From the Desk of the Imam:
Why Pray Jama'a (with a group) in the Mosque?
12 Reasons Why We Should Pray In Congregation
1) Mosques are the most lovable places on earth to Allah. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "The best water on earth is the water of Zamzam and the best places on earth are Mosques." Narrated by Abdul Razzaq.
2) Mosques are meant to be alive with people remembering Allah through prayers, zikr and recitation of the Holy Qur'an. Allah said: "Within houses of worship which God has decreed to be raised and for His name to be ever remembered in them; giving due exaltation to Him therein-in the early mornings and late afternoons- are men whom neither commerce nor selling diverts from the remembrance of God or (from) the establishment of the prayer or the giving of Zakah}, An-Nour 36-37.
3) Allah urged us to pray Jama'a, and the true believer is the one who responds to the call from Allah. Allah said: "Rather you shall (duly) establish the prayer and you shall give the charity and you shall bow (to God in prayer) along with those who bow to Him." Al Baqarah, 43. The reference was (along with those) as a group.
4) Allah witnessed of the faith and guidance of those who pray Jama'a in the Mosques. Allah said: "Indeed, the only ones worthy of maintaining services in the mosques of God are those who believe in God and (in the coming judgment of) the last Day, and who (duly) establish the prayer and give charity and who fear none but God, whereof it may be that these shall be among (rightly) guided." At-Tawbah, 18.
5) The ones who regularly pray Jama'a and whose hearts are attached to the Mosques are under the shade (protection) of Allah on the Day of Judgment. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Seven are shaded under the shade of Allah on the Day of Judgment," and he named of those seven, "a man whose heart is attached to the Mosques." Narrated by Bukhari.
6) Allah made attending the Mosques one of the reasons for your sins to be cleared. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Shall I tell you about things you can do for Allah to erase your sins and raise your levels?" They said: "Yes O Prophet of Allah!" He said: "Performing full ablution even during harsh conditions, many steps to the Mosques, and waiting for Salah after Salah. That is the Ribat (act of Jihad effort), that is the Ribat, that is the Ribat." Narrated by Muslim.
7) The Prophet (PBUH) gave glad tidings to those who walk to the Mosques in the darkness of night that they will enjoy the full light on the Day of Judgment.
Narrated by Abu Daoud.
8) The ones who pray in the Mosques are guests of Allah, and it is a duty of the Host to honor His visitors. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Whoever cleansed himself at home and perfected his ablution and then came to the Mosque is a visitor to Allah, and it is a duty on the host to honor his guests." Shoab El Iman.
9) Allah is pleased when people come to Mosques to pray. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Allah will welcome with happiness someone who makes ablution, perfects it and comes to the Mosque, the way the family of someone traveling would welcome him when he returns." Narrated by Ibn Majah.
10) Praying in Mosques is rewarded more than praying at home. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Praying in a group is better (in rewards) than praying alone by 27 times."
Narrated by Bukhari
11) Glad tidings were given by the Prophet (PBUH) for those who attend prayer in Mosques for forty days. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Whoever prays to Allah for forty days in congregation, being present at time of Takbeeratul Ihram (saying Allahu Akbar when beginning prayer), it will be documented for him to be saved from hell and saved from being a hypocrite." Narrated by Tirmizi.
12) The Prophet (PBUH) was serious in threatening those who boycott Jama'a at Mosques (also reflecting a change of loyalty). The Prophet (PBUH) said: "By the One whom my soul is in His Hand, I thought about when the prayer is called, to assign someone as imam, and I would go to the men never witnessing (attending) prayer in Jama'a with us to burn their houses on them." Narrated by Bukhari.
O servants of Allah, answer the call of righteousness and book for yourselves a share from such rewards. The great Tabiei (second generation of believers after the Sahabah) Imam Saied, son of Musayyab said: "For thirty years, never did the Mu'azzin (caller for prayer) call for prayer that I wasn't in the Mosque." Also, Suleiman, son of Mahran used to say to his daughter while she cried over his sickness of death: "Cry or don't cry, by Allah I never missed the first Takbeerah of prayer in Jama'a for the past sixty years."
