Why Muslims throng mosques during Ramadhan

Why Muslims throng mosques during Ramadhan

Imams and mosque committees need to think out of the box and come up with strategies meant to encourage Muslim faithful to come to mosques even after the holy month

Prayer is one of the central elements of Islamic practice and worship. Indeed, it is the second of the Five Pillars of Islam-along side the testimony of faith, the pilgrimage to Mecca, fasting the month of Ramadhan and paying the poor tax. All these form an essential framework of the religious life for Muslims.

However, as per tradition during this and previous holy months of Ramadhan, Muslims have outdone themselves by the sheer numbers they turn out to fill mosques for the obligatory five daily and Taraweeh (night) prayers.

A spot check by Muslim Times 3600 on different mosques reveals that many are choking, if not overwhelmed; by the numbers of faithful they have been receiving. 

Where these Muslim faithful have been for the past eleven months remains a mystery hence begging the question; why do Muslims throng mosques during Ramadhan only to desert them thereafter? 

Even as Imams castigate the trend of leaving mosques ‘orphaned’ (with no worshippers), it is a topic that continues to baffle many every Ramadhan with no strategies in place to maintain the numbers.

As Muslim Times 3600  found out, a variety of reasons contribute to this interesting phenomena.

According to Sheikh Ahmad Annajash the Imam of Huruma Mosque in Nairobi, Ramadhan is a once in a year ‘special offer sort of Ibadah’ whose rewards for deeds done is doubled. So naturally, Muslim faithful scramble to seize the opportunity.

Additionally, it is common knowledge among many Muslims that fasting in Ramadhan without performing prayer nullifies it (fast) hence the commotion we are witnessing in mosques at the moment.

Further, Sheikh Annajash explains that according to a famous hadith, Shaitan (satan) is locked up in chains during Ramadhan. “It is persuasions of shaitan that prevent many Muslim faithful from performing prayer.”

 On whether these occasional Muslims filling up mosques worship the month of Ramadhan or not, Sheikh Annajash says that their actions during this month can be assumed to be worshipping the same. “Their acts are translated for worshipping Ramadhan because it is only then that they are seen in mosques.”

The Imam of Masjid Noor Tassai-Riverbank, Nairobi, Siad Hassan, attributes the surge in numbers of Muslim faithful during Ramadhan to it being a month of mercy na imani iko juu.

“Ramadhan is a month of Rahma (mercy) and Allah is merciful; It is a month of Magfirah (forgiveness), Towbah (repentance) and the doors of jana are open; therefore every faithful is keen on capitalizing on the month. Hence the urge to go to mosques.

Sheikh Hassan Mubarak-the Imam of Umoja mosque, Nairobi, concurs that it is a topic that has many Muslims wondering what really transpires that mosques go empty after Ramadan.

He calls it ‘Ushabiki wa Ramadhani’ (cheering Ramadhan) and the best place to come out and cheer the month is the mosque. This is wrong!”

However, Sheikh Hassan blames the trend on lack of adequate Islamic knowledge and teachings and says; ”If only they knew of benefits to be derived from performing mandatory and congregational prayers in the mosque; then they would not trivialise prayer and by making it a seasonal affair.”

Sheikh Hassan is also categorical that the months of Ramadhan, Hajj among others are seasonal but prayer is not. Hence, on the Day of Judgment it is, Swalah (prayer) that will be taken into account before any other deed.

“If it (Swalah) will be okay, then automatically, all his other deeds will be okay and vice versa,” he says.     

For Sheikh Ahmed Khamisi Mwangauri an assistant registrar of Muslim marriages, he says that naturally when our stomachs are full, we tend to be rude and arrogant. Hence, in Allah’s wisdom, fasting is His way of subduing and humbling us. In the process, it increases the remembrance of Allah (SWT) by coming to the mosque.

Hamza Salim from Umoja, Nairobi, says that during Ramadhan Muslims put more emphasis on fasting and do not understand Swalah and will desert mosques immediately thereafter.

“The fast of Ramadhan is a month long exercise but prayer is an obligatory five times daily event till death.”

Muslim Times 3600  also had an opportunity to talk to several youth on the same topic.

According to Ali Omar mosques during Ramadhan are good places to seek refuge and preserving ones fast.

“Mosques are ideal places to preserve your fast because of the serene environment free of temptations.”

As for Umur Yunus from Kibera, Nairobi, he says that some of our Imams and mosque committees are corrupt and are a turn off to the youth to make them to come to mosques. “Muslim youth will agree with me that our leaders lack the moral authority to guide us.”

But what can Imams and mosque committees do to keep faithful interested long after the holy month of Ramadhan period?

 According to Sheikh Ahmad Annajash, imams should step up their da’aawa activities, offer more darsas and continuous mawaidha (religious lecturers) even after Ramadhan.

“As imams we cannot force Iman (faith) into anyone. However, emphasis should be made on making sure these faithful understand our reason for being created-which is, to worship Allah according to Qur’an 51:56 which states: “I (Allah) have created the jinn and humankind only for My worship.

Further, our stay on earth is temporary. Akhera (hereafter) is permanent.”

Additionally, Sheikh Annajash also recommends Hikma (wisdom) in reminding Muslim faithful. He also recommends striking a balance between worldly and spiritual approach.

“Maybe these faithful are unemployed and need to hustle, the government and rich Muslims work hard to create employment for our youth.” 

During his programme on Muslim radio station Iqra 95.0 F.M, Sheikh Hassan Kilele from Dandora, challenged fellow Imams not to castigate the occasional Muslims who fill up mosques during Ramadhan.

“Let’s get creative and find better ways of retaining these faithful in our mosques even after Ramadhan.” 

For Sheikh Hassan Mubarak, he suggests the use of dua (supplication) as strategy for remaining in prayer after Ramadhan. He refers us to Surah Al-Imran 3:200, “O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful.

Our beloved Prophet (SAW) told us that the hearts of the sons of Adam are as one between the fingers of the Most Merciful, and He directs them as He wills. He (SAW) often used to say, “O Controller of the hearts, make my heart adhere firmly to Your religion.”

Sheikh Hassan also stresses on the need to be thankful to Allah for steadfastness in prayer because it is He (Allah) who has given the Towfiq (The ability or opportunity to achieve success). “For those who are constant in prayer, do not boast about it, it is Towfiq from Allah.”

Further, Sheikh Hassan says we need to seek repentance. “Many have gone against the wishes of Allah and through Towbah (repentance), He (Allah) will make it easy for their hearts to love prayer. Towbah clears the way, therefore always offer Istigfar (Forgiveness) for sins committed.”

Sheikh Issa Suleiman-the assistant Imam at Adams Mosque, Nairobi recommends that mosques need to establish youth friendly facilities within their compounds. “This explains maybe why many youth leave the mosques soon after prayer-They see no need of hanging around.”

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