May 26, 2017

The Mosque and its Role in Society

More than a house of worship, the mosque has a critical and authoritative role in the cultural and political life of Muslims, with immediate social implications.

Editor’s note: This material is excerpted from and based on material from The Mosque and its Role in Society, Pilcrow Press, 2006. Used with permission.

The word mosque – Masjid in Arabic – is derived from the root word sajada or suju, meaning to prostrate, which is normally viewed as worship. Worship in Islam is upholding and implementing the revealed law of Allah – the Shari’ah. This implementation of the Shari’ah is not a matter of choice, but of enforcement on oneself and others, be it willingly or unwillingly.

The Mosque as the Gathering Place (Jama’a)

A commonly used term for the mosque is the Arabic word, Jama’a, derived from a root word meaning to gather, or gathering. It is a place where Muslims gather, since a mosque’s role is that of a centre of authority for the Muslim community, which guides and instructs them in their religious as well as temporal duties and obligations and directs their relationships with their environment as per the revealed laws of Islam.

Different Kinds of Mosques

All mosques are not equal in status. Variations occur, not only in theological or doctrinal differences (i.e. between Shi’a and Sunni or Sufi and Salafi), but even within the same school, mosques vary in their importance. These distinctions were introduced by Muhammad, when he stated that a prayer performed in the sacred mosque, the Ka’aba in Mecca, is equivalent to one hundred thousand performed elsewhere.[1] He went on to say that a prayer performed in his mosque in Medina is equivalent to one thousand prayers elsewhere, and one performed in the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem is worth five hundred performed elsewhere. The same is true of Shi’ites regarding Qum, Isfahan, Mashad, Najafa and Karbala, the latter being the highest in merit.

On this and other complicated factors, Muslims have built a hierarchy of mosques. So two mosques in Cairo, a few miles apart, will differ in their religious importance. A prayer said in Miser al Gadida is worth much less than if it was performed in the mosque of Amer ibn Al’aas. Likewise, the mosque of Sayida Zeineb, near Damascus in Syria, is of more importance than a mosque two streets away.

It is not necessary for a mosque to be particularly ancient to be more important. The calculation of its importance is based on many factors, both religious and political, including the content of its preaching and teaching, as well as what and whom it houses. If the Jama’at Tablighi was to move its national and international headquarters from Pakistan, then wherever it was based, be it in London, Paris or elsewhere – that mosque would have both religious and political significance throughout the Islamic world. This is because of the pietistic fame of that mosque’s founders and its members, achieved by being a radical Islamic missionary training and sending agency, its emphasis on austere living and its ideological and theological purity of seventh-century Islam.

Jama’at Tablighi has respect and honour in the Muslim community because it is a major force in the worldwide Islamic resurgence.

Functions and Roles of the Mosque

Every mosque is designed to modelattempts to be modelled on the first mosque built and directed by Muhammad in Medina. The functions of a mosque cannot be understood without considering the first mosque and its role and rule in the first Muslim community.

When Muhammad emigrated from Mecca to Medina, the majority of its inhabitants were not Muslims. It had a large Jewish population, Christians, and a large majority of pagan Arabs. Muhammad built a mosque on arrival in Medina, even before he built his own house, to demonstrate its importance. As the Shari’ah unfolded in Medina, the mosque was to become not only a building where religious teachings were taught, but much more.

  1. It was the first madrassa (Islamic seminary) where Islamic doctrine was taught and whereby the companions were raised and instructed by Muhammad.
  2. It was the pulpit from which spiritual admonitions were given, along with encouragement to resist the non-Islamic influence through jihad.
  3. It was here that jihad operations were discussed, directed, and its commanders appointed, both by Muhammad and his successors after his death.
  4. It was here that jihad was proclaimed and the Muslim armies were sent to conquer the world.
  5. It was in this mosque that Muhammad’s companions were recognised and honoured for their achievements and encouraged to pursue the enemies of Islam and eliminate all opposition.
  6. It was from here that official Islamic delegations were sent both by Muhammad and his successors.
  7. It was where the delegations and the representatives of the tribes were received.
  8. It was here that the pledges of loyalty of the Arab tribes to Muhammad and to Islam were received.
  9. It was where the affairs of the Islamic state were conducted and, as such at the time, the headquarters of the first Islamic state.
  10. It was here that Muhammad and his successors, Abu Bakr, Omar, Uthman and Ali appointed judges for the different regions and appointed the commanders of military troops; it was also from here that jihad detachments were dispatched and high-ranking state officials and tax collectors were sent out.
  11. It was here that the contracts, pacts and treaties were commissioned.
  12. It was here that the Islamic Shari’ah unfolded, where the binding and loosing, permitting and forbidding were declared.
  13. It was here that the superiority of the Muslims and the inferiority of non-Muslims was declared.
  14. It was here that the supremacy of man over a woman and inequality among people was taught.
  15. It was here that death sentences were issued to those who had opposed Muhammad or had spoken of him unfavourably, and from here the ardent soldiers set off to implement these death sentences.
  16. It was in this mosque that those culprits who eliminated Muhammad’s enemies were highly praised and honoured by their prophet.