Sh. Kifah Mustapha
July Arabic Monthly Program
"In Support of the Salah Family"
On Saturday, July 14, the community gathered in a show of support for the family of Mohammed Salah after his sentencing of 21 months in prison and a $25,000 fine for an obstruction of justice charge was announced earlier in the week. Speaking at the program were Rafiq Jaber, Abdel Baset Hamayel, Sh. Jamal Said, as well as Mohammed Salah himself. "We were disappointed with the outcome, but it's still considered a victory considering what the government was trying to go after," Salah said, addressing the audience of supporters, "I feel I owe you 6 or 7 years of my life, because that's what you saved me in community service." Sh. Jamal Said answered by saying, "You've already given your share of community service to this community since the first day we've known you, always helping, even as far as picking up trash around the parking lot."
Mohammed Salah, his gentle and generous nature shining through, closed with these words, "Pray for Dr. Ashqar and Dr. Al-Arian. Every victory is a milestone for us. I will always be a loyal son to you, and I thank you for everything you've done for me." Indeed, our prayers and support will always be with those who have suffered.
164 Children Learn About Their Faith in the
Mosque Foundation Summer School
Who says summer school can't be fun? Certainly none of the 164 students in the Mosque Foundation Summer Qur'an School would say ever that! Along with a stringent educational program, the summer school also offers a barrage of field trips, Islamically themed craft projects, as well as community based projects to teach morals and values, and with low tuition costs of $120 per student, it's affordable for everyone. This six week program is focused on character building through involvement, using Surat al Furqan verses 63-77, which mentions the Muslim character, as a guide. The children can reflect on the wonder of Allah's creation of nature through field trips to the Shedd Aquarium and the Children's Garden. Lessons of social responsibility are learned through such activities as the food drive, which has already collected over one thousand non-perishable food items for the Mosque Foundation Community Food Pantry, and the Neighborhood Clean-a-thon where the children scour the surrounding neighborhood picking up trash to promote a clean and healthy environment. The children are also learning about the reward of sadaqah jariya (continuous charity) by collecting new clothes, shoes, and gently used toys for the Donation Sale for which all proceeds are to be donated to the Mosque Foundation Expansion Project, as well as the monetary collection of $1,500 for the Orland Park Prayer Center which the children personally delivered to the mosque. There are always valuable lessons to be learned through cooperation, as the students learned firsthand how it would feel to be the Ansar and the Muhajireen. The Mosque Foundation Summer School in coordination with the MAS Summer Camp each had their students visit the other to re-enact this scenario. The visitors in each case were the Muhajireen, who were given lunch and a gift from their hosts, the Ansar. Each child, when it was their turn to be Ansar, brought an extra lunch and a small gift to be given to a visiting child. Amal Kisswani, one of the twenty volunteer teachers, states, "I am so proud of this group of teenage girls I have. Instead of spending their time in malls just hanging out, these girls chose to come here to learn and improve their Islam." Wala, one of the students says, "Sometimes I feel like the weekend is too long to wait to come back here." Bothaina Zahdan, Coordinator of the Summer Qur'an School says the main goal of the program is to build the relationship between the student and his parents, his mosque, and his community. Many thanks to the dedicated team of volunteers, that goal is certainly being achieved.
Newly Appointed School Superintendent Invited to
Discuss Arabic Language in Local Public School
The Mosque Foundation is continuously working hard behind the scenes for the benefit of our community. On July 9, 2007, Tom Smyth, the newly appointed Superintendent for Ridgeland School District 122, and Julie Shellberg, Assistant Superintendent for Specialized Programs for District 122, were invited to the Mosque Foundation to meet with representatives of the mosque and United Power for Action and Justice to discuss the issue of initiating an Arabic language program in their district. Ridgeland District 122 consists of elementary and middle schools from preschool to eighth grade, covering a large area of Oak Lawn and Chicago Ridge. They recently received a $100,000 grant to introduce Spanish as a foreign language to the eighth grade class in Simmons Middle School this coming fall. With a very large percentage of Arab students in their district, 40% at Kolb School alone, they agreed to research the possibility of adding Arabic along with Spanish at Simmons Middle School. "Our main issues right now are the large class sizes, and the lack of funding for the district since our referendum didn't pass in the last election," Mr. Smyth stated frankly. "We've already had to cut some of our programs like art and band this year, so the possibility of adding something new right now will never work unless our referendum passes in the next election." Every destination is reached one step at a time, and the Mosque Foundation will continue to pursue this important issue. A town hall meeting is in the planning stages to involve parents, students, and the community, while our representatives continue to meet with school officials, having already met with the principals of Oak Lawn Community High School and Amos Alonzo Stagg High School. We remain hopeful that this will indeed become a reality in the near future.
