Sanctity of the Mosque


All the mosques in the world are equally worthy of respect. Just as it is a great sin to desecrate in any way the Baytul-Maqdis, or the mosque attached to the Ka’bah (al-Masjid al-Haram) or the mosque of the Holy Prophet (SAW), the same prohibition holds good with regard to all other mosques. These three mosques, no doubt, enjoy superior position, and special respect is to be paid to them. The reward for offering prayers once in Al-Masjid al-Haram is equal to that of praying a hundred thousand times elsewhere; the reward for praying in the mosque of the Holy Prophet e and in the Baytul-Maqdis equals that of praying fifty thousand times. To make a long journey for the purpose of praying in any one of these three mosques is a meritious act which makes one worthy of receiving a special barakah. On the other hand, the Holy Prophet (SAW) has forbidden it that one should make a long journey in order to offer one’s prayers in a mosque other then these three, believing it to be a meritorious act.

It is forbidden to prevent people, in any form or manner possible, from offering their prayers or "remembering" Allah in a mosque. An obvious form of such intereference is not to allow someone to a mosque or to offer his prayers or to read the Holy Quran there. A less explicit form is to produce some kind of noise in the mosque itself or play music nearby, and thus to disturb people in their prayers and in their remembrance of Allah (SWT). Similarly, if one starts reciting the Holy Quran or remembring Allah (SWT) loudly so as to disturb the people who are offering supererogatory prayers (nawafil) or themselves reading the Holy Quran or silently remembring Allah (SWT), one is being guilty of the same sin. Therefore, the fuqaha (masters of Islamic jurisprudence) have forbidden this practice. But, if people are not present in the mosque, one may recite the Holy Quran or make dhikr in a loud voice. On the bases of this principle we can also see that it is forbidden to beg or to collect donations even for a religious purpose while people are engaged in their prayers or in dhikr.

All the possible forms of laying waste a mosque are forbidden. This includes not only demolishing and destroying a mosque, but also producing conditions which result in a mosque being laid waste or deserted. For laying waste a mosque implies that few, or only a few people should come there for offering their prayers. A mosque can be said to be flourishing, not on the score of the beauty of its architecture or of its orientation, but only when it is full of men who come to pray and to remember Allah (SWT). Says the Holy Quran:

"Only those do populate the mosques of Allah I who believe in Allah I and in the Day of Judgment, who are steadfast in salah and pay zakah, and do not fear anyone but Allah" (9:18)

So, the Holy Prophet (SAW) has fortold that when the Day of Judgement comes close, the mosques of the Muslims would be beautifully designed and decorated and be apparently full of people, but they in reality be deserted, for afew people would go there for the purpose of offering their prayers. We are also reminded of what the fourth Khalifah and the blessed companion Hazrat Ali (RA) has said. There are, according to him, six deeds which behove a man – three of them pertain to the state when one is living at home, and the other three states to when he is on a journey. The first three are – to read the Holy Quran, to populate the mosques, and to bring together a number of friends who wish to serve Allah (SWT) and his faith. The other three are – to spend out of what one has over one’s needy companions of the way, to be polite to everyone, and to be cheerful with one’s co travellers so long as one does not go beyond the limits allowed by the shariah. What he means by ‘populating’ the mosques is that one should enter them in a spirit of humility and with the fear of Allah (SWT) in one’s heart, and then engage oneself in prayers or in reciting the Holy Quran or in making dhikr. In opposition to this, the laying waste of mosques would mean that only few people should offer their prayers in them, or that a set of circumstances is allowed to develop which makes it difficuilt for those who are present to acquire the proper attitude of humility.




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