A Mosque, in todays day and age has been reduced in stature. Make no mistake, the stature of a Mosque is still that of a place of respect, humility and submission. That is all good. Respect God, humble yourself before Him and Submit your will to His.
But the Mosque has one more feature attached to it that is of utmost importance; reach. The Mosques all around the world, and especially here in Pakistan are the central place for Muslims to gather possibly five times a day. This beats any congregation, any social media site or any other form of regular and focused exchange of ideas and communication.
Education and Mosques go a long way back. In fact, it is this lost status of the Mosque that I am trying to relive perhaps. A library for a start seems like the right step, given that now schooling at Mosques is stereotyped as ‘madarassas’. The madrassa itself has been negatively stereotyped. The problem is that most madrassas are not at all what you’d call a school. Compare that to the Al-Azhar University in Cairo (technically, a Mosque!) that produced Al-Ghazali, Al-Farabi, Ibn-e-Sina. These madrassa’s of Egypt, Basra & Cordaba (to name just a few) are now a relic, a has-been. I say this in the sense that now madrassa are a very, very far cry from these mighty instituitions.(For a bit more detail about Mosques and Education, read this article)
The Mosque near my house (in Bridge Colony, Lahore Cantt.) is a very well-maintained, neat and somewhat spacious place of worship. I have always eyed this Mosque with special interest; the upper floor of this Mosque is usually empty and qualifies as a small-medium sized hall. A well-equipped library on the top floor of my Mosque has been one of my pet projects that I think about during the my walk to and from that Mosque. I only think about it as goes my habit :/ and I still do not know how will this feat be achieved, and exactly what good will it bring. But I do know that Mosques are ‘approved’ and managed by local bodies and that a library, equipped according to the need of the colony that it is in, has a very strong possibility of drawing people from all walks of life; students to prepare for their exams, curious souls willing to read up on a certain verse of the Quran, intellectuals looking for a quite, peaceful place to carry their research and thoughts etc. The possibilities of any library will inherently be associated with the central aspect of the Mosque. Heck, someone there to read a novel might get the habit of congregational prayers, and some one coming for the Jumma prayer might stay over to finish his school essay project.
The obvious benefits are that a Mosque equipped with a library is like a hand to a glove; the atmosphere of learning can be reached with relatively minimal effort. From a marketing perspective (how could I not! ), the people coming to the Mosque are relatively more endowed with a faculty of heart and reason. Also, a library has its benefits and the effect on a society are even identifiable. Coupled with a Mosque’s ubiquitous, it might as well be an interesting experiment in itself.
I am also aware of some of the problems that can easily crop up; which Islamic books to keep? Sunnis will not want a book written by the leader of a Shia faction, Barailvis will steal to destroy books written by Ahl-Hadeeth writers etc. I for one do not subscribe to any of the above mentioned factions. I and a few friends do not subscribe to any faction for that matter; a Muslim is a Muslim is a Muslim. A well-reasoned argument by a Shia holds the exact same amount of water as an argument through reason by a Sunni scholar. These matters of grouping are not entertained by the Islam that I know and the great Prophet PBUH that I respect.
Coming back to the point, I want to get ideas on how this ‘Mosque Project’ can be brough to fruition; whom does one talk to, from where does one get books for such a thing and most importantly, is this idea even worth following up on. Are you, the reader of this post, in a position to start something of this sort in your Mosque? Ideas anyone?