Archive for the ‘Texts On Mosques’ Category

The Etiquette and Rules of the Masjid
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

(Friday speech delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center or Raleigh, NC on February 25, 2000)


Islam made the Masjid the heartbeat of the Muslim society. It is the hangout of Muslims where they meet one another daily not to perform the prayers only but also for other acts of worship and activities that are beneficial for the Muslim community.

The prophet (S.A.W.) taught us that the Masajid are Allah’s houses and that they have etiquette and rules that should be learned and upheld by every Muslim. We should teach our families and children these rules and remind other Muslims to uphold these rules. This guarantees the Masajid play their roles properly and effectively that they were designed for.

The etiquette and rules include:

  • The Muslim should avoid every thing that has an offensive smell like garlic, onion, or smoking. And the Muslim should wear clean clothes and socks when he comes to the Masjid so that he does not offend any of the angels or Muslims around him with an offensive smell. Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) said: “Who ever eats garlic, onion, then keeps away from our Masjid because the angels get offended from what offends the children of Adam.” Imam Muslim reported that Omar (R.A.) used to say while he on the Minbar: “I saw the prophet (S.A.W.) when he found their smell (garlic, onion) from a man in the Masjid, he ordered him to be taken out.” then Omar said: “If you must eat them, then cook them well.”
  • The Muslim should say a supplication, which the prophet used to say while on his way to the Masjid. Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) used to say: “O Allah, make in my heart light, in my vision light, on my right light, behind me light, in my nerves light, in my flesh light, in my blood light, in my hair light, and in my skin light.”
  • The Muslim should enter the Masjid with his right foot first, and then say what was reported by Imam Muslim, the prophet (S.A.W.) used to say: “Besmellah. In the name of Allah, O Allah, open for me the gates of your mercy.” The prophet (S.A.W.) used to like to start with his right in every thing. Imam Bukhari reported that “Ibn Omar (R.A.) used to step with his right foot first when he entered the Masjid, and step out with his left foot first when he walked out of the Masjid.” If there is a group of people who want to enter the Masjid at the same time, then the one on the right should go in first to uphold the Sunnah of the prophet (S.A.W.).
  • The Muslim should give Salam to the people as he enters the Masjid, even if the people are praying, because the companions used to give Salam to the prophet (S.A.W.) while he is in his prayer, and he used to reply with a hand gesture. There are many Ahadith about that, among which reported by Imams Bukhari and Muslim that Souhaib (R.A.) said: “I passed by the prophet (S.A.W.) while he was praying and gave Salam to him, he replied to me with a gesture.” And Ibn Omar (R.A.) asked Bilal (R.A.): How did you see the prophet (S.A.W.) reply to them (his companions) when they gave Salam to him while he was engaged in prayer?” Bilal said: “By spreading his palm.”
  • The one who inters the Masjid should not run to catch up with a Rak’ah, rather he should remain quiet because the prophet (S.A.W.) forbade running in such a situation. Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) said: “If the prayer started, then do not join it running, and join it walking and quiet, and pray whatever you caught up with, and make up for what you missed.”
  • The Muslim should not distract other praying Muslims in the Masjid, because the praying Muslim is in contact with Allah (S.W.T.) so he should not be distracted not even with reciting Qur’an, supplication, or remembrance of Allah. Imam Ahmad reported Abdullah bin Omar (R.A.) narrated that the prophet (S.A.W.) saw some people praying, and they became loud in their prayer. He said: “The praying parson is in contact with his Lord, so let him concentrate on whom he is in contact with, and do not raise your voices over one another with Qur’an.” Raising voices while talking is not allowed while Muslims are praying. Imam Bukhari reported that Assa’eb (R.A.) said: “I was in the Masjid, and a man called me, I turned to him and there was Omar (R.A.). And he said: “Bring me these two men”, then I brought them to him. Omar asked: “Where are you from? They replied from the people of At-Ta’ef. He said: “If you were from the people of Al-Madinah, I would have hurt you because you raised your voices in the Masjid of the messenger of Allah (S.A.W.).”
  • The one who inters the Masjid should not sit until he prays two Rak’ahs. Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) said: “When one of you enters the Masjid, he should pray two Rak’ah before sitting down.” There are other Ahadith with the same meaning.
  • The Muslim should place something in front of him during prayer as a barrier between him and the passersby in front of him, and that he gets closer to it as the prophet used to do. Imam Bayhaqi reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) said: “If you pray, then pray toward sutrah (some barrier) and get closer to it.” So if you enter the Masjid and want to pray, then get closer to the wall of Qiblah so much that there is just enough room between you and the wall to pray. If you prostrate, there should be no room between your prostration spot and the wall more than a sheep pass. Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that: “Between the place of his prostration (S.A.W.) and the wall there was no room more than sheep pass.” In another Hadith reported by Imam Bukhari when the prophet (S.A.W.) used to pray, he leave between him and the wall three arm lengths.” If you find people already at the wall of the Qiblah, then pray behind one of them because he will be as a sutrah for you like the companions used to do.
  • The Muslim should not pass in front of the praying Muslim. Imams Bukhari, Muslim and others reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) said: “If the passer in front of the praying person knew how much sin he committed, it would have been better for him to wait for forty than to pass in front of him.”
  • The Muslim should sit where he finds a place in the Masjid. The Muslim should not skip people or squeeze himself between two people who are already sitting. Many Ahadith conveyed this meaning.
  • The Muslim should keep himself busy supplicating and remembering Allah (S.W.T.) while he is sitting in the Masjid, because he is in the prayer as long as he is waiting for the prayer.
  • The Muslim should keep the Masjid clean and in good shape and smell because it is the house of Allah (S.W.T.). The prophet (S.A.W.) considered spitting in the Masjid to be a sin that could be forgiven only if the Muslim cleans the area. Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) said: “Spitting in the Masjid is a sin and its expiation is clean it.” When the prophet (S.A.W.) saw a spit in the Masjid, he used to remove it with a stone. The companions of the prophet (S.A.W.) used keep the Masjid clean. Imam Abu Dawod reported that Abdullah bin Omar (R.A.) used to put perfume inside the Masjid when Omar (R.A.) sat on the Minbar to deliver Friday speech.
  • The Muslims should keep away from the Masjid all selling and buying transactions and crying out about something lost. Imams At-Tirmthi and An-Nisa’i reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) said: “If you see some one selling or buying inside the Masjid, say to him: May Allah not make your trading profitable. And if you see someone crying out inside the Masjid something he has lost, say to him: May Allah not restore it to you, for the Masajid were not built for this.”
  • The Muslim should not walk out of the Masjid after the Athan before he prays with the Muslims. This is even if he already prayed that obligatory prayer (which will be considered a Nafelah (extra) when he prays with the other Muslims). Imam Ahmad reported that Abu Hurairah (R.A.) said: the prophet (S.A.W.) ordered us, when we are in the Masjid and the Salah is called for, not to leave the Masjid until we pray.”
  • The Muslim should say Salam to the people before he leaves the Masjid. Imams Abu-Dawoud, and At-Tirmith reported in a good hadith that the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said, “When one of you joins a gathering he should greet those present; and when he leave them he should greet them because the first salutation is not better than the last one.”
  • The Muslim should leave the Masjid start with his left foot first and say what the prophet (S.A.W.) use to say: “Bismillah, In the name of Allah, O Allah open for me the gates of your blessings, o Allah protect me from Satan.”
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The Importance of the Role of the Masjid
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

