Concerned from a fiqhi perspective about turning our current masjid into a social hall, a community member requested a fatwa from Jamia Darul Uloom in Karachi, Pakistan. The original fatwa (question and answer) is written in Urdu and Arabic and can be downloaded here by clicking this link:
The Arabic portion of the fatwa was discussed in Dr. Gindy’s article below, entitled “Are We Playing with Fire?” Here is an English translation of the Urdu portion of the fatwa:
Our town, in Detroit, Michigan, the expansion project of our masjid is ready. According to this project, on an existing big plot a separate new masjid is to be built. And the existing masjid prayer area will be converted into social hall or classrooms. My question is, can we convert the existing masjid area into social hall or classrooms?
Our masjid is 30 years old. The details of the social hall and classrooms follow. Social hall is used for lectures and meetings. People rent this for their domestic functions, weddings, Ameens, iftars and graduation parties. In these functions, there is no music allowed. In the hall, women are on one side and men are on the other side. In the classrooms, it is an elementary school in which there is Islamic and also regular schooling. The majority of the teachers are women.
Please answer the question in light of all four madhabs (schools of thought). The majority of the mussallees follow the Hanafi madhab (school of thought). Some follow the Shaafi madhab (school of thought). Can you mail me the answer with the signatures of Mufti-e-Azam Pakistan Hazrat Mulana Mufti Mohammed Rafi Usmani and Hazrat Mulana Mufti Mohammed Taqi Usmani soon? I would be very grateful to you. May Allah (SWT) give you reward. Ameen.
In the Name of Allah, the most Merciful and Beneficent.
The Answer to the Question
In the case of a mussalla, if this place was not designated waqf for the masjid. Instead, the salats are being performed here as a temporary prayer area. In this case, it is not a shariah masjid. Instead, it is a mussalla. In case of building a masjid in another place, it is permissible to make a social hall or classrooms at this place.
And if this place was waqf for the masjid and the masjid was built, then this is a shariah masjid. The ruling of a shariah masjid is that it stays a masjid until the Day of Judgment.
If the new masjid is built, it is not permissible to use the old shariah masjid for any other purpose than a masjid. And at this place, it is not permissible to do any type of work that is against the etiquettes of the masjid. In this case, converting the old masjid into a social hall or classrooms is absolutely not permissible. Instead, it is mandatory that this prayer area be included in the new masjid.
Yes, before building the new masjid, you can make the intention of making a social hall, etc. in the basement. The condition is that the basement is waqf for the auxiliary purposes of the masjid. It is not anybody’s personal property.
Since no such intention was made before building the old masjid, so the basement is in the same ruling as the shariah masjid, and it is not permissible to use it for any other purpose than the masjid.
The fatwa was issued by Sayed Husain Ahmad and signed and sealed by Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani on August 29, 2012. According to Wikipedia, Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani“is a Hanafi Islamic scholar from Pakistan who was born in 1943. He served as a judge on the Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan from 1981 to 1982 and the Shariat Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan between 1982 and 2002. He is an expert in the fields of Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh), economics and hadith. He also held a number of positions on the Shariah Boards of prestigious Islamic institutions, and is one of the most influential Islamic authors outside the Middle East.” His full biography can be found at:
Annually, the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre prepares a list of the top 500 most influential Muslims in the world, with special highlight on the top 50. Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Usmani ranks number 32 on the 2011 list. The list of the top 50 can be found at:
According to this website, “Usmani’s chief influence comes from his position as a global authority on the issue of Islamic finance. He has served on the boards, and as chairman, of over a dozen Islamic banks and financial institutions, and currently leads the International Shariah Council for the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) in Bahrain. He is also deputy chairman of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, one of the highest legal bodies in the Muslim World.
Usmani is very important as a figurehead in the Deobandi movement—one of the most successful of the Islamic revivalist initiatives of the past century. Usmani was born in Deoband, India, the son of Mufti Muhammad Shafi (the former Grand Mufti of Pakistan) who founded the Darul ‘Uloom Deoband, a leading center of Islamic education in Pakistan.”