The Contemporary Mosque and Its Role

All Muslims are under obligation and required to emulate Muhammad in word and deed. For this is a divine decree and an indispensable doctrinal pillar of Islam. Muhammad spent 13 of a total of 23 years of his mission in Mecca. During these 13 years, he never built a mosque or described any of its functions. Although prayer is mentioned in the Meccan section of the Qur’an, there was no Islamic form of prayer in Mecca as we know it today. This came in Medina. Naturally, the question arises: how and where did the early Muslim community pray during the first 13 years of Islam?

Muslims know very little, if anything, regarding the status of a mosque during the Islamic formative period in Mecca, for this remains shrouded in secrecy. Muslim scholars have attempted to explain away the absence of a mosque in Mecca during the early Islamic period by saying that the Kaaba was the mosque but, as it was under the control of pagan Arabs, Muhammad and his companions could not pray there until it was purged and purified from all the idols in and around it. This required political power that he did not have then, neither had he the military force required to subdue the pagans. So in the view of Muslim scholars, the Meccan mosque had to come in stages, the revelations in Medina, the building of the first mosque there, obtaining political power through military strength, then conquering Mecca.

The very first mosque in Medina was first and foremost a political office: it served a combined function as a socio-religious and socio-political outlet. Based on the pattern set by Muhammad in his very first mosque, a modern mosque must model itself on that of Medina.

Examples from History

Hence, besides the normal socio-religious and socio-educational functions of a mosque, we consider the mosque in its political role. Here are some examples from history of what Islamic scholars have said regarding a mosque’s political role.

Cairo: As Muhammad sent forth his armies for jihad from the mosque in Medina, so the scholars of Al Azhar mosque, Abdallah al Sharqawi and Ahmed Aldardair, led the Egyptians against the French occupation in 1798. The Al Azhar also had a major role in the 1919 revolt against the British, so much so that the British forces were stationed outside Al Azhar mosque to prevent any of its scholars or students from taking further part in the demonstrations.[2]

Transjordan: In 1936, the Kasim Revolution was inaugurated in Al Istiqlal mosque in Palestine. It was in this mosque that all their secret organization and all its various committees were housed.

West Bank and Gaza: It was the mosque that played the most major role in whipping up the first and the second Intifada. The Khatibees, the sermon preachers of the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, had a central role in inciting jihad against Jews and the state of Israel.[3]

Finsbury Park Mosque and Others

The events and activities that took place at the Finsbury Park mosque[4] and the New Jersey mosque are not new. Outwardly it may look like an indictment of the personal activities of Abu Hamza and that of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman.[5] But the more one examines this, the more one comes across a similar pattern in many other places. What is termed Islamic resurgence would not have been possible without the involvement of the mosque. Wherever one looks, the mosque continues to play its role as prescribed by the first mosque.

Political Role of the Mosque, according to the Shari’ah

Regarding the mosque and its political role, a fatwa – an Islamic juristic decree – issued by Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi on October 29, 2001 states:

in the life of the prophet there was no distinction between what the people call sacred and secular or religion and politics, and he had no place other than the mosque for politics and other related issues. So that we would establish this precedent for his religion and for the world.

