“The hour will come until people vie (strive in competition or rivalry) with one another regarding Masjids” [Hadith: Abu Dawud (449), An-Nasai (2/32), Ibn Majah (739), Ibn Hibban (308-Al-Mawarid), and Al-Baghawai in Sharh us Sunnah (464)-Smaller Signs of the Day (closer to Qiyamah, the Doomsday)].
Competition and rivalry in Masjids are so rampant, so fierce and widespread that is obvious everywhere. But will they go to the limit that they will start acquiring money from the banks and Credit Unions with riba*1 (interest; directly or indirectly) in building Masjids to compete? And will they aggressively fight directly with Allah for the House of Allah?
It is true, at least in Canada now, as far as I know.
The following is an article written by this ordinary student of Islam in order to understand the Nusus (Quran and Sunnah), history, economy, necessity, and priority of Masjid and the current usury/interest issue in respect of building a Masjid. I will try to examine how it reached to this stage that a Masjid, a House of Allah, a place of worship is now contradicting its basic tenets.
If any scholar would like to contribute and give their feedback they are most welcome.
The messenger of Allah, Muhammad ﷺ didn’t build a Masjid for establishing Salah in Makkah. On the contrary, they were praying sometimes collectively on mountains in secrecy or praying individually at home.
“Those” who argue (in Canadian situation) that we are like living in “Makkan period” should note that Allah didn’t order to establish a Masjid in Makkah for a collective five times prayer.
In Makkah, Ibn Hisham reported that when it was time for prayers, the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) and his Companions went onto a mountain valley to pray in secret. Abu Talib once saw the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) and Ali r.a praying, he asked them what they were up to. When he got to know that it was an obligatory prayer, he told them to stay constant in their practice. [Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum by Safi ur Rahman al-Mubarakpuri]
In Makkah, Instead, Allah ordered to establish DEEN (System, Power, authority, rules, and Governance) of Allah.
“He has prescribed for you the DEEN which He enjoined upon Noah and which We revealed to you (O Muhammad), and which We enjoined upon Abraham and Moses and Jesus, commanding: “Establish this DEEN and do not split up regarding it.”. (Quran, Surah Ash-Shura 42:13 part, revealed in Makkah)
The establishment of Salah (collective with the institution of Masjid) was ordered with the condition of power and establishment of DEEN (as a system of state):
“Those who, if We give them power in the land, establish SALAH (worship) and pay Zakah (the poor-due) and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. And to Allah belongs the outcome of [all] matters.” (Quran, Surah Al-Hajj 22:41 revealed in Madinah).
The first Masjid built was when Allah’s Messenger ﷺmigrated towards Madinah and he ﷺ arrived at Quba. “He ﷺstayed in Quba fourteen days (in some books it is four days) and built a Masjid there and prayed within it. The land was donated by the host, Kulthum bin Al-Had (R.), a hospitable chief of the tribe of ‘Amr bin ‘Awf. The land was lying fallow for drying dates on. There the Holy Prophet ﷺ with his own pious hands laid the foundation of the Masjid, to which the Holy Quran (9:108) refers when it says “There is a Masjid whose foundation was laid from the first day on taqwa (piety, Allah’s consciousness); it is more worthy of the standing forth (for prayer) therein. In it are men who love to be purified; and Allah loveth those who make themselves pure” (Seerat Un Nabi by Allama Shibli Numani).
This was the first Masjid founded upon “taqwa” to be built after his prophethood began. (Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum by Safi ur Rahman al-Mubarakpuri)
And the foundation base of the Masjid was “taqwa.”
The second Masjid built by Allah’s Messenger ﷺ was when he ﷺ entered into Madinah. The land, which belonged to two orphans was purchased. The Prophet ﷺhimself contributed to building the Masjid by carrying adobe bricks and stones while reciting; “O Allah! No bliss is there but that of the Hereafter. I beseech you to forgive the Emigrants and Helpers.” (Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum by Safi ur Rahman al-Mubarakpuri)
Throughout history Masjids were built by the rulers or on the land or house donated by a rich based on the principal that “if We give them power in the land, establish SALAH.”
