Ruling on sharing the same places of worship with non-Muslims


  1. Q 1: Is it legally valid for the followers of different religions to share one place of worship?
  2. Q 2: Is it valid for the followers of different religions to practice their worship in one place with reserved sections for ceremonial purposes?
  3. Q 3: What is the Islamic viewpoint concerning the free intermixing between men and women in gatherings where religious matters are discussed?
  4. Q 4: Is it Islamically permissible that a non-Muslim builds and runs a ceremonial building like a mosque?
  5. Q 5: Is it permissible for a Muslim to spend his money on building Masjids?
  6. Q 6: Is it Islamically permissible for a non-Muslim to finance Islamic projects like Masjids and schools?


First: it is unanimously agreed upon that the Islamic Shari’ah was revealed to both jinn and mankind. Whoever claims that the Jews and the Christians are following the path of truth, whether from among them or not, is contradicting the Qur’an, Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and the general consensus of the Muslim Ummah. If they claim so while being Muslims, they will be apostatizing from Islam. Allah (Exalted be He) says, “…this Qur’ân has been revealed to me that I may therewith warn you and whomsoever it may reach.” [al-An’am: 19]

Allah (Exalted be He) also says, “And We have not sent you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) except as a giver of glad tidings and a warner to all mankind” [Saba’: 28]

Allah (Exalted be He) says, “Blessed be He Who sent down the criterion (of right and wrong, i.e. this Qur’ân) to His slave (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) that he may be a warner to the ‘Alamîn (mankind and jinn).” [al-Furqan: 1]

In a further place Allah (Exalted be He) says, “And whoever seeks a religion other than Islâm, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.” [Aal Imran: 85]

Allah (Exalted be He) also says, “And (remember) when We sent towards you (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) a group (three to ten persons) of the jinn, (quietly) listening to the Qur’ân. When they stood in the presence thereof, they said: “Listen in silence!” And when it was finished, they returned to their people, as warners. They said: “O our people! Verily, we have heard a Book (this Qur’ân) sent down after Mûsâ (Moses), confirming what came before it: it guides to the truth and to the Straight Path (i.e. Islâm). O our people! Respond (with obedience) to Allâh’s Caller (i.e. Allâh’s Messenger Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم), and believe in him (i.e. believe in that which Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم has brought from Allâh and follow him). He (Allâh) will forgive you of your sins, and will save you from a painful torment (i.e. Hell-fire) And whosoever does not respond to Allâh’s Caller, he cannot escape on earth, and there will be no Auliyâ’ (lords, helpers, supporters, protectors) for him besides Allâh (from Allâh’s punishment). Those are in manifest error.” [al-Ahqaf: 29-32]

Allah (Exalted be He) also says, “Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم): “O mankind! Verily, I am sent to you all as the Messenger of Allâh” [al-A’raf: 158]

Allah (Exalted be He) says, “Verily, those who disbelieve (in the religion of Islâm, the Qur’ân and Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) from among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and Al-Mushrikûn will abide in the Fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures.” [al-Bayyinah: 6]

It is related in the two books of Sahih that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Every prophet used to be sent to his nation only but I have been sent to all mankind.” 1

It is also related in Sahih Muslim that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “By Him in whose Hand my soul is, every Jew or Christian of this Ummah (nation) who hears about me and dies unbelieving in me will be of the inhabitants of Hellfire.” 2

Second: Muslims are obliged to build a separate Masjid (mosque) if they can afford it. If they cannot afford it, they may offer acts of worship in any place even if they were to share a building with followers of other religions. Allah (Exalted be He) says, “So keep your duty to Allâh and fear Him as much as you can” [at-Taghabun: 16]

Third: Free intermixing between men and women is a serious sin. His Eminence Mufty Muhammad ibn Ibrahim (may Allah be merciful to him) issued the following fatwa in this regard: Free intermixing between men and women may take place in any of the following three cases:

  • First: Permissible intermixing between men and women unmarriageable to each other; this is definitely permissible.
  • Second: Prohibited intermixing between men and women marriageable to each other.
  • Third: Free intermixing between men and women marriageable to them in coeducational institutions, shops, offices, hospitals, parties, and the like.

