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The Prophet’s Mosque as a Rehabilitation Center

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Since its inception, the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah has functioned as a community development center. It performed numerous religious, educational, and socio-political roles and functions.

It was a center for religious activities, a learning center, the seat of the Prophet’s government, a welfare and charity center, a detention and rehabilitation center, a place for occasional medical treatment and nursing, and a place for some leisure activities.

Concerning the notion of the mosque partly functioning as a detention and rehabilitation center, many aspects of such a role remained shrouded in a number of ambiguities.  Not only were male captives kept in what can be dubbed as the mosque’s detention center, but also the female ones. For the latter, an enclosed space near one of the mosque’s entrances was designated.

Furthermore, it is reported that a man called Thumama Ibn Uthal from the Bani Hanifah clan in Najd was captured and fastened to one of the pillars of the mosque. However, the Prophet (PBUH) later ordered some of his people to release him. The man thereupon went to a garden next to the mosque, took a bath, and entered the mosque proclaiming shahadah, i.e., he embraced Islam.

But, why within the mosque?

The benefits of having a detention center within the mosque’s realm were two-fold. First, it ensured safety and fair treatment of internees – generally war prisoners; and secondly, it helped them to slowly and via some hands-on experiences come to terms with what Islam and the Muslims were all about and what they really stood for, taking into account the mosque’s both spiritual and societal significance.

This resulted in many a detainee being won over by the life and demeanor of the Muslims and to eventually accept Islam.  In other words, the place was not a detention center per se. Rather, it was a spiritual and psychological rehabilitation center never excluded from the ever-increasing scope of da’wah (propagation of and calling the people to Islam).

As a matter of fact, every detention center is to function as a rehabilitation center as well. There is no point in sending a person to a detention center as a criminal or an offender, but when he or she comes out, after serving his or her due sentence, the same person comes out still as a criminal and very soon relapses into criminal behavior.

A person is to go to a detention center as a criminal or an offender, but when he or she comes out, he or she should come out as a rehabilitated and normal positive thinking citizen.  When Thumama Ibn Uthal – whom we have mentioned earlier – embraced Islam, having spent a couple of days tied in the mosque as a prisoner, he said to the Prophet (PBUH):

“By Allah, there was no face on the earth more hateful to me than your face, but now your face has become to me the dearest of all faces. By Allah, there was no religion more hateful to me than your religion, but now your religion has become the dearest of all religions to me. By Allah, there was no city more hateful to me than your city, but now your city has become the dearest of all cities to me.” (Muslim)

During the time of the Prophet (PBUH), the house of Ramlah bint al-Harith al-Najjariyyah, apart from serving as one of the houses in which some of the Prophet’s guests or visiting delegations used to be accommodated, once served as an interim detention center too.

In it, the members of the Jewish tribe Banu Qurayzah — around seven hundred in all — were imprisoned after the judgment that their men were to be slain, their property to be divided, and their women and children to be made captive, had been passed on them, until the same was executed at least one day later.

The Prophet (PBUH) gave Banu Qurayzah this treatment because of their treacherous acts against the Muslims during the petrifying battle of the Ditch (al-khandaq) when the very existence of Islam and the Muslims was put in jeopardy, in spite of all the peace and collaboration treaties that existed between the Muslims and the Jews.

Much more than a mosque

It was due to this particular role played by the Prophet’s Mosque that the Prophet (PBUH) once wanted to tie a strong demon from the Jinn to one of the mosque pillars, having earlier caught him.

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said

“A strong demon from the Jinns came to me yesterday suddenly, so as to spoil my prayer, but Allah enabled me to overpower him, and so I caught him and intended to tie him to one of the pillars of the mosque so that all of you might see him, but I remembered the invocation of my brother Sulayman (Solomon): “And grant me a kingdom such as shall not belong to any other after me,” (Sad, 35) so I let him go cursed.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)

For the same reason, indeed, a companion Abu Lubabah Ibn ‘Abd al-Mundhir tied himself to one of the pillars in the Prophet’s Mosque, after indicating to the Jewish tribe Banu Qurayzah, which the Prophet (PBUH) and the Muslims had besieged for days for the reasons earlier given, that if they surrendered, they would be killed.

