For many Muslims, to them, Islam is simply a fad, and not an actual way of life and practicing it is optional for them; not mandatory.
For others, Islam is something to argue about more than to practice, they will argue about the Qur’an and the Sunnah while ignoring the actual principles and teachings of the religion. There are others who will only practice Islam as long as it does not require any sacrifice, or require them to go out of their way.
These are the types of people who end up losing their religion all together. However, there are those who sincerely believe that Islam is the guided way to live your life and can be applied to everything you do, and they are willing to submit to it all. These are the true Muslims, and they are the ones who will find their way by Allah’s permission through the madness, the fitnah (temptation), the sectarianism, and the turmoil of our times.
These are the people who will in sha’ Allah benefit the most from congregation, and being in communities. To these people, I am saying to you that until there is a caliphate that is for all Muslims, and until the return of Jesus the Christ, the son of Mary (peace be upon him), the awaited Messiah, the best places to be are with a congregation of practicing Muslims, with a just imam.
This will aid you in the preservation of your religion, and your children’s religion. Here are just a few of its benefits…
Prayer in Congregation
I have only created jinns and men, that they may serve Me. (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)
During my sixteen years as Imam of the Masjid, I have seen many brothers come into Islam and stay within the faith and practice it, teach it to their children, who grow into adults as Muslim.
At the same time, I have seen many of them convert to Islam, and go for years without engagement in the masjids and with communities all the while their children grow up without the knowledge of the practice of Islam, and as adults are alien to the teachings of Islam.
Of course there are a lot of reasons for this but almost in every case, the ones who left Islam, and whose children were alien to the deen (religion) were people who did not attend the masjid, were not part of communities, and did not attend Jumu`ah (Friday Prayer) with regularity. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“If there are three men in a village or desert and salah is not established among them, then the Satan takes mastery over them. So be with the congregation since the wolf devours the remote (stray) sheep.” (Abu Dawud)
Anytime there are Muslims living in any vicinity, it is incumbent for them to establish the salah. When this does not happen, it is inevitable that the Satan will overpower them:
(They are) those who, if We establish them in the land, establish regular prayer and give regular charity, enjoin the right and forbid wrong: with Allah rests the end (and decision) of (all) affairs. (Al-Hajj 22:41)
Establishing the salah is perhaps the single most significant factor that ensures that a person stays Muslim, and that there is trans-generational Islam. When people pray, they tend to stay in Islam, when they pray together; they tend to stay in Islam together.
This seems to have been the pattern over the years; those who pray, stay, and those who don’t pray, leave the religion. Leaving the salah and abandoning the masjids is one of the principal reasons that people leave the religion; the Prophet said, “Between man and polytheism and unbelief is the abandonment of salah.” (Muslim)
It is important that every Muslim child sees their parents, or step-parents going to the masjid for prayer, getting up for Fajr, calling the Adhan in the home, experiencing that precious family moment which occurs after they have finished the congregational prayer.
There is nothing that can replace that. Children need a distinct, moral and spiritual foundation, in order to thrive as practicing Muslim adults in America, and there is no better foundation than the salah. When there is not a strong foundation, the dunya will tear them apart.
Cooperation and Familiarity
And cooperate with one another in righteousness and piety, and do not cooperate with each other in sin and transgression.” (Al-Ma’idah 5:2)
Cooperation in righteousness and piety is fundamental to our faith is the methodology which engages group action for good. Allah has created people to depend upon one another in the handling of their affairs, both religious and temporal.
When people are in communities, they develop familiarity with each other, understand each other’s nuances, become more inclined to cooperate with one another, establish shared goals and aspirations, as well as develop a sense of belonging and accomplishment when they achieve these goals, whether it is building a masjid or a school, upgrading their facilities, feeding the poor, or engaging in religious projects to help people.
Thus, their children get to know and befriend each other, and they see each other’s children grow, and thrive. Cooperation and building upon successes breeds more cooperation.
These things are easier facilitated through congregation than through unanchored individuals, going it alone. This union develops to trust, willingness to support and do business with, and a better resolve to solve problems that arise amongst each other, because they have invested in the relationship.
These things are essential for our children to witness. When there is no cooperation, perseverance, spiritual bond, and loyalty in the religious group, it sends a message to our children that there is no stable future for them being amongst the Muslims.