A person may think that such intermixing does not lead the two sexes getting sexually aroused. Further elaboration of this case may be generally and thoroughly presented:- Generally speaking, the inclinations of the two sexes towards each other is an inbred characteristic of their human nature. Thus, if such intermixing occurs, the evil consequence of illicit sexual relations may take place, for man is naturally prone to desires and pleasures. Moreover, the devil prompts human souls to commit acts of obscenity and indecency to fall prey to lustful desires. Thoroughly speaking, the Shari’ah is built upon the objectives’ means. Since women are known to be the natural partners with whom men can gratify their sexual desires, the Islamic Shari’ah has blocked all avenues inviting men and women to violate the rules of legal propriety. This can be manifestly proven through the following proofs of the Qur’an and the Sunnah: As to the textual proofs of the Qur’an, six proofs may be cited in support of this opinion:

~> First:

Allah (Exalted be He) says, “And she, in whose house he was, sought to seduce him (to do an evil act), and she closed the doors and said: “Come on, O you.” He said: “I seek refuge in Allâh (or Allâh forbid)! Truly, he (your husband) is my master! He made my living in a great comfort! (So I will never betray him). Verily, the Zâlimûn (wrong and evil-doers) will never be successful.” [Yusuf: 23]

This signifies that when the wife of the Great (i.e. Vizier) was alone with Prophet Yusuf (Joseph, peace be upon him), she declared her desire to have sexual relations with him. But it was Allah’s mercy that saved Yusuf from yielding to her desire. Allah (Exalted be He) says: “So his Lord answered his invocation and turned away from him their plot. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.” [Yusuf: 34]

Thus, if men and women are given the freedom of intermixing with each other, they will do their best to win the hearts of each other in an unlawful way.

~> Second:

Allah orders men and women to lower their gaze. Allah (Exalted be He) says, “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts). That is purer for them. Verily, Allâh is All-Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things)” [an-Nur: 30-31]

These two Qur’anic verses signify that Allah orders the believing men and women to lower their gaze. The imperative mode expressed by the verb ‘say’ in the two verses entails the obligation that both men and women shall lower their gaze. Allah further explains that lowering the gaze is purer for them. Only an accidental glance is remitted. Al-Hakim narrated in his Al-Mustadrak on the authority of ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said to him, “O ‘Ali, do not let a second look follow the first. The first look is allowed to you but not the second.” 3

Al-Hakim said, ‘It is a Sahih (authentic) Hadith in conformity with the conditions of Muslim and both Al-Bukhari and Muslim did not record it.’ In his commentary entitled “Al-Talkhis”, Al-Dhahaby affirmed Al-Hakim’s judgment. Many other Hadiths are narrated to the same effect. Allah commands us to lower the gaze, for looking at non-Mahram women is an act of Zina (adultery). According to the report of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The Zina (adultery) of the eye is the (lustful) look, the Zina of the ears is the listening (to voluptuous talk), the Zina of the tongue is (the licentious) speech, the Zina of the hand is the (lustful) grip, the Zina of the feet is the walking (to the place where one intends to commit Zina)” 4 Recorded by both Al-Bukhari and Muslim but the mentioned wording is that of Muslim.

The Prophet termed the lustful look “Zina” because it gives sexual pleasure in the unlawful way of enjoying looking at the charms of a woman which virtually leads man to commit the illicit relation of adultery with her. Since evil consequences are expected to occur as a result of lustful looks, prohibition is affirmatively set in cases of free intermixing between men and women. Such free intermixing not only leads to enjoying the charms of women but also to what is worse.

~> Third:

All the preceding proofs vindicating that a woman’s body should be covered. If a woman displays any of her charms, this may encourage others to look at her and consequently all means are sought for winning her heart.

~> Fourth: Allah (Exalted be He) says, And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. This verse signifies that Allah prohibits women from stamping their feet which is a naturally permissible act lest men should hear the anklets worn by the women and their sexual desire may be aroused. By the same token, free gatherings of both sexes are forbidden to prevent the expected corruption.

