The following is an excerpt from a talk given at RIS 2012 by Br. Nouman Ali Khan on the topic of unity in our masajid.
Most of our issues in our masajid today are how many raka of taraweeh, when is Eid, etc... We are even divided among the books we should read. "Is this scholar right? How does his Aqeeda look?" But you know what, Allah gave us a mandate that is bigger than these things. You are entitled to your personal conviction, but if a conversation or conviction has the potential of creating conflict in a community, then keep it to yourself, and only bring to public discourse what will add to unity.
You walk into a masjid and and someone tells you "You know what brother, I saw you eating Ice cream the other day and we both know that it has such and such in it, so I don't know if your salat is accepted since then, etc…" That is just awesome. I should give you a "Inna hathidi Ummatukum ummatan wahidatan" sticker. (This is your nation, One Ummah) That deserves an award. We have to remove this conversation from public discourse. I'm not trivializing fiqh, it is important, but you and I aren't qualified for those debates. People argue with "My masjid is doing global sighting…yours is doing it this way…We should go with global because we are one ummah…!" Look, first of all the issue is more complicated than that, second of all, you can't even be united with the people you pray next to, and you are worried about global unity of the ummah? What are you talking about? Lets deal in reality. What is your relationship with your parents at home like, especially when they get agitated? Is it dysfunctional? What is your relationship with your husband/life/children/siblings? How are you discussing global ummah unity while your family itself is not united and in harmony? And if your family is in harmony, and I pray they all are, then the next thing that supports the family structure is the the community, or the masjid. The masjid is supposed to be a place where families get together and find harmony with each other. That is the next space, and unfortunately it has become a space if conflict. If all our kids see is fights at board masjids, If that is all they see, if there is no effort to be curteous to families at our masjids, then we are discontinuing ourselves from our noble history.
And there are good role models out there that need to be duplicated. I was raised in New York City, and in big cities where there is a growing, hustling and bustling Muslim population, there is a a lot of immigration and different flavors of Islam, so as I came into adulthood and started thinking about myself and exploring Islam, I was exposed to such a wide variety of religious points of views. Every masjid has its own standards and protocols. "We teach this school of thought here, you have to dress like this here..." It was insane. There are 2 masajids in Queens whose doors face each other across the street, but one khutbah is done in one language and the other in another. Across the street from each other! And the masjid were actually places of cults. Which are you going to follow, and who are you going to dismiss? That is the nonsense that I experienced for over a decade, and as I started traveling I had a very pessimistic view of the unity of the ummah. In the cities, masajid were built upon ideological or ethnic lines.
Then I visited Irving Texas. I was visiting there in 2007, and I went to pray there, and after the salat, the imam was giving a talk, and the imam was clearly from a specific school of thought, but all those different groups in New York who hated each others guts and didn't even consider other groups Muslim were all hanging out together in the same masjid. This mosque was built on the idea of giving families a place to be. That is it, no cultural ideological agenda. After isha, there were 300-400 people just hanging out the masjid. The arabs were playing soccer, and the desis were playing cricket, the kids were playing basketball because they couldn't understand the other two sports. And it was awesome. I was like, is this Eid? No, its just a wednsesday. They made this a fun place to be for families. I mean who thinks of building a sisters section (also called a closet), with a partition in the middle, so here are the women with children and here are the women without children so they can be separate? Who thinks of that?