(Friday speech delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, NC on September 11, 1998)

All the praises and thanks be to Allah (S.W.T.) for his blessings that He helped us in this community to start the expansion project of this center. This expansion would add more than 13,300 square feet to the existing building.

This week, as we can see, preparations are under way to start building on the land adjacent to the center. The new land is about 2.4 acres, which was purchased about 2 years ago. It was paid off completely from the donations of local Muslims living in this area. We ask Allah (S.W.T.) to reward them generously.

In reality, the expansion project did not start this week, but it started more than a year ago when the Majlis As-shurah of the I.A.R. made an official decision to expand the center. The Majlis As-shurah then formed the construction committee to conduct and oversee this expansion project.

The construction committee did everything they could to fulfill their task. They spent many hours and made tremendous efforts to get to this point. We ask Allah (S.W.T.) to reward everyone of them generously for what they have accomplished, especially, the chairman of this committee who spent lots of his time and effort to initiate everything the expansion project needs, from various arrangements to removal of difficulties in its implementation.

Yes, it is a hard and long process that needs expertise, wisdom, accuracy, patience, and follow-up. Many meetings were held; every one of which took no less than 2 hours. Moreover, many more meetings were held with many engineers, experts, contractors, and officials.

I had attended a few meetings and realized the great magnitude and accuracy of this task that was taken with seriousness, precision, and craftsmanship.

Now, on your behalf and mine, I would like to thank all the members of the construction committee for what they have accomplished because the prophet (S.A.W.) say, in an authentic hadith reported by Imam At-Tirmithi and Abu-Dawud, “Whosoever does not thank people, he does not thank Allah.” I ask Allah (S.W.T.) to bless us with sincerity in our sayings and actions and to compensate generously for your effort in this life and in the Hereafter for everything that you have done. I also thank everyone who contributed to this project in idea, in word, or in action, especially, those brothers and sisters who donated generously from

their money and who are still donating. I remind them of good news from the prophet (S.A.W.) in a hadith reported by Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim, “Whosoever builds for Allah a masjid, Allah will reward him similar to it in paradise.” In another narration reported by Imam Ahmad, “Whosoever shares in building a masjid for Allah, even if it is as small as a bird’s nest, Allah (S.W.T.) will build for him a house in Paradise.” This is the greatest news for a winning investment that is guaranteed by Allah (S.W.T.), so where are the investors?

Donating money to build a masjid for the sake of Allah is a sadaqah jariah (continues charity), meaning the reward will continue to reach the donor even after death. This which was mentioned by Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) in an authentic hadith.

I remind myself and you of the necessity to continue your generous donations to finish this project, which should be finished, by the will of Allah, within 7 months. Also, I would like to remind you all of the necessity to target those who like to donate, to contribute to this great task. This is because the one who tells about good deeds he will get the same reward as the one who does it.

The great magnitude of contributing to the construction of the masjid goes well with the great role of the masjid and its importance:

The role of the masjid in the lives of Muslims is great; in reality, it is the beating heart of the Muslim society. From here comes the importance of the contribution to the building, supervising, and managing it.

Allah (S.W.T.) likes to see the brotherhood and love to spread among the believers. So, the masjid is the place where Muslims meet daily for their prayer before Allah (S.W.T.). So their souls get purified and they meet for the love of Allah (S.W.T.).

Allah (S.W.T.) wants care to prevail in the practice amongst Muslims. So the masjid is the place where the zakat and charity money is collected and spent.

