The meaning of masjid is: a place, time, or person that assists one to make sujood. Sujood means prostration – of the mind, body, and heart. It is how we submit to our Lord.
You can feel it when a place is assisting you towards this goal.
Of course, we know that God’s healing grace can and must be experienced anywhere and everywhere: in nature, at the workplace, in your home and even in your car. But a big part of our tradition is consecrating specific places and times, as well as relationships, for God and God Alone. When we dedicate specific places, times, relationships and actions to God Alone, the mind is trained to respond to this clear intentionality by having focus. As a result, these places, times, and relationships provide us khushu’ – the undistracted awareness of the Presence of God, a kind of pure connection.
Today, I meet many people who complain they don’t have this khushu’ in their prayers – their connection with God. Could the reason be that we are not taking the time to consecrate specific places and times in our lives for the purpose of connection? That the places we pray in are places we also use for a variety of other activities? Perhaps our connecting time merges too quickly into our distracted time – for example, we check our phones as soon as we are finished the movements of the Salah, so that the time for Salah doesn’t stand distinct from all other times?
It is so important for certain matters to stand distinct from the rest of life. It is for this reason that the scholars say it is not liked for a believer to wear the cloths of Ihram outside of Hajj and Umrah: this way of dressing is to be kept solely for the sacred purpose of Hajj and Umrah, its meaning not to be diluted by being adopted at any other time.
In these times we live in, when it’s hard to find concentration in our actions for God, we are in even greater need of consecration. We need sacred spaces that assist us to make sujood. Spaces where we can feel permission to not check our phones, where we are encouraged to leave our worldly concerns at the door and just dive into an ocean of connection and peace.
Understanding of the masjid’s role and mission has an impact on how we design, perceive, maintain and behave in our masjid buildings. The building should be beautiful inside and outside, it should help us to contemplate and praise God in silence, and should be a place where we feel no demands other than to be present. I hope you will feel this way about the Rhoda.
The Rhoda is a place where you can come anytime for silent meditation and reading Quran, or making dua. Weekdays are especially good for this. On Fridays, join us for congregational worship at midday, and then in the evening for a class to learn more about our Prophet (peace be upon him). The Rhoda is also a place for sacred relationships for the sake of God Alone: on Saturdays we gather in joy to remember our relationship with the Prophet (peace be upon him) and strengthen the relationships amongst ourselves as believers as we eat and serve together. Come with the intention of consecration and see how khushu’ is the fruit that comes of that.
God bless you,