Building mosques in Gothic architectural style
Fatwa No: 321298

  • Fatwa Date:28-3-2016 - Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 19, 1437
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Question

What is the ruling on building Western-style constructions, like, for example, erecting mosques in Gothic architecture style (Lala Mustafa Pasha Masjid in Cyprus)?

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 ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger. 

There is no doubt that the mosques are the houses of Allaah and that He commanded us to build mosques and keep them clean in order to hold the Friday prayers and obligatory prayers in congregation therein. He says (what means): {...in mosques which Allaah has ordered to be raised and that His name be mentioned therein; exalting Him within them in the morning and the evenings are men...} [Quran 24:36] Mujaahid  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him commented that 'raised' means building mosques and keeping them clean and free of impurities and harm, as cited by As-Saʻdi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him.

ʻAa'ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her said, “The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, commanded us to build a mosque in different localities (in the locality of each tribe) and keep them clean and scented.” [Abu Daawood, At-Tirmithi and Ibn Maajah]

However, the religious texts underlined the prohibition of excessively decorating the mosques. We have highlighted these texts in several fataawa, such as fatwa 300670. Ibn ʻAbbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said, “Indeed, you will decorate them (the mosques) just like the Christians and Jews (decorated their places of worship).

We could not find any specific statement of the scholars about building mosques following the architectural style of churches. However, Abu Daawood, Ibn Maajah and others narrated with a weak chain of narration from Ibn ʻAbbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him that the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, said, “I see you are going to build your mosques high after my death, in the same way that the Jews built their synagogues high and the Christians built their churches high.

The Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, was so keen to oppose the Christians and Jews during his lifetime that the Jews said, “This man does not want to leave anything that we do without opposing us in it.” [Muslim] The scholars underlined that one of the reasons for the prohibition of decorating mosques is that it constitutes imitation of the Christians and Jews. Mirqaat Al-Mafaateeh reads, “'Ibn 'Abbaas said, 'Indeed, you will decorate them (the mosques) just like the Christians and Jews (decorated their places of worship).' This is a religious innovation because the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, did not do so, and it also constitutes imitation of the Christians and Jews...

Upon contemplating the religious texts underlining the prohibition of imitating the Christians and Jews in their customs and worship and the manner of building and decorating their places of worship, we come to realize that the Muslim is legislatively obliged to oppose them. Ash-Shawkaani  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, “Indeed, opposing the Christians and Jews is one of the objectives of the sharee'ah and a religious requirement.

The Fatwa of the Permanent Committee for Fataawa reads, “Many religious texts stated the prohibition of imitating non-Muslims in what is specific to them of statements, actions, manner of dress, and general appearance, because this imperils the Muslim's creed and is feared to lead him to like their disbelief and misguidance...

Hence, building a mosque in the architectural style of a church whereby one cannot tell if it is a mosque or a church constitutes imitating the People of the Book and falls under the heading of imitating them in general appearance. It may even lead to liking the church for being similar to mosques or believing that churches are sacred places of worship just like mosques.

We do not know that specific mosque that you referred to, but based on pictures of it that we have seen, we say that it is decorated and almost exactly similar to a church in appearance. We believe that it is impermissible to build mosques in the architectural style of churches to begin with. As for the case of Muslims in non-Muslim countries who buy churches and turn them into mosques, they are not required to demolish them and rebuild them. Many of those countries forbid changing the outer appearance and structure of buildings, and therefore Muslims are not given permission to change its appearance to that of a mosque.

Lastly, we would like to emphasize the obligation of differing from and opposing the Christians and Jews in all that is peculiar to them, namely the matters of their religion and things that are unique to them and by which they are known. The Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, said:

- “Do the opposite of what the polytheists do.”

- “Act against the fire-worshippers.”

- “Do the opposite of what the Jews do.”

- “Do the opposite of what the Christians and Jews do.”

There are many religious texts warning Muslims against imitating the non-Muslims in general in all that is peculiar to them pertaining to their beliefs, worship or customs. In the area of beliefs, Muslims are prohibited from imitating the disbelievers in taking graveyards as places of worship, exaggeration in revering and loving the pious people, building shrines and erecting structures over the graves to be visited as a devotional act, the prohibited ways of mourning the dead, finding false pride in one's lineage, and the tribalism and fanaticism of the pre-Islamic era.

In the area of worship, Muslims are forbidden from imitating the disbelievers in the manner of calling to prayer, structure of the places of worship, times and manner of performing the prayers, times and manner of fasting, manner of pilgrimage, marriage, offering animal sacrifice, and religious festivals.

In the area of worldly customs and etiquette, Muslims are prohibited from imitating the non-Muslims in whatever is related to clothing that is unique to them and in the customs that are peculiar to them and by which they are distinguished, such as dress code and adornments; Muslims are enjoined to differ from the disbelievers and grow beards and trim mustaches, dye the white hair, and oppose them in the manner of greeting, sitting, lying down, eating with the left hand, wearing gold rings, lengthening the clothes below the ankle (for men), keeping dogs, immoral singing and the use of musical instruments.

There are many texts in the Quran and Sunnah underlining the prohibition of imitating the disbelievers, especially the Christians and Jews, in all these acts that are unique to them and by which they are distinguished.

Allaah knows best.

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