Etiquettes within the Houses of Allah
Mustafa George DeBerry (hafidhahullaah)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Every Muslim is aware of the sacredness of the Houses of Allah. The Masjid was from the first matters of importance that the Prophet Mohammed (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) attended to upon his arrival in Madinah. It is the place where the Muslims (males) meet on a daily basis to establish the second pillar of the religion of Islam. It is the place where knowledge and wisdom is disbursed and spread from. It is the place where the Muslims receive their weekly reminders (Friday sermons) concerning their obligations to Allah, to themselves, to their families, and to the rest of creation.

The Houses of Allah contain all the above mentioned merits and endless more. With this being the case, we felt the need to remind ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Islam of some of the etiquettes and rulings pertaining to attending the Masjid (Mosque). We should keep in mind, they are the Houses of Allah, and although He -The Mighty and Majestic – is far above dwelling in them, rather, they are built and constructed for the sole purpose of worshipping Him, and therefore they should be treated with due respect and reverence by those attending them.

With this purpose in mind we have compiled this brief, summarized reminder related to some of the etiquettes for attending the Houses of Allah. We pray and hope this humble work benefits the Muslim communities and serves as a reminder for those who have possibly forgotten the sacredness of the Masjid.[1]

Merits and Importance of the Masjid

The Houses of Allah contain merits and blessings that are not present in any other structure upon the face of the earth. These merits and blessings are so numerous, that they are not confined to merely entering the Masjid, but even before one does so, if he has the intention of going to the Masjid, he begins to reap the blessings from the very moment he leaves his own home! The Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“Whoever goes to the Masjid, Allah will prepare a place for him in Paradise, every time he goes to the Masjid.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

He also said:

“Whoever performs wudoo (ablution) in his home, then leaves to the Masjid for the purpose of performing an obligatory prayer, his steps will be a means of expiation for his sins. One step will remove a sin, while the other will gain him an increase in reward.” (Sahih Muslim)

It likewise took place during the time of the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), that

An individual lived a far distance, but he was very diligent in performing the congregational prayers in the Masjid. Some people mentioned to him: Why don’t you purchase a donkey, so that you may ride it (to the Masjid), especially during the night and during severe heat? He responded: I do not wish to do so. I hope that my footsteps to the Masjid are recorded (as good deeds), and also my footsteps while returning to my family are likewise recorded. Upon hearing this, the Prophet of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: Allah has recorded both for you. (Sahih Muslim)

With regards to the merits obtained after entering the Masjid, the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“The Angels continue to supplicate for the individual who remains in the Masjid that he has prayed in, as long as he does not pass wind. The Angels say: Oh Allah forgive him!, Oh Allah have mercy on him!” (Sahih Bukhari)

The importance of the masjid is also known by the disbelievers. If one were to read into the history of the battle between the Islamic lands and the Catholics, one would find, even up until this very day, whenever the disbelievers seek to invade or fight a Muslim country; one of the first places intended with destruction is the masjid. This is because the disbelievers are well aware of the importance of the masjid in uniting and teaching the Muslim community.

Before Entering the Masjid

1. The Muslim should keep in mind that the sole purpose of the masjid is the worship of Allah. With this being the case, it is befitting that the person establishes the correct intention before entering this house of worship.

Allah – The Mighty and Majestic – mentioned in His Glorious Book the affair of the masjid, He said:

{In houses which Allah has ordered to be raised, in them His Name is remembered. Those who are present glorify Him in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings.} Surah al Nur:36

The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) mentioned concerning the masjid:

“Indeed the Houses of Allah were built for the remembrance of Allah, prayer, and recitation of the Quran.” (Sahih Muslim)

Therefore it is incumbent upon the Muslim to realize that the purpose of the masjid is not for social gatherings and conversation, but rather it is a place designated by our Lord – The Most High – for the establishment of His worship, the mention of His Name, and the recitation of His Book. The person who enters the masjid and then leaves should feel an actual spiritual uplift. After leaving the masjid, his level of eeman (faith) and taqwa (piety) should be on a higher level than when he first entered. Allah – The Mighty and Majestic – mentioned in His Glorious Book:

{Indeed prayer prevents evil and disliked deeds.}
Surah al Ankabut:45

2. It is mandatory for the person who wishes to attend the masjid to make certain that he does not possess an offending odor. This is based on the statement of Allah in the Quran:

{Oh children of Adam! Take your adornment while attending the masjid (prayer)}
Surah al ‘Araaf:31

Also the statement of the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):

“Whoever eats garlic or onions should not attend the masjid.”
(Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

