With the surge of Muslim Population in the US, the need to create Masjid(Mosque) is increasing as well. It’s understood by the wide variety of Muslims that being part of the Masjid construction is a good deed and increases their chances of entering Paradise. This understanding is based on the hadith narrated in Jami at-Tirmidhi by Uthman b Affan, source
Whoever builds a Masjid for (the sake of) Allah, then Allah will build a similar house for him in Paradise.
With the rise of Muslims Economic condition, with many Muslims taking lucrative Jobs of Doctors, Lawyers and Engineers there is an outburst of Masjid construction in many parts of the country.
Building a place of worship is a good thing, no doubt about that. But, if not done properly, then this can become disastrous. I’m afraid this is what is happening currently. I’m going to point out five things which need to be changed ASAP. They are going to hurt us more in the long run, then they profit us in the short run.
The first thing is the way the fundraising is marketed. There are three parts
1- Hiring a speaker with a celebrity status in the Muslim Community. Some examples are below
This has resulted in a field where you have professionals who are using this as a source of income. They charge you either a fixed amount or a percentage of entire fund generation.
The problem with this is such professionals will twist and turn the original sources until and unless they are able to meet the funding requirement. There will be a sort of competition where they will be divided into tiers based on the amount of funding that can be done. The Masjid becomes a marketplace of competition instead of a place of worship.
PS: I’m not implying that the individuals mentioned in the above example charge any money. I’ve no such information.
2- Choosing a good time for the fundraising. This has resulted in choosing that month where people do most of their charity. The month of Ramadan. Since fundraising is a one-night event the night which is generally chosen is Lailat ul Qadr.
The way the fundraising program is usually set up is that it’s inserted between the Maghrib prayer and the Isha Prayer. In some cases it’s divided into two parts, the first part is before Isha prayer and the second part is in between the Taraweeh prayer. People who come specifically for praying Taraweeh–especially on Lailatul-Qadr get very disturbed because of this.
3- A very strong, mind washing, misleading punchline is used in the marketing emails and the pamphlets to attract people to fundraising.
4- The way fundraising is done is akin to how an auction is done. Since the goal of the Masjid is to maximize the funds in one night, people are pressurized into donation. Slogans like “how many brothers for 1k”, “how many sisters for 5k” are very common. An emotional and social pressure is put on people to donate money.
5- Lastly, and probably the most important point. Currently, the number of Masjids in a city or county are not regularized in any way. If you have enough money or can generate enough money, and if you have enough space to construct a building you are good to go. The problem with this is, a decent masjid takes about 500k USD for construction. During Fundraising events, people from all over the country are invited. It’s not a huge struggle to construct a Masjid. The problem emerges while maintaining it. Paying bills, paying for the Imaam, paying for repairs isn’t easy and the community may not be rich enough to support this cost. This amount is not always calculated. This leads to a very badly maintained masjid, run by an underpaid Imaam, monitored by a usually frustrated committee.
Giving charity for the construction of Masjid is very good. But, what is more important, is to give charity for people who are in need, firstly from within one’s family. As said in Qur’an Chapter 2 Verse 215
They ask you about what they should spend(in Charity). Tell them: ‘Whatever you spend is for your parents and kinsfolk and for the orphan and the destitute and the wayfarer [of your society]. And [rest assured] whatever good you do [will never go waste] because God is fully aware of it’.
This is a very hard task. You have to first be in touch with your family members, many may not tell you that they are in need and you will be faced with the hard task of deciphering it. A trait of such people is also mentioned in Qur’an in Chapter 2 Verse 273 while describing the state of people who had done Hijrah(Migration). Such trait is very common in people from our family as well.
…The ignorant take them for men of wealth on account of their modest behavior. You can recognize them by their faces – they are NOT annoyingly insistent in begging. [Help them] and [be aware that] whatever you spend [for this objective will necessarily earn a reward for you] because it is known to God.
You will have to ignore many things which you may not like about them, come up with a way to give the money without they feeling humiliated, and in the end swallow up any taunts which come from them, if any. This very point is stressed in Qur’an Chapter 3 Verse 134
Those who give charity in all circumstances whether they are in ease or in hardship and [even if they encounter any wrongdoing from those upon whom they spend] they curb their anger and forgive them [These are righteous] and God loves such righteous people.
When Masjid provides an alternate option for this hard task in the form of a ticket to heaven, people generally will go for it. In my opinion, this is against the teaching of Qur’an and a Masjid should be a place which should get people close to the teachings of Qur’an and not away from it. As of now, we don’t see this.
I really hope that such type of fundraising decreases and scholars teach people how truly to get into Jannah.