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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Our mosques under-utilised

iT is very interesting to note that Sabah is building commercial units, including stalls and eateries on the grounds of the city mosques at Likas and Bt Padang in Kota Kinabalu and Ranau through the Sabah Economic Development Corporation under a programme to provide business premises within the compounds of selected mosques there: “Mosques to house business premises” (The Star, Feb 2).

The beautiful Wilayah Persekutuan Mosque in Jalan Duta in Kuala Lumpur sits on a massive piece of high ground. Unfortunately, the few times that I joined the daily prayers either in the afternoon or in the evening, I only saw one row filled with worshippers in the huge prayer hall. It is only crowded during Friday prayers.

One probably sees the same scenario at most of the mosques in the country. The situation should be addressed and improved upon by the authorities.

If one or two office blocks and apartment blocks were to be built around the Wilayah Persekutuan mosque, I am sure the prayer hall would have more worshippers joining the compulsory five daily prayers.

These office blocks would attract entrepreneurs, as discovered by Sabah, and the apartment blocks would suit young couples with one or two young children and young individuals from outstation who need reasonably priced units or rooms to rent.

Additionally, 1Malaysia clinics and perhaps, a mini food centre, a provision shop, stalls, a 24-hour convenience store, tuition centre, IT centre, and a small recreation park with a playground can be located there as well.

All these will make the place a complete self-supporting small residential community. Additional facilities such as a multi-purpose hall and futsal, badminton, basketball or tennis courts and a jogging track may be built where possible.

This will make the mosque complex full with a variety of spiritual, mental and physical and commercial activities with the main purpose of attracting people. This is better than leaving most mosques and surau dark and deserted at night after the Isyak prayers.

Many would also go to the mosque to join colloquiums and perform the tahajjud prayers after Isyak as a group, instead of individually.

Public bus service and taxi service operators would be delighted to serve this community.

Since this place will have some common facilities for all Malaysians, people of other religions will also come and this will encourage them to mix with Muslims and improve inter-religious understanding in the country.

The mosque management will then be able to generate a regular income and profits could be used to maintain the mosque and its facilities and do other things that a mosque normally does. Mosque committees should make full use of their existing assets and available resources to make all mosques and surau more useful and beneficial to all.

HUSSAINI ABDUL KARIM,

Shah Alam.

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