Our Need for a Sacred Space

The meaning of masjid is: a place, time, or person that assists one to make sujoodSujood means effacement in the Presence of our Lord. In its physical form, we literally place our faces to the ground in the position of prostration, a reflection of the dissolving of mind, body, and heart in God.

You can feel it when a place helps you towards this state of being.

Of course, we know that God’s healing grace can and must be experienced anywhere and everywhere in our lives: in nature; at the workplace; in our bedrooms, living rooms, and dining rooms; even in our cars. But a big part of our tradition is consecrating specific places and times, as well as relationships, for God and God Alone. Consecration means that nothing else goes on in that relationship, time of day, or physical space BUT the pure remembrance of God.

When we dedicate specific places, times, relationships and actions to God Alone, the mind - often our biggest challenge when it comes to prayerful connection - becomes trained to respond to this clear intentionality by responding with focus. And focus is a gift.

As a result, these places, times, and relationships begin to provide us what we refer to as khushu’ – the undistracted awareness of the Presence of God, a deep and life-changing awareness of our connection to our Source and Creator.

Today, I meet many people who complain they don’t have this feeling of connection in their prayers. Could the reason be that we are not taking the time to consecrate specific places and times in our lives for the purpose of connection? That the only places we ever pray in are places we also use for a variety of other activities? Perhaps the time we give to connecting merges too quickly into our distracted time – for example, we check our phones as soon as we are finished the movements of the Salah (the daily meditational prayer), so that this time that should be ceremoniously entered and exited doesn’t really stand distinct from other times?

It is so important for certain matters to stand out from the rest of life. It is for this reason that the scholars say it is not liked for a believer to wear the cloths of Hajj and Umrah (the Ihram) outside of Hajj and Umrah: this way of dressing is to be kept solely for the sacred purpose of pilgrimage, its meaning not to be dulled or diluted.

When it’s hard to find focus and concentration in our actions for God, we are in need of consecration.  We need sacred spaces that assist us to make let go and let God’s presence infuse our beings. We need sujood. WE need spaces where we can get permission to not check our phones, where we are encouraged to leave our worldly concerns at the door and just dive into an ocean of connection and peace. To remember God, we need to willingly ‘forget’ for a moment our phones, our messages, our to-do lists. God does not ask us to do this for a whole day; just for a few moments each day, so as to rise above the neverending daily challenges and see that He is there with us in all of that. It’s like walking along a path where you have to keep your eyes on the ground because the surface is uneven and you don’t want to trip - but getting the chance to look up every now and then to appreciate the beautiful surroundings you are in, to let your vision be bathed in the blue of the sky, to take a big deep breath. And then return renewed to your walking and concentrating on getting where you must be.

Understanding of the role and mission of the masjid (the House of God, the Place of Sujood) has an impact on how we design, perceive, maintain and behave in our masjid spaces. The space should be beautiful inside and outside, it should help us to contemplate and praise God in silence, and should allow us to feel no demands other than to be present. I hope you will feel this way about the Rhoda Masjid.

The Rhoda is a place where you can come anytime for silent meditation, reading Quran, talking to God. Weekdays are especially good for this. On Fridays, join us for congregational worship at midday, and stay a little longer to talk to your Lord in your own voice. The Rhoda is also a place for sacred relationships for the sake of God Alone: on Saturdays we gather in joy to remember our relationship with the Prophet, may the light of God continue to nourish his soul and our connection to him, and strengthen the relationships amongst ourselves as believers as we eat and serve together at our community potluck.

Come to the Rhoda with the intention of consecration and see how focus, connection, and elevation become the fruits you take home with you to nourish you on your journey of life.

God bless you,

Shaykh Hamdi Ben Aissa