The mosque at the time of the prophet was his propagation centre, the headquarters of the State, as it was for his successors, the rightly guided Khalifas, the mosque was their base for all their activities political as well as non-political. Politics as a science is one of the best disciplines, and as a practice and career it’s the most honourable. The surprising thing is that it’s the politicians, who are totally immersed in it from the top of their heads to the sole of their feet, that are enquiring if the mosque should embark and leap into political affairs. Politics in itself is neither vice, nor evil in itself, according to Islam. As Muslims it is part of our religion, for it is doctrine and worship. A system for the whole of life…and the mission of the mosques as required by correct Islam is not an isolation from the politics in this sense, but the mosque is to command the Muslims on all that would produce good in their religion and works and through the mosque the people learn the truth and goodness. The mosque must then have a role in guiding the nation and informing her about the critical issues and making her see her enemies. From ancient times the mosque has had a role in jihad for the sake of Allah, resisting the enemies of this religion from the invading occupiers. That blessed Intifada in the land of the prophets, Palestine, started from none other but the mosques and its first call came from the minarets and it was first known as the mosque revolution. The mosque’s role in the Afghan jihad and every Islamic jihad (its role) cannot be denied.[6]

Qaradawi’s fatwa is rooted in the Islamic Shari’ah and it is a clear directive and explicit incitement to violence under the banner of resistance. Qaradawi is stating that the minarets will continue to call for jihad. But why?

The Entire Earth is a Mosque

Muhammad said that the earth was declared to him a mosque and ceremonially pure; in another report, the earth had been declared to him purged, purified and a mosque. This saying of Muhammad’s is reported by Bukhari and Muslim, both renowned Hadith scholars and revered authorities.[7]

In practical terms, this means Muhammad and his followers are to conquer the whole world and cleanse it, purging it from all kinds of kufr, meaning apostasy. Therefore, the mosque’s mission or function is not limited to prayer and religious services only, but extends physically and practically to how to bring the earth under Islamic dominion.

Sura 34:28: “And We have not sent thee (O Muhammad) save as a bringer of good tidings and a warner unto all mankind; but most of mankind know not.”

Sura 3:20: “Say unto the people of the book have you surrendered? If they were to be Muslims then they are guided…”

Islam believes in its own universality as “The Only Religion of Allah,” and that Muslims are commanded to bring the whole world under subjugation to Islam.

Under the laws of subjugation in Islam, non-Muslims are given a choice either to convert to Islam or to pay a hefty tax, which is paid publicly. In paying this tax, the payee is humiliated for remaining an unbeliever. Politically he/she does not have equal rights, neither is that person regarded or treated as an equal citizen in all fields of employment, housing, and positions of authority. This has been the norm for nearly fourteen centuries in all Islamic countries where Christians are a minority. This subjugation is first and foremost a recognition of Islam’s political hegemony over all other systems and, as such, its superiority must be accepted.

Then, as a symbol of Islam’s religious and political superiority, mosques are erected everywhere. In Islamic countries, other faiths are prohibited from proclaiming as well as building their places of worship: the building of churches and the like are strictly controlled and limited. In this way, the mosque remains a mark and symbol of the religious and political identity of the people.

Sura 3:83: “Do they seek for other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him in this life and in the hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have been lost and condemned.”

To purge the earth and bring it under subjugation, Muhammad ordered his men to engage in jihad. This is because Islam views the world as clearly divided between Islamic and non-Islamic. The Islamic term is Dar Al Islam, the House or Abode of Islam.

The non-Islamic world is known as Dar Al Harb, the House or Abode of War. But as the whole world has been given to Muhammad as a mosque, it needs to be purged and the world of Islam and its authority must be supreme.

Building Blocks for the Spread of Islam

Islam has provided the means and legal system to manage non-Muslims in Islamic lands, to give them a form of security without threatening the Muslim community through a separate and unequal status.

But the task is different in lands where non-Muslims are in political control (Dar Al Harb). Although the ultimate goal is to transform the Dar Al Harb into Dar Al Islam, there are a host of intermediate goals to establish the Muslim community in the host country and to help it to grow. A typical intermediate goal would be to legalize some forms of Shari’ah (starting with the dress code, and continuing through Shari’ah family law on marriage / inheritance, etc.). In this section, we describe the means by which Islam can be spread and consolidated in such lands, wherein the mosque system is central in the overall process. The building blocks consist of a) call for jihad, b) migration into non-Muslim lands and c) application of the taqiyya doctrine to avoid exposing the hidden intent of Muslim communities. We say “building blocks” because the order of use of such blocks depends on the conditions on the ground. Muhammad used a deliberate combination of slow and fast tracks, depending on the relative strengths of the Muslim community.

