“Unmosqued” is a documentary film covering how Muslims in the US stop coming to mosques, especially the youth. I haven’t seen the documentary because it keeps getting screened at mosques – this irony alone speaks volumes of mosques’ disconnect.
Many cite masjid politics or control freak “uncles”. as the reason why people stop coming to the masjids. However, here are the reasons why many of us don’t:
1- Most of them are influenced by Saudi propaganda and Salafi poison.
2- Not enough room for women and no accommodation for children.
3- Demotivating and uninspiring imams and preachers. Even the rockstar ISNA preachers seem to have more time for Facebook and Twitter than actually dealing with real community issues.
4- Imams and preachers who are not approachable.
5- No spiritual experience. It’s mostly about mechanics of prayer or potluck or a speech about a topic we’ve heard a million times.
6- No where to park.
7- Even if you find a place to park, some “brother” blocks your car and you’ll get late for work.
8- Youth gathering events are more like speed-dating events.
9- Closed and locked doors (needs no explanation). Has an operating hour like a coffee shop!
10- Majority of mosques in the US are poisoned enough by Salafi hate that minority Muslims such as Shias and Sufis can’t go without getting harassed.
Sheikh Al-Radhi (الشيخ حسين الراضي), one of Ayatollah Khoei’s leading and front line students, took it upon himself to dig deeper into the authenticity of modern day “Ziarat Ashura“. For those who may not know what “Ziart Ashura” is: it is a prayer piece that praises Imam Hussain and his sacrifice on the day of Ashura. The word “Ziarat” means “Visit”, and in our Shia doctrine there are several of them which we recite to visit, honor, and remember the heroes of Ahlul Bayt (Prophet’s grandchildren and household).
Ziarat Ashura is normally cited to justify the cursing of the first Islamic Caliphs (Abu Bakr, Omar, and Utham – may God be pleased with them). Because in that Ziarat, a line says: “And may God curse the first, the second, the third, and the fourth oppressor who oppressed Prophet Muhammad and his family”. I personally always skipped this line because I’d like to know whom I’m cursing and damning! Until I came across this book (image above).
Sheikh Al-Radhi, after years of study and obtaining the oldest versions of this Ziarat from Qom (in Iran), he discovered that those original texts did not have this part of damning and cursing anonymous first, second whatever. His book is available, has images of original texts published, and has caused a heated debate over the authenticity of Ziarat Ashura that we recite today.
Lesson learned: do your homework, and don’t believe everything you see or hear without proper research and insight. There is no such thing as blind faith in our religion of Islam – Shia or Sunni.