The above mentioned proofs inform that it is mandatory upon the Muslim to make certain that he does not offend others with bodily odor while attending the masjid, and therefore, one should try his very best to clean himself before attending prayer in the Houses of Allah. The scholars of Islam also inform that the above prohibition applies even more so to smoking, due to the appalling smell which remains for a substantial amount of time on the smoker. This smell undeniably causes harm and affects other worshippers in the masjid, and it likewise harms the Angels. The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“Indeed the Angels are harmed by that which the children of Adam (humans) are harmed by.” (Sahih Muslim)

3. While heading toward the masjid, the person should not rush and run, but rather he should take his time. This is based on the statement of the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):

“If you hear the call to prayer you should walk to the masjid in a calm, peaceful manner, and do not rush. Whatever you catch (from the prayer), then pray, and whatever you have missed, you should complete it.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

Upon Entering the Masjid

The person entering the masjid should observe the following etiquettes:

1. Entering the masjid with the right foot first

The famous companion of the Prophet Anas bin Malik mentioned:

“From implementation of the Sunnah, is that a person enters the masjid with his right foot first, and leaves the masjid with his left foot first.” (Mustedraq of Hakim)

It is also recorded that ‘Umar ibn al Khattab held a similar view. (Sahih Bukhari)

2. Supplication upon entering

This is based on the statement of the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):

“If one of you enters the masjid, he should say: Oh Allah open for me the doors of Your mercy! Allahuma Iftah lee abwaab rahmatika.” (Sahih Muslim)

The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also said:

“If one of you enters the masjid, he should send prayers upon me, and then say: Oh Allah open for me the doors of Your mercy.” (Sunan Abi Dawud)

3. Praying 2 units of prayer before sitting (Tahiyyatul Masjid)

The proof for this is the statement of the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):

“If one of you enters the masjid, he should pray two units of prayer before sitting.”
(Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

4. Praying behind a sutra

The sutra is a barrier that shields the person who is praying from allowing someone to cross directly in front of him. The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“When one of you prays, he should stand behind a sutra and he should pray close to it. This is in order to prevent the shaytan from disturbing his prayer.” (Sunan Abi Dawud)

4. Trying one’s best to obtain a place in the first row[2]

This is based on the statement of the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):

“If the people were aware of the tremendous reward obtained for answering the call to prayer, and praying in the first row, they would draw straws to seek a place in the first row.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

He also said:

“The best rows for the men are the first rows.” (Sahih Muslim)

The Prophet Muhammed (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) once observed some of his companions sitting toward the rear of the masjid just before the commencing of prayer. Upon seeing this he said:

“They will cease to delay (approaching the first row) until Allah will delay them (from entering Paradise).[3] (Sahih Muslim)

5. Repeating after the Muathin (caller to prayer)

This is based on the statement of the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):

“When you hear the call to prayer, say similar to the Muathin.”
(Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

5. Supplication between the athan (the call to prayer) and the iqamah

The Prophet of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has informed his nation of various times that supplication is more likely to be answered by Allah. One of those times is between the athan and the iqamah. The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“The supplication made between the athan and the iqamah will not be rejected.”
(Musnad of Imam Ahmed)

6. Recitation of the Quran and remembering Allah

We have already mentioned earlier in this booklet the statement of the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):

“Indeed the Houses of Allah were built for the remembrance of Allah, prayer, and recitation of the Quran.” (Sahih Muslim)

7. Trying one’s best to attend gatherings of knowledge

This is based on the statement of the Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):

“A group of people do not gather in the House of Allah, reciting His book and studying it amongst themselves, except that tranquility befalls them, the Angels surround them, mercy encloses them, and Allah mentions them to those in His company.” (Sahih Muslim)

Also the general statement of the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):

“Whoever treads a path seeking knowledge, Allah will make his path easy for him to Paradise.” (Sahih Muslim)

Based on the above narration, it is safe to say that if a person leaves his home with the intention of praying in congregation and likewise with the intention of seeking knowledge in the masjid, he will – by the permission of Allah – gain great reward due to the fact that he has combined between two tremendous actions which are loved by Allah – The Mighty and Majestic.

8. It is mandatory that the masjids are kept clean, and the worshipper should try his best to assist. This is based on the statement of the ‘Aaisha who said that the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ordered that the masjid should be cleaned and perfumed. (Musnad of Imam Ahmad)

Matters to Avoid While Visiting the Masjid

The actions of the believer while visiting the Houses of Allah must vary from his normal actions outside of the masjid. This is due to his awareness of the sacredness of this house. He keeps in mind at all times, that he is visiting a place that has been established for the worship of Allah, and therefore, that which takes place in it should be mainly focused on actions which draw one nearer to Allah.

