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support of the mosque

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  • thekoba@aztecfreenet.org
    ================= Begin forwarded message ================= Dear Kevin, First, as to money collecting in mosques, I am aware that committees of religious
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 14, 2003
      ================= Begin forwarded message =================

      Dear Kevin,

      First, as to money collecting in mosques, I am aware
      that committees of religious people who want to build
      or acquire property for mosques send out letters
      soliciting donations to anyone on their mailing list.

      But like all such requests for money, they are
      entirely voluntary. I suppose the chairman of the
      building committee might notice who sends in what, but
      it's all voluntary.

      Once the mosque building exists, there's usually a box
      near the entrance marked "sadaqa" meaning charity
      which would go to helping the poor of the community or
      to maintenance of the mosque. Anyone passing through
      the mosque at any time might put a contribution in
      there.

      But a Friday prayer service begins with the call to
      prayer, and then, after people have quietly done a
      ritual short prayer individually, the imam mounts the
      rostrum and gives a sermon -- usually about 15 or 20
      minutes in length while the congregation are seated on
      the floor. This sermon is considered a part of the
      prayer ritual, so no one is supposed to speak while
      he's talking, and of course it would be impossible to
      do anything as disruptive as to pass a plate or basket
      to collect anything. After the Imam finishes his
      sermon, there's another call to prayer, everybody
      prays the ritual prayer in unison behind the Imam and
      then the service is over. So there's no room to
      enforce any contribution during the service even if an
      Imam somehow thought everyone should give something.
      Occasionally a person, presumably some mosque worker,
      will hold up a "sadaqa" box near the exit as people
      are leaving but no one is obliged to put anything in.
      I suppose many do, but it would mostly be on the order
      of a few dollars.

      Also, Islamic prayers are very well authenticated as
      far as following the practice of Muhammad is
      concerned. Therefore there's almost no difference
      between a Shiite service and a Sunni one, even though
      the two groups might have different views on Islamic
      history and on who should lead the religious
      community. But the prayers themselves are virtually
      identical. The only way you can tell a Shiite mosque
      from a Sunni one is by the name and word of mouth, and
      by the names that might possibly be mentioned in some
      of Arabic words in inscriptions on the walls.

      Technically, a Muslim is required to give 2.5 percent
      of his wealth every year as sadaqa. That is a
      percentage of wealth, not of income, and "wealth" is
      defined as the amount of money or property assets you
      have had for 365 days (or 354 days according to the
      lunar calendar). But how and where you spend that
      sadaqa is up to the individual Muslim, as long as it's
      genuine Islamic charity. But it's up to your
      conscience. And many people feel that since sadaqah
      is intended to be like a tax, they feel that if they
      pay federal income tax that about covers it.

      In Islam it's difficult to make things obligatory on
      people. For one thing there is no concept of
      "membership" in a specific mosque. A Muslim is
      more-or less supposed to pray in some mosque on Friday
      at noon. But as far as Islam is concerned, it doesn't
      matter which mosque building he goes to. And as I
      said even Shia and Sunni mosques don't look different
      and the rituals aren't much different either, so one
      could pick and chose as far as that is concerned too,
      theoretically, at least.

      Christians, I gather, regard a specific church as a
      kind of "family." I had a Catholic aunt, that is an
      aunt who was born Catholic in 1919 but hadn't attended
      mass in decades. She died and evidently there was a
      desire by her friends or a will or something that
      indicated she was to have a Catholic burial. But it
      was very difficult to arrange because the priest from
      her parish had never seen her in his life (or hers)
      and didn't want to do it. Yet one is supposed to be
      buried specifically by a priest from his or her own
      parish.

      Eventually they found some more liberal priest who
      agreed to do it, perhaps a friend of a friend or
      something. This was in the Chicago suburbs in the
      1990s.

      As to the Muslims, I should say that if a mosque were
      established by some Islamic missionary society or
      mystic group or other, it might have a group
      solidarity that would keep their own people going
      there every Friday, and possibly brow beat people into
      contributing money in certain amounts. If somebody
      who was not a member wandered in on a Friday, they
      would doubtless try to "buttonhole" him for
      prosyletization after the service (and some eagle-eye
      would probably rush to him as soon as he got up to
      leave.) But that would be to recruit him, not dunn him
      for money (until he was a member of their group).

      But other than mosques attached to organizations,
      there's no real sense of belonging to a specific
      mosque. Therefore it would be kind of hard for an
      Imam to check pay cheques.

      As to contributions in the Christian religion, I read
      in a number of places that some Christian socialist
      groups in the 19th century tried to insist that
      socialism was based on the Bible and they cited Acts
      of the Apostles 4:32 to 5:10 - the story of a man and
      his wife who were supposed to sell their houses and
      give the proceeds to the Church. They kept part of
      the money and God struck them both dead in punishment.

      Of course whether the early Church could be compared
      with a socialist state that would try to take care of
      the basic material needs of citizens, I cannot say. I
      fear it was more likely to have been focused on
      feeding otherwise socially useless preachers. But
      perhaps I'm wrong and they did actually try to forge
      an egalitarian social community based on sharing all
      of their former wealth.

      Comradely,

      Eric
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