Allah (S.W.T.) likes that the spirit of justice and equality to prevail amongst the Muslims. So the masjid is the place where they stand in a prayer row before Allah. No difference is there between rich and poor, or between a prince and a common man, or between a ruler and a ruled; all of them are equal in the masjid. Allah also likes that Muslims learn their Deen and raise themselves to do good so their souls get purified. So the masjid is the school and the university that offers the right and authentic knowledge and also the nursery that raises people on a divine way.

Allah (S.W.T.) would want Islam to be the prevalent deen. So, the masjid is the center and the base of the da’wah to Allah, from which the people take off to convey the message of Islam, giving glad tiding and warning, guiding and conquering.

This is how the masjid of the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) was, and this is how the masajid should be today.

Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat At-Tawbah, (verse 18), what can be translated as, “The masajid of Allah (mosques) shall tu’mar (maintain, tend and fill with different Islamic activities) only by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day; offer prayers perfectly, and give zakat and fear none except Allah. It is they who are expected to be on true guidance.”

The masjid may be built by Muslims or non-Muslim, but in reality, the masjid is only be a’mer (maintain, tend and fill with different Islamic activities) with the Muslim that is described with those descriptions in the aforementioned verse. There is a great difference between the physical, concrete building of the masjid and truly building it. There are many masjad today that were built with stones with nice decorations, but stayed exactly like that, with no life in them. This is because the people who run it do not have the qualifications mentioned in the verse:

  • Having a complete belief with all its pillars.
  • Having a complete Islam with all its pillars.
  • Fearing none but Allah.

What is the relationship between fearing none but Allah and making the masjid alive and full of Islamic activities? Who are the ones you are afraid of if you gave the masjid its complete role? What are those fears? All these questions can be easily answered if we know the great role of the masjid in the lives of the Muslims as we mentioned above. I’mar of the masjid can be briefly explained as making the earth live with Islam, and raising the generations with Islam. This is a great and dangerous mission that the enemies of Allah (S.W.T.) hate and will do their best to stop it and destroy it. So the ummar of the masjid need the courage and need to fear none except Allah (S.W.T.).

Who are the enemies of Islam? It is those who do their best to cancel the role of the masjid. There are many enemies, starting from one’s evil soul and Satan who reminds us of poverty and scares us with it and orders us to do evil and his followers, his soldiers, and his allies from the humans and jinns from the non-believers, the evil-doers, and the hypocrites. We Muslims should be careful.


The Role of the Masjid

When the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) arrived in Medina, he built a masjid before doing anything else! The masjids the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) built were more than places to pray! Their functions included:

  1. A place for children: not a place where they cried and ran around but a place where they were accommodated. There are several narrations of how when the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) was praying, the children would come and climb on his back or he (صلي الله عليه وسلم) would hold them while praying salah. The masjid was a cool place to hang out, it was where they learned the basic adaab and akhlaaq and principles of the Muslim society.
  2. Educational Center: The masjid acted as a school where the Sahaba were educated and were encouraged to learn more.
  3. Organization of the community: the masjid is where all the organizational events took place. It was in the masjid where the Sahaba learnt to become organized people – how the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) would walk between the saff of the Muslims before every salah, to straighten and correct their saffs.
  4. Hospital: Many who were wounded or sick were tended in the masjid, such as Sa’d ibn Mu’adh (رضي الله عنه) after the Battle of Khandaq.
  5. Shelter: it was a shelter for the poor and needy (nicknamed As-Saffa). This is where people would bring in dates and hang them on the wall of the masjid, so any hungry person could eat from them.
  6. Social life: The Muslims met each other at the masjid five times a day, they got to know each other and were able to actively participate in each others’ lives. If someone was missing, they understood that there was a problem, so they would ask about it. Likewise, the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) used to sit with the companions after Fajr sometimes and ask them about their dreams.
  7. Think-Tank: The masjid is where shura and brainstorming took place.
  8. Welcome Centre: Chiefs, delegations and visitors were all met and welcomed at the masjid.
  9. Serenity Spa: if someone had anything bothering them, they would go to the masjid. Like the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم)–when he was upset with his wives, he went to the masjid. The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) would call to Bilal (رضي الله عنه) to make the adhaan and start the prayer.
  10. Bedouin Retreat: Bedouins would come, sit in the majalis, learn the Qur’an, ask their questions, go back home, and teach their people the deen. Whole tribes became Muslim from one or two bedouins!

How far we have fallen from this blessed example of the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم)! We should all take it upon ourselves to enliven our masjids–only then will we truly experience the true benefits of them the way the companions did.


Muhammad Alshareef. Lecture. AlMaghrib. The Shepherd’s Path. University of Ryerson, Toronto. March 2007.


January 15, 2009

The meaning and evolution of the word ‘Mosque’

Filed under: Islamic Terms,Muslim Urban Legends — abuaisha @ 1:03 pm

There has been in recent times much confusion regarding the origin of the English word mosque.
The word mosque is a translation of the Arabic word masjid (مَسجِد). The word masjid in Arabic comes from the verb sajada (سَجَدَ) which means ‘to prostrate’, and a masjid is the place in which people prostrate. It can loosely be translated more generally as ‘a place of worship’.

