IRSYAD AL-FATWA 271: THE RULING FOR NON-MUSLIMS ENTERING THE MOSQUE

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IRSYAD AL-FATWA 271: THE RULING FOR NON-MUSLIMS ENTERING THE MOSQUE

Question:

What’s the ruling if a non-muslim enters a mosque?

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam, Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah SWT for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings.

On this matter, we divide it into two issues:

  1. Non-muslim entering the grand mosque al-Haram

The majority of Islamic scholars forbid non-muslims from entering the grand mosque al-Haram. They cited Allah’s words in the Quran:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ إِنَّمَا الْمُشْرِكُونَ نَجَسٌ فَلاَ يَقْرَبُواْ الْمَسْجِدَ الْحَرَامَ بَعْدَ عَامِهِمْ هَذَا

“O you who believe! Truly the Pagans are unclean; so let them not, after this year of theirs (9 Hijrah), approach the Sacred Mosque.

Surah al-Taubah (28)

Al-Qurthubi wrote an explanation, Imam al-Syafi’e stated that this verse forbids non-Muslims from entering the Grand Mosque al-Haram but doesn’t mention other mosques. It also shows that the Jews and Christians can enter mosques with the exception of the Grand Mosque al-Haram. (Refer Tafsir al-Qurtubi 8/105)

Another similar opinion is presented by Ibn Hazm and Imam al-Nawawi. (Refer al-Muhalla 3/162 and Raudhah al-Thalibin 1/296)

Islamic scholars from the Mazhab Hanafi states that the Jews and Christians are permitted to enter any mosques including the Grand Mosque al-Haram, but it is forbidden for non-Muslims who are neither Jews nor Christians. (Refer Tafsir al-Qurthubi 8/105)

  1. Non-muslim entering other mosques

The basic reference used for the ruling of this question is as follows:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ إِنَّمَا الْمُشْرِكُونَ نَجَسٌ فَلاَ يَقْرَبُواْ الْمَسْجِدَ الْحَرَامَ بَعْدَ عَامِهِمْ هَـذَا

“O you who believe! Truly the Pagans are unclean; so let them not, after this year of theirs (9 Hijrah), approach the Sacred Mosque.

Surah al-Taubah (28)

FIRST OPINION: PERMISSIBLE

This is the opinion of the majority of Islamic scholars and jurists, some of them includes:

  1. Mazhab Hanafi: Abu Hanifah, Abu Yusof (Refer Tafsir al-Qurthubi 8/105)
  2. Mazhab Maliki: Imam Dusuqi (Refer Jawahir al-Iklil1/23 and Hasyiyah al-Dusuqi 1/138)
  3. Mazhab Syafi’e: Imam al-Syafi’e, Imam al-Nawawi, Imam Khatib Syarbini and Imam Fakhruddin al-Razi (Refer Al-Hawi al-Kabir 2/268, Raudhah al-Thalibin 1/296, Mughni al-Muhtaj 6/68 and Tafsir Mafatih al-Ghaib 8/27
  1. Mazhab Hanbali: Ibn Qudamah and Ibn al-Qayyim (Refer Al-Mughni9/359 and Zad al-Ma’ad 3/79)
  2. Mazhab Zahiri: Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi (Refer Al-Muhalla 4/245)
  • Contemporary scholars like Syeikh ‘Athiyyah Saqar also states that non-Muslims are permitted to enter mosques, whether it’s for visiting or for tourism. (Refer Fatawa Dar al-Iftaa’ Misriyyah 8/492)

However, there are several conditions that are stated by these scholars for non-Muslims to enter mosques, some of them are; the visit must be for good intentions such as to learn more about Islam and the visit must be approved by Muslims (the mosque’s management).

QURANIC AND HADITH EVIDENCE THAT SUPPORTS THE RULING OF NON-MUSLIMS ENTERING MOSQUES

Imam Al-Bukhari narrated a hadith that states how a non-muslim named Thamamah ibn Athal was tied by Prophet Muhammad PBUH in a mosque after being arrested for a crime:

بعث رسول اللَّهِ خَيْلًا قِبَلَ نَجْدٍ فَجَاءَتْ بِرَجُلٍ من بَنِي حَنِيفَةَ يُقَالُ له ثُمَامَةُ بن أُثَالٍ فَرَبَطُوهُ بِسَارِيَةٍ من سَوَارِي الْمَسْجِدِ

Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) sent some horse men to Najd and they brought a man called Thumamah bin Uthal from Bani Hanifa. They fastened him to one of the pillars of the mosque.

