In the Name of God, the Compassionate and Infinitely Merciful
As I read the Qur’an in English, which is my native language, I have repeatedly come across gems of verses; verses that I had heretofore never understood properly whenever I read them in Arabic. This passage, from Chapter 24, is one of these gems:
IN THE HOUSES [of worship] which God has allowed to be raised so that His name be remembered in them, there [are such as] extol His limitless glory at morn and evening – people whom neither [worldly] commerce nor striving after gain can divert from the remembrance of God, and from constancy in prayer, and from charity: [people] who are filled with fear [at the thought] of the Day On which all hearts and eyes will be convulsed, [and who only hope] that God may reward them in accordance with the best that they ever did, and give them, out of His bounty, more [than they deserve]: for, God grants sustenance unto whom He wills, beyond all reckoning. (24:36-38)
Notice that the verse begins with: “In the Houses [of worship] which God has allowed to be raised…” It is general term, much broader than “church” or “mosque” or “synagogue.”
Yet, more importantly, this passage outlines the purpose of these houses of worship: first, to have a sanctuary wherein the Name of the Precious Beloved Lord can always be remembered and glorified. Additionally, however, these houses of worship are to contain people who: (1) extol God’s limitless Glory, (2) remember God despite the distractions of earthly life, (3) are constant in prayer, (4) are mindful of their actions because they will be called to account for them, and (5) do good works seeking the Grace and Mercy of an Infinitely Merciful Creator.
In fact, it is through the remembrance and extolling of God’s Name and Glory that such people will be produced. It is through the connection to the Glorious Lord Supreme, both within and without these houses of worship, that such people come forth into the world. It is out of love of this Precious God that such people, who are graced by going to His houses, exist and work in this earth.
What is sad, however, is that – as the passage suggests – such people will be a minority of those who frequent the Houses of God. Herein lies the Divine Gauntlet: our challenge, as Servants of the Beloved, is to be one among that minority. Our challenge is to remember God often, and as a consequence of that remembrance, set out to do good in this world, for the benefit of all of God’s people.
What’s more, those people of God’s Houses should seek each other out, regardless of confession, and work together to do said good on this earth for the benefit of God’s people. They should, in fact, as the Qur’an suggests, “vie with one another in doing good works.” It may not be easy to do such a thing, but it is absolutely necessary.
So many in today’s world, including many who frequent the Houses of God, seek to destroy and divide along faith lines. They seek to use the Houses of God to foment hatred of the other; to demonize the other; to dehumanize the inhabitants of other Houses of God. This constitutes nothing less than the abuse of the House of the Lord, and they must be stopped.
God’s House should always be a place of peace, love, and tranquility; not hatred, division, and demonization. And it is incumbent upon the true servants of the Beloved to make sure all Houses of God forever remain places of peace. Again, it may not be an easy thing to do, but it is absolutely necessary.