Religion

Afghans welcome government's campaign to build new mosques

By Omar

Afghans welcomed the construction of new mosques by the government and called on the Taliban to stop destroying them. At the beginning of Mosque Week, President Ashraf Ghani inaugurated 36 government-financed mosques across Afghanistan in a ceremony at the presidential palace (ARG) on May 11. [Omar/Salaam Times]

HERAT -- Afghanistan's efforts to construct new houses of worship and to designate a "Mosque Week" to support them underscore its commitment to the Islamic values upon which the country was founded, religious scholars say.

The government's support of mosques across the country stands in sharp contrast to the actions of the Taliban, they said, noting that the insurgent group has targeted houses of worship and attacked Muslims, even during Ramadan.

At the beginning of Mosque Week, President Ashraf Ghani inaugurated 36 government-financed mosques across Afghanistan during a May 11 ceremony at the presidential palace (ARG) in Kabul.

Workers built the mosques -- a project of the Presidential Operations Department, costing 3.118 billion AFN ($39.8 million) -- at the request of the Afghan people, said Ghani.

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A newly built mosque, Jami Nawa Abaad, is seen in this photograph taken May 11 in Herat city. [Omar/Salaam TImes]

"Many more congregational mosques will be built in all cities and districts across Afghanistan," he said, adding that the construction of new mosques sends a clear message to Afghanistan's enemies that it will never give in to intimidation.

The government is committed to building and repairing mosques, Ghani said, adding that no one can distract the government from developing the country.

Each new mosque is built on two levels and can accommodate 2,000 worshippers, Presidential Operations Department deputy chief Sidaqatullah Sadiq said during the inauguration ceremony.

Each has running water, a lawn and a hall dedicated to fateha (mourning) services with a maximum occupancy of 1,000.

Sadiq said the government has allocated 5.5 billion AFN ($70.2 million) to build an additional 377 standard and congregational mosques across the country, with construction work already under way on 266 of them.

Taliban targeting mosques

Meanwhile, the Taliban have repeatedly targeted mosques with suicide attacks and explosions, causing civilian casualties and damaging or destroying houses of worship, say Afghan officials.

Mosques are being destroyed amid the conflict, but the government is trying to present a new face of Afghanistan to the world by building new mosques, said Herat city resident Mohammad Asif Mohammadi.

"I am so happy to see the government has built such a nice mosque in my neighbourhood," Mohammadi said, adding that Afghans are proud of their government for building mosques and condemn the Taliban's actions.

An explosion that occurred while the Taliban were assembling suicide vests and land mines in a mosque in Pashtun Zarghun district on April 25 destroyed the building, said local officials in Herat.

Herat city religious scholar Mawlawi Sheikh Ahmad Mawlawizada denounced those who destroy mosques or use them for purposes that contravene Islamic principles.

The Taliban claim to be Muslims, even as they blow up and destroy mosques and other religious sites, said Yasin Umran, a resident of the Nimroz provincial capital of Zaranj.

This proves they are not true Muslims, he said.

Support for government efforts

The allocation of significant funds to the construction of mosques affirms the government's commitment to upholding the values of Islam, say Afghan religious scholars.

"All religious scholars welcome the government's decision," said Mawlawi Mohammad Rahmati, a religious scholar in Zaranj, adding that the construction of hundreds of new mosques will bring the people and government closer.

The Taliban should learn from the government, which has affirmed its commitment to Islamic principles, and instead of destroying mosques, should join hands in building more mosques and making the country prosperous, said Rahmati.

The construction of modern mosques has put Afghanistan on par with its neighbours, said Abdul Khaliq Haqqani, director of the Herat provincial Hajj and religious affairs department.

"I recall the days when I visited other countries, where they had built modern mosques, and I felt so disappointed because we did not have such facilities," he said.

On behalf of religious scholars, Haqqani said he appreciated the government's efforts in promoting Islamic values and constructing proper buildings for worship and prayer.

If the Taliban had done even 1% of what the government has done towards promoting Islamic values, there would have been no devastation and conflict in Afghanistan, said Zaranj resident Abdul Karim Wafa.

"Our government system is based on Islamic principles, and the leadership and the personnel of the government are all Muslim," he added. "No one can question or deny this fact."

Wafa called on the Taliban to stop destroying the country's infrastructure in the name of their so-called jihad, adding that they "must recognise that they are fighting against their own Muslim brothers".

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Thanks to his excellency Dr. Ashraf Ghani, the President of Afghanistan.

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Masha Allah! What a beautiful mosque. This kind of mosques encourage people to pray there. When people are encouraged to pray and perform their five-time prayer in congregation, they will not commit wrong deeds anymore, because performing prayer prevents people from doing wrong things.

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Building of mosques is a good thing, but the government should try to build manufacturing factories in all provinces besides building of mosques. People need manufacturing factories more than mosques, because people of each area will also build mosques for themselves. If people can't build magnificent mosques the way that the government builds, they can build at least simple mosques for themselves. Building of factories in the country is more important than building of magnificent and costly mosques, because job opportunities will be provided to the people with the construction of factories and poverty and hunger will be alleviated. A number of problems and insecurity of the country have tied with the unemployment and poverty of the people. If job opportunities are provided for the youths and the economy of the families is improved, youths don’t need to travel to Iran for work and be tortured and killed in Iran by the cruel regime. When youths are employed in work, they will not carry weapons any longer and kill their own people. You know that a large number of youths have joined the ranks of the government’s dissidents because of unemployment and are fighting against the government, and a number of others have become Arbaki (local police) and are following the warlords, as in this kind of situation where youths are unemployed, everyone will misuse them and recruit them for their personal goals. I stress again that I am not against building of magnificent and beautiful mosques

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Thank you very much for writing such a beautiful report on such a good topic. The government and the government's international allies should have done this work years ago, and even though they did it only now, it is still appreciated. Mosques are really very necessary. The series of building around 300 mosques should expand this way, and following their completion, religious schools need to be built in each and every province and district as its curriculum should not only include religious subjects. It should include modern science subjects so that our people will no longer need Pakistani and Iranian religious schools where students are trained in terror activities with dictation from those countries' intelligence agencies, and so that they can study inside the country. Another point is that these mosques should have a managing department, and at least ten shops should be built beside each mosque. As each mosque and in general, every building needs repairing and maintenance, the mosques should be repaired and maintained with the money collected from the shops' rents. This can happen in a way as each shops' rent go to a specific bank account, and whenever each mosque needs repairing, it is done from that same budget. After completion of the series of mosques and seminaries, a series of school construction projects should also continue, so that a school gets built in each and every village.

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