Until the Day of Judgment

by Ann O’Brien Ahmad

ASAK. One of the things I find most troubling about the expansion project is the difference in opinion regarding whether the current prayer area can be converted to a social hall. A significant portion of the community believes that religiously this is wrong. Others believe that as long as a larger prayer area is provided, it is acceptable to use the current prayer area for other activities. Still others believe that this is a decision that should be made by the community. Who is right?

After spending a significant amount of time researching this issue, the most pertinent information I could find dealt with waqf and masjids. I reviewed articles written by Dr. Khalid Yahya Blankinship (a PhD professor of religion at Temple University specializing in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies), Abdurrahman ibn Yusuf Mangera (an author of several scholarly books on fiqh), Mufti Muhammad Kadwa (Mufti issuing fatwas on daruliftaa.com), Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam, Mufti Ebrahim Desai (Mufti issuing fatwas on askimam.org), and Mufti Muhammed Bin Ishaaq Gaibee. I will paraphrase these articles:

There are significant differences between masjids and musallas. Musallas are a temporary place to pray, often until a more suitable, convenient, or permanent location is found. Many of the restrictions on masjids do not apply to musallas.

A masjid, in the legal sense, is a place that has been permanently dedicated to Allah (SWT) for the sake of prayer, recitation, and His remembrance. A masjid is a sanctified area in which the rewards of prayer in congregation increase 25 to 27 times over praying alone.

A masjid is normally made into a waqf or endowment. In the case of a masjid, it does not have to be formally declared a waqf; the fact that it is used for salat and is accessible by the public makes it a waqf. Also, in the United States, the laws governing tax-exempt organizations, which prevent real property from being confiscated for nonpayment of taxes, in effect constitute recognition of Muslim waqfs by the government.

A waqf, especially a masjid, is considered deeded to Allah (SWT), according to the verse, “The masjids belong to Allah, so do not call on anyone except Allah” (Qur’an 72:18).

Once an area is declared a masjid, it will always be a masjid and the property of Allah (SWT) until the Day of Judgment. It cannot return to being the property of any person or community. Allama Haskafi wrote: “If the inhabitants surrounding the masjid wither away and the masjid becomes desolate, it will still remain a masjid according to Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Abu Yusuf until the Last Day, and the fatwa is on this opinion” (Hawi al-Qudsi) (al-Durr al-Mukhtar 3:371).

The masjid area must be formally designated with boundaries. Other adjoining areas can be used for bathrooms, lobbies, storage, etc., but will be considered auxillary areas, not part of the masjid area. The masjid area includes all floors above or below the masjid. Thus, all rulings that apply to a masjid apply to the same area on any floors above or below the masjid area. Constructing toilets, bathrooms, or holding any nonsuitable activities above or below the masjid area would also be impermissible. Hence, no area of the actual masjid prayer area can be excluded from the masjid once designated as a masjid. However, before the plans are finalized and the area is designated a masjid, portions can be excluded from any of the floors above or below the masjid, to be used for something related to the masjid.

However, once a waqf is established, it may not be taken back, replaced, or substituted by anything else, including an equivalent or better property. Thus, a masjid which is still in use and to which any community belongs, even if very small, cannot be changed, transformed, leased, or sold at all according to all four schools of thought (Maliki, Hanafi, Shafi, and Hanbali). It must remain a masjid. Other auxillary areas of the masjid property can be changed, but the masjid itself, the sanctuary area where the salat is performed, should not be altered or changed.

I realize that the information I found will seem very strict to many, but I was not able to find anything that said it was acceptable to change a masjid area to anything other than a masjid. If anyone has a reference or cite that indicates it is acceptable, please comment on this article below and provide the reference or citation.

Personally, after reading all this information, I am very uncomfortable that expansion Plan E, approved by the Board of Directors and Board of Trustees, will turn the masjid area into a social hall. Classrooms might be a more appropriate use, but I am not even sure that would be permissible. But based on everything I read, it seems like a stretch to think it is acceptable to turn the prayer area into a social hall.

