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Places of Worship


Which Places of Worship Are we Allowed and Not Allowed to Visit?

In which places of worship are we allowed and not allowed to go to worship God? This is a very important question, because according to the Quran, people who stop themselves from the permissible places of worship are evil (2:114), but at the same time, people who visit the prohibited places of worship are transgressors and liars (9:107-109). So having a very detailed and clear answer to this question is of vital importance.

So, let’s find out from the Quran exactly which places of worship are permissible and which of them are prohibited. To understand this, first we need to understand how the places of worship are established. Places of worship are established through spending, by giving or dedicating the property to God. However, God only accepts the spending from those who:

  1. Believe in God (9:54),
  2. Believe in God’s messenger (9:54,107,108),
  3. Do not observe Contact Prayers lazily (9:54),
  4. Do not do the spending stingily (9:54),

Obviously, point 3 and 4 are automatically fulfilled when the spending is done for places of worship, because the very fact that a certain spending is done for a place of worship shows that those people were not stingy and not lazy. So, we may ignore these two points for the purposes of this study.

So, for a place of worship to be accepted by God, it must be established by people who

  1. Believe in God (9:54),
  2. Believe in God’s messenger (9:54,107,108),

Additionally, when establishing a place of worship, it should:

  1. Not harm the believers (9:107-108),
  2. Not divide the believers (9:107-108),
  3. Not cause disbelief (9:107-108),
  4. Not in an unsafe plot of land (9:109),
  5. Be dedicated to God alone (72:18).

So, a place of worship was not accepted by God unless all of these seven criteria above were fulfilled when it was initially established (9:108, 2:127, 72:18). We are emphasizing, “when it was established”, because it does not matter whether the people who maintain it now are believers or not. They can not change the fact that it was accepted by God. Once a piece of land or property is dedicated to God, and God accepts it, it can not be rededicated to the idols, no matter how hard the idol worshipers may try. It’s like when a sheep is sacrificed to God. No one can bring the sheep back, and rededicate it to the idols. It’s impossible. And also once a sheep or a piece of property is dedicated to idols, it can never be rededicated to God. So, an initially prohibited place of worship can never become a permissible place of worship, and an initially permissible place of worship can never become a prohibited place of worship. So, the circumstance in which it was initially established is what matters (9:108), and at that moment they must have fulfilled all these seven criteria.

So, according to these seven criteria, all the religious buildings which are established by the Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, other Dharmic religions, Taoists, Confucianists, and other Eastern Religions, all the religious buildings established by them are prohibited for us to visit, because they do not fulfill criterion 2 at least. They do not believe in God’s messengers mentioned in the Quran. Also, the religious buildings established by the “Nation of Islam” in America, and the Bahai go against criterion 1, because they believe in human beings as God or as a Manifestation of God. Also, together with the Ahmadiyya, they go against criterion 2 and 4, by believing in false messengers. Also any religious building established on top of a grave does not fulfill criterion 7, because that piece of land was intended for the dead person, and you can not dedicate the same piece of land twice, by dedicating it to God also. God does not accept double dedications (6:136). So, all these religious buildings are prohibited.

Now, let’s look at the potentially permissible places of worship.

Let’s start with synagogues first. The ancestors of Jews who established the synagogues fulfilled all these seven criteria before Jesus came. After Jesus came, they reject him (4:156-157), and as a result they cause division in religion. So, they do not fulfill criterion 2 and 4 after Jesus. So, from year 0, none of the new synagogues which they established were accepted by God.

Now, let’s look at the churches. The ancestors of Christians who established the churches fulfilled all these criteria until the time when they rejected Prophet Muhammad (2:120), and as a result they caused religious division. So, they did not fulfill criterion 2 and 4 after Muhammad. So, from the year 610 when God chose Muhammad to be His messenger, none of their new churches were accepted by God.