Jihad as the Driving Principle

Abul A’la Maududi, a leading modern Islamic scholar in the Indian sub-continent, stated in his speech delivered on Iqbal Day, April 13, 1939, and later repeated in his book Jihad in the Cause of Allah:         

If Islam were to be a palm tree like any other and the Muslims as a nation like any other nations of the world, then there is no crime if the Islamic jihad were to lose all its privileges and speciality that made jihad the pinnacle of all worship and the jewel of her crown. However, the truth is that Islam isn’t just like any other nations of the world. In reality Islam is a revolutionary ideology, a revolutionary programme (agenda) to alter the social order of the whole world, and rebuild it in conformity with its own tenets and ideals.

‘Muslim’ is a title of that international revolutionary party organised by Islam to carry into effect its revolutionary programme. And jihad refers to that revolutionary struggle and utmost exertion which the Islamic party brings into play to achieve this objective.

Islam wishes to destroy all States and Governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam, regardless of the country or the Nation which rules it. The purpose of Islam is to set up a State on the basis of its own ideology and programme regardless of which nation assumes the role of the standard bearer of Islam or the rule of which nation undermined in the process of the establishment of an ideological Islamic state….

Islam is not merely a religious creed or compound name for a few forms of worship, but a comprehensive system which envisages to annihilate all tyrannical and evil systems in the world and enforces its own programme of reform which it deems best for the well-being of mankind.

It must be evident to you from this description that the objective of Islamic jihad is to eliminate the rule of an Un-Islamic system and establish in its stead an Islamic system of State rule. Islam does not intend to confine this revolution to a single state or a few countries: the aim of Islam is to bring about a universal revolution.

Islamic jihad does not seek to interfere with the faith ideology, rituals of worship or social customs of the people.

However, Islamic jihad does not recognize their right to administer State affairs according to a system which in the view of Islam is evil. Furthermore, Islamic jihad also refuses their right to continue with such practices under an Islamic government which fatally affect the public interest from the viewpoint of Islam.[8]

In Islam, jihad takes many forms: its definition cannot be confined only to waging war with arms. Even the armed struggle needs other kinds of support. Here is a list of the various forms of jihad as recorded in the Shari’ah:

Jihad bi al lisan: jihad by tongue/ preaching/ proclaiming/ debating/ dialoguing.

A’ jihad bi al kalam: jihad by pen, writing/ publishing/ mass media.

A’ jihad bil hijra: jihad by immigration, both abroad and from city to city.

A’ jihad bi al mal: jihad through financial activities.

A’ jihad bi al nafs: jihad in one’s being.

A’ jihad a’ nafas: jihad through one’s being, self-sacrifice, as in suicidal missions.

These are further subdivided into subcategories. We will now turn our attention to what is of immediate relevance to us in the West.

Hijra (Migration from Mecca to Medina by Muhammad and His Followers)

We will only concern ourselves here with a social jihad: that of hijra, or migration. This notion has both religious and political significance attached to it because of the hijra, the immigration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina.

Migration is obligatory on a Muslim as preparatory to other forms of jihad for the victory of Islam and Muslims in other countries. This was established when Muhammad said, “I command you with these five which Allah has charged me with: assemble, listen, obey, hijra and jihad.”[9]

Thus he declared hijra as preparatory, as well as pairing it with jihad. Muhammad further added migration was to continue as long as the enemy is fighting – in other words, resisting – Islam. Hijra, migration, is obligatory as long as kufr, or apostasy, abounds.

Sura 2:218: “…those who believed and those who suffered immigration and fought, strove and struggled in the cause of Allah, they have the hope of the Mercy of Allah.”

Sura 9:20: “…those who believed and suffered migration, and strive with might and main in Allah’s cause, with their wealth and their persons, have the highest rank in the sight of Allah: they are the people who will be winners.”

So migration precedes jihad and both are inextricably linked.

