Is there any hadith of Our Prophet (pbuh) stating that mosques should not be decorated and it should be simple?
Submitted by on Mon, 12/01/2009 - 15:51
Dear Brother / Sister,
In Islam, it is not approved to give more importance than necessary to a building, to build high-rise buildings; it is not approved to show off in dressing and in constructing buildings, either. And it is regarded as contrary to the faith of being mortal in this world. Besides many Hadiths, there are some verses regarding the issue. For instance, the 128th and 129th verses of the Surah of Ash-Shuaraa (the Qur’an, 26), address the people in the past who had denied the prophets, and their attitudes are blamed:
"Do you build a landmark on every high place to amuse yourselves?”
"And do you get for yourselves fine buildings in the hope of living therein (for ever)?”.
The mosque of Hazrat Muhammad was plain; so were almost all of the mosques of the Islamic world until the end of Seljuki period.. The type of the “Exalted Mosque” of Seljuks proves it. However, afterwards, when art became a dizzying means of propaganda in the West, Muslims came across with the prohibition of picture and sculpture. So, in order to respond with the same weapon against that idea which was tried to overcome Muslims in both aesthetic pleasure and art, Muslims turned towards architecture, especially towards mosque architecture. Actually, that way Muslims responded them best. However, such a respond may be discussed too and it may be said that because actual dynamics which show the superiority of Islam were lost, there was a need for architecture. However, it may be said that, “to build high-rise and ornamented buildings” itself is not condemned but what it causes is. Therefore, if it serves as a response to the cultures trying to dominate Muslims, it is regarded something unpleasant.
In fact, when it is looked carefully, it will be seen that, it is not the interior parts of the mosques that are more magnificent, but generally their external appearance, and that needs to be discussed whether it is extravagance or not. Besides, decorating mosques excessively may be contrary to the feeling of mortality and modesty, and another reason of it may be because it attracts the attention and affects the awe of the worshippers. The issue is dealt with from this aspect in Fiqh (Islamic law) books.
In the Qur’an, only the reconstruction (the Qur’an, Al-Tauba, 9/18) and foundation (the Qur’an, Al-Tauba, 9/108)of the mosques is mentioned.
Some Hadiths give more detailed information about decoration: “It is not convenient for me to enter a home which is decorated excessively.” ."(Abu Dawud, At`ima 8; Ibn Majah, At`ima 56; Musnad, V/221, 222) (Abu Dawud, Salat, 12).
When explaining that hadith, Munawi said the following: “It is People of the Book who decorate their place of worship. Jews and Christians started to decorate their chapels after distorting their books. So Muslims should have a moderate attitude about the issue.
Hazrath Umar did not change the mosque despite having an economically strong government. In Islam, the first person who decorated mosques is Walid b. Abdulmalik (Munawi, Fayzul-qadir, V/426).
According to the narration of Ebu Davud, Ibn Abbas said that:
“However, you are going to decorate your mosques like Jews and Christians. That is to say, you are going to give up sincerity, imitate them and boast about the mosques.” (Abu Dawud, Salat, 12). Abu Dawud’s following hadith confirms it: “Unless people become proud of themselves about mosques, the End of Time will not occur.” (ibid.)
Another hadith that shows that decorating mosques is the result of failing to practise the necessities of the religion, is as follows: “Whichever nation fell down, they started to decorate their mosques.” (Ibn Majah, Masajid 2). It is certain that, the interpreters of Islamic law investigate the subject from different aspects, both from the point of view of the community and the position. Ibn Abidin said : “There is no harm to adorn the mosque, except the wall of mihrab (niche of a mosque indicating the direction of Mecca). That is to say, it is better not to decorate. Adorning the wall of the mihrab is strictly abominable (tahriman makrooh) because it affects the concentration of those who perform prayers. Painting detailed and elaborated embroideries on the decorated parts is also strictly abominable (tahriman makrooh) (Ibn Abidin.I/442 (Amira)).
Although it is not makrooh (abominable) to calcimine or adorn with water gilding the parts that are permissible to decorate, it cannot be done with the money dedicated to that mosque.. If someone wants to do it, he/she may do it and pay for the expenses (Hindiya, I/09). The reason why religious officials do not object to is that those who waste their time and money in order to decorate (one should not confuse it with “cleaning” and “making it beautiful”, because they are different) the mosque may cause those people to like and attend mosques more. (Munawi explains it in the hadith we last mentioned accordingly. See Fayzu 1-Qadir, V/449; see also M. C. al-Qasimi, Islahu l-Masajid, (Jazair, 1989) p. 96 )
To sum up:
1. It is a sign of slackness not to give importance to educate jamaah (congregation), but to decorate the mosques.
2. It is makrooh to decorate, gild and hang different pictures to the parts that are visible by the performers of prayer.
3. It is better to clean and keep beautiful the other parts instead of decorating them.
4. The money collected in order to build a mosque cannot be spent on decoration. The money for decorations which are permissible can only be paid by those who want to pay for them from their own money, or when the money is collected, one who collects the money must inform the donor that the money will be spent on decoration.
5. It is better to spend the money collected for the mosque on teaching the congregation and children about truths instead of decoration.
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