah, Ibn Qayyim. madārij al-sālikīn bayn manāzil iyyāka naʿbud wa iyyāka nastaʿīn مدارج السالكين بين منازل إياك نعبد وإياك نستعين [The Levels of Spirituality between the Dynamics of “It is You Alone we Worship and it is You Alone we Seek Help From]. Cario: Hadith Publications, 2005.

[1] Islamically speaking, it is not befitting to claim that Allah has a psyche or that he can be analyzed psychologically.

Download a longer version of this article here: The Sprituality of Gratitude

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Lessons From Surah Maryam: 1

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi



Alhamdulillah, it’s a great blessing of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that He has given us both the opportunity and ability to come here tonight to study and explore the meanings of His words in Surah Maryam. I’m truly grateful for this opportunity. May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accept this effort from all of us and place it on our scale of good deeds.

Alhamdulillah, in our last series we were able to complete the tafsir of Surah Al-Kahf. InshAllah, in this next series, we’ll be exploring the meanings, lessons, and reminders of Surah Maryam. Tafsīr is an extremely noble and virtuous discipline. The reason why it’s so noble and virtuous is that it’s the study of the divine speech of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). As mentioned in a hadith the superiority of the speech of Allah over all other speech is like the superiority of Allah over all of His creation. There’s nothing more beneficial and virtuous than studying the Quran. And by doing so we’ll be counted amongst the best of people. As the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “the best amongst you are those who learn the Quran and teach it.”

All of us need to build a stronger relationship with the Quran. The Quran is full of wisdom and guidance in every single verse and word. It’s our responsibility to seek that guidance, understand it, contextualize it and more importantly act upon it. Tafsīr is such a unique science that it brings together all of the other Islamic sciences. While exploring a Surah a person comes across discussions regarding Arabic grammar and morphology, rhetoric, Ahādīth, fiqh, sīrah and all those studies that are known as the Islamic Sciences. One scholar described the Quran as an ocean that has no shore, بحر لا ساحل له. The more we study the Qur’ān the stronger our relationship with it will become. We’ll become more and more attached to it and will be drawn into its beauty and wonder. The deeper a person gets into tafsir and studying the more engaged and interested they become. They also recognize how little they truly know. It develops humility. That’s the nature of true knowledge. The more we learn the more we recognize we don’t know. May Allah ﷻ allow us all to be sincere and committed students of the Qur’ān.

Surah Maryam

Surah Maryam is the 19th surah in the Quran. It is a relatively long Makki surah made up of 98 verses. Some commentators mention that it’s the 44th Surah to be revealed, after Surah Al-Fatir and before Surah Taha. It has been given the name Maryam because Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions the story of Maryam (as) and her family and how she gave birth to Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) miraculously at the beginning of the Surah. Just like other Makkan surahs, it deals with the most fundamental aspects of our faith. It talks about the existence and oneness of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), prophethood, and resurrection and recompense.

The Surah is made up of a series of unique stories filled with guidance and lessons that are meant as reminders. One of the main themes of this Surah is mercy… It has been mentioned over 16 times in this Surah. We’ll find the words of grace, compassion and their synonyms frequently mentioned throughout the sūrah, together with Allah’s attributes of beneficence and mercy. We can say that one of the objectives of the Surah is to establish and affirm the attribute of mercy for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). That’s why all of the stories mentioned also have to do with Allah’s mercy.

Another objective of the Surah is to remind us of our relationship with Allah ﷻ; the concept of Al-‘Ubūdiyyah. These are the two major themes or ideas of this Surah; the concept of Rahmah and the concept of ‘Ubūdiyyah (Mercy and Servitude).

The Surah can be divided into 8 sections:

1) Verses 1-15: The surah starts with the story of Zakariyya (as) and how he was given the gift of a child at a very old age, which was something strange and out of the ordinary.

2) Verses 16-40: mention the story of Maryam and the miraculous birth of Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) without a father and how her community responded to her.

3) Verses 41-50: The surah then briefly mentions one part of the story of Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), specifically the conversation he had with his father regarding the worship of idols. The surah then briefly mentions a series of other Prophets.

4) Verses 51-58: Mention Musa and Haroon 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), Ismail 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Idrees 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to show that the essence of the message of all Prophets was the same

5) Verses 59-65: compare and contrast the previous generations with the current ones in terms of belief and actions.

6) Verses 66-72: Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) addresses the Mushrikoon rejecting their false claims regarding life after death and judgment.

7) Verses 73-87: continue to address the Mushrikoon and warn them regarding their attitude towards belief in Allah and His messengers. They also mention the great difference between the resurrection of the believer and the resurrection of the non-believer.