Collective migration, or congregating in one area, brings in the awareness of an Islamic identity: it enables Islam to be noticed in the abode of apostasy, through its demands and refusal to integrate and assimilate, and it helps to change and dismantle and finally annihilate the existing socio-political system of that society, as described by Maududi.[10]

This increase in numbers does not have to be from one country to another; it could be within the same country, if the numbers would strengthen a given area and the kufr there would be defeated, or at least if Islam would gain both religiously and politically from this migration.

As Sheikh Qaradawi declared in his fatwa, issued on February 27 2005:

Despite the pessimism within the ranks of Muslims, at the end, Islam will rule and will be the lord of the whole world. One of the signs of victory will be that Rome will be conquered, Europe will be occupied, Christians will be defeated and Muslims will increase and as such will be a force that will control the whole European continent. [11]

This is what Najmadin Erbakan, the so-called moderate Turkish ex-Prime Minister, said when he addressed a German journalist:

You think we Muslim Turks come here only for employment and to gather the crumbs of your money. No, we are coming here to take control of your country and by being rooted here, and then building what we see as appropriate, and all that, with your consent and according to your laws.[12]

Most of the Islamic publications in England make precisely the same point. For instance, Khurram Murad defines an Islamic movement as “…an organized struggle to change the existing society into an Islamic society based on the Qur’an and the Sunna and make Islam, which is a code for entire life, supreme and dominant, especially in the socio-political spheres.”[13]

Murad goes on to say:

it would be equally tragic if the tall and noble claims to the objective of a world-wide revolution and the ushering in of a new year are reduced to mere fulfilment of religious and educational needs. After all, these needs have always been catered for, in varying degrees, by various people. There was no need to launch an Islamic movement for merely meeting community needs.

…despite its seeming unattainability, the movement in the West should reaffirm and re-emphasise the concept of total change and supremacy of Islam in the Western society as its ultimate objective and allocate to it the highest priority.[14]

 As a mosque is the centre of the community and almost all its functions, what is being suggested can only be implemented through that mosque’s leadership and when sanctioned by it.

Qur’anic Injunctions for a Viable Survival (Taqiyya)

Despite overtly cruel, harsh and intolerant Qur’anic views towards the ‘others,’ namely Jews and Christians, there are injunctions in the Qur’an that enable the Islamic community to disguise, play down, and when necessary, deny both the intensity and the validity of these anti-Semitic and anti-Christian teachings.

This particular injunction is taqiyya, which permeates almost all the activities and dealings of Muslims within non-Muslim societies, be they religiously sacred or religiously temporal, secular or civic, since as we have seen, Islam does not distinguish between sacred and secular.

Taqiyya means “caution, fear or disguise.” It permits the suspension, as the need arises, of almost any or all religious requirements – including allowing a total denial of faith – when a Muslim fears injury or is under threat or compulsion of any kind in a non-Muslim society, or even in a Muslim society.

The Qur’anic injunction for taqiyya is Sura 16:106: “Anyone who after accepting faith in Allah utters unbelief/kuffur except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in faith but such as open their breast to unbelief, on them is wrath from Allah.”

This verse was “given” to Muhammad when one of his followers in Mecca, Ammar bin Yasir, was made to worship the Qurayshi idols and listen to the denigration of Muhammad. So according to Qur’anic expositors, this verse was revealed to put Yasir’s conscience at ease and rest, with its application to every Muslim. See also:

Sura 3:28: “…let not the believers take for friends unbelievers rather than believers. If any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah; except by way of precaution that ye may guard yourselves from them.”

The word ‘guard’ in the phrase ‘guard yourselves from them’ is known as taqiyya.

This obligation legitimises all activities in words and deeds contrary to what one might hold within; for example, to display love outwardly but inwardly to hate, or to evince loyalty outwardly but inwardly to feel enmity – all for the cause of Allah.

So, for instance, Al Zamakhshari, one of the most notable Islamic scholars and Qur’anic expositors, explains that one could outwardly display loyalty and friendship while the heart inwardly would remain full of hate and enmity until either the obstructing factors are removed or the Islamic community is strong enough to launch an open attack.[15]

Fakharadin A’razi states that if a Muslim fears those unbelievers amongst whom he may be because of their excessive power and strength, then he needs to pledge loyalty and love outwardly on condition that he inwardly objects to what he himself is saying; in other words, he is saying the opposite of all that he inwardly believes.[16]

As an addition to taqiyya, Muhammad sanctioned lying by saying that Allah will not hold a Muslim accountable when he lies in these three situations:

  1. In war, espionage, concealment, or in weakness
  2. With his wife, or a wife with her husband
  3. When reconciling or maintaining peace

Muhammad went on to say, “War is deception.” This deception can be practiced at a personal level as well as at a community level, through leaders and institutions. Taqiyya is practiced by all Muslims, Sunni and Shi’ites alike, and all other Islamic sects, but because it’s more vocalised by the Shi’ites in their teachings than the others, some think that it is exclusively a Shi’ite doctrine.