Now, let’s look at the masjids (mosques). The ancestors of Muslims who established the masjids fulfilled all these criteria until 1980 when God sent the Messenger of the Covenant. From 1980, those who rejected him did not fulfill criterion 2 and 4, and their newly established buildings were not accepted by God. So, after 1980, God only accepted the new masjids established by people who believed in God’s Messenger of the Covenant. This condition continued until 2008 when God sent the Clarifying Messenger. After that, God only accepts new masjids established by people who believe in the Clarifying Messenger. Otherwise, they will not fulfill criterion 2 and 4. Although God will send two more messengers after the Clarifying Messenger, belief in them is not a deciding factor for masjids, because anyone who believes in the Clarifying Messenger will also believe in the Strengthening Messenger. There will be groups of people who believe in the Clarifying Messenger, but not in the Guide Messenger (the Mahdi), shame on them, but even that will not be a deciding factor for masjids, because people should stop establishing new masjids anyway after the year 2260, way before the Guide Messenger, because after 2260 there is no point in building masjids, since they will not fulfill criterion 6, because soon all the masjids will be destroyed. What’s the point of establishing buildings which will be destroyed soon (9:109-111)? Instead, the believers should set aside that same money to eventually support the Guide Messenger (the Mahdi) in the cause of God (8:1, 8:41, 9:111), when he comes. So, the Clarifying Messenger is the last messenger who is a deciding factor on weather God accepts new places of worship or not, which is why one of his main duties is to clearly establish once and for all how to establish new places of worship owned by God alone; not places of worship owned by our communities, not places of worship owned by leaders, not places of worship owned by God’s messengers, but places of worship owned by God alone (72:18).

So, here is the conclusion. We, the true believers are allowed to visit these graveless places of worship only:

  1. Synagogues established before the year 0, (which includes only 1 out of about 20,000 existing synagogues (17:1)),
  2. Church buildings established before the year 610, (which includes about 100 out of about 3 million existing church buildings),
  3. Masjids established before 1980, (which includes about 1 million out of about 3 million existing masjids),
  4. Masjids established between 1980 and 2008, only if they were established by people who also believed in God’s Messenger of the Covenant,
  5. Masjids established between 2008 and 2260, only if they are established by people who also believed in the Clarifying Messenger.

This is why only synagogues, churches, and masjids are mentioned in the Quran (22:40).

However, the permissibility to visit those places of worship does not automatically apply to the Friday Congregational Prayers. The Friday Congregational Prayer can be done only behind a preacher or leader who believes in all of God’s messengers (14:21, 62:9, 21:92, 4:144, 58:22, 5:56). We are not allowed to do it behind a preacher or leader who does not believe in all of God’s messengers, even if he does it in the permissible places of worship (58:22, 4:144).

But outside of the Friday Congregational Prayer, you may visit the permissible places of worship, even if they are maintained by disbelievers. Their present domination does not change the fact that those places still belong to God. If you own a house, for example, and mobs take it over, that does not change the ownership of the house. You are still the owner of the house. So, God is still the owner of those places (72:18). People are just visitors there. And we can see examples in the Quran of believers worshiping God in places of worship which were managed or dominated by disbelievers, as long as that place of worship was initially established by the believers. For example, Zachariah, Mary, Jesus worshiped God in the synagogue established by Solomon in Jerusalem (3:37, 3:39, 19:11), despite the fact that it was being managed by the evil Jews at that time (4:156). Also Muhammad worshiped God there (17:1-2), despite the fact that during his time it was being used partly as a synagogue, partly as a ruined church, and partly as a temple for idols (17:7). Also, before migrating to Medina, Muhammad worshiped God at the Sacred Masjid (8:33), at a time when it was being used and managed by idol-worshipers (8:34-35). He was kicked out of there eventually, but he never boycotted it (2:114). Also, God asks us to perform Hajj at the Sacred Masjid (3:97), and use it as a prayer house (2:125), without taking into account the belief or disbelief of those who dominate it now (3:97), because it is a masjid which was established by Abraham (2:127), and God accepted it from him (2:127, 14:39). It would not make sense to find the obligations to visit the Sacred Masjid in the Quran, and on the other hand make it impermissible for believers. God fully knew who was going to maintain it (22:25). We do not go there to visit the people. We go there because God says so (3:97, 22:27, 22:29), and because it is the right thing to do (22:32). In the same way, God orders us not to boycott the permissible places of worship (2:114), and we should feel free to visit them (2:150, 9:18). Alban Fejza shows you in practice in the video how we can visit them.