Community Center Filling the Void
In this day and age, where can a teenage boy go to have fun with friends and increase his faith at the same time? Thankfully, there is such a place right around the corner filling this need seven days a week. It's the Mosque Foundation Community Center (MFCC), a safe environment for teenage boys and girls to have fun, listen to lectures, and hang out with friends. The Mosque Foundation Community Center offers recreational, educational, social and religious activities to maintain good health, good habits, and good manners. Programs such as these can make a world of difference for adolescents, especially filling a void for public school kids who might not have the opportunity to learn about their religion in their regular school curriculum. Ahmad Ahmad, an eighth grader at Worth Jr. High School, has been attending the youth programs at MFCC for the past two years. Ahmad says he has made many new friends at MFCC and his parents are happy that it has given him something beneficial to do. "The counselors here are nice. They play around with us like friends and don't really make us feel like they are higher than us," Ahmad says while naming the counselors who've made a lasting impression on him, "Abu Bakr, Ali, and Abdel Rahman, and there's another kid named Ameen who always helps everybody." Among the activities Ahmad says he enjoys the most at MFCC are the contests with cool prizes, like Six Flags Great America tickets for the Team Charade winners, and $100 for the talent show winner. He also enjoys the Qur'an class with Sh. Kifah, and being able to use the weights and exercise equipment. Yaqoub Ayyad, a junior this fall at J. Sterling Morton West High School is another public school student who feels MFCC has filled a void in his life. Yaqoub loves praying in a group with the other boys, and says the boys always encourage each other in their faith. He comes here almost every boys' night to learn more about Islam, exercise, and hang out with friends. "There are only four or five Muslims in my whole school," Yaqoub says, "so this place means a lot to me. Here, they understand me, it makes us feel close." Yaqoub also credits the counselors for giving the boys sound advice for everyday life, and offers this invitation to other kids who haven't come to MFCC yet, "This is a fun place, you will keep your prayers on time, learn respect and learn trust." For more information about the Mosque Foundation Community Center, call (708) 598-6307.
Creating a Beautiful Hobby
The girls sit in a relaxed atmosphere, laughing and chatting about friends, shopping, and broken summer diets at family barbeques, while their hands move rhythmically, stitching colorful threads of yarn in and out through plastic canvas, each one creating her own unique design. The Arts & Crafts Club, one of the summer youth programs offered at the Mosque Foundation Community Center, gives these girls a chance to learn how to make their own hand crafted art projects, while also giving them a welcome break from the monotony of summer vacation. The Club is led by Maha Abuzir, an Arts & Crafts teacher at Universal School, who volunteers her time to give these girls an outlet for their creative energy as she instructs them in various craft projects. Smaller groups guarantee more personal instruction with seven girls in the Beginner group and five girls in the Advanced group. The girls are focused on designing and creating jewelry boxes, key chains, and book marks out of yarn and plastic canvas. Some of the girls are keeping their work, while others plan to give them as gifts. Mrs. Abuzir has a gentle rapport with the girls as she praises them for their steady work and creativity. "I like the Craft Club because we're doing something fun and at the end we end up with something beautiful," says Abrar Najjar. "I thought coming here would just give me something to do, but it gave me a hobby," Yusra Zarzour quietly chimes in. All of the girls agree that the Arts & Craft Club is a great way to enjoy the summer vacation. For more information about youth programs at the Mosque Foundation Community Center, call (708) 598-6307.
