Mosque in the Quran

Mosque in the Quran

Mosque in the Quran is a topic that is been discussed to some extent. The word for mosque in Arabic is masjid (مَسجِد) and it and its plural form masājid (مساجد) have been repeated 28 times in the Quran. God mostly talks about Masjid al-Ḥarām (مسجد الحرام) in the Quran, the holy mosque where the Kaaba (كعبة) is located. In this article, we will take a look at:

Mosque in the Quran: Masjid al-Haram

The Muslims’ qiblah (قبلة) or direction of worship used to be Masjid al-Aqsa (مسجد الاقصی). However, Allah desired that the direction be changed to Masjid al-Haram:

قَدْ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاءِ ۖ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا ۚ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ ۚ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ ۗ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ ۗ وَمَا اللَّـهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ ﴿144﴾

We certainly see you turning your face about in the sky. We will surely turn you to a qiblah of your liking: so turn your face towards the Holy Mosque, and wherever you may be, turn your faces towards it! Indeed those who were given the Book surely know that it is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not oblivious of what they do. 1

Therefore, all Muslims must now face the Kaaba while praying, whereas previously the qiblah was Masjid al-Aqsa in the city of Quds (قدس), Palestine. This change of qiblah took place in a mosque in Medina that later became known as the mosque with two qiblahs or Masjid Dhū Qiblatayn (مَسجِد ذو قبلتین).

Mosque in the Quran: Masjid al-Aqṣā

Another very important mosque in Islam is Masjid al-Aqṣā or the first qiblah of Muslims. The reason it is called aqṣā, which literally means faraway, is because this mosque is very far from the land of Hejaz, the center of Islam. It is in Palestine in the city of Quds or Jerusalem.

One of the reasons this mosque is very significant is that Prophet Muhammad traveled from Masjid al-Haram to Masjid al-Aqsa by night during the night of Mi‘rāj (مِعراج),  and from this mosque, he ascended to the heavens, a journey known as Mi‘rāj, which means ascension. This has been stated in the first verse of surah Isrā’ (سورَةُ الاسراء):

سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِّنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ ﴿1﴾

Immaculate is He who carried His servant on a journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque whose environs We have blessed, that We might show him some of Our signs. Indeed, He is the All-hearing, the All-seeing. 2

Therefore, the sanctity of Masjid al-Aqsa is not only due to it being the first qiblah of Muslims, but also because it was from there that the Prophet ascended to the heavens and began his nightly ascension (Mi‘rāj).

Mosque in the Quran: Masjid of Quba and Masjid of Ḍirār

When the Noble Prophet was migrating to Medina from Mecca, he first reached a village close to the city of Medina known as Quba (قُبا). The inhabitants of this village asked the Prophet to build a mosque and the Prophet agreed. Therefore, the very first mosque in Islam was built in this village and the Prophet would often lead the prayers there. After a while, a group of hypocrites and enemies of the Prophet said they also wanted to build a mosque. The Prophet permitted them.

However, the motive of the builders of this mosque was not a good one. The mosque was destroyed because the hypocrites used the mosque as a planning ground to destroy the Prophet and the religion instead of attaining Godwariness in the mosque . 3 They asked the Prophet to lead the prayers there, but God revealed the following verses of surah Tawbah (سورَةُ التوبة) to the Prophet:

وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مَسْجِدًا ضِرَارًا وَكُفْرًا وَتَفْرِيقًا بَيْنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَإِرْصَادًا لِّمَنْ حَارَبَ اللَّـهَ وَرَسُولَهُ مِن قَبْلُ ۚ وَلَيَحْلِفُنَّ إِنْ أَرَدْنَا إِلَّا الْحُسْنَىٰ ۖ وَاللَّـهُ يَشْهَدُ إِنَّهُمْ لَكَاذِبُونَ ﴿107﴾

As for those who took to a mosque for sabotage and for defiance, and to cause division among the faithful, and for the purpose of ambush [used] by those who have fought Allah and His Apostle before—they will surely swear, ‘We desired nothing but good,’ and Allah bears witness that they are indeed liars.