Sahih Bukhari (469) and Sahih Muslim (1764)

After three days, finally after witnessing how the muslims pray and worship Allah in the mosque and how friendly and nice the muslims are towards him by always asking how he is, Thumamah converted to Islam because he fell in love with the beauty of Islam as a religion and way of life.

The prophet Muhammad PBUH has also receive a Christian delegation from Najran in his mosque in Medina. When it was time to perform the prayer for them, they would pray facing east, and the prophet PBUH said: “Let them be,”. (Refer Ibn Ishaq in Sirah Ibn Ishaq, Imam Ibn Kathir in Tafsir al-Qur’an al-A’zim, 2/42 and Zad al-Ma’ad, 3/549)

From this narration, it is understood that the Christians from Najran have prayed in Nabawi Mosque with the permission of the Prophet PBUH. However, there are several important points that needs to be discussed regarding this narration:

  1. This narration is weak considering the sanad is incomplete. Furthermore, it’s narrated by Ibn Ishaq from a narrator named Muhammad bin Jaafar bin Jubair from prophet Muhammad pbuh. However, Muhammad bin Jaafar is not a companion and he only managed to learn from only a few tabien. (Refer Taqrib al-Tahzib, 2/471)
  2. Ibn Qayyim puts a condition that non-muslims worshipping or praying in mosques is not to be allowed frequently to prevent it from becoming a usual occurrence. (Refer Zad al-Ma’ad, 3/557)
  3. There’s no other narration that states the prophet PBUH has given permission to non-muslims to pray or worship in Nabawi mosque except for this narration.

SECOND OPINION: FORBIDDEN

According to Imam Nawawi, Umar Abdul Aziz, Qatadah and Imam Malik, it is forbidden for all non-Muslims from entering a mosque. (Refer Sarah Sahih Muslim, 12/87)

Imam Mawardi quoted an opinion from Imam al-Muzani that states that non-Muslims are forbidden to enter a mosque because they are always in an impure state ritually. (Refer Al-Hawi Al-Kabir, 2/268)

Imam al-Buhuti from Madhab Hanbali said, it is forbidden for non-Muslims to enter mosques even with the permission of Muslims. He cited the what Allah SWT has said in the Quran:

إِنَّمَا يَعْمُرُ مَسَاجِدَ اللَّـهِ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ

“The only people that has a right to keep Allah’s mosques alive are the ones that believe in Allah and the day of judgement, the ones that pray and pay zakat,”

Surah al-Taubah (18)

This is the most prominent opinion in Mazhab Hanbali just as stated by Imam al-Mardawi (Refer Kasyaf al-Qina’ 2/370-371 and Al-Insaf 4/241)

Conclusion

As a conclusion, we are inclined towards the opinion that states non-Muslims are permitted to enter mosques except for the grand mosque al-Haram and this is also the opinion of the majority of past and contemporary Islamic scholars. This view is in line with citations from al-Qur’an and al-Sunnah. This view celebrates our multicultural society as well as the relationships between religions in our country.

This ruling has been decided by Majlis Fatwa Kebangsaan bagi Hal Ehwal Ugama Islam Malaysia Kali Ke-90 committee on 1st March 2010 when they conferred under the title “The Ruling for Non-muslim Tourists Entering Mosques and Main Praying Area Inside the Mosque”. The conference decided that non-muslims are permitted to enter mosques and main praying area of the mosque, but they must have permission from the mosque’s management and they must take care of their conduct and behave in a way that will not tarnish the sanctity of the mosque. However, any form of praying or worshipping by non-muslims inside a mosque is forbidden.

This is the view that’s been implemented by muslim societies around the world including Malaysia. Malaysia’s mosques are famous tourist’s attraction for their beauty and architectural design.

Nonetheless, manners inside mosques must be observed and the mosque’s management team must be vigilant, making sure there’s no misdemeanours and undesirable behaviour in mosques or in mosques’ grounds.

Wallahu a’lam.

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