Mosques of Sri Lanka
By Al Haj M. L. M. Jabir
For many generations Sri Lankan Muslims have prayed in mosques all over Sri Lanka. A great many of these mosques are centuries old and have been built mostly by individuals with a lot of love and piety. Many of them, I am sure, are archaeologically important and reflect the great amity between the different religions of the people of Sri Lanka.
It is our sacred and bounder duty to protect and preserve these mosques in their original pristine state as a gesture of respect and honour to these mosques and also to the people, who donated their land, wealth and effort to construct them. In this case, I believe that the Ministry of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs has a leading role to play in identifying, cataloguing and preserving these mosques in their original state in the interest of the culture of the Muslims of Sri Lanka.
From observing some of these mosques, I would like to highlight two areas of grave concern, which begs the immediate attention of the concerned authorities.
1. Modifications being carried on these mosques without any regard for the original structure thus negating the archaeological and cultural importance of these mosques will be of immense value if any such modifications are only carried out under the guidance and approval of the concerned authorities to preserve the original state of these structures.
2 In some mosques, someone has deemed that the original Mihrab (Direction of the Holy Kaaba) is wrong and changed the direction by way of ropes or lines drawn at an angle to the original Mihrab. Muslims praying in a direction not in keeping with the original Mihrab of a beautifully constructed mosque is a sight for sore eyes and if certainly needs the urgent and immediate attention of persons in religious authority. My question is; who authorized these changes, are they valid, what is the qualification of the person who made these changes, and what becomes of the prayers offered in a mosque so defiled and disfigured?
Let me elaborate a little on this point; since the earth is spherical in shape, you can never have a straight line between the worshippers in prayer and the Holy Kaaba, in that most of what you get is a curve. Therefore it is possible to face the Holy Kaaba by mind only, and not physically, as we do in our daily prayers. All the Muslims in the world, irrespective of their different persuasions turn to that focal point as an expression of unity, integrity and brotherhood.
I will greatly appreciate the views and comments of the Ministry of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs, learned Ulemas or other trustworthy knowledgeable persons who love and care about the status of our mosques which are a major source of religious and cultural inspiration.
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