And what do I mean by the mosque as a “Center of Excellence”? Namely, the mosque as a center of people’s economics movements according to sharia, health care centers for free or cheap (with cross-subsidies) services and a training center for knowledge and skills for life such as foreign languages, alongside Arabic, computers and entrepreneurship. In addition, the mosque as a center of cultural development of the noble values practiced directly, for example through volunteer activities and mosque-based Scout.I am not an Ustaz. Based on a number of verses I knew and try to instill as per my ability and experience of a “parent” for friends and younger staff of ‘Dompet Dhuafa’ board for 20 years, since a few months ago I ventured to propose a movement to make the mosque as a ‘center of excellence’.
Originally, it was East Jakarta, Chairman of the Board of Mosque invited me to deliver a lecture about it two months ago, then, at the Masjid Jami Al Mujahideen, Cakung, East Jakarta in lectures and discussions after Fajr prayer late last year. And, last Sunday, January 5, 2014 , in the “cerpen” (ceramah pendek or short lecture) with approximately 200 congregation member of Wasilah Subuh at Masjid Al Khairat, Halim Perdana Kusuma, also in East Jakarta.Thank God, for the last occasion, a number of old acquaintances and friends were present. Among others, former Deputy Governor of DKI Museno, Commissioner General Anton Bachrul Alam, Maj. Gen. Arif Rahman, Head of Seskoad, Air Marshal TNI Sogiyarto, a Scouts activists. They were invited by the Chairman of Wadah Silaturrahmi Subuh, KH Abdul Malik.
The topic was “Empowering Mosque-based Communities”. Thanks to a number of questions and proposals from the audience, the presentation was completed, thank God. Apparently, it’s a tit for tat.
For employers, collection of people means collection of money, at least still in the form of the potential. Why do not we move the money or the potential into reality? Muslims are obliged to pay zakat. The obligations contained in nearly 30 verses of the Qur’an after obligation to set up prayer, then pay zakat. The mosque is the best place to pay zakat.People may be hungry and thirsty. This is a culinary business opportunity. People need the best prayer clothes, perfumes and worship equipment. This opens the field of business as well. People on a gathering need necessary household appliances, motorcycles, cars and other services. The answer already appeared, especially on Friday, the emergence of the “shocked” market at the mosque neighborhood.
Most of the economic potential of the mosque was already explored, but not in an optimal way. We can imitate the environment around Majidil Haram in Mecca which has become the center of a bustling economy. Starting from a variety of restaurants, jewelry stores and clothing until skyscraper hotels flourished the city, similarly, the area around the Prophet’s Mosque, in Medina. Certainly, socioeconomic status of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims determined what food and services they need.For Indonesian mosque, of course, it has a varying social status. Employers already know that and skilled to adjust for local demands. To target the rich Muslims, they could have built elite residential complexes bearing Islamic mosque at its center. But, what I mean mosque-based community development; certainly the rich are not the main target, but the poor. Therefore, the zakat from the muzakis (who must pay zakat), infaq and sedekah form the generous congregation, if it was managed properly and correctly according to sharia, it could become an engine of empowerment for the poor (mustahik).
Mosques and congregation I mean are who reside in a particular residential area, not in offices. Residents around the mosque and merchants around the mosque, who became worshipers, are the target of this empowerment. The rich and the expert become a helper and the poor are the beneficiaries.
According to records, in Indonesia there are about one million mosque, more than three thousand are in Jakarta, and number of musholla are greater. If the average donation per Friday pray amounted to Rp1 million, then it has the total Rp1 trillion every week or Rp 52 trillion per year. If you add the obligatory charity, zakat, of course the total will be much greater.
Legal entity of mosqueWith those funds, the poor and small traders who live and looking for live hood around the mosque and become a member of congregation could be fostered to avoid poverty and become more empowered. The poor can be invited to set up a small business, after having received training and guidance plus capital. They could set up a joint venture, such as cooperatives and or BMT (Baitu Maal wa Tamwil) on behalf of the mosque.
For that, the issue that must be resolved first; most mosques in Indonesia have not been incorporated into foundation or association in accordance with legislation. As a result, enterprises are established by or on behalf of the mosque do not have access to funding from banks. Congregation of mosque in general was not listed as member. Therefore, there is a need for data base of the mosque member, ranging from age, sex, family status, and profession, social and socioeconomic status. This data collection could involve mosque teenagers after obtaining necessary training.
Before it all, who needs to be trained first is the management of mosque, ranging from simple bookkeeping to management skill for developing the potential and assets of the mosque.
Health centers and trainingEconomically poor people can certainly poor in health, due to lack of nutrition and do not have enough money to maintain health. Therefore, in conjunction with economic empowerment, empowerment in health is very necessary. This can be done by setting up a health care center around the mosque to provide counseling and services for free or at minimal cost, if there is no nearby health center (Puskesmas).
If it’s impossible, a ‘poskesling’ (non-permanent health posts) could be set up. Medical personnel were from among the congregation who work in the medical field (doctors, midwives and nurses), the drug would be gained from a rich congregation donations, co-payment or from outside assistance.Poor people in poor health will be poor in education, due to fragile health and non-affordability to buy books and school supplies and other learning materials. Therefore, a mosque as a place of assembly and congregation or gathering with a variety of professions and potential, could be mobilized to establish a school or skills training center. Teacher or coach, preferably are from among the congregation itself and or professional personnel, both volunterily and paid personnel’s.
The teaching lesson will be tough, not just to recite the Qur’an and the Hadith which is generally held, but skills for life sciences. Expertise in cooking, sewing, salons and other skills are often more important to open their own business or work for someone else. Establishment of the center of popular economic movement, health care centers and training skills to live with mutual aid system among congregation will strengthen faith, friendship and simultaneously empower anyone who in need.How wonderful, if the congregation were asked; where would they find capital, health treatment and computers skills and Chinese language, for example, for its easy ways, good quality and cheap (or free), their answer will be in brief: to the mosque!
Gradually economic institutions, health services and environmental education in the mosque can be certainly developed and upgraded, so that transforming mosque in to a “center of excellence” will not be such impossible.
*Parni Hadi is Board of Trustees ‘Dompet Dhuafa’