Masajid have always been one of the most important sources of knowledge and guidance for Muslims. Prophet Muhammad (sa) used Masajid not only for prayers but also for various other functions, such as imparting the knowledge of Islamic Shariah to his companions, meeting locals and foreigners, and giving Khutbahs (sermons).
Similarly, during the time of the four rightly-guided Caliphs, Masajid had social, political, and judicial functions. Thus, the Sunnah continued to be practiced. Whenever an area was conquered by the Muslims, the Masjid was the first thing to be built, and the most pious and the most knowledgeable person was appointed as its Imam.
There have been instances in the Muslim history where the most competent person in terms of Islamic values was made the governor of a city and used to give Khutbahs at the central Masjid, which was followed by meetings with the locals to achieve good governance. It was very important for Masajid to have a righteous and scholarly Imam, so he could pass on to the people the correct message of Allah (swt) and His Messenger Muhammad (sa).
Over the years, Masajid have lost their central role in the Muslim Ummah. Today, when resources are in abundance, we see that the majority of Masajid in Muslim countries are in a sad state of affairs. Usually, a lot of money and efforts are spent on the construction and interiors of Masajid, while very little attention is given to the appointment of a well-educated Imam. It is a very noble act to spend money on Masajid in any way, but it is far more important to make sure that the Masjid is performing all its functions, as taught by our beloved Prophet (sa).
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