"In houses [mosques], which Allah has permitted to be exalted, in them His Name is glorified in the mornings and in the afternoons or the evenings; [In them are] men whom neither trade nor sale diverts from the remembrance of Allah [with heart and tongue], nor from performing prayer, nor from giving the Zakat [alms]" (The Holy Qur’an, Chapter an-Nur, verses 36-37)
Preachers should have continuous training in jurisprudence and religious sciences that includes linguistics (Arabic) and humanities.
1. The Meaning of "Discourse" and "Mosque"
What is meant by "discourse" in this publication is every intellectual or cognitive work that respects rules recognized by intellectuals. This is manifested in texts and expressions of points of view in a clear way by using terms, structures and concepts so as to prove certain relationships.
Religious discourse in mosques, or preaching, refers to intellectual or cognitive production that is connected to the mosque, whether by its location or its content, and is received by worshippers when they attend a mosque.
The "mosque" is a place of worship, both for individual and congregational prayer. Allah says in the Qur’an, "In houses [mosques], which Allah has permitted to be exalted, in them His Name is glorified in the mornings and in the afternoons or the evenings; [In them are] men whom neither trade nor sale diverts from the remembrance of Allah [with heart and tongue], nor from performing prayer, nor from giving the Zakat [alms]" (Chapter an-Nur, verses 36-37).
A mosque is different from a prayer room because it is the property of all Muslims, unlike a prayer room, which is part of a specific house. A mosque cannot be sold or bought, while a prayer room can be sold together with the house or institution in which it is located.
A mosque is an institution that is part of civil society, where Muslims can meet to study or discuss issues of concern to them, and may serve as a refuge in times of natural disaster or major political or social crisis.
2. The Origins of the Mosque and its Role in Public Life
The mosque was the first Islamic edifice that the Prophet (peace be upon him) built. The Mosque of Quba was the first mosque founded, after which came the Prophet's Mosque in Medina.
The mosque is the center of public life in a Muslim society. Its function was not limited to hosting prayer - it also hosted councils to discuss public affairs, held meetings of judges, scholars and academics, as well as meetings on various matters related to religious and social affairs.
The mosque was historically the focal point of the city. It was given a place at the heart of urban centers, surrounded by key institutions providing administrative, security, financial, educational and social services. Thus, such services were spiritually and ethically connected to the teachings of Islam.
3. The Function of Religious Preaching in Mosques
Preaching in mosques should address all issues of interest to Muslims on a neutral basis, without favoring one party at the expense of another. Thus, mosque lectures and classes cover both matters of worship and public affairs.
Preaching in mosques should address contentious issues in a way that brings together those with differing opinions and not divide them further. It should seek to consolidate the values of citizenship - such as freedom, coexistence and acceptance of different opinions - and ground them in religious discourse, focusing on the principles and values that protect individuals from alienation and society from fragmentation.
Religious preaching should encourage worshippers to do good and treat others well, emulating the example of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
4. Reforming Religious Preaching within Mosques
Religious preaching requires sound knowledge of religion. Thus, it is essential to be aware of established religious and interpretive principles, and avoid presumptions that are often repeated without understanding their underpinnings and consequences.
Imams, preachers and all those who are active in mosques must ensure they have continuous training in jurisprudence and religious sciences that includes linguistics (especially in Arabic) and humanities so as to equip them with knowledge of jurisprudence, religious sciences and pedagogy as well as communication skills.
The mosque is a space for all Muslims. No one should be excluded and no view should be imposed. Preaching within mosques should take into consideration the audience’s needs and provide content that addresses both their religious needs and identity in light of the real-life context in which they live.
5. Fundamental Elements of Religious Preaching within Mosques
Worshippers who come to mosques get exposed to discussions and debates on various topics, some of which are not related directly to the mosque itself. This dialogue must respect certain moral rules, the most important of which is not to denigrate opposing views or claim to possess the absolute truth. Allah says in the Qur’an, "Say [O Muhammad to the polytheists, pagans, etc.] "Who gives you provision from the heavens and the earth?" Say: "Allah, and verily, [either] we or you are rightly guided or in a plain error"(Chapter Saba, verse 24).
The aim of dialogue is to search for the truth and engage with others. In Islam, it is not permissible to denigrate opinions that are different from our own or ridicule those who hold those views.
Muslims have been commanded to avoid sedition in all parts of their lives and religious preaching within mosques should also seek to achieve this.