The conspiracy surrounding the English translation begins by asserting that the word ‘mosque’ carries with it an islamophobic history with its origins in the Spanish reconquista which saw the end of Islamic Spain.
I am not sure where it first came from, however a book entitled ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam’ (the name says it all doesn’t it?) was the first time I encountered this. The book  claims on page 14:

The English term mosque is derived from the Spanish word for mosquito and came into use during the Christian invasion of Muslim Spain in the fifteenth century. The forces of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella boasted they would swat out Muslim prayer houses like mosquitoes. Understandably, many Muslims prefer not to use this unfortunate name amongst themselves.

It may have been through this book which the rumour began, and it may be likely as the subsequent rumours all bear similar disinformation almost word for word.

To begin with, to say that the word ‘mosque’ comes from the Spanish word for mosquito is a bit of a no-brainer, considering that mosquito itself is a Spanish word. It is the diminuitive form of the word mosca which means ‘fly’ (like the insect, not the verb) and hence means ‘little fly’. From mosquito, the rumour then suggests that the word ‘mezquita’ evolved. Mezquita of course is the Spanish word for mosque. What could not possibly be explained from a linguistic perspective is how mosquito would become mezquita.
Arabic was spoken in the Iberian peninsula (Portugal and Spain) for approximately 800 years, and there is a rich amount of Arabic words that live on until today in the language. These Spanish words of Arabic origin were introduced during the reign of the Muslims which came to an end in 1942, the time in which it has been purported that the word mezquita was developed.

The problem however is that the word mezquita was being used long before the reconquista which ended in 1492. Mezquita was the word used for mosques in Spanish for the many hundreds of years that Muslims lived in Spain.
The Arabic word masjid may have entered into Europe by any number of means. It is likely though that the form of the word which later became mosque has its origins in either Spain or Italy (Southern Italy was also inabited and ruled over by Muslims for almost 200 years). The changing of the d to a t is indeed a characteristic of Italian adaptations of Arabic, like how Muhammad when translated into Italian becomes Maometto. As for the j in masjid, the Spanish language has no way to say the sound ‘j’, most Arabic words with a jeem (ج) became either:

ch – eg: enchufe < جوف/jawf
– (pronounced as – kh/خ)  eg: jarra <  جرة/jarrah

This is important to pay attention to, because many others have claimed that the word ‘mezquita’ must have come from an Egyptian pronunciation of the word (masgid) which is incorrect, as the vast majority of Muslims who were in Europe were not from Egypt and did not speak any Egyptian based dialect, rather they were from the Maghreb and the patterns of Spanish-Arabic words all show that there was never any Egyptian Arabic influence in Spain or Italy. There are no known examples in Andalusi or Sicilian Arabic of the letter Jeem being pronounced as a ‘g’.
This shift would have occured otherwise, we can see by examples of other words.
The word Spanish word jabalí (pronounced ‘khabalee’ (IPA /xabaliː/)) comes from the Arabic word jabalī (جَبَلِي). The Jīm in Arabic (ج) becomes a J in Spanish, pronounced as ‘kh’ or like the khā’ (خ) in Arabic. This shows how to begin with the j in masjid could have been turned into ‘kh’ sound. From there the sound would easily have became a hard k sound (represented by q and c in Spanish), especially as Spanish does not easily accomodate a kh sound after an s. Many Arabic words which had a ‘kh’ became like ‘k’, an example of this is the word nukhā` (نخاع) which becomes nuca in Spanish.
After all of these letter changes, we are easily left with our new word ‘mesquit’ (note that the Arabic ‘a’ in this case corresponds closer to the Spanish ‘e’ than ‘a’ and hence the e would be understandably used here). Then as with all Spanish words it must be turned into a noun, which means either an o or an a will be added to the end of the word. In this case it was an a, and so we now have the word – mesquita. Why did the s later become a z then? In southern Spain until even today, there is no differing between an s and a z. All letter z’s are pronounced just like an s is. It just may be that as the Spanish language began to re-adopt the latin script that the northern areas of Spain adjusted the s sound to that of a th sound, just like with how sifr in Arabic later became pronounced as ‘sero’ in Andalusia but ‘thero’ in the more northern areas. Many other Arabic words also saw a shift whereby the S sound evolved later into a Th sound, so whilst it may seem rather strange as to why certain words retained the S sound and others evolved into a Th sound, the sheer quantity of words seen to have done this show it was rather common.

From our final term Mezquita there would have arisen many of the variations around Europe that exist until today. Mosqueé for example in French, Moschea in Italian etc. It was from the French term mosqueé that the English language adapted the word that we use today – Mosque.

So we may rest assured, a mosquito remains a mosquito and a mosque remains a mosque. Neither Ferdinand or Isabella were ever recorded to have ever stated that they would squash the mosques like mosquitoes, and even if they did, they would have used the word mezquita anyway which was the word already established in Spain for a masjid.
It is unfortunate that I have on many occasions read ‘warning’ chain e-mails informing Muslims to desist in using the English word ‘mosque’ due to its evil origins.. This should serve as a reminder to at least attempt to properly verify such things, and a lesson to not believe everything we read (especially from books which self-describe themselves as being for idiots). Feel free to use the words mosque, mosqueé, mezquita, and ponder over the history of this word and how it carries with it part of our Islamic legacy and is a testament to the great Muslim nation of al-Andalus which for 800 years existed in Western Europe.