These Masjids were established by the rulers or by Waqf (endowment) of individuals or communities/tribes. For example, Bani Najjar collectively endowed the land for the Masjid. (Bukhari Hadith Chapter Waqf Jamaat Ardha Mashaa Fahu Jaez page 388, No: 2771)
However, a Masjid can’t be established (and never be established) on “partnership” with any individual or institution. The property (or its part) can’t be endowed if it is in a collective possession on sharing. It is a disgrace for the Masjid. It can’t be built or established if it is a risk to be lost or have to share with someone. Imam Abu Yousuf says it is not acceptable and Imam Muhammad (R.) has same opinion [in explaining above mentioned hadith in Ash Sharah Uth Thamiri, Al-Juz thani, Alal Mukhtasar Quduri), Kitabul Waqf].
In colonial period, when Muslims lost their power and wealth, Muslims started building Masjid (if there is a need) by collection of public donations (collecting every nickel, dime, and pennies, by visiting home to home) and it was approved by all the scholars. It was a collective “taqwa.”
Although, Muslims have been coming to Americas since a longtime even before Columbus [Check the book; America B.C. (Before Columbus) by Barry Fell). Their were several Masjids found of old times. However, majority of the Masjids (now in thousands) had been built by fundraising and public donations by new immigrant Muslim professional workers and businessmen. In most of the large Masjid and Islamic Centers very few people attend five times prayer. It has a big gathering only in Jumuah (Friday) prayer.
The question is why should this expensive Masjid be built for millions of dollars only for Jumuah. The weekly Jumuah prayers could be managed by renting community Centers, Hotels, Churches, etc. Then other activities of community social and religious services started and that created necessities of building Islamic Centres.
However, as a matter of fact, group politics, sectarian and ethnic trend, personality cult, job opportunities, collection of organized charity (Sadaqah), personal political empowerment, desire of being fame, desire to deliver Khutaba (sermons) and make “announcements”, “occupation” of Allah’s home by a person or group, have created unending desire to build and vie with other for Masjids. In several cases, there is every reason behind building a Masjid except “taqwa.”
Wherever you go for prayer, or to shop at any Muslim grocery store, restaurant, or an event you will find someone holding a banner of 3 million to 5 million Masjid projects, announcing “collected 100,000 to 200,000 thousands” and need rest of money. The volunteers are running pillar to post to collect the fund to build a Masjid.
Allah says in Quran about the Muslims;
“Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors. (Quran, Surah Al-Imran 3:110)
Now these “finest people” have no time for Amr Bil Maroof wa Nahi Unal Munkar (enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong) other than collecting donations and have to be “creative” in getting funds for Masjids.
I know of a case where there is a large Masjid in North York, one of the oldest of Toronto having more than 30,000 sq ft space. They have hardly few (2 to 10) persons in five times prayer. Even in weekly Friday prayer, the attendees cover half of the space of the small area allocated for the prayer. But there are several groups established several Masjid in the same neighborhood in last ten years. Subsequently I came to know that the problem started when the President (practically owner) of the Masjid doesn’t have trust in any single person except his son and son in law.
However, Muslims; mostly new immigrants don’t have that economy and type of finance to fund these unlimited numbers of Masjids and fulfill unending desire for ethnic/sectarian/family based Masjids. Therefore, they (Masjid founders) have been looking for an easy and short cut option.
On the other hand, the interest based financial institutions have been keeping eyes on unused billions of dollars belonging to Muslims due to Riba (interest based and Muslims have fear of Allah to indulge in it) and planning to grab that money. They hired some smart Muslim financial experts. These experts discussed with few selected Islamic Scholars of world and scheduled a presentation of “halal” financial products under interest based banks.
You can understand their presentation from following example (just for understanding);
They covered the animal with a white sheet. A person recited “Bismillah Allah u Akbar” and slaughtered the animal by hand. He cut the animal’s neck in half and blood drained out. Our traditional Islamic scholars checked the processes and approved “halal.” They didn’t realize that the animal under white sheet was a big “pig”.
