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  • Writer's pictureAslam Abdullah

Role of the Mosque in Medina under the Prophet and Mosques Today

Updated: May 29

By Dr. Abdullah Al Ahsan

In response to my previous article on the role of mosques and Islamic centers in the United States, I received one comment suggesting that the mosques in the United States are not designed to conduct discussions on political issues because of their tax status as non-profit institutions. Does this prevent them from taking the initiative to undertake educational activities? Not. One of the prime objectives of institutions such as mosques, Islamic centers, and community centers is to educate people about their civic and political rights and responsibilities. However, achieving this objective without jeopardizing the tax status is a challenging task, but in my view, it is achievable with sound legal preparation and wise planning.

This subject reminds me of the early days of the Prophetic movement in Makkah. The prophet attracted attention and received active support from his uncle Abu Talib, a leading figure of the Makkan establishment. Why did Abu Talib support the Prophet (sm)? In my humble understanding, Abu Talib supported him not just he happened to have been his nephew, but also because of the issues that the Prophet stood for. The issues that the Prophet stood for were human dignity – no human  andourwould become lord over other humans; rights of the poor, orphans, wayfarers must be secured etc. In addition, Abu Talib was convinced about the Prophet’s trustworthy character.

As for the current situation in the United States, we know very well that campus protesters clearly stand for justice for the people of Palestine. They endorse Palestinian rights to their homeland, their right to self-determination, and, on top of everything, their dignity. These students come from diverse religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. As we have suggested earlier, the Muslim situation in America is very similar to those of the early days of the Prophetic movement. Therefore, mosques and Islamic centers should educate Muslim youths on how to interact with their non-Muslim students on campuses. Let us not be bogged down in, and, discussing issues related to who and how one is going to be salvaged in the hereafter with our non-Muslim colleagues. WeDespitehe Prophet’s desire to have Abu Talib recite shahadah (statement of the faith) in his deathbed, it did not happen. Let us be more respectful of one’s individual faith and devote our attention to common civilizational values such as human dignity, the right to education, self-determination, respect for life, social cohesion, family values, etc.

Professor Abdullah al-Ahsan, a graduate of the University of Michigan, has dedicated nearly three and a half decades to teaching history, comparative civilization, and international relations in Pakistan, Malaysia, and Turkey. Currently residing in Chicago, he continues to contribute his expertise in academia.




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