Plan E, approved by the Board of Directors and Board of Trustees, would convert the current prayer area into a social hall, while Plan H and Option 2 would keep the current prayer area as a prayer area. As a community, I think we should seriously consider an expansion plan that does not convert the prayer area to a social hall. May Allah (SWT) guide the community, give us wisdom, and unite us as we make this important decision. Only Allah (SWT) knows best.

For those interested, this article paraphrases these articles from the following websites:

http://www.lamppostproductions.com/?p=3651

http://www.albalagh.net/qa/what_is_masjid.shtml

http://www.albalagh.net/general/0074.shtml

http://askimam.org/public/question_detail/18172

http://www.daruliftaa.com/question?txt_QuestionID=q-20125779

http://www.wifaqululama.co.uk/Other_articles/AnNajaahJamadulUkhra_1433_May2012.pdf

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21 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Yousuf S. on September 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    May A…h (swt) reward you and your family for the sincere effort you have put into finding what would/would not be acceptable in the current “masjid” area. May He guide all of us in the right direction, and one that would benefit us and keep us united. Ameen!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Anonymous on September 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    I am totally in agreement with this article, I got the same feedback from Mufti Sahibs after personally inquired by them.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Hakka on September 6, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Just to confirm , whether I was right or wrong , that once a masjid is always a masjid ,I checked it from a mufti and got the same answer . I don’t know what MADHAB do these BODs & BOTs follow because all IMAMS have a unanimous decree on the issue.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Hakka on September 6, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    JAZAKALLAH , Sister.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Anonymous on September 6, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Those who have not signed the petition yet ,have to think again .This article is an eye opener for them.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Maulvi Bashar on September 6, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Jazak’Allah sr Ann I commend all the work you did on this topic. May Allah swt give you and your family reward in this world and hereafter. I have very much respect to our spirtual leaders, but the community is divided and confused on this issue. They should be guiding us to do what is right and not stay silent.

    People that donated for this masjid years ago did so for saqada jaariya or on going reward. They did not think there donation would be used to change prayer hall to social hall.

    There is still time for community speak up and take stand before its too late. Sr Ann should send this to the board members. If they understand this information, I don’t think they can turn masjid into social hall. May Allah swt guide our board members to make the right decisions. Ameen.

    Reply

  7. Posted by Anonymous on September 6, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Brothers & sisters please check the website
    rekindlingiagd.com
    And get the info about the meeting between the BOD and community representatives on September 9th.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Siraj Khan on September 7, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    I got the same feedback from Mufti Rafi Usmani and Mufti Taqi Usmani when personally inquired by them over the phone. Masjid can not be used for any other purpose after it got built as a Masjid. These Hazrats are the Grand Mufti’s in Pakistan and their opinion on islamic issues and fiqhi issues are well-respected all over the world.

    Reply

    • Posted by Muhammad on September 8, 2012 at 8:50 pm

      It should be noted that the same question was posed to Mufti Saeed Palanpuri Hafiidhullah, one of the Shaykhul Hadith in Darul Uloom Deoband, one of the oldest seminaries of Islamic Knowledge in the World, and he also replied that once a place has been designated as a masjid, it will stay a masjid until the day of judgement.

      Reply

  9. Posted by Anonymous on September 8, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Thank you Ann, I personally appreciate this information and pray very sincerely that Allah SWT guides me in my role as a member on the BOD and to make the right decisions.
    suraiya

    Reply

  10. Posted by Aman Khan on September 8, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    My feelings are the same on converting the existing masjid into a social hall. I appreciate Sr. Ann’s research and others checking with different Ulemas. My discomfort is with both our Imams. Both these Imams voted for plan E that converts the exisiting masjid into a social hall. I consider them as our spiritual leaders. I wonder these leaders have a valid reason to vote for plan E. I am assuming these leaders (our Imams) must be reading this blog and I hope they come forward soon with their own opinion and provide guidance to this confused and divided community. May Allah show us the right path – Ameen

    Reply

  11. Posted by Anjum Sohail on September 9, 2012 at 1:03 am

    I am pleased to read the article and totally agree with it. I praise your efforts and all the work you did regarding this issue. May Allah (SWT) reward you and your family for your sincerity. Jazak’Allah.
    I totally agree with Mansoor Bhai position that converting the Masjid to social hall is the real issue. I sincerely pray to Allah (SWT) that He may give Hadayat to our Imam’s and community to seek the truth according to Islamic Fiqh. Ameen! The BOD & BOT does not have religious authority to make decision in this regard.

