Beltheshazzar & Abednego: The Mosque and its Role in Society
BY: ALBRECHT HAUSER
The building of new mosques in traditional European cities does not only change and affect the landscape but also sets a signal for a lasting presence of a religion which will not be satisfied to publicly only address issues relating to religion affairs, but rather wants to be a religion which will increasingly be an impressive and decisive voice in societal and political matters. The authors of this small booklet entitled “The Mosque and its Role in Society” are concerned to present a concise treaty to inform about the self-understanding of Islam. They illustrate this by explaining what the traditional roles of mosques are. This 40page pamphlet examines what function and role a mosque does have in the spreading of institutional Islam and what kind influence its existence does disseminate. The authors raise a warning voice against the increasing obvious and also hidden Islamization of Western democracies, since organized Islam tends to use the building of mosques to widen its territorial rule and sphere of influence.
The authors do know Islam from inside, as they have personally studied and practised Islam. They, however, have chosen to become Christians and therefore as former Muslims experience – even while living in Western countries – threats in regards to religious liberty. Therefore they are writing under a pseudonym. The booklet is in spite of its concise form authentic. It wants to leave no one in the dark as to the consequences of the growing number of representative mosques in Western countries. The authors live in England, so that the British context plays a particular role. The reason for writing this essay was the announcement of a planned mega-mosque, which would hold some 70,000 worshippers in Newham, East London, to be completed by the year 2012 when the Summer Olympic Games take place.
This booklet illustrates that a mosque is not only a meeting place for believers so that they can take part in ritual prayers and listen to sermons in order to have their personal piety and believes strengthened, but rather the place where the holistic life concept of Islam is proclaimed and confirmed. A mosque is a place where the spiritual leaders and legal Sharia experts – the Imams and Ulama – work on guiding the faithful in all aspects of Islam. They are thus concerned that all of life be modelled into the Islamic way of life, including the societal, legal and political matters and affairs. This booklet amply illustrates through references from the Quran and the Hadith that Islam is not a religion which can be pushed out of the public arena into a kind of private corner. The ideological and political aspects of Islam are based on the Quran and the normative life and sayings of Mohammed. They are further established by the Shari’ah, which was developed in the early period of Islam. Thus it is considered that true knowledge is only enshrined in Islam. Therefore everything beside it is declared to be ignorance (in Arabic: jahiliya) and disbelieve. The mosque is the place where Islam is proclaimed, the call of the Minaret is the invitation to accept Islam. All aspects of Shari’ah are considered to be of divine origine, encompassing the pious rituals as well as armed Jihad. The mosque is the place where Islamic thinking is spread. It is also the place where strategies and concepts for Islamization are worked out and actions for Jihad planned. It is therefore not a matter of surprise that in the past and present occasionally even weapons are found in mosques.
The booklet makes references to past and present examples and some prominent Islamic voices are quoted, e. g Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi who said in a Fatwa, Oct 21 2001 (see p.15): “… 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 …. 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 nonpolitical. Politics as a science is one of the best disciplines, and as a practice and career it’s the most honourable.” Al-Qaradawi goes on and wonders how on earth the politicians of today could demand mosques to refrain from politics, since it is especially the mosque which gives the state the impulse for guidance. al-Qaradawi further asserts that from the beginning the mosque was the legitimate place to define the enemies of Islam. He also states that the mosque has always played a key role for Jihad, even in the youngest example of the “blessed Intifada”. The vital role of the mosque in the Afghan Jihad as well as any other Islamic Jihads activities is according to al-Qaradawi without dispute.
The pamphlet reasons that the vital role of the mosque in Islam is a generally acknowledged fact. This is derived from the Islamic concept of the whole world being a mosque (Surah 3:19; 3:83-85). At this point the booklet elaborates how deeply rooted the Islamic thinking of “Dar al-Islam” (House of Islam) and “Dar al-Harb” (House of War) is in the minds of Muslims: in one realm Islam is ruling whereas in the other one Islam is not yet established. The purpose of Da’wa (“mission work”) and Jihad in Islam is to overcome all societal and governmental resistance in order to establish the Islamic way of life and Islam as the only legitimate faith. The booklet quotes one of the most influential Islamic thinkers, Abu Ala Maududi, who was a pioneer in the rediscovery of Jihad in modern times. The role and meaning of migration (Hijra) during the spread of Islam is discussed as well as the role of faithful Muslims in Western democracies. Helpful is also the explanation of various Islamic words, including the concept of Taqiyya which permits to abstain from the truth if it furthers Islam or personal matters between husband and wife or if it is otherwise opportune for someone.
Through a number of examples and texts the booklet illustrates how in Islamic thinking mosques function in a certain area as a territorial allocation in order to overcome unbelief in “Dar al-Harb” and thus establish “Dar al-Islam”. This general idea about the role of a mosque needs to be considered, regardless of the group which asks for permission to build it and in spite of the many historical and contemporary inner Islamic movements and fractions which at times fight against one another.
A number of contemporary Fatwas (legal opinions) are presented answering the questions of the different law schools, whether “unbelievers” (including Jews and Christians) are allowed to enter a mosque. How to handle the relation with unbelievers and under which circumstances they could even play a role when a mosque is opened is illustrated through a Fatwa of 5 April 2000. Here a reference to Mohammed is made and his contract from Hudabiya with the Meccan people. This refers to a historical event in the life of Mohammed when through tactical skills he outwitted the unbelieving Meccans through a strategy, which finally sealed the victory of the Muslims over the inhabitants of Mecca. Many Muslims conclude from this event that contracts with unbelievers are always temporary and only binding as long as it serves the cause of Islam.
Through this well researched essay it becomes obvious that Islam is not prepared to play the role of a minority, since Islam as the final religions does not allow to be spoken against. Islam aims at dominating the whole world and the justification for this is derived from and founded in the Quran and the sayings of Mohammed. This small book answers questions which arise naturally when a certain group aims at building a representative mosque which quite often turns out to be much more spacious than the actual need. This booklet illustrates also that nothing in Islam is apolitical. It is made obvious what kind of struggles and problems can be expected when through pragmatic consideration the long range consequences of Islamic thinking are not taken adequately into account.