  1. Hmm, I thought that the letter “j” in Spanish only adopted its present “kh” sound after the completion of the Reconquista…

    Comment by George Carty — July 15, 2009 @ 12:24 pm | Reply

  2. As’salaamu alaikum. Jazakullah khayr for the advice to verify things, not spread rumors, not believe everything you read, and the very interesting etymology breakdown!
    I’d like to add that the word “masjid” is found 17 times in the Qur’an:
    Al-Baqara [2:191], Al-Baqara [2:149], Al-Baqara [2:144], Al-Baqara [2:150],Al-A’raf [7:29],Al-A’raf [7:31], Al-Anfal [8:34], At-Tauba [9:7], At-Tauba [9:19],At-Tauba [9:28],At-Tauba [9:108], At-Tauba [9:107], Al-Isra [17:1], Al-Isra [17:7],Al-Hajj [22:25],Al-Fath [48:25], Al-Fath [48:27]. As such, I’d prefer code-switching to masjid in the middle of my English sentences any day! Also, I’d like to point out the beauty of having the language of the Qur’an as a lingua franca for Muslims, another way of connecting us to each other no matter what are nationality or mother tongue we have. Alhamdulillah.
    In defense of the people that used the “mosquito” defense to not say “mosque”: Given historical facts, it’s not so completely far-fetched to think that either or both of the Spanish royals did indeed say something to that effect. And if people chose to not utter “mosque” because of that reason (albeit using erroneous information), it’s still a good intention. Yes, not accurate, but still well-intended. And yes, as you say, we should still verify things and speak accurately. May we all have the right action with the right intention. Ameen.

    Comment by zaytouna — August 6, 2009 @ 11:22 am | Reply

  3. nice info, cause in indonesia this topic still debatable

    Comment by eemoo — November 27, 2009 @ 8:01 am | Reply

  4. AOA>
    Having checked the website on the debate of the word”mosque” used in common for MASJID when termed ino english, I am surprized many defending it.
    Why not call it MASJID as it is. After all research shows that arabic language has been spoken since 800 years (correct me if I am worng). Than why do we take the english word “mosque” which is associated to the spanish word “masguie” which is translated in English as mosquito!

    Please sen comments.

    Comment by Saif — September 7, 2010 @ 10:50 pm | Reply

  5. correction> spanish word: Masquita, which is translated in english as mosquito.

    Comment by Saif — September 7, 2010 @ 10:53 pm | Reply

Maulana Muhammad Ali, M.A., LL.B

1. “Surely the first house appointed for men is the one at Bakkah blessed and a guidance for nations” (3:95).

2. “And from whatsoever place thou comest forth, turn thy face towards the Sacred Mosque; and wherever you are, turn your faces towards it” (2:150).

3. “And had there not been Allāh’s repelling some people by others, certainly there would have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques in which Allāh’s name is much remembered” (22:40).

4. “And who is more unjust than he who prevents men from the mosques of Allāh that His name should be remembered therein and strives to ruin them” (2:114),

5. “The mosques are Allāh’s” (72:18).

6. “The idolaters have no right to visit the mosques of Allāh” (9:17).

The first mosque built on the earth is the Sacred Mosque, the Ka’bah built at Makkah also called Bakkah (v. 1); and all mosques should therefore face towards the Sacred Mosque (v. 2: h. 3). The Prophet’s Mosque at Madīnah was a simple structure made of rough material; and though in rebuilding it finer material was used by ‘Uthmān, the third Caliph, it still retained its simplicity (b. 4). A mosque should be a simple structure . it should not be decorated (b. 5), and should have no pictures or statues in it (b. 8). It should be kept clean (hh. 9,10) and even perfumed (h. 9). Its only furniture consists of a pulpit, wherefrom the Imām delivers a sermon on Fridays or addresses people on other important occasions. and of mats on which prayers are said (hh. 11, 12), though prayers may be said even on bare ground (h. 13).

The whole earth being a mosque (h. 1), prayers may be offered anywhere, singly or in congregation, and accordingly no consecration of the mosque is necessary. Prayers may be said even in a non-Muslim house of worship, provided it contains no statues or pictures (h. 8). Building of a mosque

p. 69

is an act of great merit (h. 2). No Muslim can be denied the right to enter a mosque and offer prayers therein (v. 4). A mosque is said to be Allāh’s (v. 5); it is thus not the property of any person. though ‘its management must necessarily be in the hands of someone, the builder of the mosque or any one appointed by him; nor can a mosque when once built be diverted to any other use; once a mosque always a mosque. A place set apart in a house for saying prayers in congregation would, however, retain its private nature (b. 14).

The mosque is meant primarily for Divine worship. To the Muslim, however, the mosque means much more than a mere house of Divine worship which could, in fact, be offered anywhere; it is the real centre for the society of Islām in a certain locality, as the Ka’bah is the centre for the Muslims of the whole world. The mosque is also the cultural centre of Islām. The Prophet’s Mosque at Madīnah had a kind of boarding-house, called the Suffah, attached to it, for students, where at one time as many as seventy students were accommodated (hh. 16, 17). In fact, the mosque is plainly stated to be a place, to which one should go to learn or teach some good (h. 18). The Suffah of the Prophet’s Mosque has left its legacy in the form of the maktab or madrisah (the school)–considered a necessary adjunct to the mosque to this day–and the library which was generally attached to the more important mosques by Muslims in all ages.