Various smart scholars later realized that something went wrong. But they shut their eyes. They said that it is already “Muttafaq Ilaih” (consensus) and need not to be address again. They are saying it is applied in Malaysia, Saudia Arabia, and here and there.
So what? Is their regime an Islamic one? Are their governance and economic transactions sharia based? NO.
These Islamic scholars found a new venue of regular income of “certification”, “royalty” and “fees” for certifying “halal” financial products. That in itself is a huge amount of money. They created a new DEEN under the dominant DEEN of interest based capitalism and embraced this Duniya without any fear (of Allah) and hesitation.
They used their power of issuing “fatwa” (verbal or written) to strengthen the interest based institutions and the system of capitalism. These scholars have “blind supporters” like us all over the world and that made things happen easily.
On the other hand, there was already a team of modern Ulema e Soo (false and sold out scholars) created by western think tanks to establish the new world order which was already in the market. Their main role is (as usual it was in the history) to justify Deen of the time (currently Deen of West) with the help of Deen e Islam (after doing major surgery in the name of Ijtihad). These “ulema” says you don’t need even to cover the white sheet. The animal is so “beautiful,” slaughter in the way whatever you want. It is the “need of the time.”
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ warned that a time will come when you will do and repeat every same things that Jews and Christians did and loss their Deen (All had Deen of Islam in past).
“They have taken their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah.” (Quran, Surah At-Tawbah 9:31).
That was their crime.
So these new “lords”(scholars; Arbabam min Dunillah) made easy for those who were looking to buy a home for personal living and was unable to buy it.
Few scholars living here in Canada and US, later realized another opportunity to take it to the next level; buy Masjid through same system and “solve” a difficult issue of getting funding for Masjid.
When those traditional scholars who originally decreed the fatwa (for buying a home) came to know that here are people who started buying Masjid from the system they endorsed, they clarified that it was just for a personal home for living with the advice it is better if you can avoid and taqwa is better than the fatwa. They repeatedly said that they couldn’t allow it for Masjids, as the foundation of the Masjid must be based on Taqwa.
A Masjid must be founded on taqwa similar to the first two Masjids (As reported by Tirmidhi on sound authority from Sayyidna Abii Sa'id alKhudri R.A.&, with the chain of narrators ascending to the Holy Prophet from Qurtubi)
However, it was too late. Masjid “professionals” already took advantage of this “easy” way of financing.
Modern banking system is the greatest evil of our time (Consensus of all great scholars of Islam even those non Muslim Scholars who understand the system of Capitalism and the system of exploitation). By getting a loan for the Masjid, are you not supporting, financing and strengthening the institutions; the oppressive, capitalist blood sucking institutions for a building a Masjid (Allah’s House)??
There is a camouflage of an “Islamic financial organization” in dealing between bank and Masjid. The bank understands the language of “interest.” The “Islamic group” changed the terminology to “rent” and “fees” etc. in corresponding with the Masjid. “The organization” charges 2 to 3 percent extra for changing (camouflaging) the “interest” in rent and fees that increases the rate of “interest.” So, as a matter of fact Masjids (or individuals) are paying 2 to 3 % more mortgage than other borrowers. They argue that it is “rent to own” and it is “Islamic Principal” of financing.
Does it “comply” the Maslehah of Deen, of Allah and His given economic system in AD-DEEN? Does supporting and strengthening the Riba based economy not inviting Allah’s wrath?
Now read the following verses of Quran and compare the situation of building a Masjid with the partnership of the Bank;
“It is not for the Mushriks to build up the mosques of Allah while they are witnesses of their own infidelity. Those are the ones whose deeds have gone waste. And in the Fire they shall remain for ever.” [Quran, Surah At-Tawbah 9:17] . In fact, the mosques of Allah are built-up only by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and those who establish Salah and pay Zakah and who fear none but Allah. So, it is in all likelihood that they are to be among those on the right path. [Quran, Surah At-Tawbah 9:18] (English Translation of Maariful Quran by Mufti Shafi Usmani).
