Open “Mosque” – why can’t Muslims see wood for the trees?

Recently a man of questionable beliefs and even more questionable motives began an institute in Cape Town, South Africa, which he called the “Open Mosque,” meaning that it is open to all and sundry, irrespective of belief, gender etc. The purpose of this article is not to discuss the “Mosque” in itself – which wouldn’t serve much purpose anyway seeing that South Africa represents a small proportion of my readership, there are more readers in Ukraine than South Africa. Rather I’m simply using this incident to highlight an attitude problem amongst Muslims.

Belief supersedes deeds

This is a basic principle of our faith which many Muslims fail to understand and about which I had written previously. It applies both ways:

  • We can appreciate the good deeds of a disbeliever, but his deeds are null in the Hereafter. If we are truly his well-wishers we should pave his way to belief. Ultimately correct belief outweighs a good deed of a disbeliever.
  • The evil of a Muslim must be abhorred, but as long as he believes, the door of forgiveness remains open. Ultimately an evil deed of a Muslim is less than incorrect belief.

What irritates me, is not just how the masses fail to understand this, but worse, even those who are supposed to be learned and pious fail to distinguish between primary issues (belief) and secondary issues (deeds). This was again demonstrated in their reaction to the Open “Mosque” issue. However, I should mention that I was told that a statement of the Muslim Judicial Council, which I have not read, does indeed correctly target the issue of belief before other issues.

Objectionable Beliefs

Mr Tāj Hargey of the Open “Mosque” was raised a Qādiānī, a group whose denial of the Finality of Prophethood places them outside the fold of Islām. Although his current project makes no mention of that heresy, the onus remains on him to clarify his beliefs, under these circumstances.

The great Muḥāddith and Jurist, al-Imām an-Nawawī had stated that if we hear someone recite the call to Prayer, it would suffice to regard him as a Muslim. However, if that person is a Jew, we may demand clarification. The reason being that some Jews had no problem in declaring, “I testify that there is no god but Allāh. I testify that Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allāh.” However, they intended that Muḥammad صلى الله عليه وسلم is indeed Allāh’s Messenger, but only for the Arabs, not the Jews.

Typical of a denier of the Finality of Porphethood, Hargey claims that his Islām is solely from the Qurān, he does not accept Ḥadīth. These are primary issues of belief and these are the issues which need to be tackled.

The Gay Temple

Because of primary belief being wrong, a host of secondary issues (do we even dignify them by calling them juristic issues?) then arise. Mr Hargey is adamant that there is no distinction between the sexes, hence females may lead the prayers of males in his institute. All are welcome and there is no problem in being openly homosexual. Thus Muslim social media denounces his place as the “Gay Temple.” This is not the man’s primary objective. It is one of many issues that arise because he rejects the teachings of Allāh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم . Even if that were his focus, it would remain secondary to rejecting Allāh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم .

This is but an example, and I am not interested in giving this man more publicity, which he appears to crave. The issue is the inability of Muslims to prioritise belief over deeds. Muslims also often act immaturely and thus lose debates before they even commence. Sensationalising one secondary issue out of a host of issues and ignoring the primary issue does not help our cause. Rather by making us seem irrational, it strengthens the opposition.

Another point is why specifically was the term “Gay Temple” coined? Why were other issues not focussed on? None of the messages I read could even verify that a single open homosexual was following the man, although it may be. My opinion is those who propagate this term suffer from another malady afflicting the Muslims, that of selective morality. Homosexuality is a minority phenomenon and every Muslim knows that it is condemned in the Qurān. Yet why should we fall victim to selective morality, forget the sins which the majority is involved in, and feel justified in focusing on the minority phenomenon? We feel so comfortable in condemning sins we are not involved in and refuse to put our own house in order.

Occurrences like the Open “Mosque” do not only reveal heretics and lunatics posing as Muslims, but also our immaturity, love of sensationalism and selective morality.

سليمان الكندي
Twitter: @sulayman_Kindi

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