"In the Shade of Faith"
This month's program spotlight features "In the Shade of Faith," Sh. Kifah Mustapha's weekly lecture in English. This program started in 1999 before Sh. Kifah was hired in the Mosque Foundation as Associate Imam and Director, and was held on Tuesday evenings scattered between his frequent traveling. Since 2002, the program moved to Thursday evenings and has been a regular fixture in the Mosque Foundation with a weekly audience of over one hundred men and women of all ages. "This was one of the early projects in the Mosque Foundation to direct programs to the English speaking audience, which was visibly growing at that time," Sh. Kifah said, adding, "the benefits are usually more for the speaker than the audience, and preparing for this class has become my own private weekly mihrab." Sh. Kifah covers a variety of subjects in a series format, and one of the major advantages of this format is the attention to details he covers in his lessons. This attention to details resonates with the audience, says Amy Thompson, "I like learning the details, it helps in everyday life. His lectures are not generalized, and I like that he always gives all the opinions of a matter but goes with the mainstream." Mivret Destani, originally from Albania says, "The topics are important and relevant, and it reinforces what I'm trying to teach my kids. He speaks clearly, which is something important for us." Along with the yearly "Fiqh of Fasting" and "Hajj" series, Sh. Kifah has covered such helpful topics as Marriage and Divorce, Death, Raising Kids in Islam, and Social Diseases, as well as more advanced topics such as the Khulafa, the Sahabah, and Aqeedah. "I hope this class goes on as long as we're able to have him," says Nahida Abdallah, who has regularly attended this lecture for over two years, "he makes us understand our religion." Sh. Kifah's class is held every Thursday evening, one hour before Isha prayer, and all are welcome to attend.
Fun in the Sun
Where can a sister enjoy outdoor swimming and water slides while still maintaining her modesty? The answer of course is the Mosque Foundation's annual summer trip to Deep River Water Park in Indiana. On Saturday, July 14, twenty four full busloads of sisters left the Mosque Foundation parking lot to enjoy the water park, rented exclusively for women by the Mosque Foundation, and closed to the public during that time. This is the Mosque Foundation's fourth trip to the water park since 2005, and it's clear from the 1,766 tickets sold that sisters of all ages anticipate the opportunity to enjoy the water rides and socialize with friends in an exclusive outdoor setting. Women came from Villa Park, Lombard, and as far away as the north side of Chicago, and parts of Wisconsin for this fun summer trip, and each year the number increases. A special thanks goes out to Al-Siddiq Weekend School's Mother's Club for organizing this trip, and for understanding the needs of our sisters.
Monthly English Program
"What Quality of Spirituality Do We Need?"
On Saturday, July 28, 2007, the Mosque Foundation Monthly English Program welcomed Dr. Waleed Khair, a prominent physician and khateeb at many local mosques. "I had the honor of having Dr. Waleed as my mentor for about two years," said Sh. Kifah Mustapha in his introduction, "and no one can ever sit with him for even a few minutes without learning something new."
Dr. Khair, who is a very charismatic and animated speaker, spoke excitedly about the quality of spirituality every human being needs. "The spirituality which is our goal is the type which creates a new society, a new vision, and new values to become better human beings, not the type that separates us from society. A balanced human being is capable of producing a change." Dr. Khair further elaborated, "When I explain to my patients what the medication is and what it is for, no one will ever need to remind them to take it because they understand." The key to understanding is knowledge, and knowledge should produce positive actions.
Dr. Khair mentioned that the difference between a mystic and a prophet is that the mystic is secluded in his spirituality and worshipping practices, whereas a prophet's mission is to live among the people, keeping his entire daily life as a form of worship; individualism vs. sharing and spreading. As we know, Allah commanded us to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet (PBUH), rather than seclude ourselves from society.
May Allah reward Dr. Khair for his enlightening program, and continue to use him as a guidance and source of learning for others.
Mosque Foundation Expansion Project
Expansion in 3 floors, doubling the current prayer space and adding much needed facilities for functional activities:
Basement- Expansion: Multipurpose prayer hall with babysitting and childcare facilities, kitchen and classrooms, with the existing basement to be used for programs and activities, and additional prayer space for brothers, and the new addition to be used for sisters' activities and programs.
First Floor: Sisters' main prayer hall to accommodate at least 300 sisters with equal access to Mosque services, in addition to Imams' and Secretarial Offices.
Second floor - that will include a library and bookstore, a boardroom, offices and additional prayer space.
Additional Parking Lot: In addition to facility expansion, the Mosque is purchasing an additional lot for 110 additional cars.
Total Additional space is approximately 27,000 Square Feet
Please send your tax deductible contributions today!
Thanks to all of you who have honored your past pledges and to all new donors. We collected $260 thousand on Friday July 13, 2007. Your prayers and financial support are greatly appreciated.