It has been reported that Ali, the fourth Khalifa, said “it is the mark of belief to prefer justice if it injures you, and injustice if it is of use to you.”

Taqiyya can be practiced if it is necessary, even when under oath.

Sura 2:225: “Allah will not call you to account for thoughtlessness in your oaths, but for the intention of your hearts…”

The wiles used in connection with taqiyya continues to do incalculable damage and injury to all of its victims. For instance, in Pakistan, numerous Muslims, backed by mosques, have under oath accused Christians, Hindus and others of blaspheming Muhammad. Others, having burned or torn pages of the Qur’an, then presented it as evidence of blasphemy, as though committed by those non-Muslims, namely Christians, either for personal gain or jihad against that community. Many of these victims have spent years in horrible conditions behind bars, while families became outcasts, losing their jobs and livelihoods. Almost all had to go into hiding and move from where they originally lived.

In the 2005/06 crisis of the Danish cartoons some Muslims themselves added more cartoons to those that they were rioting about, which showed Muhammad in a worse light. They then showed these to fellow Muslims in order to whip up frenzy and violence against Europeans. Many were killed in a number of Islamic countries, and many others lost their livelihood as their businesses were burnt down by Muslims. How can a Muslim do that? There is a fatwa endorsing the insult of Muhammad if done in the state of taqiyya. Taqiyya permits Muslims to bow before an idol in a state of taqiyya and the desertion of regular and legislated prayers is permitted if under taqiyya.[17]

The Role of Mosques in the West

The role that mosques play in the West is much more critical than in the Arab and Islamic world. In the Islamic world, a mosque is in the House of Islam where, generally, Islam is regarded as the religion of the state, the Shari’ah is the main source of all legislation, and almost all political posts that matter can only be held by Muslims.

Here the others, the non-Muslims, are regarded as dhimmis, unequal with Muslims, and they have fewer rights than Muslims. However, in the West they are in the House of War, and thus on a war footing as their religion does not rule over all, but is regarded as a personal and private matter.

Muslim scholars have tried to soften the impact of this doctrine by stating that if Muslims are given their rights and not persecuted it would be called Dar a’ Sulh – the House of Reconciliation. However, due to the clash of ideology, Islam being a totalitarian system within a free (largely democratic) society, the Western system is increasingly viewed as anti-Islamic and thus a House of War.

Being on war footing requires the suspension of all normal Islamic rules and regulations. It also legitimises special jurisprudence promulgated for such circumstances.

At the same time, the mosques and the Muslim communities suffer from their own internal divisions: identity problems, socio-political freedoms viewed from an Islamic perspective, fragmentation as a result of internal divisions, and finally the responsibility of raising sound Muslims in a non-Muslim environment, as well as consolidating the new converts from the host society.


In the West, Muslims face quite an upheaval, especially in dealing with socio-religious issues, such as asserting the rights of Muslims in the school curriculum and dress code, and fearing the socio-religious impact of the host society on their children and their culture.

The concept of egalitarianism is also a problem for Muslims in Western society, particularly concerning the equality of all peoples before the law, since Islam does not regard all people as equal; nor does it grant equality before the Shari’ah courts between a Muslim male and Muslim female, or between a Muslim and a non-Muslim.

Above all, Islam doesn’t hold to the concept of freedom of religion, but believes in the superiority of Islam above all others both religiously and politically, which has serious legal implications on a day-to-day basis. Since freedom of religion is a core commitment in free societies, Islam is left with a serious identity crisis on all those fronts.


Fragmentation exists along ethnic lines as well as between religious denominations. Religious denominational fragmentation is due to having Muslims from all sorts of Islamic schools of thought and factions – Sunnis, Shi’a, Ahmadiays, Qadiyanis, Whabis, Salafis, Qur’anioon, Sufis, and further divisions within these.