The mosque, being the essential meeting-place of Muslims five times a day, became also a general centre where all important matters relating to the welfare of the Muslim community were transacted and where Muslims gathered together on all important occasions. The Holy Prophet himself (with his wife ‘Ā’ishah) witnessed a display with lances given by some Abyssinians in the mosque (b. 19). Hassān ibn Thābit recited in the mosque his poems in defence of the Holy Prophet (h. 20), juridical affairs were also settled ill the mosque (b. 21). A tent was set up for a wounded soldier in the mosque (b. 22). Even a freed handmaid had a tent set up for her in the yard of the Mosque (h. 23). Deputations were received in the mosque and sometimes even lodged there (h. 24). A prisoner who was an idolater was once kept in the mosque (h. 25). On another occasion it served the purpose of the treasury (h. 26). The mosque was thus not only the spiritual centre of Muslims but also their educational, political and social centre, their national centre in a general sense.

Notwithstanding all that has been said above, the sacredness of the mosque as the house of Divine worship, was fully observed. On the one hand, non-Muslims were received and even lodged there, but, on the other, the Holy Qur’ān plainly laid it, down that they had no right to visit the mosques (v. 6) It was only on sufferance that they were admitted there. While many affairs relating to the welfare of the community were attended to in the mosques, yet all this was to be done with the respect due to the House of God. The raising of voices

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in the mosque was forbidden (h. 27), and spitting therein is called a sin (h. 29). In all those matters which related to the sanctity of the mosque, Muslims were, however, told to be lenient (h. 31). Carrying on any kind of trade in the mosque is strictly prohibited, as is also the reciting of poems, and even sitting in circles and indulging in talk at the time of prayer (h. 32). The mosque should not be used as a thoroughfare, and the doors of the houses should not open on to it (h. 33). Nothing is to be done in the mosque which may give offence to others; and it is for this reason that the eating of raw onions or garlic when going to the mosque is prohibited (h. 34). Saying prayers with the shoes on is permitted (b. 35), but the general practice now is to take them off before entering the mosque as a mark of respect. It would be improper to take dogs inside the mosque, though if a dog happens to pass through it, the mosque is not thereby defiled (b. 36).

An important question relates to a junub and a menstruating woman entering the mosque. According to hadīth narrated in the previous chapter, neither the junub, nor the menstruating woman, is najs, i.e., defiled or impure (V: 51, 52): and when an idolater (man or woman) can enter the mosque as already shown there could be no prohibition against Muslims. In h. 23, it is clearly stated that a woman was allowed to have a tent pitched in the mosque and she resided in it, and there is nothing to show that she was turned out when she had her monthly courses. And ‘Ā’ishah was told by the Holy Prophet that menstruation did not affect her hands in any way (h. 30) and consequently it affected no other part of the body. Therefore Hadīth speaking of the prohibition for the junub and the menstruating woman to enter the mosque must be taken as having a limited application, in the sense that they cannot enter the mosque in order to say prayers.

1 Jābir reported that, The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

“I have been granted five things which were not granted to any one before me: and for me the earth has been made a mosque and a means of

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purification; therefore, if prayer overtakes any person of my community, he should say his prayers (wherever he is)1…….”

(B. 7:l.)

2 ‘Uthmān … said … I heard the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, say:

“Whoever builds a mosque, desiring thereby Allāh’s pleasure, Allāh builds for him the like of it in paradise.”

(B. 8:65.)

3 Abd Allāh ibn ‘Umar said,

‘When the people were saying their morning prayers (in the mosque) at Qubā, a man came to them and said, A portion of the Qur’ān has been revealed to the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, during the night and he has been

1. According to the Holy Qur’ān and the Hadīth, a Muslim does not stand in need of a consecrated place to say his Prayers, Here the whole earth is called a mosque.

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commanded to turn his face towards the Ka’bah; so they turned their faces towards it; and their faces were towards Syria, so they turned round to the Ka’bah.2

(B. 8:32)

4 Abd Allāh ibn ‘Umar ‘reported that

The Mosque was, in the time of the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, built of unburnt bricks and its roof was of palm-boughs resting on columns of the stems of palm-trees.

2. This hadīth shows that a mosque should be built facing towards the Ka’bah, which., according to the Holy Qur’ān, is the first mosque built on the earth. Before the revelation referred to in this hadīth (v. 2), Muslims used to face towards Jerusalem which was the qiblah of the Israelite prophets. It was about sixteen or seventeen months after the Hijra that the Holy Prophet received the revelation to make the Ka’bah his qiblah. The idea underlying the Qiblah is to bring about unity of purpose. As in a large country the direction of the Ka’bah would be different in the north from that in the south, it is stated in a hadīth (Ah. 1, 223) that “it is not fit for one country to have two qiblahs,” for different qiblahs in one country would destroy the very purpose of the Qiblah.

p. 73 Abu Bakr did not add anything to it, and ‘Umar extended it and built it of unburnt bricks and palm-boughs, on the foundation on which it was built in the time of the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, and made anew its columns of timber. Then ‘Uthmān changed it, and made in it very large extensions and built its walls of chiselled stone and mortar and made its pillars of chiselled stone and its roof of teakwood.3

(B. 8:62.)

5 Ibn ‘Abbās said, The Messenger of Allāh,

3. The Prophet’s Mosque was made of very rough material. Conditions had changed in ‘Uthmān’s time as the wealth of the Roman and the Persian empires had flown to Madīnah the capital of Islām. So ‘Uthmān made it of hewn stone and mortar, but it was still a simple structure, and such were also all the mosques built in the great Muslim centres.

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peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

“I have not been commanded to decorate the mosques.”

(AD-Msh. 4:7.)

