I was going through a book by Mumtaz Mufti a few days ago. I have read a statistic in it and was thus amazed. Although the statistic was not that startling, but I was amazed on my ignorance and the fact as to why I did not think about this earlier.
The statistics said that there are about one million mosques in Pakistan. Although I believe it might be much more now, since the book I read was about fifteen years old. Anyway, to the best of my knowledge there are too many mosques in Pakistan, More than the number of schools, colleges, universities and community centers, welfare organizations, NGOs put together. If we interpret it rightly, these are more than one million fixed and most respected infrastructures in Pakistan. Every mosque has, if not two at least one Imam. Each of the mosques is organized, governed and operated by an Imam. So in reality we have more than a million fixed- respected- four wall structure called Mosques and as many Teachers called Imams.
Just imagine if these are considered to be an area of learning and sharing, a plateform for constructive discussion, a forum for community work, a space for issue resolutions, a breeding abode for cleanliness, education and knowledge for the local community, a hall for marriage ceremonies, a place of lectures on different social issues every week.
Just Imagine that the Imam of each mosque is the most literate person in the community. He is amongst the affluent persons, having knowledge and information about all or most of the issues and things. Just imagine that in the evenings or on weekends you, me and our families go to mosque not only to say prayer but to meet other families and chat on matters relating to our lives and our development.
The above can only be possible if the Imams of the mosques are those who are not only leaders of the prayers but also the leaders of knowledge and wisdom. This will only be possible if we give Imams their due status in the society. It is only possible if Imams are carefully selected through a learned council of highly educated people. If Imams are not bread by the local community, if Imams are those who are the best paid amongst all professionals, If Imams are delivering lectures on Economics, Science, History, Medicine etc. Yes it will be possible.
By Umer Raza Bhutta