“The Arabic word 'imarah’ (building) appearing in this verse is a multifaceted word and is used to convey several meanings. It could mean the physical building of the Masjid including all elements that go in raising and finishing it externally and internally. Then, it could also denote the maintenance of the Masjid that would be inclusive of security arrangements, sanitation, upkeep and provision of necessary supplies. And then, it also includes the human dimension of the Masjid.” (Maariful Quran by Mufti Shafi Usmani).
“It means the building of mosques in the real sense is a serene task. It can be “done” only by those who are bound by the commandments of Allah” (Explanation in Maariful Quran by Mufti Shafi Usmani).
Let’s consider those Masjids that are built by the finance of banks (biggest mushriks of our time) not by the finance of those who are bound by the commandments of Allah.
It was not the end. People started buying Masjids directly from the bank/credit union nowadays without any “white sheet.” I came to know that a vacated Canadian Tire super store in Markham, Ontario (Greater Toronto Area) was bought with “pure riba” money from the bank for a Masjid. The same person bought a building and established a residential full time Madrash on the same “riba” model. He defaulted and bank confiscated and sold the property. The residential Madrsah is now closed. There are several others now involved directly in buying the property and establishing Masjid on mortgage from banks.
Sectarianism and groups in the community support these people as they close their eyes when they facilitate the Masjid to their “sect” and “group.” If our “own men” involve in the sin, “keep their eyes closed” and don’t ask for Fatwa. “Our fatwa is specialized and directed to those who don’t agree with us and don’t belong to our sect and group”.
These Masjids’ “bulls” are now “ready” to fight “face to face” with Allah. And these bulls think that they will win. And Allah will have to make “compromise” with him (nauzubillah min zalik). A few years ago, a Masjid had been bought from borrowing Credit Union and on collateral of those properties of Masjids that were already paid off by the collection of public donations. They kept the “risk” the existing several properties in a lust to buy more properties for the Masjid.
An organization, who clearly mentions in Charter by laws that their members will not involve in riba (interest/usury), and will be disqualified if they do it, is admitting that about half of their members already involved in the “riba” by buying homes on mortgage from the banks.
The organizations involved in riba from head to toe can’t “witness the truth” (Shaadat e Haq) and “enjoin what is good and forbid what is wrong” (amar bil maroof and Nahin Un al Munkaar), and convey the message of Allah to others (Dawah).
Who can work for Allah while fighting with Allah??
Check Quran and Hadith;
“Those who devour interest will not stand except as stand one whom the Evil one by his touch Hath driven to madness. That is because they say: "Trade is like interest," but Allah hath permitted trade and forbidden interest. Those who after receiving direction from their Lord, desist, shall be pardoned for the past; their case is for Allah (to judge); but those who repeat (The offence) are companions of the Fire: They will abide therein (for ever)." (Quran, Surah Al-Baqra 2:275)
"Allah will deprive interest of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity: For He loveth not creatures ungrateful and wicked." (Quran, Surah Al-Baqra 2:276)
"Those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and establish regular prayers and regular charity, will have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve." (Quran, Surah Al-Baqra 2:277)
"O ye who believe! Fear Allah, and give up what remains of your demand for interest, if ye are indeed believers." (Quran, Surah Al-Baqra 2:278)
"If ye do it not, Take notice of war from Allah and His Messenger: But if ye turn back, ye shall have your capital sums: Deal not unjustly, and ye shall not be dealt with unjustly." (Quran, Surah Al-Baqra 2:279).
The last ayah “Deal not unjustly, and ye shall not be dealt with unjustly” refers to giver and receiver of interest both.
Muhammad Habib Shakir translates the last Ayah “neither shall you make (the debtor) suffer loss, nor shall you be made to suffer loss.”
It simply means giving and taking of interest are same.