6 ‘Umar ordered the building of the Mosque and said, I give people shelter from rain; and beware of painting (it) red or yellow, for thou wilt thus cause people to fall into trial.

(B. 8:62.)

7 Anas said,

They will vie with one another (in building mosques), then they will not visit them but a little.

(B. 8:62.)

8 Umar said, ‘We do not enter your churches on account of the statues on which are figures.

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And Ibn ‘Abbās used to say his prayers in the church except a church which had statues in it.

(B. 8:54.)

9 ‘Ā’ishah said, The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, ordered the building of the mosque in habitations and that it should be kept clean and perfumed.

(AD-Msh. 4:7.)

10 Abū-Hurairah reported that

A black man or a black woman used to clean the mosque and he died. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, asked about him and they said, He is dead. He said, “Why did you not inform me about him; lead me to his–or, he said, her–grave.” So he

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came to his grave and offered prayers on it.4

(B. 8:72.)

11 Sahl said, The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, sent message to a woman:

“Tell thy carpenter slave to make for me (a pulpit of) pieces of wood, on which I may sit.”5

(B. 8:64.)

12 Maimūnah said,

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, used to pray on the mat.

(B. 8:21.)

13 Anas said,

We used to say our prayers with the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, and one of us put a corner of his cloth

4. It shows not only that arrangements were made for cleaning the mosque, but also that the person who did this service was specially honoured by the Holy Prophet, Another hadīth shows that it was a woman. (B. 8:74.)

5. The pulpit was needed only for the Friday sermon. The pulpit and the mats formed the only furniture of the mosque.

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at the place (where his forehead touched the ground) in prostration, on account of the severity of heat.6

(B. 8:21)

14 Barā’ ibn ‘Āzib said prayers in congregation in the mosque of his house.7

(B. 8:46.)

15 Ibn ‘Umar reported (that) the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, “Say a part of your prayers in your houses and do not make them graves.”8

(B. 8:52.)

16 Abū Hurairah said,

I saw seventy of the dwellers of the Suffah,9 and

6. This shows that prayers had sometimes to be said on bare ground.

7. It shows that a man may have a private mosque of his own in his house. It can serve the purpose of a mosque for saying prayers in congregation, but it does not thereby acquire the character of a mosque and remains a private place.

8 It shows that prayers are really meant to be said in congregation in the mosque, but a part of them, such as tahajjud or sunnah prayers, are recommended to be said in houses. A house in which Allāh’s name is not remembered is likened to a grave, because it is devoid of spiritual life.

9. The Suffah was situated in the northern part of the Mosque, covered with a p. 78 roof but with open sides. Here resided those whose object was to study the Qur’ān and the Hadīth and their number is said to have at one time reached four hundred. Among them were well-to-do people, such as Sa’d ibn Abī Waqqās, but mostly poor people, such as Abū Hurairah.

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not one of them had an over-garment.

(B. 8:58.)

17 Abū Hurairah said,

The dwellers of the Suffah were guests of Muslims. They had neither families to lodge with nor any property.

(Tr. 35:36.)

18 Abū Hurairah said,

I heard the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, say:

“Whoever comes to this mosque of mine, and he does not come but for some good which he would learn or teach, he is like one who is engaged in jihād in the way of Allāh; and whoever comes for any purpose other than

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this, he is like a man who casts looks at the property of another.”10

(IM-Msh. 4:7)

19 ‘Ā’ishah said,

One day I saw the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, at the door of my apartment, and the Abyssinians were sporting in the mosque, and the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him , screened me with his over-garment whilst I saw their sport.11

(B. 8:69.)

20 Abū Salmah reported that

He heard Hassān ibn Thābit calling Abū Hurairah

10. The mosque was thus a place where everything which related to the good of the individual or the community was to be learned or taught, and hence it became the cultural centre of Islām.

11. The Prophet’s Mosque had a very wide open yard where people gathered together, and where, as many hadīth show, tents were pitched sometimes, and on one side of which a large number of students were accommodated. It was in this open court that the Abyssinians were giving a display of their skill with spears. ‘Ā’ishah’s chamber opened into this yard.

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to witness, I beseech thee by Allāh, didst thou hear the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, say:

“O Hassān! Reply on behalf of the Messenger of Allāh; O Allāh! help him with the Holy Spirit.”

Abu Hurairah said, Yes.12

(B. 8:68.)

21 Jābir said,

I came to the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, and he was in the mosque . . . at early forenoon time; he said, “Offer two rak’ahs of prayer”; and he owed me a debt, so he paid it to me and gave me more than was due.

(B. 8:59)

22 ‘Ā’ishah said,

Sa’d was wounded in

12. It is an incident of the time of ‘Umar. Hassān was reciting a poem in the mosque when ‘Umar prohibited him. On this he called Abu Hurairah to bear witness that he used to recite poems in the mosque in the presence of the Holy Prophet. According to a report in Tr., the Holy Prophet used to ask Hassān to refute in verse the scurrilous attacks made on the Holy Prophet by his enemies in their poems, and this was done in the mosque.

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the median vein of the arm in the battle of the Ditch, and the Prophet, ordered a tent to be set up (for him) in the mosque, so that being near he might visit him (frequently.)

(B. 8:77.)

23 ‘Ā’ishah reported that

A certain tribe of the Arabs had a black slave-girl whom they set free …….. Then she accepted Islām. ‘Ā’ishah said, She had a small tent pitched for her in the mosque.13

(B. 8:57.)

