Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mosque Etiquette

It is important to be respectful when entering one of ‘Allah’s houses’. When a person visits a masjid/mosque for the first time, it is often very daunting. You know that there must be many rules, customs and etiquettes, and you don’t want to offend anyone or break any rules, but it takes time to learn what these are. What we present here is not an exhaustive list of such things, but hopefully we can explain some of the main things to be aware of. If there are any mistakes, or if you have anything to add to this guide, please let us know.
1. It is Sunnah for the Muslim, when he leaves his house and heads towards the mosque, to recite the du’a for walking to the mosque
It was narrated that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “… Then the muezzin gave the call to prayer, and he (the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)) came out, saying,
‘Allahumma aj’al fi qalbi nooran wa fi lisaani nooran waj’al fi sam’i nooran waj’al fi basari nooran waj’al min khalfi nooran wa min amaami nooran waj’al min fawqi nooran wa min tahti nooran, Allahummah a’tini nooran
(O Allah, place with my heart light, and upon my tongue light, and within my ears light and within my eyes light, and place behind me light and in front of me light and above me light and beneath me light, O Allah, bestow upon me light).”[Shahih Muslim 763]
2. When he enters the mosque, he should enter with his right foot first, and say the words that were narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)
It was narrated that Abu Humayd or Abu Usayd (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “When any one of you enters the mosque, let him say:
“Allahumma iftah li abwaab rahmatika (O Allah, open to me the gates of Your mercy), and when he leaves let him say, Allahumma inni as’aluka min fadlika (O Allah, I ask You of Your bounty).”[Shahih Muslim 713]
According to some reports, the words Bismillaah, Allahumma salli ‘ala Muhammad (In the name of Allah, O Allah, send blessings upon Muhammad) are added at the beginning of each[Narrated by Al-Tirmidhi 314 | Ibn Maajah 771]
It was narrated that Haywah ibn Shurayh (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “I met ‘Uqbah ibn Muslim and said to him, ‘I heard that you narrated from ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas that when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) entered the mosque, he would say, “A’oodhu Billaah il-‘Azeem wa bi wajhihi’l-kareem wa sultaanihi’l-qadeem min al-shaytaan il-rajeem (O Allah, I seek refuge in Your noble countenance and Your eternal authority from the accursed Shaytaan).”’ He said, ‘Is that all?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘And when he said that, the Shaytaan said, “He is protected from me for the whole day.”’” [Narrated by Abu Dawood 466]
3. When the Muslim enters the mosque, he should not sit down until he has prayed two rak’ahs to “greet the mosque”
It was narrated from Abu Qutaadah al-Sulami (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “When any one of you enters the mosque, let him pray two rak’ahs before he sits down.” [Shahih Bukhaari 443 | Muslim 714]
4. The mosque should be cleaned and perfumed by those who are able to do it
that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) commanded that mosques should be built in every neighbourhood, and that they should be cleaned and perfumed” [Narrated by Abu Dawood 437]
It was narrated from Abu Dharr  (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:“The deeds of my ummah, both good and bad, were shown to me, and I found that among the best of its deeds was removing a harmful thing from the road, and I found among the worst of its deeds leaving phlegm in the mosque (note: it was not carpetted then) and not burying it.” [Shahih Muslim 555]
5. Not raising one’s voice in the mosque, even in reciting Qur’an, because that may disturb one of the worshippers
It was narrated that Abu Sa’ed (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) went into i’tikaaf (seclusion or retreat for worship) in the mosque, and he heard them reciting Qur’aan in loud voices. He pulled back the curtain and said: “Each one of you is conversing with his Lord, so do not disturb one another and do not raise your voices above one another in reciting Qur’aan” – or he said, “in prayer” [Narrated by Abu Dawood 1332]
6. He should exit the mosque with the left foot first, and saying the du’a narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:“When any one of you enters the mosque, let him send blessings upon the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and say, Allahumma iftah li abwaab rahmatika (O Allah, open to me the gates of Your mercy). And when he leaves let him send blessings upon the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and say, Allahumma i’simni min al-Shaytaan il-rajeem (O Allah, protect me from the accursed Shaytaan) [Narrated by Ibn Maajah 773]
7. Be considerate about your personal hygiene. One hadith says, “Whoever eats garlic, onion, then keep away from our Masjid because the angels get offended from what offends the children of Adam.” It is reported that if the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) found a man to have a strong smell upon him, he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ordered him to be taken out. So it is something that should be taken very seriously.
8. If you enter the masjid and the prayer for which you came has started, do not run to join in. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said “If the prayer started, then do not join it running, and join it walking and quiet, and pray whatever you caught up with, and make up for what you missed.”
9. Do not walk directly in front of a praying person. This is one of the most common blunders of the newcomer! According to a hadith, “If the passer in front of the praying person knew how much sin he committed, it would have been better for him to wait for forty years than to pass in front of him.” On a related note, worshippers often place a scarf or other item a short distance in front of them as a ‘marker’ – treat this as their inviolable space while they are praying. If it is absolutely necessary for you to pass in front of them, do so in a manner that your back is facing the praying person.
10. The Muslim should sit where he finds a place in the masjid. The Muslim should not skip people or squeeze himself between two people who are already sitting. To aid people who come when the masjid is busy, those already sitting should try to make space for them.
11. When a women is experiencing her monthly cycle, it is forbidden for her to enter the masjid.
12. Do not engage in trade in the masjid. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said “If you see some one selling or buying inside the Masjid, say to him: May Allah not make your trading profitable. And if you see someone crying out inside the Masjid something he has lost, say to him: May Allah not restore it to you, for the Masajid were not built for this.” More generally, try to avoid devaluing the purpose for which you came by speaking of worldly affairs.
13. If the adhan is called, do not leave the masjid until you have prayed – even if you have already prayed the prayer that is being called. Pray with the congregation, and count it as a ‘nafl’ (optional) prayer. Imam Ahmad reported that Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with them) said “the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ordered us, when we are in the Masjid and the Salah is called for, not to leave the Masjid until we pray.”
14. Greet people when you enter, and when you leave the masjid. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)  said “When one of you joins a gathering he should greet those present; and when he leaves them he should greet them because the first salutation is not better than the last one.” If there are many people present a single declaration of ‘As Salamu alaikum’ will suffice, as this means ‘Peace be upon you (all)’.
15. Do not sit with you feet pointing towards the Qibla (direction of prayer) or other people.
16. It is generally agreed that the Qur’an should not be placed on the floor out of respect for the divine word, although there are some groups that do not adhere to this.
17. If men and women should meet in the masjid, they should not shake hands! Such physical contact is everyday in Western society, but is inappropriate in Islam.
There are, relative to Western norms, strict dress codes in Islam. Make sure you dress modestly. For men, this means, as a legal minimum, being covered from navel to knee, but more dignifiedly the top clothing should cover the elbows. It is also good practice for men to wear a hat. For women, the majority of opinion is that only the face, hands and feet should show. You should also avoid wearing clothes with pictures of faces on them.