Subsequently, the following actions are forbidden:

1. Buying and selling within the masjid[4]

This is based on the statement of the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):

“If you witness a person buying or seeking to purchase within the masjid, say to him: May Allah not bless your trade.” (Sahih Muslim)

2. Speaking loudly or about matters of no real importance[5]

Al Saeeb bin Yazeed mentioned: I was standing in the masjid one day when I felt someone pocking me. When I turned around I saw that it was ‘Umar bin al Khattab. He instructed me to bring him two men who were in the masjid raising their voices. When I brought him the two men ‘Umar asked them: Where are you from? They replied: We are from Taif. ‘Umar said: If you were from this city, I would have beaten you! You were raising your voices in the masjid of the Prophet?! (Sahih Bukhari)

Sa’eed bin al Musayib mentioned:

“When a person sits in a masjid, indeed he is sitting for the worship of his Lord, and therefore he should only speak with that which is good.” (Tafsir al Qurtubi)

It is also befitting to remind those whom bring children to the Houses of Allah that they are responsible for monitoring their children and making sure their behavior is not a disturbance to fellow worshippers. The Prophet of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“All of you are guardians, and everyone will be questioned concerning those under his care.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

Although this hadith is general, without a doubt, it applies to those whom accompany their children along with them to the Houses of Allah. The guardian should teach those in his care the correct manners of visiting the house of worship. He should not allow his child to run around and disturb others who are seeking nearness to Allah. If the child is too young and cannot be taught these manners, it is preferable to leave the child at home rather than cause disturbance to others within the masjid.

3. Reciting Quran loudly to the extent that it disturbs other worshippers

Abu Sa’eed al Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) heard some people reciting the Quran loudly in the masjid, whereupon he said to them:

“All of you intend to call on his Lord, therefore you should not harm one another, nor should you raise your voices in recitation.” (Sunan Abi Dawud)

In the above narration we have a clear prohibition from the Prophet with regards to disturbing others in the masjid, so what is the case with those who disturb others with vain talk, music on their cell phones, laughing and joking, etc?! No Muslim would doubt that recitation of the Quran is one of the most beloved actions to Allah, and even with its great status in Islam, the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has forbidden that a person recites to the extent that he disturbs his fellow worshippers. This informs that those who disturb others with matters less in status than the Quran have indeed committed a grave wrong.[6]

4. Crossing the path of someone praying[7]

The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“If the person walking in front of someone praying knew the extent of his fault, it would be better for him to wait forty before crossing in front of someone praying.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

Leaving the Masjid

1. Supplication upon leaving the masjid

This is based on the statement of the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):

“When one of you leaves the masjid he should send prayers upon me and say: Oh Allah! I ask you for Your blessings – Allahuma inne asaluka min fadlik.” (Sahih Muslim)

2. To remember that one is leaving a House of Allah

We have constantly reiterated in this booklet that the person who attends the masjid should focus on the seeking nearness to his Lord. During his visit he should have prayed, supplicated, remembered Allah and he possibly heard something of Islamic knowledge which would benefit him in this life and the next. Thus, his character upon leaving the House of Allah should be more superior and distinguished. Our pious predecessors (Salaf) have informed that an indication that one’s worship has been accepted by Allah, is that the person’s actions after the performance of worship is better and more noble. If the worshipper does not feel this increase in eeman, it is possible that he is not establishing the prayer in a befitting manner and therefore he should evaluate his actions before and during performance of prayer.

 In conclusion

These were just a few etiquettes which we felt the need to remind ourselves and our brothers and sisters as it relates to attending the Houses of Allah.

Allah knows best. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His final Prophet and Messenger, and upon his family members and companions.

Mustafa George DeBerry
Riyadh, K.S.A
July 13, 2010


[1] Much of the narrations present in this booklet are taken from the book titled: Riyadh al Saliheen by Imam al Nawawi.

[2] This applies to males and females if there is a barrier between the two sexes. If there is no barrier, the female is encouraged to pray in the latter rows.

[3] This was mentioned as an admonition to those whom constantly delayed approaching the first row.

[4] This includes placing advertisements for the sale of products and services within the masjid.

[5] This ruling does not include raising the voice during sermons and classes.

[6] It indeed saddens us to hear some of what takes place of fighting, arguing, and even threatening with weapons, in some of the Houses of Allah in the West! This is without a doubt a grave crime and those who perform such deeds should immediately repent to their Lord and seek His pardon.

[7] This includes the Imam (the one leading the prayer), or a person praying alone. It does not include the person praying behind the Imam.

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