Mosque Etiquette

Musa Kâzım GÜLÇÜR

When someone enters a mosque, the “House of God (i.e., a building that has been appointed for the worship of God),” they should ensure that they are physically and ritually clean. Therefore, ritual purification from a state of major ritual impurity is necessary for those in this state before they enter a mosque. The most common causes of major ritual impurity are associated with seminal emission, intercourse, menses, or childbirth. (However, according to the Hanafi and Maliki schools, one in this state may enter if necessary, by performing tayammum, or dry ablution, with clean earth where there is no water available. Also, if the person is not going to stay in the mosque but only stop there briefly on a journey, the Shaafi and Hanbali schools allow them to enter.) According to the Hanbali, it is permissible for someone in a state of major ritual impurity to enter the mosque after having ablution and without ghusl, or full washing of the body with water. So that everyone can come, whether they are ritually clean or in a state to be able to perform salat (for example, women in their menses), Eid prayers and funerals are generally held outside the mosque at a different location. Further, it is permissible, but discouraged, to enter the mosque without taking ablution. It is disrespectful to use a mosque with two doors simply as a path (i.e., to go through it on one’s way somewhere else).

There are some short prayers the Prophet used to recite when entering a mosque which are mentioned in the hadith. In one such narration, the Prophet entered a mosque, uttered the greeting of peace, and then prayed, “My God, open the doors of Your mercy to me!” When he left, he again gave the peace greeting and prayed, “My God, I hope for Your beneficence and kindness!” He also used to enter the mosque by stepping in first with his right foot and leave it with his left foot.

Once the adhan, or call to prayer, has been called, no one who is inside the mosque (who is in a fit state for salat) should get up and leave without performing the salat with the others. When entering the mosque, one should be considerate of anything that could make others uncomfortable or distract them. The Prophet asked people, for instance, not to come to the mosque after eating strong-smelling foods like garlic. He also forbade people from making too much noise in the mosque. Once, when someone disturbed the congregation by looking for something he had lost, the Prophet said, “Let it not be found!” The atmosphere in the mosque should be peaceful because this is a place devoted to worship. In addition to the abovementioned items, people should also be careful not to pass in front of someone who is performing salat, brush against others or push their way in front of others (in crowded congregations).

When it comes to young children or others (such as the mentally disabled) who cannot understand the etiquette of entering a mosque, it is not advised to bring them to the mosque. When children reach the age of reason, it is a good idea to take them to the mosque and accustom them to congregational prayers and teach them to read and recite the Qur’an in the mosque.

It is discouraged, even prohibited according to some schools of thought, to sell, buy, or hire out things, or carry out any transactions for profit in a mosque; however, raising donations is acceptable. There are scholars who say that it is not permissible to beg or give to beggars in the mosque, but charity can be given to those who need it if they have not asked for it. Inside the mosque speaking is allowed if one does not make other people uncomfortable. At the same time, it is not proper to go to the mosque solely to chat, nor to speak too loudly, or even to pray so loudly that it bothers others. In order to avoid dirtying the mosque, people should not sleep or eat there, with some exceptions in the Hanafi and Maliki schools, including circumstances such as putting up guests or traveling.

It is recommended that the mosque be closed between prayer times if common sense dictates that to do so is safer for whatever items are found inside; however, if there is no need to secure the property, it is better not to close the mosque. Abu Hanifa and Imam Malik believed the funeral prayer should be performed outside the mosque, except in the case of inclement weather. However, for Shaafis and Hanbalis there is no such preference.

Translated by Jessica ÖZALP

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