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Are Mosques an Integral Part of Islam?

03 October, 2023
Q Are Mosques an Integral Part of Islam?


Short Answer: 

  • The mosque is the most important building in Islam. 
  • It is said that mosques are the houses of Allah and Allah will honor those who visit them. 
  • In mosques, Muslims get purified from selfishness and greed.
  • In mosques, Muslims leave out worldly business and think about the Hereafter.

Salam dear Dr Jahoorahmad Z Patankar,

Thank you very much for your question.

I guess this question is raised now because of the Supreme Court decision in India. It ruled that the case involving the Ismail Faruqui judgment, in which it was said that mosque is not an integral part of Islam, need not be referred to a larger bench.

The Supreme Court bench ruled that the observation made in the Ismail Faruqui judgment regarding mosques was in the context of acquisition only.

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Religious Texts on Mosques

The mosque is the most important building in Islam. Certainly, there are various texts that speak about the importance of mosques for the Muslim community.

*{And [He revealed] that the masjids are for Allah, so do not invoke with Allah anyone.}* (Quran 72:18)

*{And who are more unjust than those who prevent the name of Allah from being mentioned in His mosques and strive toward their destruction. It is not for them to enter them except in fear. For them in this world is disgrace, and they will have in the Hereafter a great punishment.}* (Quran 2:114)

*{It is not for the polytheists to maintain the mosques of Allah [while] witnessing against themselves with disbelief. [For] those, their deeds have become worthless, and in the Fire they will abide eternally. The mosques of Allah are only to be maintained by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and establish prayer and give zakah and do not fear except Allah, for it is expected that those will be of the [rightly] guided.}* (Quran 9:17-18)

The Purpose of Mosques in Islam

On the very purpose of mosques in Islam, it is narrated by Anas ibn Malik that:

While we were in the mosque with Allah’s Messenger, a desert Arab came and stood up and began to urinate in the mosque. The Companions of Allah’s Messenger said: Stop, stop, but the Messenger of Allah said: Don’t interrupt him; leave him alone. They left him alone, and when he finished urinating, Allah’s Messenger called him and said to him: These mosques are not the places meant for urine and filth, but are only for the remembrance of Allah, prayer and the recitation of the Quran, or Allah’s Messenger said something like that. He (the narrator) said that he (the Prophet) then gave orders to one of the people who brought a bucket of water and poured It over. (Muslim)

The keywords in this hadith are: these mosques are only for the remembrance of Allah, prayer and the recitation of the Quran.

The Sanctity of the Mosque

 About the sanctity of the mosque, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:

“Spitting in the mosque is a sin, and its expiation is that the spittle should be buried in earth.” (Al-Bukhari)

The Importance of Praying in the Mosque

About the importance of praying in the mosque, the Prophet Muhammad said:

“Prayer in congregation is better than the prayer of a man by himself by twenty-seven degrees.” (Malik)

Praying in congregation gives people a chance to get to know each other and communicate with each other for the sake of public interest of their community. This is one of the objectives of congregational prayer.

Abu Ad-Darda reported that I heard the Messenger of Allah say:

“If there are three men in a village or in the desert among whom prayer is not offered (in congregation), the devil has got the mastery over them. So observe (prayer) in congregation), for the wolf eats only the straggling animal.” (Abu Dawud)

About the great reward of offering prayers at certain mosques, the Prophet said:

Ibn Az-Zubair narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:

“Offering prayer in my mosque (in Madinah) is better than one thousand prayers elsewhere, save for those offered prayer in al-Masjid al-Haram (in Makkah). And prayer offered in al-Masjid al-Haram is better than prayer offered in my mosque by one hundred prayers.” (Ahmad)

About going early to the mosque to offer the prayer, the Prophet said:

“He who goes to the mosque at dawn or dusk (for prayer), Allah prepares a hospitable abode for him in Jannah, every time when he walks to it or comes back from it.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

You might meet some people who say that it is wrong to lie down in the mosque. However, we learn from the Prophet’s traditions that Abdullah bin Zaid (may Allah be pleased with them) reported:

I saw Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) lying down on his back in the mosque, placing one leg on the other. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Mosques and Muslim Minorities

In modern times, the migration process has led to the development of Muslim communities in many countries, so mosques have been built around the world.

For example, Mosques are very important for these Muslim communities as they offer lectures in Hadith, Tafsir and Arabic language for second and third generation Muslims.

Also new Muslims find full support in their new life after conversion to Islam in the mosque.

It is safe to mention that the mosque is a place for socialization in Islam. The Prophet used to ask about any companion he missed in the mosque for a day or two.

The mosque brings the community together as it serves as a social center, a community center and an educational center.

