This is the khutba (sermon) that I gave at the Bruce Avenue Mosque in Ashland on Feb. 29, 2008
Wesley Ja'far Porter
بسمالله الرحمان الرحيم الحمدلله رب العلمين و الصلاة و السلام رسولالله
Do you know the last public place where the Messenger of Allah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam was seen? He was seen in the Masjid. About 3 days before he passed away, Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu was leading the prayer and the Masjid was full with an ummah of men and women prepared to illuminate the world with their da'wah. The Prophet's house opened up to the Masjid; there was a curtain separating his room and the prayer hall. He opened the curtain, saw the congregation, and saw his khalifah, Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu, leading the prayer. The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam smiled like the moon. The companions saw him while they were in prayer, and from their happiness, almost lost control of the prayer. The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam then drew his curtain, and three days later returned to his Lord subhaanahu wa ta 'aala.During the life of the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, there was a woman who used to sweep the Masjid with her hands, picking up the dirt and disposing of it. In the sight of the community her status was not that high, but in the sight of Allah and her Messenger sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, she held a different rank. She passed away one night and the Companions, not wanting to disturb the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, washed and buried her without informing him. The next day, the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam recognized her absence and inquired about her. They told him about her demise and how they had not wanted to disturb him. The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam was not happy at the action they took. He went to her grave and prayed for her there.What is a masjid? Many have misunderstood the role that the masjid plays in the development of the community. In some countries, it is a place where the tribal Imam is buried and worshipped. In other countries, it is a place only for prayer; absolutely nothing else will be tolerated. And in yet other countries, not even prayers are performed in it, so-much-so that the country may finally decide to convert it into a museum or a church, wa 'auzoo billah. Dear brothers and sisters, I would like to introduce you to our masjid!! In the literal term, masjid means a place of prostration. However, in the technical sense, a masjid is any clean place on earth, as the Messenger of Allah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said: "The earth has been made for me a masjid". So meaning that any clean place on earth can be a place for prayer. However, the term masjid has come to mean more commonly, a building that is used by a particular Muslim community for daily prayers and other activities such as halaqas, nikah ceremonies, janaza etc. Allah swt commanded us to honor and enliven the masjid by remembering him within it's walls .Allah (swt) says, " fee buyootin athina Allahu an turfa'aa wayuthkara feeha ismuhu yusabbihu lahu feeha bialghuduwwi waal asali". ( 'this light is found' in houses which Allah has allowed to be exalted and that His name shall be remembered therein. In there, offer praise to him in the morning and the night.) This holy verse is Allah commanding us to spend time in the masjid frequently, and to give praise to him from morning to night, and that in such a place, there is a light. It has been said that the masajid of the Earth lights the sky for the dwellers of the heavens, just as stars light the sky for the dwellers of the Earth. Now when we all are older, we all want to have a nice retirement home to be proud of right? So listen to this offer. The prophet Muhammad (sws) said, whoever builds a masjid, seeking the pleasure of Allah, Allah shall build a house for him in Jenna". Now what better retirement home can we ask for than a home built by Allah (swt) in Jennah? No house of this dunya could possibly compare to what may await us in Jennah, and only Allah (swt) knows who of us will attain that. So, let us all strive for that reward insha'Allah. The masjid has played many roles throughout our history as an Ummah. Children have known the masjid as a place where parents would take them from when they first could remember. The prophet (sws) used to pray while holding Umamah, the daughter of Zaynab, and when he would make sujood, he would gently put her on the floor next to him, and when he would get up, he would pick her up with him. The masjid is also a place for education. The prophet (sws) also said, " "No gatherings gather in a masjid, reciting the book of Allah and teaching it to one another, except that serenity befalls them, mercy envelops them, the angels surround them and Allah mentions them to [the inhabitants of the heavens]". This illustrates just how much Allah loves for us as brothers and sisters to gather to teach and learn from each other about Allah (swt) and His deen. No doubt all of us have felt the sense of peace and serenity, the sakina we feel when we gather with our brothers and sisters in Islam to share and teach other what we know of our deen, and that serenity is more profound here in the masjid then it is anywhere else. The masjid is also a place of shelter for the musafr. At the time of the prophet (sws) travelers would find shelter at the Masjid an Nabawi and the prophet (sws) would grant them shares of charity. And, speaking of that it was also a place where sadaqa was collected, and insha'Allah from now on we will have a sadaqa box here at the masjid for those who wish to give for the sake of Allah. The prophet (sws) said, "Give sadaqa, even if only with a half a date". So even if you have pocket change that you can spare, give it in sadaqa, gain the rewards, the