Masjid is coined out of the arabic word Sajdah which roughly translates to adoration or prostration. This is the ultimate act of humility and adulation to Allah. It is what separated the angels from shaytan and is an indication of sincerity, loyalty and submission to the will of Allah. The entire earth is a place of Sajdah for Muslims as Prophet Muhammed (SAW) said: “Wherever you may be, at the time of solat, you may pray for it (the earth) is all a mosque” - (Muslim). Regardless of this, there are specially designed for Sajdah and these places are called Masjids.
Three mosques have the most importance in Islam: The Prophet said: "Set out deliberately on a journey to three mosques: the Sacred Mosque (in Makkah), this mosque of mine (in Medina) and the Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem).” - (Bukhari) and this is with good reason as the reward for praying at the Sacred Mosque (in Makkah) is equal to the reward for one hundred thousand regular prayers; the reward for praying at the Prophet’s Mosque (in Madina) is equal to the reward for one thousand regular prayers; and the reward for praying at the Al-’Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem) is equal to the reward for five hundred regular prayers. (Al-Bazzaar)
MASJID AL-HARAM (KA'ABA)
"Indeed We see the turning of your face to heaven, so We shall surely turn you to a Qiblah which you shall like; turn then your face towards the Sacred Mosque, and wherever you are, turn your face towards it..." - (Q2:144)
"Most surely the first house appointed for men is the one at Bekka, blessed and a guidance for the nations." - (Q3:96)
The Ka'aba was the first Masjid on Earth, its a square building built with hard stone slabs and shrouded down to its base in a black draper (Kiswah) on which quotes from the Qu’ran are embroidered in gold thread. The Ka'aba is of huge spiritual significance to Muslims but prior to Islam, idol worshipping was carried out in it. This stopped with the advent of the Prophet.
Muslims are instructed to face the Kaaba during worship and it has been described variously in the Qu'ran as ‘the inviolable place of worship’ (Q5:2), ‘the sacred house’ (Q2:150) and ‘the ancient house’ (Q14:37) amongst others.
"Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al- Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing" - (Q17:1)
Abu Dhar asked: "O Allah's Apostle! Which mosque was first built on the surface of the earth?" He said, "Al-Masjid-ul-,Haram (in Mecca)." I said, "Which was built next?" He replied "The mosque of Al-Aqsa ( in Jerusalem) ." I said, "What was the period of construction between the two?" He said, "Forty years.” - (Bukhari)
Also known as the fartherest mosque, it is the second mosque on earth. It is supposed that the Ka'aba and al-Aqsa were built by Prophets Ibrahim and Sulaiman (PBUT) respectively but the fact is that they simply rebuilt them as they were both originally built by Prophet Adam (PBUH). When Ibrahim was ordered by Allah to build a place of worship, he uncovered the original foundations of the Ka'aba built by Prophet Adam. Prophet Ibrahim with the help of his son Ismail erected the new building on the same foundations.
Al-Aqsa is a rectangular site consisting of the mosque, the dome of the Rock mosque and the wailing wall, which according to the jews is the last remnant of their temple. Al-Aqsa was the first qiblah and the spot where Prophet Muhammed (SAW) led the other Prophets in prayer. Its importance to Islam is stressed by the Prophet (SAW) himself: “If anyone puts on ihram for hajj or umrah from the Aqsa mosque to the scared mosque, his former and latter sins will be forgiven or he will be granted paradise” - (Abu Daud). Sadly, this is not possible as the mosque is in the hands of the jews who continuously vandalize it. <Google> news on the state of Masjid Al-Aqsa by following the hyperlink.
MASJID NABAWI (MEDINA)
The Prophet (SAW) built this mosque two weeks after he arrived in Yathrib and before it was built, he used to pray in the folds of goats and sheep. He sought to buy the land but the owners refused saying: “No, by Allah, we would not demand the price but reward from the Lord.” - Muslim. In the land, laid the graves of the mushriks which the Prophet ordered to be dug out and ruins leveled. The glittering structure we see today had humble beginnings and was supported by trunks of standing palm trees arranged towards the Qiblah. This mosque was the center of learning and a place where hearts got transformed. The small town of Yathrib became Madinatun-Nabiyy (the city of the prophet) and a center of civilization.
The Prophet Muhammed (SAW) said: “He who builds a mosque for Allah while he seeks the pleasure of Allah, Allah would build for him a house like that in Jannah” - (Muslim). The masjid is the center of muslim life. It calls to the muslim five times a day, to come purify his heart. It is a ground where every man is equal as they stand shoulder to shoulder in rows before their Creator - Allah. As long as the Masjid remains a place of learning and spiritual growth, there will be progress in our ummah.
Consider your contribution to you local masjid. Are you a cause of its growth or its decline? The answer depends on the type of house you want in the hereafter.