DECORATING MOSQUES; TO WHAT EXTENT?

COMPILATION: ABOO AMRAH, ABDUL-AZEEZ AJIFERUKE

Anas bn Maalik (May Allaah be pleased with him)related that the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)said: ‘The Hour will not come to pass until people compete over (building) mosques.'(Recorded by Aboo Daawud, An-Nasaaee, Ibn Maajah and authenticated by Ash-Shaykh al-Albaanee in Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh.

Ibn Abbaas(May Allaah be pleased with both)related that the Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘I was not commanded to build tower-mosques'.

Al-Imam Al-Baghawee said: What is intended by 'tower-mosques' is raising the building high and whose construction takes a long time (indicating its strength. And from this, is Allaah's Statement: '... in fotresses built up strong and high' Q4:78. (See Sharhus-Sunnah 2/349)

Al-Imaam Ash-Shaukaanee said: 'This indicates that building tower-mosques is an innovation'. (Nayl al-Autaar 2/215)

Al-Imaam Al-Bukhaaree: Umar (May Allaah be pleased with him) instructed that a mosque be built and said 'Build something that will protect the people from rainfall and beware lest you put the people to fitnah.' (Fat’hul-Baaree).

Aboo Dardaa said: 'When you embellish your mosque and you adorn your mushaf then destruction will be your lot.' (As-Saheehah: 1351)

Ibn Abbaas said: 'Indeed you would decorate mosques as the Jews and Christians decorate their places of worship.'(Recorded by Aboo Daawud and authenticated by Ash-Shaykh al-Albaanee).

Al-Imaam Al-Baghawee said: 'Its meaning is that the Jews and Christians adorned their places of worhip when they deviated and changed the course of their religion and you (Muslims) are tending towards that. And you tend to compete over mosques and boast with respect to its beautification and adornment.' (Sharhu-Sunnah 2/350).

Ibn Hajar said (so also Ibn Bataal and other than him): 'This indicates that the Sunnah with respect to construction of mosques is moderation and abandoning excessiveness in its beautification. Umar – despite the extent of conquest during his days and large expanse of wealth with him – did not change the Prophet's Mosque from its original form. It only required renovation because the date-palms which it was built from had withered during his time.'

After Umar was Uthmaan; the wealth during his time was more. He renovated the mosque (with burnt bricks) with what did not amount to beautification. Even at that, some Companions rebuked him.

The first to adorn mosques was Al-Waleed bn Abdil-Malik bn Marwaan and that was at the end of the era of the Companions. A lot of the people of knowledge remained silent from rebuking that action for fear of fitnah'. (Fathul Baaree 1/644)

Al-Imaam San'aanee said: 'The hadeeth of Ibn 'Abbaas (about imitating the Jews and Christians mentioned above) indicates dislike or prohibition because of the statement of Ibn ‘Abbaas [‘as the Jews and Christians decorate their places of worship], since imitating them is forbidden. The aim of building mosques is to protect people from heat and cold. By adorning it, it preoccupies the heart from humility and devotion which is the soul of worship.' (Subulus-Salaam).

‘I say (i.e. author): The one who ponders over the aforementioned narrations will conclude that building tower-mosques and adorning them is not permissible for the following reasons:

1. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade it and a statement which forbids an act indicates prohibition.

2. It is an innovation as Al-Imaam Ash-Shaukaanee rightly said and every innovation is misguidance and every misguidance leads to hell-fire.

3. Imitation of the Jews and Christians and whoever imitates a people is from them.

4. These adornments preoccupy the people and prevent them from tranquillity and humility which is the heart of Salaah.

5. Wasting of wealth and spending it in what does not benefit, rather, what brings harm.

There are other matters, some of which are enough to say the act is prohibited.

Benefits

Al-Imaam San'aanee said: Al-Mahdee said in Al-Bahr: 'The embellishment of the two great mosques was not at the instance of the scholars and their silence was not because they were pleased with it. This was done by the tyrants without the consent of the scholars. The silence of the Muslims and scholars was not because they were pleased with it.'

Al-Imaam San'aanee while commenting on the above said: 'This is a good statement'.


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