Al-Baqarah · Juz 1 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 114

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In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Only an Unjust prevents People from the Mosques

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Before we proceed with the explanation, note that the word masjid [mosque] in the ayah is not limited to a Muslim mosque. Rather, it encompasses all places of worship whether it be a mosque, synagogue or church.

In order to understand the ayah one should keep in mind three different incidents connected with the three groups, all of which were in one way or another guilty of preventing people from worshiping Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in mosques.

1. When Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commanded the Muslims to turn toward the Ka’abah in their Salah and not Bayt Al-Maqdis [Jerusalem], the Jews raised objections, and tried to create doubts in the minds of the Muslims about Islam and Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Had the Muslims heeded to the objections, they would have given up their Salah, thus leaving mosques empty.

2. The Romans had once invaded Jerusalem, and the ignorant among them had polluted the Bayt Al-Maqdis. This prevented the Jews from performing their prayer in their mosque. It pleased the Christians who in a way looked upon the Romans as their ancestors. Thus, in refusing to condemn this misdeed of the Romans, the Christians too were responsible for leaving the mosques empty.

3. At the time of Hudaybiyyah, the Mushrik [polytheists] did not allow the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to enter Makkah and to perform Hajj. So, this group too was guilty of the same sin.

LESSONS:

When people divide themselves into sects their symbols of veneration change. It is because they are not following a certain sect because of verified knowledge, but due to reverence to a certain buzurg or sheikh [saint or scholar]. These people sometimes sing such praises of their Sheikh or scholar that only befit Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. When you don’t agree with their views, they can accuse you of blasphemy and discord occurs. Now they take you as enemy and will look for ways to harm you. You can no longer enter their mosques as they are only open to a certain group of people. When you limit the mosque (any House of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala) to a certain group, then that exclusive group cannot establish it. House of Allah will hence become vacant. On the other hand, if the House of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is opened to all, then its sanctity will be maintained and it will be enlivened.

Being divided in sects brings limitations. So-and-so cannot be a part of your group. Your love and respect is restricted to your own class and not for all Muslims. Disunity and discord spreads.

Ibn Katheer writes when the polytheists of Makkah, hindered the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam from entering Makkah, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “No one before has ever prevented people from entering the House. One would even see the killer of his father and brother, but would not prevent him (from entering the House of Allah).” The idolators said, “Whoever killed our fathers at Badr, shall never enter it while there is one of us alive.” They made Masjid Al-Haram exclusive for their idols and polytheism. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed this ayah and chastised those who hinder people from entering His House and work to desecrate it.

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu commented that this ayah was revealed about the Christians who partnered with the Romans and hindered the Jews from praying in their place of worship.

Allah’s statement, “…and strive for their ruin… [وَسَعَىٰ فِي خَرَابِهَا]” means hindering people from entering the mosques and preventing them from remembering Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

Through this ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala lays down a permanent law for all people. It is not permissible to desecrate mosques and hinder people from the remembrance of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Whoever does this is unjust and cruel. For him, there is humiliation in this world and dire punishment in the next. It is from the etiquette of mosques that one should enter them with humility and respect, fearing Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (being conscious of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala) in one’s heart.

LESSONS:

Today also, we see people hindering others from entering some mosques. Every other day, a new Fitnah is out and we see people spreading propaganda against one masjid or the other. Pamphlets are freely distributed accusing scholars of some error. Not only pamphlets, but now in the days of social media some Facebook pages and Twitter accounts are only committed to this (dis)service to religion. What is this causing? More and more people are distancing from religion. We see disrespect for the scholars on a rise. And, the mosques are getting empty.

There are two main ways in which a mosque can be desecrated. One, you cause it physical harm (as we see today in the Muslim world. The Houses of Allah are being destroyed through suicide bombs and target killing.) Second, people enter the mosque in large numbers but they talk about worldly stuff. On Eid and during taraweeh, many people gather in the mosque, but what are they talking about? How conscious of Allah are they?

