A place of prayer does not acquire the same legal consequences as a Masjid
Fatwa No: 274669

  • Fatwa Date:17-1-2015 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 27, 1436
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Question

Assalamu'alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh We live in Taiwan and muslim is minority here. In our city, Tainan City, it is a small apartment that functioned as a masjid since 1996 ago. But the problem is we can only perform Shalat Jum'ah dan shalat Ied there, and we cannot use that place for shalat five times a day because always locked and the owner stubborn to give or duplicate the key. We are very disappointed with the owner and imam (someone who live there and worked in outside). Muslims in this city try for 17 years to make that place open for shalat five times a day, but always failed. The questions is: Can that place called by masjid if we cannot perform five times a day and only open for shalat jumat just for 1 hours a week? Is it right to just having masjid only for shalat jum'ah and not for five times shalat? At this time we find a new place (bigger than the old one) and conducted five times a day, can we move the shalat jum'ah there?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.

As long as the five daily prayers are not held in this place, then it is not considered a Masjid. The Standing Committee for Scholarly Research and Fataawa stated the following:

The Arabic word ‘Masjid’ literally means the place of prostration (from Sujood). As an Islamic term, ‘Masjid’ is used to refer to any place prepared for holding the five daily prayers in congregation.

The Shaafi‘i scholar Ibn Hajar Al-Haytami  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, “If the place is not dedicated to the holding of the five daily prayers in congregation, then it is not a Masjid.” [Al-Fataawa Al-Fiqhiyyah Al-Kubra]

We also understood from your question that the apartment has an owner which means that it has not been designated as a Waqf (i.e. a charitable trust). If the place designated for holding prayer is not a Waqf, then it is not considered a Masjid; rather, it is considered a Musalla (prayer area) to which many of the religious rulings pertaining to Masjids do not apply. The difference between the Musalla and the Masjid is that the Masjid is a Waqf, dedicated to prayer, whereas the Musalla is not a Waqf and not all five prayers are held in it. The legal effects pertaining to the Masjid do not apply to the Musalla such as the impermissibility for a menstruating woman or a person in a state of Janaabah (major ritual impurity) to stay inside it, and the desirability of performing the two-Rak‘ah prayer for salutation of the Masjid, and the prohibition to announce lost items in it, and similar religious rulings pertaining to Masjids.

Ibn ‘Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, “As for the Musalla, it is not subject to the rulings as Masjids. It is permissible to announce lost items in it because it is not a Masjid, and I‘tikaaf (i.e. seclusion for the purpose of worship) is not valid in the Musalla. It is not prescribed to perform two Rak‘ahs of salutation of the Masjid upon entering it. It is not impermissible for a menstruating woman or a person in a state of Janaabah to stay in it. It is tantamount to the prayer place in one’s house.” [Ash-Sharh Al-Mumti‘]

He  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him also said, “As for the Musallas set up in government offices and for women in girls schools, these are not subject to the rulings on Masjids because they are not considered Masjids, neither in reality nor by decree.

In brief, this apartment is not considered a Masjid; however, there is no harm in holding the Friday prayer in it because it is not a condition for the validity of the Friday prayer that it be held in a Masjid. Please refer to Fatwa 90431.

Finally, there is nothing wrong with moving the Friday prayer to the new place of prayer. You should also take into consideration the circumstances of the majority of worshippers so as not to cause them any difficulty or inconvenience if the Friday prayer is moved to the new place.

Allaah Knows best.

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