The Path

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Umar radiyalaahu anhuma had mentioned, "Whoever wishes to follow the way of another, should follow the ways of those who have passed away. These were the companions of Muhammad sallalaahu alayhi wassalam, who were the best people of this Ummah. Their hearts were most pious, their knowledge was deepest and they were least pretentious. They were people whom Allah Ta'ala had chosen to be companions of His Nabi sallalaahu alayhi wassalam and for the transmission of His Deen. You people should emulate their character and mannerisms. By the Rabb of the Kaabah! The Sahabah radiyalaahu anhum of Rasulullah sallalaahu alayhi wassalam were correctly guided."

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

A Surau Or A House?

Once designated, there are onerous limitations on the use of a masjid or surau, and it  may not be used for any other purpose other than worshiping Allah. In Malaysia, there are three types of prayer halls: a masjid, a surau and a musallaThe Malays call a smaller masjid as "surau". But the real difference between a masjid and a surau relates to the latter is not used for the Friday congregational prayers. Both are dedicated as waqf (permanent endowment) for solah, and as a waqf, both belongs to all Muslims until the end of time. The status of a surau may be “upgraded” by the religious authorities to that of a masjid to hold Friday congregational prayers if necessary.

Whereas a temporary place set aside for Islamic worship is called a musalla (I think it is called jama'at khana in South Asia). A musalla is often not part of a waqf, or it is otherwise not intended to become a permanent masjid or surau. Often musallas are used while a community looks for a piece of land for a permanent masjid or surau, or the establishment of a masjid or surau is not practical at the time. They could be located in rented apartments, industrial units or store fronts. It may belongs to an individual or a company or a group of people. It does not belong to all Muslims. As such, it can be taken away without any compensation to the Muslim community. 

Generally speaking, a Muslim has to honour all places of worship whether the place is a masjid, a surau or a  musalla located in a large or small building or a place hired for performing prayer. 

A couple of years ago, a 3-days jamaat from our masjid was given a route in the outskirt of Kuala Lumpur. Though it is about 9-10 km from our mohalla, none of us had ever heard of the place where the surau is situated. To make it worse, after much effort to locate the place, it took us more than half an hour to just to find exact location of the surau. Every Muslim that we stopped to ask it's whereabout did not know of the existence of any surau there.

Finally, after encircling the area a number of times, we noticed a loud speaker outside a wooden premise. The front steel-gate was locked.  The ameer of the jamaat sent two persons to go from house to house in the vicinity to find out if there was any Muslim that could direct us to any person in-charge of the surau to get the gate opened to us as it was almost time for Dhuzur solah. After awhile, the two brothers came back with a bunch of keys for the surau

From the outside, the surau was well-endowed and looked after. But we were totally shocked when we entered the premise as the inside of it appeared just like someone's house. Amidst the prayer mats that scattered on old grey carpets, we saw a television on a coffee table, a set of sofas, furniture and other household property inside at the mimbar. At the rear portion of the surau (where it supposed to be the Muslimah section), there were a couple of wardrobes packed so tight with clothes and other stuff that the doors would not shut. More clothes were seen hanging on a curtain line and scattered beneath the wardrobes. There was even a stove for cooking and some kitchen utensils at the rear corner inside the surau. Outside, a concrete tank for wudhu' or ablution was filled with stinking greenish water. There were catfishes inside the tank. The sight and condition of the surau really gave us a shock.

Ironically, the scattered  prayer mats still formed a saff and the loud-speaker was still in a working condition. The carpet was dusty and littered with lizard droppings. As it was already time for Dhuzur solah, we were asked by our ameer to quickly tidy up the first saff area to commence solah.

We had a mesywarah after Dhuzur solah. We were told by the two brothers who were given the task earlier that they were directed by a local man to an Indonesian man who were working at the nearby wet market for the keys to the surau

The whole afternoon on the first day was spent cleaning up the surau. All the household items were taken out and put away in a storage area outside the surau. The telly and the sofas were first taken out. We drained out the wudhu' tank to be replaced with clean water. All the work was done in the presence of the Indonesian man. He looked visibly upset when we removed the catfishes out into a bucket.

We learned later that for some time the Indonesian man were actually given a shed outside the surau as a shelter. He was also expected to act as its caretaker and cleaner. But he also worked at a butcher stall in the wet market during daytime. Meanwhile, when the local Malay Muslim community that the surau serves almost cease to exist because people moved away or sold their properties and are replaced by non-Muslims, outsider Malays and immigrant tenants, the man turned bold in his action. He began to collect the leftover household items and clothes from the departing residents and stored them in the surau, treating it as his own house. He even used the wudhu' tank to breed catfishes. "Ngak ada lagi orang datang ke surau, pak" (There's no one coming to the surau), he said offering his lame excuse to us.

The unfortunate episode really made us grief and dejected. It was especially hard on our ameer. Consequently, he kept urging us to go from house-to-house and door-to-door looking for every Muslims who live in the area. Most of our time was spent meeting our Muslim brothers living there and urging them to come to the surau for solah. For this particular khuruuj in the path of Allah, we worked in a non-Muslim majority environment, mostly Chinese. For every nineteen or twenty houses that we went to, we found only one Muslim dwellers. Indeed, the few Muslim that lived in the area were mostly Malay and Bangladeshi tenants. Alhamdulillah, as always the case, the Bangladeshi brothers were readily opened for dakwah and invitations. A simple friendly gesture of "Kaemon achen?" (How are you?) usually drew their attention.

We also called for mesywarah a few brothers that we know who are doing the effort of dakwah in the halqah and gave them karguzari of the state of affairs of the surau and the Muslim community living there. They seemed surprise and concern with our karguzari.

Alhamdulillah, now the surau is now being used for the weekly halqah mesywarah. The surau is now also being used regularly by our Bangladeshi brothers who live in the area. Fardh solah is being performed in congregation with a qari among them leading as Imam. Last Ramadhan, we were there again for 3 days khuruuj and it was a whole rejuvenated environment with our Bangladeshi brothers making nusrah and having iftar together with us.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

segala puji bagi Allah.

Anonymous said...

Subhanallah wAlhamdulilah... May all your efforts blessed by Allah swt.