    Reply

  12. Posted by Sohail Ahmed on September 9, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Come to think of it, during first Martial law, military rigim wanted to build a multistory market in the heart of Karachi (on Victoria Road). There was a problem on the property of proposed market there was a Masjid (Just four wall and roof made sheet metal).
    Boundry walls marked with stones and cement blocks with no cement floor. Rigim wanted to demolish this Masjid and relocate nearyby. It created storm of protest from Ulmas and plublic.Under tremendous pressure millitary rigim caved in and had to change entire building plan. That Masjid still exist and Market namd is Co-operative market.
    Second incident also happened in Karachi in the same era. KDA wanted to widen the road which connects Teen Hutti and PIB colony, and the Mubarak Masjid was in the way. Under protest, KDA had to change plan and road goes around the Masjid. People from Karachi can testify these stories.
    And do not forget the incident of Babri Masjid, Hundreds of people gave their lives for the Masjid even though Babri Masjid was not functional but it was still a Masjid.
    The lesson learned from these stories that “You can not demolish, move or change Masjid once it is establish as Masjid”.
    I understand that BOD are bunch of young people and have no idea or clue about history or sensitivity of the matter. But the question is what happend to BOT, they are all old enough and learned people. Did not they realize the sensitivity of this issue?
    Or they just do not care…………

    Reply

    • Here is a question for the whole board of trustees . Most of you are the founding members what was the intention when you first built this MASJID? Didn’t you want your kids to stick to ISLAM and take it as a way of life instead of just taking it as stories of أساطير الأولين (fore fathers ).or yours was the case as mentioned by Allama Iqbal
      مسجد تو بنادي شب بهر مين إيمان كي حرارت والون نئ
      من ابنا برانا بابي هي برسوم مين نازي بن نه سكا

      Reply

  13. Posted by Anonymous on September 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Brother Sohail, you are absolutely right. Once a Masjid, Always a Masjid. if this was the case where we could simply “move the masjid” then i think the palestinian conflict of masjidul aqsa would have been solved hundreds of years ago.

    jazakullah khair

    Reply

  14. Posted by Anonymous on September 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    What is this thing that IAGD has posted as a fatwa?????

    Reply

  15. Posted by Anonymous on September 13, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    When the ladies pray in the social hall during Ramadan and in the gym 2 years ago, is that considered a prayer hall now? So are we converting a prayer hall to a social hall or vice-versa every year already? Why is this not a problem to anyone? Think about the basement, it too acts as a prayer hall, classroom, and activity center. We should be careful when we mix emotions with religious thought. Go and watch the movie Innocent Muslim today. Is the answer to the question, what came first, the prayer hall or social hall? Or is it really that simple? Or does it really matter???????

    Reply

    • Posted by Hamza on September 14, 2012 at 8:28 pm

      I am sorry to say brother you do not understand the difference between a musalla and a masjid. A musalla is a temporary place of SALAT and the masjid is a designated place of SALAT IN CONGREGAION. When the number of people increases the overflow is diverted towards the temporary place whose primary use is different than the permanently designated one.And according to FIQH a temporary place can be change into different things( social hall ,office etc).

      Reply

  16. Posted by Anonymous on October 3, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Hi, Totaly agree with this verdict as places of worship should not be changed as they are sacred.

    Many Thanks

    Reply

  17. Posted by Anonymous on October 11, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Mufti’s article make a lot of sense. . We certainly do have a clear understanding that a Masjid can’t be changed to a hall. May Allah bless you.

    Brother Muzamil

    Reply

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