Requirements to Fulfill to Visiting a Permissible Place of Worship

Before we enter a permissible masjid, we should fulfill seven requirements:

  1. Believe in God (9:18)
  2. Believe in the Last Day (9:18)
  3. Not fear anyone except God (9:18, 2:150)
  4. Having given the Obligatory Charity (9:18)
  5. We should not enter and leave without having performed the Contact Prayer (9:18, 7:29), whichever of the five Contact Prayers applies at this time. If we have already done the Contact Prayer outside of the masjid, or we go in the masjid in the forenoon when no prayer time is applicable, we should still do two Rakats of Contact Prayer (9:18, 7:29).
  6. We should not enter the masjid without having ablution (5:6).
  7. We should be clean and in modest clothes (7:31).

Children under the age of 12 only need to fulfill the seventh requirement (7:31, 5:6, 24:58). (When God says, “O you who believe” (5:6), it does not include children necessarily (49:14), but when God says “O children of Adam” (7:31), it includes children.)

The prayer rows should be filled from front to back (61:4, 9:93). Women should fill them from back to front. If we enter the masjid at noon time for example, we should do the Noon Contact Prayer (2:238, 17:78).

To learn how to observe the Contact Prayer, watch the video titled “Principles of Muslim Prayer” by Rashad Khalifa. But that video does not explain the different voice levels during the Contact Prayer. They are especially important in masjid circumstances, so let’s explain them here.

The Quran mentions five human voice levels:

      • Silent (7:193, 6:53, 20:7),
      • Murmuring (20:108),
      • Low (31:19, 49:3),
      • Normal (20:7, 44),
      • Loud (49:2).

During the Contact Prayer, your voice level can not be silent or loud, but it may be any of the levels in-between (17:110). However, this applies to portions of the Contact Prayer when you magnify God (akbar) or praise God (hamd) (17:111). So, when you say the Elhamdulillah (Sura 1), “Allahu Akbar”, and “Semi’a Allahu Leman Hamidah”, you can do it in a murmuring, low, or normal voice (17:110-111), which are the levels in-between. But, during bowing and prostration positions, we glorify God (Subh), and the glorification voice level may be silent, murmuring, or low (7:205, 3:41), and these commandments are given in the Arabic Quran. The Shahada may be spoken in a silent, murmuring, low, or normal voice (20:7-8, 7:205, 3:41). The Salaam is said in a low or a normal voice (6:54, 31:19).


Rules Inside a Masjid (Place of Worship)

In the masjid, you may only:

      • Do the Contact Prayer (9:18)
      • Prostrate (7:29, 15:98)
      • Bow down (2:125)
      • Commemorate God (72:18, 22:40)
      • Glorify God (20:130, 24:36, 33:42)
      • Praise God (25:58, 32:15, 50:39)
      • Read the Quran (2:185, 17:78)
      • Pray (Silent Dua) (7:29)
      • Implore God for forgiveness (40:55)
      • Retreat (2:187)
      • Eat and drink in moderation (7:31)
      • Stand (7:29, 3:39)
      • Sit (2:125)
      • Greet people (6:54)
      • Clean/maintain the masjid (9:18)
      • Bring adornments (flowers, fragrances, provisions) (7:31, 3:37)

In the masjid:

      • We should enter peacefully and leave peacefully (2:191).
      • We should not do anything which invalidates ablution (2:187, 5:6). You may fall asleep there (2:187), but when you wake up, you should go outside and perform ablution again, if you wish to stay further at the masjid.
      • We should not preach (72:18), except for the Friday Sermon organized by the person in charge (62:9-11).
      • We should not try to convert people (72:18), or have debates or discussions, or arguments, or engage in private discussions or in vain speech.
      • We should not use entertainment like movies, reading, news, etc. (62:11).
      • We should not buy and sell (62:11).
      • We should not use that time to befriend people (6:70). You may acknowledge their presence with a simple greeting, “Salaam alaykum (Peace be upon you!)” (6:54).
      • We should not call other names besides God (72:18).
      • We should not answer any phone call (72:18).
      • We should not pray to anyone besides God (72:18).
      • We should not use our smartphones for other than reading or listening to the Quran in earphones (62:11, 5:48). The Quran may be read aloud when it does not interfere with others, but during Ramadan, others should not interfere with the reading of the Quran.
      • During Ramadan the whole Quran is read aloud (2:185,187), and it must be in a language which people understand (14:4).
      • We should not prevent others from entering because they might have different opinions and beliefs, except if they openly declare that they do not believe in God or the Last Day (9:17,18).
      • We are not allowed to reserve spaces for later by leaving things there (72:18, 2:114).
      • If we are told to make room for others to sit, we make room for others to sit. God will then make room for us (58:11).
      • If those in charge ask us to get up and leave, we get up and leave. God will raise us to a higher rank (58:11).
      • If those in charge impose additional unfair mosque rules, you may choose not to enter, or you may choose to enter with those rules, but not if those rules require you to change the way you worship God.