8) Verses 88-98: contain a severe warning to those who claim that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has taken a child. They also express that Allah is pleased with the believers and mentions that one of the objectives of the Quran is to give glad tidings to the believers and to warn the non-believers.


From various narrations, we learn that this surah was revealed near the end of the fourth year of Prophethood. This was an extremely difficult time for Muslims. The Quraysh were frustrated with their inability to stop the message of Islam from spreading so they became ruthless. They resorted to any method of torture that they could think of; beating, starving and harassing. When the persecution became so severe that it was difficult for the Muslims to bear it, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) gave permission to migrate to Abyssinia. “For in it dwells a king in whose presence no one is harmed.” 10 men and 4 women migrated in the 5th year of Prophethood secretly. After a few months, a larger group of 83 men and 18 women migrated as well. This migration added more fuel to the fire. It enraged the people of Quraysh.

Umm Salamah [rahna]narrated, “When we stopped to reside in the land of Abyssinia we lived alongside the best of neighbors An-Najashi. We practiced our religion safely, worshipped Allah without harm and didn’t hear anything we disliked. When news of our situation reached the Quraysh they started to plot against us…” They decided to send two delegates to persuade An-Najashi to send the Companions back by offering him and his ministers’ gifts. The plan was to go to each minister with gifts and turn them against the Muslims. So they went to each minister with gifts and said, “Verily, foolish youth from amongst us have come to the country of your king; they have abandoned the religion of their people and have not embraced your religion. Rather they have come with a new religion that neither of us knows. The noblemen of their people, from their fathers and uncles, have sent us to the king asking that he send them back. So when we speak to the king regarding their situation advise him to surrender them to us and to not speak to them…” The minister agreed.

Then they went to the king, offered him gifts and said the same thing… The ministers tried to convince him as well. An-Najashi became angry with them and said, “No, by Allah, I will not surrender them to these two and I don’t fear the plotting of a people who have become my neighbors, have settled down in my country, and have chosen me (to grant them refuge) over every other person. I will not do so until I summon them and speak to them. If they are as these two say I will give them up, but if they aren’t then I will protect them from these two and continue to be a good neighbor to them as long as they are good neighbors to me.”

al-Najāshī then summoned the Prophet’s ﷺ Companions. When his messenger informed the Prophet’s Companions that they were to appear before the king, they gathered together to discuss what they should do. One of them asked, “What will you say to the name (al-Najāshī) when you go to him?” They all agreed on what they would say to him, “By Allah, we will say what our Prophet ﷺ taught us and commanded us with, regardless of the consequences.” Meanwhile, al-Najāshī called for his priests, who gathered around him with their scrolls spread out before them. When the Muslims arrived al-Najāshī began by asking them, “What is this religion for which you have parted from your people? You have not entered into the fold of my religion, nor the religion of any person from these nations.”

Umm Salamah [rahna] narrated, “The Person among us who would speak to him was Jaʿfar ibn abī Ṭālib [rahnu] who then said, “O king, we were an ignorant people: we worshipped idols, we would eat from the flesh of dead animals, we would perform lewd acts, we would cut off family ties, and we would be bad neighbors; the strong among us would eat from the weak. We remained upon that state until Allah sent us a Messenger, whose lineage, truthfulness, trustworthiness, and chastity we already knew. He invited us to Allah – to believe in His oneness and to worship Him; to abandon all that we and our fathers worshipped besides Allah, in terms of stones and idols. He ﷺ commanded us to speak truthfully, to fulfill the trust, to join ties of family relations, to be good to our neighbors, and to refrain from forbidden deeds and from shedding blood. And he ﷺ forbade us from lewd acts, from uttering falsehood, from wrongfully eating the wealth of an orphan, from falsely accusing chaste women of wrongdoing. And he ﷺ ordered us to worship Allah alone and to not associate any partners with him in worship; and he ﷺ commanded us to pray, to give zakāh, and to fast.” He enumerated for al-Najāshī the teachings of Islam. He said, “And we believe him and have faith in him. We follow him in what he came with. And so we worship Allah alone, without associating any partners with Him in worship. We deem forbidden that which he has made forbidden for us, and we deem lawful that which he made permissible for us. Our people then transgressed against us and tortured us. The tried to force us to abandon our religion and to return from the worship of Allah to the worship of idols; they tried to make us deem lawful those abominable acts that we used to deem lawful. Then, when they subjugated us, wronged us, and treated us in an oppressive manner, standing between us and our religion, we came to your country, and we chose you over all other people. We desired to live alongside you, and we hoped that, with you, we would not be wronged, O king.” al-Najāshī said to Jaʿfar [rahnu], “Do you have any of that which he came with from Allah?” Jaʿfar [rahnu] said, “Yes”. “Then recite to me,” said al-Najāshī. Jaʿfar [rahnu] recited for him the beginning of Surah Maryam. By Allah, al-Najāshī began to cry, until his beard became wet with tears. And when his priests heard what Jaʿfar [rahnu] was reciting to them, they cried until their scrolls became wet. al-Najāshī then said, “By Allah, this and what Mūsa (as) came with come out of the same lantern. Then by Allah, I will never surrender them to you, and henceforward they will not be plotted against and tortured.”

