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
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
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
purification; therefore, if prayer overtakes any person of my community, he should say his prayers (wherever he is)1…….”
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.”
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.
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
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
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.
peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:
“I have not been commanded to decorate the mosques.”
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.
7 Anas said,
They will vie with one another (in building mosques), then they will not visit them but a little.
8 Umar said, ‘We do not enter your churches on account of the statues on which are figures.
And Ibn ‘Abbās used to say his prayers in the church except a church which had statues in it.
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.
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
came to his grave and offered prayers on it.4
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
12 Maimūnah said,
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, used to pray on the mat.
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.
at the place (where his forehead touched the ground) in prostration, on account of the severity of heat.6
14 Barā’ ibn ‘Āzib said prayers in congregation in the mosque of his house.7
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
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.
not one of them had an over-garment.
17 Abū Hurairah said,
The dwellers of the Suffah were guests of Muslims. They had neither families to lodge with nor any property.
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
this, he is like a man who casts looks at the property of another.”10
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.)
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
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.
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.
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
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.
came and sat near it, and he did not see any one but gave him (out of it.)15
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.”
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
17. Being a desert Arab, the man was not aware of the sacred character of the mosque.
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
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
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.
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’.”