In the video clarification, Alban Fejza also shows an example of him going to the masjid and finding others already there getting ready for the group prayer.

When you go in, you check if they are doing the movements together simultaneously. If they are not, you simply sit and do not join them in prayer. That prayer is not from the Quran (2:43, 3:43). The Quran describes the obligatory Contact Prayer as one where all the believers bow and prostrate at the same time. Also, if only one person is appearing to do the Contact Prayer, you do not join him, but if two or more people are appearing to do the contact prayer together simultaneously, and you have not done the contact prayer, you must join them. You can not choose to do it separately in that case (2:43, 3:43). If you have to just wait, you may simply sit, commemorate God silently, or even use your smartphone to read the Quran in whatever language you understand. And when all the people stand together to do the Contact Prayer, you must join them (7:29-30, 4:88, 4:142, 5:2, 3:113), because the Quran orders you to stand when they stand, bow when they bow, prostrate when they prostrate, and sit when they sit (2:43, 3:43). During the Contact Prayer, we should follow the same Qiblah (prayer direction) as the prayer leader (4:59), even if his direction is not perfectly towards the Sacred Masjid (2:177), because there is no such thing as the wrong direction to worship God. There are only good and better directions (2:144). To God belongs the east and the west (2:115, 2:142). Although the prayer leader is not supposed to recite additional Suras of the Quran beside Sura 1 during the Contact Prayer, if he does that, you are not allowed to object to it, because when the Quran is recited, you should listen (7:204). You are not responsible for the words of others (6:52). You are responsible for your movements during the group prayer (2:43, 3:43). When the end of the Contact Prayer comes, and they say Salaam, you should return their greeting, at least in equal measure (4:86). After the Salam, you may leave immediately, even if the others stay further (3:149). You are not obliged to participate in any other ritual with them (28:55). Only the five obligatory Contact Prayers may be a group ritual in the masjid.

So, these were the rules of masjids. However, you may still choose not to go there for practical reasons. For example, some mosques are not maintained properly, some of them might smell bad, some of them are closed, some of them are too far, and in some cases it might simply not be practical.

A place of worship becomes obligatory for you only if it is within 10km (2:203) travel distance, it is Friday noon (62:9) and those in charge of it are believers who believe in all of God’s messengers (62:9, 4:144, 5:56).

Also, of course, visiting the Sacred Masjid is obligatory once in your lifetime, if you are not prevented (2:196). In all the other cases, it is optional to visit the permissible places of worship.


Now, everything we said so far, we only talked about real places of worship, places which only have God as an owner. Improvised places like places inside airports, as part of a university, inside companies, rented properties etc., none of these places are places of worship, because they have other owners besides God (72:18). You may use them for prayer if they suit you, but you should know that they are not places of worship, and the rules of their owners apply, not necessarily the rules of this video. They do not really represent any religion, regardless of what the sign at the door might say. So, for example, if you see a door sign inside the airport saying “Masjid”, you should know that you are still in the airport. You are not in a masjid. A masjid can not belong to human beings and to God at the same time. For the Friday Prayer, if you don’t have nearby a real place of worship which is maintained by believers, you may use an improvised place of worship, but not if the person who is leading the Friday Prayer does not believe in all of God’s messengers. Anyway, establishing new real places of worship is the best solution, and the only way to have a permanent community of submitters. In the other video clarification titled “Penalty Zakat”, you can learn which is the only proper way to collect and use the finances to establishing new places of worship which belong to God alone.


By: Alban Fejza, the Clarifying Messenger