Indeed, the Muslim youth should be trained to frequent the mosque in order to get attached to it. They should be encouraged to do so without putting restrictions on them so they will be included in the following words of the Prophet:

“There are seven whom Allah will shade in His shade on the day on which there is no shade except His shade: … a man whose heart is attached to the mosque when he leaves it until he returns to it… (Malik)

The mosque is the place for raising peoples’ awareness and culture by contemplating on the verses of the Quran recited during the prayers and listening to the Friday sermon and the lectures given by specialized scholars.

Women’s Access to Mosques

Some people might argue that women are allowed to go to the mosque and they should offer the prayer at home. This is a very controversial issue. There isn’t enough space to discuss this issue here. But it is enough to quote this hadith: The Prophet said,

“If the wife of anyone of you asks permission to go to the mosque, he should not forbid her.” (Al-Bukhari)

For their importance to the Muslim community, the Prophet emphasized the reward of building mosques. The Prophet said:

“Whoever builds a mosque for (the sake of) Allah, be it small or large, then Allah will build a house for him in Paradise.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Mosques are the Houses of Allah

A mosque is like a church or a temple or a synagogue. As it is a place of worship and a symbol in Islam, it has to be protected and respected. And if such places are not safeguarded, they will be vulnerable and anyone can confiscate them.

It is said that mosques are the houses of Allah and Allah will honor those who visit them.

In mosques, Muslim get purified from selfishness and greed. In mosques, Muslims leave out worldly business and think about the Hereafter: Allah says what means:

“[Such niches are] in mosques which Allah has ordered to be raised and that His name be mentioned therein; exalting Him within them in the morning and the evenings. [Are] men whom neither commerce nor sale distracts from the remembrance of Allah and performance of prayer and giving of zakah. They fear a Day in which the hearts and eyes will [fearfully] turn about.” (Quran 24:36-7)

Mosques during the Prophet’s Lifetime

Mosques are old as Islam. When the Prophet migrated to Madinah, he helped in the construction of the mosque as the first foundation in the new Islamic state in Madinah.  We read in the Quran what means:

“A mosque founded on righteousness from the first day is more worthy for you to stand in. Within it are men who love to purify themselves; and Allah loves those who purify themselves.”  (At-Tawbah 9:108)

In the mosque, the Prophet used to give fatwas and receive delegations from other tribes and present Islam to them.

The mosque was the place where the Prophet used to settle disputes among people.  We read in the Quran:

“And has there come to you the news of the adversaries, when they climbed over the wall of [his] prayer chamber – When they entered upon David and he was alarmed by them? They said, “Fear not. [We are] two adversaries, one of whom has wronged the other, so judge between us with truth and do not exceed [it] and guide us to the sound path.” (Sad 38:21-2)

Imam Al-Qurtubi said in his Tafsir: “There is nothing in the Quran which indicates that settling disputes among people is permissible in the mosque except this verse. Based on this verse, scholars view that judging is permissible in the mosque. If it was not permissible, Prophet Dawud would not agree to judge between the adversaries.”

Mosques and the Community

The mosque is the place where marriage contracts are concluded. The Prophet said:

“Publicize this marriage, and hold it in the mosque, and beat the Duff for it.” (At-Tirmidhi)

So, the mosque here is a place for celebrations.

The mosque is the place where the poor and the needy used to receive due care and support.

Injured Muslim soldiers got medical treatment in the Prophet’s mosque.

Because of his strong attachment to the mosque, the Prophet would proceed straight to the mosque and perform two rakahs of (optional) prayer after returning back from any journey. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

It suffices here to mention that going to the mosque is a sign of one’s faith. The Prophet said:  

“When you see a man frequenting the mosque, testify that he is a believer.” (At-Tirmidhi)

As for the Prophet’s saying:

“The earth has been made for me (and for my followers) a place for praying and a thing to perform Tayammum, therefore anyone of my followers can pray wherever the time of a prayer is due.” (Al-Bukhari)

It can be interpreted to mean that the whole earth is sacred to Muslims. It may also imply the difference between mosques in Islam and other world religions at that time which require intermediaries of sacred priests, idols, and buildings for people’ salvation.

Now, I would ask you, brother, are mosques an integral part of Islam?

We hope this answers your question.

Salam and please keep in touch.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

How Are Modern Mosques Different Than Previous Times?

Women’s Access to Mosques: What Is the Deal?

UK Muslim Group to Train Women on Running Mosques

About Dr. Mohsen Haredy
Dr. Mohsen Haredy holds a PhD in Hadith literature from Leiden University, the Netherlands. He is the former Executive Manager and Editor-in-Chief of E-Da`wah Committee in Kuwait, and a contributing writer and counselor of Reading Islam. He graduated from Al-Azhar University and earned his MA in Hadith literature from Leiden University.