“That they took interest, though they were forbidden; and that they devoured men's substance wrongfully;- we have prepared for those among them who reject faith a grievous punishment." (Quran, Surah An-nisa 4:161)
And whatever you give for interest to increase within the wealth of people will not increase with Allah . But what you give in zakah, desiring the countenance of Allah - those are the multipliers. (Quran, Ar-Rum 30-39)
O ye who believe! Devour not usury, doubled and multiplied; but fear Allah; that ye may (really) prosper. “Fear the Fire, which is repaired for those who reject Faith.”(Quran, Surah Al-e Imran, 3:130-131)
“Fain would they deceive Allah and those who believe, but they only deceive themselves, and realise (it) not!” (Quran, Al-Baqra 2:9)
1. Jabir (R.A) said that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) cursed the accepter of interest and its payer, and one who records it, and the two witnesses, and he said: They are all equal. [Sahih Muslim 1598, The Book of Musaqah (22), Chapter: Cursing the one who consumes Riba and the one who pays it (19)].
2. Abdullah (b. Mas'ud) (Allah be pleased with him) said that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) cursed the one who accepted interest and the one who paid it I asked about the one who recorded it, and two witnesses to it. He (the narrator) said: We narrate what we have heard. [Sahih Muslim 1597, The Book of Musaqah (19) Chapter: Cursing the one who consumes Riba and the one who pays it (19)]
3. It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “There will come a time when there will be no one left who does not consume usury (interest), and whoever does not consume it will nevertheless be affected by it.” [Sunan Ibn Majah » The Chapters on Business Transactions - كتاب التجارات »]
4. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) as saying: Gold for gold is interest unless both hand over on the spot ; wheat for wheat is interest unless both hand over on the spot ; dates for dates is interest unless both hand over on the spot ; barley for barley is interest unless both hand over on the spot. [Sunan Abi Dawud 3348, Commercial Transactions (Kitab Al-Buyu)]
5. Malik b. Aus b. al-Hadathan reported: I came saying who was prepared to exchange dirhams (for my gold), whereupon Talha b. Ubaidullah (Allah be pleased with him) (as he was sitting with 'Umar b. Khattib) said: Show us your gold and then come to us (at a later time). When our servant would come we would give you your silver (dirhams due to you). Thereupon 'Umar b. al-Khattib (Allah be pleased with him) said: Not at all. By Allah, either give him his silver (coins). or return his gold to him, for Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said: Exchange of silver for gold (has an element of) interest in it except when (it is exchanged) on the spot; and wheat for wheat is an interest unless both are handed over on the spot: barley for barley is interest unless both are handed over on the spot; dates for dates is interest unless both are handed over on the Spot. [Sahih Muslim 1586 a, The Book of Musaqah (15), Chapter: Exchange and Selling Gold for Silver on the spot (15)]
6. Ubaidullah b. Abu Yazid heard Ibn 'Abbas (Allah be pleased with them) as saying: Usama b. Zaid reported Allah's Apostle (ﷺ) as saying: There can be an element of interest in credit (when the payment is not equal). [Sahih Muslim 1596 b, The Book of Musaqah (18) Chapter: Selling Food Like for Like (18)]
7. Bushair b. Yasir reported on the authority of some of the Companions of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) from among the members of his family that he forbade (the direct exchange of a commodity having different qualities) but with the change that Ishaq and Ibn al-Muthanna used the word Zabn in place of Riba and Ibn Abu 'Umar used the word Riba (interest). [Sahih Muslim 1540 c, The Book of Transactions (21) Chapter: The prohibition of selling fresh dates in exchange for dry dates except in the case of 'Araya (14)]
8. Ibn 'Abbas; (Allah be pleased with them) reported on the authority of Usama b. Zaid Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as having said this: There is no element of interest when the money or commodity is exchanged hand to hand. [Sahih Muslim 1596 c The Book of Musaqah (22), Chapter: Selling Food Like for Like (18)]
*1. The word riba is sometimes very poorly and improperly translated into English as “usury.” “Usury” implies an exorbitant amount of interest, above and beyond what is permissible by law. In Islamic law, any increase above the principle is forbidden. Hence, any positive rate of interest, no matter how low, is both interest and usury in Islamic law. Hence, the word interest is a much better translation for the word riba.
Written by Jawed Anwar
Jawed Anwar can be reached at Jawed@SeerahWest.com