Abu Lubabah was formerly an ally of the Jews and they consulted him about surrendering. Having hinted at their likely fate, he regretted it very much believing that he had breached the limit and in certain ways betrayed the Muslims. He then tied himself in the mosque and refused to be set free until his repentance was accepted, which eventually came to pass.

Abu Lubabah remained at the pillar for some ten or fifteen days. Before every prayer, or whenever it was necessary, his daughter would come to untie his bonds. Then after he had prayed, he would ask her to bind him once more. Subsequently, the pillar, which Abu Lubabah had tied himself to, became known as the Pillar of Repentance (Ustuwan al-Tawbah).  At the time of the Muslim military expedition to Tabuk, there was a group of ten men who failed to march with the army along with several other groups.

Each group had its own reasons for the default. The Qur’an says about them:

“Others (there are who) have acknowledged their wrong-doings: they have mixed an act that was good with another that was evil. Perhaps Allah will turn unto them (in mercy): for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al-Tawbah: 102)

Pressed by guilt, seven of the ten men tied themselves in the mosque to its pillars until the revelation of the said verse in which they were forgiven. Abu Lubabah Ibn ‘Abd al-Mundhir was one of the ten men and was one of those who tied themselves.

In Islam, there is a clear prohibition against the use of drugs and alcohol. The Qur’an, Islam’s central text, contains three verses that condemn the use of substances. In fact, the faith views intoxication as tantamount to outright sacrilege: 

O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants (khamr), gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than God], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful. —  Qur’an 5:90

In the Qur’an, intoxicants are referred to as “khamr,” the Arabic word for wine. The faith, however, extends that definition to include substances that defile the mind and intellect, lower inhibition, or diminish one’s ability to think and feel rational. It also views intoxicants as any substance that “overcomes” someone.  

Professional Treatment Options

If it sounds like you or a loved one has a substance abuse disorder or addiction, then professional treatment is the best course of action you can take. 

In a professional recovery program, licensed and experienced staff will consult with you to design a specialized treatment plan to meet your specific needs. If you have an addiction to substances like alcohol, heroin, cocaine, or prescription opioids, it is best that you start with a medically supervised detox. 

In detox, the addictive substance and other toxins are removed from the body and medications may be administered to treat the painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that may arise. 

After you complete detox and your body and mind are stabilized, the next step is to receive ongoing care at a treatment facility. If you have a severe addiction, the most effective option is residential treatment. In this type of program, you will stay onsite at the treatment facility and receive a range of comprehensive care and services that take into account your specialized needs. 

This includes treatment methods and approaches such as:

  • Detoxification
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Dual diagnosis treatment
  • Educational classes
  • Stress management
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  • Relapse prevention planning

For addictions that are not considered severe, there is outpatient treatment, which allows you the freedom and flexibility to live at home while receiving therapy and counseling, on a part-time basis, at a clinic or facility. 

Once you complete treatment, you will be connected to aftercare programs designed to equip you with the life skills and coping strategies to necessary serve as a hedge against relapse.

12 Steps to Recovery

  1. We admitted that we were neglectful of our higher selves and that our lives have become unmanageable.
  2. We came to believe that Allah could and would restore us to sanity.
  3. We made a decision to submit our will to the will of Allah.
  4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. We admitted to Allah and to ourselves the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Asking Allah for right guidance, we became willing and open for change, ready to have Allah remove our defects of character.
  7. We humbly ask Allah to remove our shortcomings.
  8. We made a list of persons we have harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. We sought through Salaat (prayer service in Islam) and Iqraa (reading and studying) to improve our understanding of Taqwa (G-d consciousness) and Ihsan (excellence in faith).
  12. Having increased our level of Iman (faith) and Taqwa, as a result of applying these steps, we carried this message to humanity and began practicing these principles in all our affairs.

“We look to Allah to guide us on the straight path. While recovering, we strive to become rightly guided Muslims, submitted our will and services to Allah.”

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