By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
Before entering upon the details of the most important mosques, it seems appropriate to point out some general laws of mosques.
1. Offering prayers in mosques is a generally accepted act of worship and the best mosque in this regard in the Sacred Mosque of Makkah. For a single prayer there is a reward equal to one million prayers at other places. In the Prophet’s Mosque, a single prayer is equal in reward to ten thousand prayers at other places.
In the Kufah Mosque a single prayer is equal to one thousand prayers. In the Furthest Mosque a single prayer is also equal to one thousand prayers. In a mosque dedicated to congregational prayer, one prayer is equal in reward to one hundred prayers at other places. In the mosque of ones tribe (or the area where one lives), a single prayer is equal to twenty-five prayers. Finally, in the mosque of a market or place of business a single prayer is equal to twelve prayers at other places.
It is also recommended to set apart a place in one’s house for prayer although the laws of mosques are not applicable to such places. For women, it is better to offer prayers in their houses and the best part of their home (for offering the prayers) is their private room.
2. It is recommended to offer prayers at the shrines of the Holy Imams (‘a), which are houses that Almighty Allah has ordered to be exalted and that His Name be mentioned therein. Moreover, these shrines are even better than some mosques.
3. It is recommended to offer prayers at different places because each place where one offers a prayer will testify on the Day of Resurrection. It is reported that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) was asked whether one should offer all the supererogatory prayers at the same place or at different places.
The Imam (‘a) answered: In fact, it is better to offer them at different places because each place will testify for the offerer of the prayer on the Day of Resurrection.1
4. It is discommended for the neighbor of a mosque to offer his prayers at any other place than the neighboring mosque unless there is an obstacle preventing him from doing so, such as rain or the like. In this regard, the Holy Prophet (S) is reported to have said: No prayer is accepted from the neighbor of a mosque except those offered therein.2
It is recommended to avoid sharing a meal or a drink with one who abstains from presenting himself in mosques. It is further recommended to avoid counseling with him, making any marriage contracts with him, and even neighboring him.
5. It is discommended to leave a mosque untended, for Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: Three will complain to Almighty Allah: an empty mosque that is not attended by its locals, an educated person who lives among ignorant people, and a copy of the Qur’an that is covered with dust because nobody recites it.3
6. It is recommended to go habitually to mosques, for the Holy Prophet (S) is reported to have said: Whoever goes to any of the mosques of Allah walking, Allah shall record for him ten rewards, erase ten of his evildoings, and raise him ten ranks for each step he makes until he returns home.4
7. It is recommended to build a mosque, which brings about a great reward. In this regard, the Holy Prophet (S) is reported to have said: Whoever builds a mosque in this world, Almighty Allah shall give him a city of gold, silver, pearl, and aquamarine that is too vast to be traversed with forty thousand years of walking for each hand span of that mosque.5
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: Whoever builds a mosque, Almighty Allah shall build a house in Paradise for him.6
8. It is forbidden to gild mosques and paint pictures in mosques.
9. It is impermissible to sell a mosque, be it sound or ruined, or to add it to one’s personal property.
10. It is forbidden to defile a mosque. However, if a mosque becomes unclean, it is then obligatory upon those managing it to remove the impurity as immediately as possible. It is also forbidden to introduce things into the mosque that violate its sanctity.
11. It is recommended for true believing men to take the lead in presenting themselves in mosques and to stay there for as long a period as possible, lagging behind the others while leaving.
12. It is recommended to offer services to mosques, such as lighting lamps, cleaning up, sweeping, and dusting.
It is also recommended:
• to enter mosques by placing the right foot in before the left and to leave them by placing the left before the right
• to take heed whether one’s shoe or sandal carries dirt or impurity
• to face the direction of the kiblah
• to supplicate and praise Almighty Allah and to invoke His blessings upon the Holy Prophet and his Household (S)
• to be ceremonially pure and to have performed the ritual ablution (wudhu’).
13. It is recommended to offer a two-unit prayer in the mosque immediately after entering it. However, to offer the obligatory, supererogatory, or other recommended prayers substitutes for this prayer.
14. It is recommended to perfume oneself before heading for mosques and to put on one’s best and cleanest clothes.
15. In mosques, it is discommended:
• to use them as one’s pathway unless one offers a two-unit prayer there every time one passes through
• to give off one’s phlegm or mucus there
• to sleep there unless it is necessary to do so
• to raise one’s voice except for declaring the call to prayer (adhan) or like things, such as giving a direction, or delivering a sermon, an address, or a lecture
• to throw or fling pebbles
• to recite poetic compositions except exhortative poems and the like, such as eulogies of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a)
• to engage in trade
• to discuss personal worldly affairs, because a mosque is a place of worship and public interest
• to show weapons and put them in the direction of the kiblah
• to allow those entrance into the mosque who have eaten malodorous things, such as onion, garlic, and the like, because their smell will annoy the attendants and performers of prayers
• to allow children or mad people into the mosque
• to take the mosque as a place of making tools and like crafts
• to take off one’s clothes, show the private parts—even if one is sure that none can see him—and to uncover one’s navel, knee, or thigh
• to pass wind or do any other things that are in violation of general civic behavior
1. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 3:472, H. 2.
2. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 3:478, H. 1.
3. – ‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 83:385, H. 63.
4. – ‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 83:367, H. 25.
5. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 3:486, H. 4.
6. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 3:481, H. 2.
By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim