Can non-Muslims perform rituals in the mosque?

The Details of the Question

- Is it true that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) allowed non-Muslims who went to the mosque to worship?
- If it is true, can you give me a reference? And is it applicable today?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

There is a narration about it but since that narration is very weak, it cannot be used to prove a religious decree. For this reason, non-Muslims cannot perform rituals in a mosque or masjid.

The narration regarding the issue is as follows:

After the letter the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) wrote to the Christian people of Najran on the Yemen border in the south of Saudi Arabia, a group of 60 clergymen came to meet and discuss with the Prophet. The Najran delegation entered the mosque after the afternoon prayer. Their worshipping time was approaching. They got up and started to worship in Masjid an-Nabawi. The Companions wanted to prevent them, but the Prophet said, “Leave them”. Thereupon, they turned towards the east and performed their worship. (1)

It is certain according to sound narrations that the Christians of Najran came but it is stated that the narration about them worshipping in the Prophet’s Mosque is weak. (2)

As for the issue of non-Muslims entering into mosques and masjids:

According to Hanafi madhhab, non-Muslims can enter mosques.

While Malikis hold the view that non-Muslims cannot enter any mosque unless they get permission from Muslims based on a necessity, Shafiis hold the view that it is permissible to enter the mosques except for Masjid al-Haram.

There are two views regarding the issue in Hanbali madhhab. One is that they can enter the mosques other than Masjid al-Haram while the other is that they cannot enter any of them. (3)

To sum up, non-Muslims cannot perform rituals in mosques and masjids even if they are allowed to enter them in accordance with the rules.

References:

1) Ibn Hisham, as-Siratun-Nabawiyya, 2/223-224.
2) Ibn Rajab, Fathul-Bari, 3/244.
3) See al-Mawsu’atul-Fiqhiyya, XXXVII, 221-2.

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