I begin with the Name of Allaah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
“The Masajid (mosques) of Allaah shall be maintained only by those who believe in Allaah and the last Day; perform As-Salah (Prayers) and give Zakaah and fear none but Allaah. It is they who are on true guidance.” Qur’an 9:18
It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa’imah that a masjid (mosque) is a place reserved and particularly devoted for the purpose of observing the obligatory prayers. In addition, Shaykh Ubaid Ibn Abdullah al-Jaabri said there should not be any plan in the future to change it for another purpose.
Travelling down history lane, it is an established fact (in Qur’an and Sunnah) that the first Masjid (mosque) built for people on earth is Al-Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah. Allaah says: “Verily, the first house (of worship) appointed for mankind was that at Bakkah, (Makkah), full of blessing, and a guidance for al-‘aalameen (mankind and Jinn).” Qur’an 3:96. And in the Sunnah reference can be made to the hadith on the strength of Abu Dhar (may Allaah be pleased with him) recorded in Sahihul Muslim that he asked the Messenger of Allaah (may peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) about the first Masjid to be built for people on earth. And the Messenger (SAW) answered “Al-Masjid al-Haram…”
In additon, it was said that the first Masjid built by the Prophet (SAW) was the Masjid of Quba’ in Madeenah al-Munawwarah as illustrated in the 3rd volume of Ibn al-Qayyim’s Zaad al-M’aad. Then came the establishment of what was to become the spiritual and the administrative nerve centre of the Muslim world: Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Madeenah al-Munawwarah.
Its structures were laid in a modest fashion, so modest was its architecture that it barely spanned 98ft×115ft with mud walls resting on crude stone foundations in a simple rectangular form. The roof above having trunks and branches of palm trees with neither dome nor minaret, so simple it was that it hardly covered the entire space below letting in the sun’s intense heat and the sky’s rain and the cold breeze of the winter nights. There was no Mihrab (a niche where the Imam prays), neither were there colorful and fancy decorations round the wall. It was simply a modest spiritual edifice meant to bond the creations with the Creator (Allaah).
Interestingly, Allaah Exalted be He, outlined the concept of Masjid in the 36th and 30th verses of Qur’an 24, He says: “In houses (mosques) which Allaah has ordered to be raised (to be cleaned, and to be honored), in them His Name is glorified in the Mornings and in the afternoons or the evenings.”
Also, Allaah Exalted be He, says: “And the Masaajid (Mosques) are for Allaah (Alone), so invoke not anyone along with Allaah.” Qur’an 72:18
The Masaajid (mosques) are for worshipping Allaah (Alone), for establishing prayers, for the remembrance of Allaah, for I’tikaf (seclusion in the Masjid during Ramadan), they serve also as learning as well as community centres for the Muslims. However, coupled with these is the fact that they have to be kept clean and neat and simple devoid of decorations and distractions.
Indeed, there is a great virtue in building Masajid (Mosques) because Allaah Exalted be He says: “The Masajid (mosques) of Allaah shall be maintained only by those who believe in Allaah and the last Day; perform As-Salah (Prayers) and give Zakaah and fear none but Allaah. It is they who are on true guidance.” Qur’an 9:18
Likewise, the Prophet (SAW) said: “Whoever builds a Masjid (mosque), Allaah will build for him something like it in Paradise.” This was reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim on the strength of Uthman (RA).
However, in building Masaajid, the Prophet (SAW) warned against decorating them in extravagant fashion because Allaah does not love those who are extravagant. And perhaps, absolute humility is required when praying to Allaah.
Furthermore, there is a narration of Ibn Abbas (RA) in the Sunan of Abu Dawud which has been authenticated by al-Albani in Saheeh Abi Dawud that the Prophet (SAW) said: “I have not been commanded to build lofty Masaajid.” And Ibn Abbas said: “You are going to adorn (Masaajid) as the Jews and Christians adorn (their places of worship).
To conclude on this first part of the series on the concept of the Masjid in Islam, Abu Saeed al-Khudry (RA) narrated that Umar (RA) ordered that al-Masjid al-Nabawi be rebuilt. He categorically stated that: “Protect the people from rain, but beware of using red or yellow (for adornment) and distracting people.” Recorded by al-Bukhari under the chapter entitled “Chapter on the building of Mosques”
May Allaah give the Muslim world the ability to revive the Sunnah of building Masaajid as a symbol of spiritual presence and not a symbol of wealth and affluence. Till we meet next week on the second part In shaa Allaah.