• Aslam Abdullah

Should Muslims offer their places of worship for others to pray in emergency situations?


Recently, the followers of Sikhism in India offered Muslims their places of worship to offer Friday prayers when the RSS terrorists prevented them. In Europe and North America, some Churches and synagogues follow the same precedence whenever Muslims cannot pray the Friday prayers in their mosques. However, these are temporary measures, as the places of worship primarily serve the communities that build them. Therefore, no Muslim can think of claiming their ownership.

Christianity, in general, believes in the concept of Trinity, Jews think they are unique in the eyes of God, and Sikhism believes in meditation upon and devotion to the Creator, truthful living, and service to humanity. But, on the other hand, Islam promotes the idea of monotheism and claims its message the final divine testament preserved in the Quran.

Yet, the people who open their places of worship for Muslims do not think that Muslims praying there would destroy their belief system and pollute their sacred houses.

Should Muslims reciprocate and open their mosques for people of all faiths? The question is relevant as Muslims share the planet with people of all religions. Islam urges its followers to respect everyone's God-given human dignity, regardless of their faith, race, ethnic origin, gender, or social status (ref. Qur'an, 17:70). God is the Creator. Humans must treat one another with full honor, respect, and loving-kindness. The purpose of diversity is to know one another.

The Quran all speaks of protecting all places of worship. Were Allah not to protect houses of worship from the invasion of others, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, where people remember God, might have become objects of destruction. The Quran 22:40

It means Muslims should defend the houses of worship for non-Muslim with their right to worship.

When one group attempts to destroy the other places of worship, it becomes the collective responsibility of all faiths to defend the victim. The purpose is to ensure that faith-based communities remain connected with their source of creation, regardless of the form and shape.

From the Quranic instruction and the practice of the Prophet of allowing Christians to pray in Masjid Nabavi in the early days of Islam, the answer was clear. So, likewise, people of other faith can offer their prayers in Islam's holy places of worship.

This practice is valid in specific conditions.

It raises a question. How about allowing polytheists to pray in a mosque with their idols? Islam takes a strong position on idol worship but acknowledges that it cannot force others to accept monotheism. The Quran explains: Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah hears and knows all things. 2:256

Every religious community has specific rules that people observe in their places of worship. For example, Sikhism asks people entering its sacred houses to cover their heads and wash their feet. In addition, Mormons have a specific baptizing room where they do not allow non-Mormons to enter.

Christians consider the chancel (the altar and the surrounding area) a holy place, and they do not allow people to enter there under any circumstances. Judaism asks people to put on a kippah [yarmulke]for a male even during the Kiddish and meal that follows the service

Buddhism has many rules for people entering their places of worship. For instance, it does not allow people with no Short Pants, Sleeveless Shirts, and shoes.

Muslims ask visitors to take off shoes before entering the sacred area, and women cover their hair.

Muslims can offer their places of worship to others, provided they do not bring idols and observe the general rules.

What is essential for Muslims is to recognize diversity. However, it does not mean that they accept idol worshiping or allow icons inside their holy places.

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