What is special about worship in Islam is the social dimension that is unique to each act of worship.
– Most Islamic laws aim to establish and strengthen social ties, including even worship, which is preferable when offered in congregation, based on several authentic hadiths, such as the one saying:
Praying in congregation is twenty-seven times better than praying alone. (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)
– The five obligatory prayers performed congregationally in mosques are daily local meetings. Through these prayers, five meetings occur each day among the inhabitants of each district, allowing them to get acquainted with each other and build relations of friendship, cooperation, support, and neighborliness.
Then the circle of connections widens during the weekly Friday congregational prayers, which bring together members of different districts in one single place to pray in unison.
And then twice yearly, at the level of each city, Muslims assemble in open spaces to offer the Two Eid Prayers. Then, at least once in a lifetime, Muslims travel to join a global gathering of millions of fellow Muslim pilgrims from all over the world to perform Hajj.
This helps instill solidarity and coherence as a moral attitude within the various strata of society. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
A believer to another believer is like a building whose different parts reinforce each other.
Then he clasped his hands with his fingers interlaced to demonstrate. (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)
He also said:
The believers, in their mutual friendship, mercy, and compassion, are like one body; if any part of it complains, the rest of the body stays awake in fever. (Narrated by Muslim)
– People have various conditions where some are strong and others are weak. Some are rich and others are poor. And some are enlightened and others are ignorant. Some are healthy and others are sick. When people come together, they help one another. Those who know will teach those who are ignorant; those who have plenty will give to those who have little, and so on. In this way, life is balanced.
Breaking down the Barriers of Language, Race, and Social Class
– The mosque is a place that establishes equality. In congregational prayers, Muslims stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder, and foot to foot in equal straight rows praying behind one Imam. There is no discrimination among them on any basis. Their faces are turned towards their Maker in humility and tranquility, in a situation in which they can gain a fuller sense of the Prophet’s words:
Verily, Allah does not look at your outward appearance or wealth, but rather He looks at your hearts and deeds. (Narrated by Muslim)
– Allah’s profound Wisdom regarding congregational prayer is manifest. With shoulder touching shoulder and worshipers of all categories and walks of life saying one supplication together, repeating one glorification together, bowing and prostrating themselves together, with all their hope placed in Allah alone, each of them comes to see themselves, and everyone else, as equal and no different before Allah, the Exalted.
– All worshipers stand in a line, without discrimination of one against the other or superiority of one over the other. They are all seeking Allah’s Pardon and Good Pleasure. And no matter how diversified their lot in this life may be, this is only meant as a test and is not given through favor or preference.
– Everyone becomes filled with a sense of contentment, satisfaction, and psychological and social equilibrium. Allah, the Exalted and the Glorious, says in His Noble Book:
O humankind, We* (Allah) have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, in Allah’s Sight, the most honorable of you is the most righteous of you. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Quran 49:13)
* Royal We used by Allah in the Quran to denote majesty and power.