ajr and the baraka from Allah (swt), and let us make a collective decision to use it towards the betterment of our community. The masjid is also a place of shura. A place that those who we consider leaders can meet and discuss matters relating to our communities. And, last but not least, it is a place for serenity. A place to escape the hustle and bustle of the dunya and relax in the comfort of Allah's house. I'll never forget the last time I was able to visit Masjid Al Aqsa in Al Quds, I and two other brothers were walking the streets of the old city of Jerusalem when we realized that it was time for Asr. So, we went in to the Haram al Shariff to pray Asr.It was particularly hot that day but inside the masjid it was nice and cool, especially down on the carpet. Afterwards we all laid down on the carpet, in front of the minbar, and fell fast asleep, and I remember feeling so incredibly relaxed in that place, as though I could lay there forever. Subhan Allah! We woke up about two hours later realizing that we were running late for our next engagement so we left, but I will always remember that experience of falling asleep in Masjid Al Aqsa and how tranquil and peaceful I felt in that place. As with almost everything in Islam, the masjid has rights! The masjid is al bayt Allah, the house of Allah, and has rights over us just as anything does. The first right, is that whenever someone enters the baytullah, they should pray two rakat. The prophet Muhammad (sws) said "If any of you enters the masjid, let him not sit down until he makes two rakaat.". Second, no business should take place in the masjid. The prophet said, " Whoever sells in the masjid, say to them 'May Allah make your sale fail". Third, the masjid should be kept clean and fresh smelling. The messenger (sws) said, "Whoever eats garlic, should not attend our place of prayer (until the smell is gone)." Fourth, advice should be given to fellow Muslims. When the prophet (sws) saw someone not praying correctly he would advise them and teach them the proper way. So we should not be afraid to help each to do things correctly when we see someone making a mistake, and likewise we should not take offense if someone corrects us, after all we are only human. We all know that many times when we go to the masjid we see people doing something "a little off" in their salat, and in American culture it is often times thought to be kind of rude to correct such a thing, just as it's rude to tell someone their getting fat, but it is the sunnah of our messenger (sws) to advise and remind each other when there is something noticeable that needs corrected. Fifth, Allah (swt) should be remembered frequently while you are in the masjid. Allah (swt) says, " ya ayyuha alatheena amino othkuroo Allaha dhikran katheeran" (O you who believe, remember Allah with much remembrance). Make a lot of dhikr while in the masjid, although it doesn't have to be as elaborate as that of the Sufis. Make tasbih, recite Qur'an, make du'a constantly while in the masjid so that you may maximize the amount of blessings from Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) give us the blessing of being amongst those that establish the masjid and are included amongst those whom Allah (swt) loves.A Qulu qawli hatha wa stag fir Allahi walakumMy brothers and sisters in Islam. We may not have a beautiful minbar or mihrab. We may not have elaborate designs decorating our walls and windows. We may not have minarets reaching high into the sky, nor do we have a master quality sound system or a plasma screen tv for our sisters. This place may not be what many of us are "used to" calling a masjid, but this is indeed OUR masjid. Since I've been staying here in Ashland, I'm noticing that the masjid is not used other than on Fridays for jum'ah. I would encourage all of us to take advantage of this blessing that Allah has given us in having our own masjid here. Our messenger (sws) said that if he could, he would BURN the houses of those men who pray only in their houses, and neglect the masjid. Many Muslims in other communities of similar size don't even have something like this. We should first and foremost be thankful to Allah that we have such a place where we're not having to pay electric, gas, and water; it's just HERE for us to use. Then, I would like to suggest to those in attendance today that we firstly try to use the masjid for daily salat in addition to jum'ah, and also that maybe we think of other ways that we can utilize this great asset for the betterment of our community. I think it would be wonderful to establish halaqas, and/or even a madrasa for children in our area. I would also again like to suggest we keep a sadaqa box here and that maybe we can collectively decide how we might use money collected thru sadaqa either for expenses related to the masjid, or for local charity. Without a doubt Allah (swt) makes it clear to us how much he loves those who spend their time in the masajid so I pray again that Allah might help us to be those that make dkikr often in this baytullah, and accept our remembrance as part of our ticket into jennah. I pray that Allah help us to become closer as a community here in sleepy little Ashland, Ohio; to reach out to those brothers and sisters in our community who do not regularly visit the masjid, and to use our masjid as a place to reach out to the greater community in Da'wah, and mutual respect and recognition. May Allah (swt) accept our du'a, and forgive us our sins. May Allah keep us safe and in good iman both in our personal and public lives. May Allah give us the wisdom and guidance to be excellent examples of our deen to those who don't know and don't understand, so that their hearts may be softened to the message of Allah, and of our beloved prophet Muhammad (sws). Allahuma eghfirli Al Muslimeena wa Al Muslimat…Wa Al Mou'mineena wa Al Mou'minaat….Al Ahya'ee minhum wa Al amwat…Innaka samee'un minibus dawat…Qal Allah Ta'ala
Surat Wal Asr...
Wa Aqimi Salah