Describing what happened after the aforementioned discussion between al-Najāshī and Jaʿfar [rahnu], Umm Salamah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said, “When both ʿAmr ibn al-ʿĀṣ and ʿAbdullah ibn abī Rabīʿah left the presence of al-Najāshī, ʿAmr [rahnu] said, “By Allah tomorrow I will present to him information about them with which I will pull up by the roots their very lives.” Abdullah ibn Rabīʿah who was more sympathetic of the two towards us said, “Don’t do so, for they have certain rights of family relations, even if they have opposed us.” ʿAmr said, “By Allah, I will inform him that they claim that ʿĪsā ibn Maryam is a slave.”

He went to the king on the following day and said, “O king, verily, they have strong words to say about ʿĪsa (as). Call them here and ask them what they say about him.” al-Najāshī sent for them in order to ask them about ʿĪsa. Nothing similar to this befell us before. The group of Muslims gathered together and said to one another, “What will you say about ʿĪsa when he asks you about him?” They said, “By Allah, we will say about him that which Allah says and that which our Prophet ﷺ came with, regardless of the outcome.” When they entered into his presence, he said to them, “What do you say about ʿĪsa ibn Maryam?” Jaʿfar raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said, “We say about him that which our Prophet ﷺ came with – that he is the slave of Allah, His messenger, a spirit created by Him, and His word, which he bestowed on Maryam, the virgin, the baṭūl.”

al-Najāshī struck his hand on the ground and took from it a stick. He then said, “ʿĪsa ibn Maryam did not go beyond what you said even the distance of the stick.” When he said this, his ministers spoke out in anger, to which he responded, “What I said is true even if you speak out in anger, by Allah. (Turning to the Muslims, he said) Go, for you are safe in my land. Whoever curses you will be held responsible. And I would not love to have a reward of gold in return for me hurting a single man among you. (Speaking to his ministers he said) Return to these two (men) their gifts, since we have no need for them. For by Allah, Allah did not take from me bribe money when He returned to me my kingdom, so why should I take bribe money. The two left, defeated and humiliated; and returned to them were the things they came with. We then resided alongside al-Najāshī in a very good abode, with a very good neighbor.”

The response was simply amazing in its eloquence. A believer puts the needs of his soul before the needs of his body. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) starts the Surah by saying,

Verse 1: Kaf, Ha, Ya, ‘Ayn, Sad.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) starts Surah Maryam with a series of five letters. There are many different saying or explanations regarding these five letters. The most correct opinion is that these are from the broken letters. There are 29 different Surahs in the Quran that start with the broken letters. Only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) alone knows the meanings of these letters. They are a secret from amongst the secrets of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), meaning that no one knows what they truly mean. Only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) knows their meanings so they are from amongst the Mutashaabihat, those verses whose meanings are hidden.

However, we do find that some great Companions, as well as their students, sometimes gave meanings to these words. For example, it’s said that it is in acronym and each letter represents one of the names of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Kaf is for Al-Kafi or Al-Kareem, “haa” is for Al-Hadi, “yaa” is from Hakeem or Raheem, “’ayn” is from Al-‘Aleem or Al-‘Adheem, and “saad” is from Al-Saadiq. Others said that it is one of the names of Allah and it’s actually Al-Ism Al-‘Atham or that it’s a name of the Quran. However, these narrations can’t be used as proof or to assign definitive meanings. They offer possibilities, but no one truly knows what they mean.

Now the question should come to our mind that why would Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) start of a Surah with words that no one understands?

1) To grab the attention of the listeners.

2) To remind us that no matter how much we know there’s always something that we don’t know.

3) These letters are the letters of the Arabic language and the Quran was revealed at a time that was the peak of eloquence of the language and it was their identity. The Quran was revealed challenging them spiritually and intellectually. The Arabs never heard these letters being used in such a majestic way.

4) To prove the inimitable nature of the Quran.

Allah then starts the story of Zakariyya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). Zakariyya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was one of the Prophets sent to Bani Israel. He was the husband of Maryam’s paternal aunt. He was also one of the caretakers or custodians of Baitul Maqdis.

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