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Hadith Section > A Manual of Hadith > Chapter 05: The Mosque (Summary of the Chapter)


Chapter 05:
The Mosque (Summary of the Chapter):


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 Madinah was a simple structure made of rough material; and though in rebuilding it finer material was used by `Uthman, the third Caliph, it still retained its simplicity (h. 4). A mosque should be a simple structure : it should not be decorated (h. 5), and should have no pictures or statues in it (h. 8). It should be kept clean (hh. 9, 10) and even perfumed (h. 9). Its only furniture consists of a pulpit, wherefrom the Imam 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 Allah'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 (h. 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 Islam 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 Islam. The Prophet's Mosque at Madinah 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 `A'ishah) witnessed a display with lances given by some Abyssinians in the mosque (h. 19). Hassan ibn Thabit recited in the mosque his poems in defence of the Holy Prophet (h. 20). Juridical affairs were also settled in the mosque (h. 21). A tent was set up for a wounded soldier in the mosque (h. 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'an 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 (h. 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 (h. 36).

An important question relates to a junub and a menstruating woman entering the mosque. According to hadith narrated in the previous chapter, neither the junub, nor the menstruating woman, is najs, i.e., defiled or impure (IV : 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 `A'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 hadith 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.

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Hadith Section > A Manual of Hadith > Chapter 05: The Mosque (Summary of the Chapter)

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