Is This a Gray Area? Or Black and White?

by Ann O’Brien Ahmad

ASAK. Before I wrote the article “Until the Day of Judgment,” I had heard from numerous people that the issue of converting the masjid area into a social hall was a gray area. The common opinion seemed to be that some religious scholars would say it was not acceptable to convert the masjid area while others would say it was acceptable. If the issue is truly gray, there should no preponderance of evidence supporting one side or the other, but support for both sides of the issue should be easy to find.

But it was such a heated issue that I decided to research this for myself. I fully expected that I would be writing a balanced article showing both sides of the issue. However, after extensively researching the issue, I could find no support for converting a masjid area to a social hall. The result was my article “Until the Day of Judgment.”

However, I am not a religious scholar. Since writing this article, there have been several other developments. Does the issue seem any more “gray” now? Here is the support we have on both sides of the issue:

FOR CONVERTING THE MASJID INTO A SOCIAL HALL:

  1. An e-mail exchange between the Chairman of the IAGD Board of Trustees and the Secretary General of the Fiqh Council of North America in which the Secretary General says that it is absolutely permitted to build a new prayer hall and use the old one for a multipurpose hall.

AGAINST TURNING THE MASJID INTO A SOCIAL HALL:

  1. Fatwa on IAGD’s specific situation from Jamia Darul Uloom in Karachi, Pakistan. The fatwa was issued by Sayed Husain Ahmad and signed and sealed by Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani on August 29, 2012. Mufti Usmani ranks number 32 on the list of top 500 most influential Muslims in the world. The fatwa clearly states that a shariah masjid stays a masjid until the Day of Judgment. It is not permissible to use a shariah masjid for any other purpose than a masjid.
  2. Fatwa on IAGD’s specific situation from Al Azhar’s Islamic Research Complex in Cairo, Egypt. Al Azhar is the second oldest continuously run university in the world and has long been regarded as the foremost institution in the Islamic world for the study of sharia. This fatwa clearly states that it is forbidden to cut off any part of a mosque to use it for a social hall.
  3. E-mail from Mufti Muhammed Bin Ishaaq Gaibee in the United Kingdom indicates that he has received 26 fatwas from 26 different bodies (Shafi and Hanafi) from many parts of the world clearly stating that it is not permissible to hire a masjid or change a masjid into a hall. He has not received even one fatwa that says this is permissible even though he issued a public challenge.
  4. Article written by Dr. Sharif Gindy on this blog entitled “Is Local Islam Different than Global Islam?” He details six specific cases he found online that indicate that once a masjid is built or even a piece of land is endowed for a masjid, no schools, roads, or other uses are allowed.

To me, this issue looks black and white, and is not even remotely gray. I am extremely disturbed that the current Administration thinks it is fine to go forward with Plan E, which converts the masjid area into a social hall, in the face of such overwhelming evidence that this is not the right thing to do. There are other options—Plan H drawn by the Administration’s architect and a plan by the Rekindling IAGD group would leave the current prayer area as a prayer area. There is no need to convert the prayer area into a social hall.

Personally, I do not want even one dollar of the funds I contributed to the expansion used to convert the masjid area into a social hall. This is a serious issue that should not be taken lightly. The community should not remain silent and allow the Administration to build expansion plan E using the community’s funds, when over 30 fatwas say that this is not acceptable from a religious standpoint. Why are we building a masjid if we don’t have any regard for the religious aspects of what we are doing?

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Concerned nonMullah on November 1, 2012 at 10:39 am

    At first I didn’t even realize that moving the prayer area from one room to another in the same building could be an issue. Now that it has clearly been shown to be an issue of lasting importance, we must change the plans. Why would the Board and others intentionally go forward with plans once they know that’s disobeying fiqh rulings? That is shameful

    Reply

  2. Posted by Anonymous on November 2, 2012 at 9:30 am

    They don’t ponder or plan they just want to do what they want to do .RELIGION is something they lean on it for a short while and then move ahead to do whatever they want to do.They call themselves the organizers of a religious organization and they have no respect for the religious aspects .
    They should start a club I don’t know why they are using the garb of a religious organization .

    Reply

    • Community endorsement and funds would not have been showered on them if they would have started a religious club.IN 1979…….