لَا تَقُمْ فِيهِ أَبَدًا ۚ لَّمَسْجِدٌ أُسِّسَ عَلَى التَّقْوَىٰ مِنْ أَوَّلِ يَوْمٍ أَحَقُّ أَن تَقُومَ فِيهِ ۚ فِيهِ رِجَالٌ يُحِبُّونَ أَن يَتَطَهَّرُوا ۚ وَاللَّـهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُطَّهِّرِينَ ﴿108﴾

Do not stand in it ever! A mosque founded on Godwariness from the [very] first day is worthier that you stand in it [for prayer]. Therein are men who love to keep pure, and Allah loves those who keep pure.

أَفَمَنْ أَسَّسَ بُنْيَانَهُ عَلَىٰ تَقْوَىٰ مِنَ اللَّـهِ وَرِضْوَانٍ خَيْرٌ أَم مَّنْ أَسَّسَ بُنْيَانَهُ عَلَىٰ شَفَا جُرُفٍ هَارٍ فَانْهَارَ بِهِ فِي نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ ﴿109﴾

Is he who founds his building on Godwariness and [the pursuit of Allah’s] pleasure better-off or he who founds his building on the brink of a collapsing bank which collapses with him into the fire of hell? Allah does not guide the wrongdoing lot. 4

Therefore, the Prophet ordered that the mosque of Ḍirār be burned down and demolished and instead, God commanded Him to lead the prayers in the mosque of Quba, as it was established based on Godwariness as the verse states.

Mosque in the Quran: Who Are Maintainers of Mosques?

God says in the Quran:

إِنَّمَا يَعْمُرُ مَسَاجِدَ اللَّـهِ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَلَمْ يَخْشَ إِلَّا اللَّـهَ ۖ فَعَسَىٰ أُولَـٰئِكَ أَن يَكُونُوا مِنَ الْمُهْتَدِينَ ﴿18﴾

Only those shall maintain Allah’s mosques who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and maintain the prayer, and give the zakat, and fear no one except Allah. They, hopefully, will be among the guided. 5

Mosques are sacred places that must be visited to remember God and Worship him. It is not befitting that those who do not believe in God frequent mosques. That is why God says mosques must be maintained and visited only by those who believe in Him and perform all their religious obligations. So if we also want to be one of those who go to the mosque, first we must make sure that we are solely devoted to God and fear none but Him.

Mosque in the Quran: Houses That God Has Allowed to be Raised

In surah Nūr  (سورة النور), the 24th chapter of the Quran, verse 36 talks about houses that God has allowed to be raised and His name to be celebrated and glorified therein. This verse refers to the previous verse that was about God being the Light of the heavens and the earth. Now, this Light is in these houses that God has allowed to be raised and His name to be celebrated morning and evening:

فِي بُيُوتٍ أَذِنَ اللَّـهُ أَن تُرْفَعَ وَيُذْكَرَ فِيهَا اسْمُهُ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ فِيهَا بِالْغُدُوِّ وَالْآصَالِ ﴿36﴾

In houses Allah has allowed to be raised and wherein His Name is celebrated; He is glorified therein, morning and evening,

According to Quranic exegetes, these houses or one can say mosques or houses of God are the houses of the Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them), the Noble Prophet and his holy progeny whom everyone must love. Their houses and shrines are the true mosques where one should remember God Almighty.


References

  1. Quran 2:144 (Qara’i).
  2. Quran 17:1 (Qara’i).
  3. Fī Ẓilāl al-Qur’ān (في ظلال القرآن), vol. 3, p. 1710.
  4. Quran 9:107-109 (Qara’i).
  5. Quran 9:18 (Qara’i).

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Abu Mahdi
Abu Mahdi
I'm Abu Mahdi, one of the writers of this blog. I have a BA in English literature and an MA in English language teaching. I am also a teacher and reciter of the Quran in the field of reading the Quran, tajweed, and maqamat. Currently, we are working on a course for learning tajweed of the Quran here on Islam4u.

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