Ethnic fragmentation is similar to this, with the host community and the environment generally. Here the problem is of consolidation of their own, as well as winning converts and influencing decision-makers to be more positively disposed towards the Islamic agenda. Making Islam palatable to the host community is another serious challenge to Muslims.

Islam Rises above All

Almost all Muslim scholars agree on this principle that “Islam rises above all” and elaborate on it in detail. Recently Dr. Abid ibn Muhammad Sufyani of the University of Umm al Qura in Mecca has written extensively on the above statement.[18] Quoting virtually every notable scholar of Islam, he explains how this is a basic principle of Islamic Shari’ah, which permeates all aspects of Islamic jurisprudence. His extensive and comprehensive research is exceedingly valuable for those who wish to understand this complex issue. However, here it will suffice to give some of his conclusions, particularly those which affect mosques and their buildings.

He cites Islamic directives regarding other religious buildings, especially churches: why they should not be allowed to be built, and those that need repairing and renovations must not be allowed to make such repairs, for these are centres of kufr (apostasy) that spread corruption on earth, as well as being at enmity with Allah and his Apostle.

Especially in the land of the unbelievers when surrounded by unbelief, a mosque must be the highest tallest, broadest, widest, and in whatever other manner its superiority can be demonstrated.


Mosques are clearly much more than religious outlets. The concept of the House of Peace and House of War, the self-imposed separation which is almost segregation and refusal to assimilate and integrate, makes it divisive and discriminatory. This is not a sectarian view of the mosque, its role and function in society; it is held across the board by all schools and branches of Islam.

Finally, there is nothing at all within any Islamic movement that can be apolitical for it is defined and defines itself as a wholly encompassing system: as a socio-political, socio-religious, socio-economical, socio-legislative, judiciary, militaristic system.


[1] Hadith 1406, Vol. 1, Book 5, Sunnah, last modified 2016,

[2] Nasser Rabbat, "Al-Azhar Mosque: An Architectural Chronicle of Cairo's History", in Gulru Necipogulu, Muqarnas- An Annual on the Visual Culture of the Islamic World 13, (Boston: Brill, 1996), 45–67.

[3] “Palestinians and Israelis in a Clash at Holy Site," The New York Times, last modified September 28, 2000.

[4] BBC News, "Abu Hamza could face extradition," British Broadcast Corporation, November 15 2007.

[5] Joseph P. Fried, “The Terror Conspiracy: The Overview; Sheik and 9 Followers Guilty of a Conspiracy of Terrorism,” New York Times, last modified October 2 1995,

[6] Yousif Abdullah al-Qaradawi, “Fatwa on the role of the Mosque,” Web Archive, last modified July 13 2006,

[7] Hadith #31901, Kanz al Umal.

[8] Abul A’la Maududi, Jihad in Islam (Beirut: The Holy Koran Publishing House, n.d.).

[9] Tafseer al Qur’an, ibn Kathir; Dar al A’hiya a’turath al Arabi, Volume 1, 103. Masnad al Ansar, Imam Ahmed: Dar al A’hiya a’turath al Arabi, Volume 6, 471. Sunnan a’Tirmizi, Dar al Kittab, 1994, Volume 8, 135.

[10] Ibid.



[13] Khurram Murad, Islamic Movement in the West: Reflections on some Issues (Leicester, UK: Islamic Foundation, 1981).

[14] Murad, Islamic Movement in the West.

[15] Al Zamakshari, Tafsir al- Kashshaf (Cairo, 1953, vol. 2, 16).

[16] Fakharadin A’razi, al-Tafsir al-kabir, 32 vols, (Cairo: al-Matba'ah al Bahiyyah al-Misriyyah, 1938).

[17] “Leading imam during Cartoon Crisis regrets involvement,” CPH Post, last updated July 30, 2013,

[18] See Abid ibn Muhammad Sufyani,  Hukm al-zina fi al-qanun wa-alaqatuhu bi-mabadi huquq al-insan fi al-Gharb: Dirasah naqdiyah (Mawqif al-shariah al-Islamiyah min al-hurriyat) (Saudi Arabia: Tawzi Muassasat al-Mutaman, 1998).

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