      Reply

  3. Posted by Anonymous on November 2, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Posted by Sharif on November 1, 2012 at 10:40 am
    Assalamu Alikum Dr. Hadi,
    Following are the questions in Arabic. JAK for following up on our discussion. Sharif
    جالية مسلمة من الهنود والباكستانيين والعرب تقطن الولايات المتحدة , للجالية مركز اسلامي يحتوي على مسجد ومدرسة وقاعة مناسبات. المركز يعمل منذ 32 عام وتقام في المسجد الصلوات الخمس والجمعة والعيدين منذ انشاء المركز.
    تعتزم ادارة المركز القيام بتوسعة .
    هناك عدة تصميمات لاتمام هذه التوسعة.
    احد هذه التصميمات يقتضي تحويل المسجد الحالي الى قاعة مناسبات وبناء قاعة صلاة مجاورة وتوصيلها بالمبنى الحالي من خلال ممر.
    الى جانب هذا التصميم توجد ثلاث تصممات اخرى لا يستوجب ايها تحويل المسجد الى قاعة مناسبات , ولكن احدها يقترح تحويل المسجد الى مدرسة
    اما التصميمان الاخران فيقترحان ابقاء المسجد على ما هو عليه مع توسعته الى المساحة اللازمة , ثم بناء قاعة مناسات جديدة في موقع اخرمن المبنى.
    مع العلم بان
    1- المركز لا يسمح بالموسيقى او ما شابه في قاعة المناسبات عند تاجيرها للافراد , ولكن ليست هناك امكانية لفرض الزى الاسلامي
    2- قاعة المناسبات تستخدم ايضا في اغراض الدعوة حيث تعقد فيهامحاضرات يحضرها غير المسلمين ومن بينهم هندوس وبهائيين رجال ونساء
    3- بالرغم من ان قاعة المناسبات يمكن تقسيمها الى قسمين بفاصل للفصل بين الرجال والنساء , الا انها غالبا ما تستخدم ايضا بدون هذا الفاصل
    4- التصميم الاول الذي يقتضي تحويل المسجد الى قاعة مناسبات يكلف اكثر من 40% من تكلفة اى من التصميمات الثلاث الاخرى الى جانب انه بؤدي الى توسعة لاتبررها الحاجة المستقبلية للجالية , بالاضافة الى تكلفة الادارة و الصيانة الدورية
    5- التصميمات الثلاث الاخرى وان كانت تؤدي الى توسعة اقل قليلا من التصميم الاول الا انها تتناسب مع التوقعات المعقولة لنمو الجالية , فلا يتم اهدار المال فيما قد لا يستفاد به مستقبلا.
    6- يكون جمع المال لهذه المشاريع بطريقة التخصيص , وذلك بان يحدد المتبرع النشاط الذي يريد ان تودع فيه امواله مثل المسجد..المدرسة..قاعة المناسبات..وهكذا.
    برجاء افتاؤنا بالتالي
    1- هل يمكن من الناحية الشرعية ان يحول المسجد الى قاعة مناسبات , وان جاز هذا فتحت اى ظروف?
    2- هل يكون التبرع المالي المشروط بغرض معين بمثابة وقف لهذا الغرض?
    3- اطلق لفظ المسجد على قاعة الصلاة في هذا المركز طيلة الثلاثون عاما السابقة . وباعتبار ان الاموال التي تم انشاؤها بها كانت مخصصة لهذا الغرض , فهل يؤهل هذا هذه القاعة لان تكون وقفا?
    4- اذا اعتبرهذا المركز , او اى جزء منه , وقفا فهل يجوز لاى فرد او جهة ان تتصرف فيه بيعا او ازالة او بتغيير الغرض الذي انشأ من اجله?
    5- في حالة شرعية تحويل المسجد الى قاعة مناسبات , وتم تنفيذ التصميم الاول وكما توقع الكثير بقى الجزء الكبير من التوسعة بلا استخدام , فهل تأثم الجالية كلها على ضياع المال فيما لا فائدة فيه? وهل تكون مجادلة انصار هذا الحل بالحكمة والموعظة الحسنة الآن من قبيل فرض الكفاية?
    ولكم جزيل الشكر,
    مقدمه
    د. شريف الجندي
    Islamic Association of Greater Detroit
    Detroit, Michigan, USA

    Reply

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