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The masjid, or mosque, plays a key role in the life of every Muslim. Not only is it a place of worship and spiritual contemplation, it is far more than that. Masjids carry a huge responsibility on their shoulders.

Other than the fact that they welcome the community for the five daily prayers, in addition to the Friday prayer and Eid prayers, they also welcome Muslims and non-Muslims alike to learn more about Islam. Non-Muslims are welcome to take tours and ask questions, usually by sitting down with the imam of the masjid and speaking their minds. Muslims are offered a multitude of classes ranging from Arabic to Qu'ran, halaqas (classes in varying topics), tafseer (in-depth explanation of the Qu'ranic text), sirah (the life of Prophet Muhammad - PBUH), tajweed (the correct recitation of the Qu'ran) and tahfeez (memorization of the Qu'ran). Most of them also offer a weekend school and some even have a full-time Islamic school, as

we do. Many masjids offer after-school enrichment programs ranging from school-related subjects to sports clubs, computer classes, culinary classes and crafts. To further foster the sense of community between Muslims, masjids also arrange family halaqas, gatherings and outings. They also make sure to play a positive, active role in the local community by engaging its members in volunteer work, soup kitchens, local shelters and other local efforts.

Interfaith efforts are equally important. Not only do Muslims, and the masjid in general, immerse themselves in supporting their local community. They also work hard to instil a sense of social responsibility and ethics of dealing with others in Muslim youth. Youth are brought up to look at and deal with people from other faiths with complete respect, dignity and honor. They are taught to deal with others in a loving, understanding manner that reflects the true essence of Islam. The bigger masjids are involved in discussion panels, debates (political or otherwise), media appearances and the press doing what they do best, highlighting the true essence of Islam.

The masjid also supports the less fortunate members of the community through a fund for the needy. It presents itself as a save haven for those who are homeless, abused or otherwise in need. It helps provide, or at least point out, resources that could aid community members depending on their situation. Many masjids provide financial aid and scholarships towards education as well as family and individual counceling.

The array of services provided by masjids at large can go on and on forever! A masjid is not just a place of worship, it's more like an entire city in itself. It supports the local community, strengthens the Islamic community, raises Muslim youth, educates people on Islam, supports the poor and needy, helps the abused and ill-treated, facilitates education, conducts marriages, provides counceling and much more! The stronger the bond between a Muslim and the masjid, the more grounded and supported he will feel. Simply put, the foundation of your faith is strengthened by your presence and involvement in your masjid.

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