Today, in order to lure people to mosques a park or recreational activities are created near them. As a result, people come to mosques for entertainment and leave without remembering Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Many boys will come to the mosque with their fathers and then sneak outside to smoke cigarettes or play a match. During one Ramadan, an apartment complex had arranged for taraweeh prayers within the compound. It was a delight for the residents as the women too could join the prayers in congregation. However, just outside the prayer area there were teen-aged boys playing badminton. Not only were they not embarrassed to not attend the prayers (without having any excuse), but also they felt no shame in disturbing the worshipers. They caused so much racket that it was a nuisance for others. Similarly, though women are exempted from attending congregational prayers, when such arrangements are made for them…they come to the mosque either considering it a platform for displaying their jewels and designer garments (today, it’s designer abayas and jilbabs) or do not stop chatting about worldly matters especially about their in-laws, husbands and children. If not this, we see people fighting over spaces (saf). It causes disturbance to others and is against the etiquette of masajid. Find a space wherever you can and stand with adab.

We see more gatherings of socialization, a basketball game, fundraisers, etc. by the Islamic centers than inviting people for studying the Qur’an. They claim that through these activities they intend to attract youth. But if one has not introduced the youth to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in His House, then what has one achieved? This is why many people regularly go to the mosque and come out unchanged. Praying has become a ritual for them with no affect on the heart.

Some Imams too use the mimbar as a political platform and sometimes incite violence. The worshipers do not come to the mosque to listen to political speeches. They are there to ‘know Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala’ if you do not talk about Him in His House, then where will you talk?

[Respecting the Houses of Allah: Status and Etiquette of the Masajid]

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “It was not fit for them to enter them (Allah’s Houses) except in fear.” After the conquest of Makkah, no polytheist was allowed to perform Tawaf [circumvention] around the Ka’abah naked.

Point to Ponder: Every Muslim is excited to visit the Ka’abah. It is a dream come true for those living in far off places with no means to travel. However, before we pack our bags we must learn the adaab of visiting the House of Allah. Ka’abah is not a place to take your selfie; to brag about your blessings; to chat on your phone during Tawaf or update your statuses. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala chose you from the billions of Muslims to come visit His House. Don’t waste your time in laghw. Allah’s House is for remembering Him. Can’t you temporarily disconnect from the world? Honor the sanctity of His Houses.

[A Selfie with the Ka’bah?]

In Surah An-Nur ayah 36, it appears,

“In houses (mosques), which Allah has ordered to be raised (to be cleaned, and to be honored), in them His Name is glorified in the mornings and in the afternoons or the evenings.” (24: 36)

The mosques are places of worship and not social, cultural and political centers.

[Etiquettes within the Houses of Allah (Masajid)]

It was also said that this ayah carries the good news for the Muslims from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that He will allow them to take over Al-Masjid Al-Haram and all the mosques and disgrace the idolaters. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala fulfilled this promise and later decreed that idolaters not be allowed to enter Al-Masjid Al-Haram. This ayah also described the disgrace that the disbelievers earn in this life, and that the punishment comes in a form comparable to the deed. Just as they prevented the believers from entering Al-Masjid Al-Haram, they were prevented from entering it in turn. Just as they expelled the believers from Makkah, they were in turn expelled from Makkah.

Here it is worth mentioning the hadeeth about seeking refuge from disgrace in this life and the torment of the Hereafter. Imam Ahmad recorded that Busr bin Artah said that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to supplicate,

اللَّهُمَّ أَحْسِنْ عَاقِبَتَنَا فِي الْأُمُورِ كُلِّهَا وَأَجِرْنَا مِنْ خِزْيِ الدُّنْيَا وَعَذَابِ الْآخِرَة

“O Allah! Make our end better in all affairs, and save us from disgrace in this life and the torment of the Hereafter.”

Allahumma ameen.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Al-Baqarah Ayah 114

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the Hearing, the Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 127]

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