In South Africa there are an estimated 1847 masajid.
With so many masajid and Muslims, one would expect the influence of the masajid and Muslims to, at least, equal that of the banks.
Perish the thought!
The situation is rather grim.
Despite the aforementioned statistics, there appears to be a crisis of confidence, small-minded leadership and lack of direction resulting in incoherent programs resulting in much wasteful and fruitless activity and resources.
A similar comparison may reflect this state of affairs of Muslims everywhere.
We must ask why and more importantly, answer that question.
By way of example, the late Dr Kalim Siddiqui pointed out that Muslims in the Indian subcontinent built 2000-3000 masajid while they were running a state.
And despite their small numbers, they ruled for 750 years.
He goes on to say that in the 150 years of subsequent colonial rule, Muslims went on to build 40,000 masajid.
He characterizes this change as a transition from masajid being a symbol of Islam’s power to being a symbol of defeat.
The proliferation of masajid is a symptom of a larger problem, viz. the reduction of Islam to rituals.
The beloved Prophet of Allah (pbuh) spent the formative years of the Islamic Movement in the quest to relocate power and authority back to its divine source.
In these years he was surrounded by very dedicated and committed Muslims, some of whom were wealthy, yet the Muslims built no masjid.
The Haram al Sharif/Inviolable Sanctuary in Makkah was there but despite the persecution the Muslims faced they never built any other masjid.
The obligatory salah was effected for about two years by the time Allah’s Prophet was forced to leave Makkah due to a real life-and-death struggle.
The Muslims were learning, teaching and meeting at Dar al Arqam but it was not a masjid.
When the Prophet (pbuh) entered Madinah one of his first acts was to build a masjid.
What was the difference?
Why no masjid was built during 13 long years in Makkah and then virtually overnight the first masjid after the hijrah was built followed by a second shortly thereafter?
It was the status of the Muslims that changed!
The Islamic Movement transitioned from the quest to relocate power and authority back to its divine source to having obtained that power and the masjid symbolized it.
This is so unlike today’s Muslims who build these hollow structures wherever Muslims pop up in any number.
But Islam and Muslims have no influence.
Muslims don't fathom the goal and mission of the Islamic Movement to relocate power and authority to its divine source, but we are keen to build masajid everywhere?
And we do so assuming that we are the darlings of Allah doing the Deen a service.
Allah will throw this false religiosity in our faces like a dirty rag and all this ritualistic obsession will be in vain.
For 13 years the Prophet's actions told us: “when you don't have power, you don't need a Masjid.”
And before some of our hasty and shallow Muslims who don't think things through want to state that the Muslims of Makkah were living in their homeland while today Muslims are living in minority situation (with added excuses that the architectural purpose of a masjid is meant to functionalize the local community, give visibility to multiple identities, and ensure continuity of Islam), they should take note that the Muslims who were a "minority" in Al Habasha (the Horn of Africa), where they sought political asylum, they did not build any masjid either.
The first masjid in Al Habasha was built when the Muslims had power in Al Madinah and it appears to be after about 30 years.
Notably, even though Muslims were already under state protection in Habasha before the Islamic power base came into existence in Al Madinah and while the mandatory salah was already decreed, they did not build any masjid in Habasha.
This lesson seems to be lost on today’s ritual heavy Muslims.
Sadly, as we take note of how today’s Muslims have become almost obsessed with rituals and building masajid, it is worthwhile to recall a sample of the prophetic descriptions of masajid:
Muslims should answer the burning question as to why we are in such a sorry state and determine whether the reorganizing of resources, people and material can be more effective through revitalizing the network of masajid along Islamic political and ideological thought lines.