24 Anas reported that

A party of the ‘Ukl came to the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, and they were lodged in the Suffah.

(B. 8:58)

12. A woman could not only enter the mosque but she could also, if necessary, take up her residence in the mosque. The putting up of a tent for a slave-girl in the mosque shows that she must have resided there for a sufficiently long time.

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25 Abū Hurairah said,

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, sent some horsemen towards Najd, and they brought a man of Banī Hanīfah, called Thumāmah ibn Uthāl, and they tied him to one of the columns of the mosque.14

(B. 8:76.)

26 Anas said,

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, had some money brought to him from Bahrain. He said, “Put it in the mosque.” And it was the greatest amount of money that was ever brought to the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him. Then the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, came out for prayer and did not pay any heed to it. When he had finished the prayer, he

14. Evidently this prisoner was an idolater, yet he was kept under restraint in the mosque.

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came and sat near it, and he did not see any one but gave him (out of it.)15

(B. 8:42.)

27 Sā’ib said,

I was standing in the mosque when some one threw a pebble at me. I looked at him and it was ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb, and he said, Go and bring to me these two (men). So I brought them to him and he said, Who are you or where do you come from? They said, We are of the people of Tāif. He said. If you had been of the residents of the city, I

15. This hadīth shows that in the Holy Prophet’s time the mosque served many purposes besides that of saying prayers. On the present occasion it served the purpose of the treasury, because there was at the time no separate treasury. The hadīth further shows how little attraction wealth had for the Holy Prophet. The money was there, a hundred thousand dirhams, but he did not even took at it. Neither did he take one pie of it into his house , nor did he reserve any portion of it for future needs.

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would have punished you. Do you raise your voices in the mosque of the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him?

(B. 8:81)

28 Mālik said,

‘Umar made a courtyard, called the Butaihā’, on one side of the mosque, and said, Whoever intends to talk loudly or recite poems or raise his voice, let him go to this courtyard.

(Mt-Msh. 4:7.)

29 Anas said,

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him said:

“To spit in the mosque is a sin and its atonement is to bury it.”16

(B. 8:37.)

16. Spitting in the mosque is prohibited, both because of the sacredness of the place and because it is a gathering-place for the people. Elsewhere it is stated that the Holy Prophet was offended when he saw spittle on the wall of the mosque (IV:17). Burying is spoken of here because the floor of the mosque was of loose gravel.

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30 ‘Ā’ishah said,

‘The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said to me:

“Hand me over the mat from the mosque.”

I said, I am menstruating. He said:

“Thy menses are not in thy hand.”

(M-Msh. 3:12.)

31 Abū Hurairah said,

An Arab of the desert stood up and began urinating in the mosque. People were about to take hold of him but the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him; said to:

“Leave him alone and throw a bucket of water over his urine, for you have been raised to deal with people gently and you have not been raised to deal with them harshly.”17

(B. 4:58.)

17. Being a desert Arab, the man was not aware of the sacred character of the mosque.

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32 The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, prohibited the reciting of poems in the mosque and selling and buying in it and that people should sit in circles in the mosque on Friday before prayers.18

(AD-Msh. 4:7.)

33 Abū Sa’īd Khudrī said,

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, delivered a sermon and said,

“Let no door be left that should open into the mosque but it should be closed, except the door of Abu Bakr.”19

(B. 8:80)

18. As h. 20 shows, the Holy Prophet allowed Hassān to recite his verses in the mosque, because they were religious in character. The carrying on of trade in the mosque is forbidden because it would change the atmosphere of the mosque into that of a market. The last prohibition aims at maintaining the serenity of the prayers. People sitting in groups would usually indulge in talk which would disturb the calm and quiet necessary to a prayerful attitude. And that is the reason why Muslims so strongly resent noise or music before mosques at the time of prayers.

19. The doors of the Holy Prophet’s apartments opened into the mosque, and so did those of some other houses. But later on, all these doors were closed so that the mosque should not be used as a thoroughfare.

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34 Qurrah reported that

The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, forbade the eating of these two plants, i.e., raw onions and garlic, and said:

“Whoever eats them let him not approach our mosque.”20

And he said:

“If you eat them unavoidably, then have their offensive smell destroyed by dressing.”

(AD-Msh. 4:7.)

35 Abū Maslamah said,

I asked Anas ibn Mālik, Did the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, say his prayers with his shoes on? He said, Yes.21

(13. 8:24.)

20. So that their noxious stink may not offend others.

21. This Hadīth shows that prayers may be said with shoes on. Hence a man can also go into the mosque without removing his shoes, but that they must be clean is a necessary condition. It must further be remembered that the floor of the mosque was of gravel. and shoes were needed as a protection from heat or cold. The practice now is that shoes are left outside the mosque. But if needed as a protection from severe heat or severe cold or for some other reason, a man may go into the mosque with shoes on if they are clean. The case of a non-Muslim is different. He can enter the mosque only on sufferance, and he must, therefore, be required to remove his shoes as a mark of respect.

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36 ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar said,

The dogs came into and went out of the mosque in the time of the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, and they did not wash (the mosque) with water on that account.

(B. 4:34.)

37 Abn Usaid said,

The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

When one of you enters the mosque, he should say, ‘O Allāh! open for me the doors of Thy mercy’; and when he goes out, he should say, ‘O Allāh! I beg of Thy grace of Thee’.”

(M-Msh. 4:7.)