~> Fifth:

Allah (Exalted be He) says, “Allâh knows the fraud of the eyes, and all that the breasts conceal.” [Ghafir: 19] According to Ibn ‘Abbas and others, “It signifies a man who enters upon occupants of a house where there is a beautiful woman. He seizes the opportunity of the family being heedless and starts staring at her. When they notice him, he starts to lower his gaze. He repeats this many times. Allah knows that he wishes to see her private parts and if he has the opportunity, he will commit adultery with her.” Clearly, ‘fraudulent’ is the description Allah gives to the eye that steals glances at women that they are prohibited to look at. Thus, free intermixing would be an even more grievous sin.

~> Sixth:

Allah orders women to stay at their houses. Allah (Exalted be He) says, And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance Here, Allah orders the chaste wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to keep themselves to their houses. This Qur’anic verse is addressed to all Muslim women based on the juristic percept: ‘Address directed to present people includes all other absent people unless there is evidence to specify it’, which is not there. Since women are allowed to leave their houses only under necessity, it is evident that intermixing with men is prohibited. Nowadays, Muslim women have torn apart the garment of bashfulness; displaying their charms and showing their adornment before foreign men in a shameful absence of religious jealousy on the part of their husbands and guardians.

As for the proofs of Sunnah, it is enough to cite ten proofs in this regard:

1- Imam Ahmad narrated in his Musnad on the authority of Um Humayd, the wife of Abu Humayd Al-Sa’idy (may Allah be pleased with her) that she went to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said, “O Messenger of Allah! I enjoy praying more when you are leading the Salah (Prayer).” The Prophet replied, “I understand that you enjoy praying more when I am leading the Salah. It is, however, better for you to offer Salah in your private room than even in your house. It is better for you to pray inside your house than in the courtyard of your house. It is better to offer Salah in your house than offering it in the neighborhood Masjid. It is better for you to pray in the neighborhood Masjid than in my Masjid.” 5

The narrator added: “Upon her order, a Masjid (mosque) was constructed for her in the farthest and darkest corner of her house, and she continued to pray there until she died.” Ibn Khuzaymah narrated in his Sahih on the authority of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The most beloved Salah to Allah of a woman is one that she performs in the darkest spot of her home.” 6

Other Hadith are narrated to the same effect, which indicate that it is better for a woman to offer Salah at home. Since it is preferable for her to offer Salah at home even more than the Masjid of the Prophet or with the Prophet himself, then prohibition of free intermixing with men becomes a natural corollary.

2- Muslim, Al-Tirmidhy and others narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “The best of the men’s rows (in prayers) is the first row and the worst is the last; but the best of the women’s row is the last and the worst is the first.” 7 Al-Tirmidhy classified it as a Sahih (authentic) Hadith. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) orders that women should be separated from men when going to pray at a Masjid. He describes the first row of women in Salah as ‘the worst’ and the last as ‘the best’. Unlike the first row, the last row is kept away from mixing with men and then from getting infatuated with them due to seeing and hearing their speech.

On the contrary, the last row of men is described as the worst in case there are women praying with them at the Masjid. For the last row misses the chance of getting closer to the Imam in Salah as they may become attracted to women and spoil their Salah. Since these courses of action are expected to take place during observing acts of worship which are naturally practiced without intermixing, then free intermixing is definitely forbidden.

3- Muslim narrated in his Sahih on the authority of Zaynab, the wife of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with her) that she said, “The Messenger of Allah said to us: “When any one of you (i.e. women) comes to the Masjid, she should not use perfume.” 8 According to Abu Dawud in his Sunan, Imam Ahmad, and Al-Shafi’i in their books of Hadith, it is reported on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Do not prevent the female servants of Allah from visiting the Masjids (mosques) of Allah, but they may go out (to the mosque) without wearing perfume.” 9

Ibn Daqiq Al-‘Eid said, “This indicates that it is prohibited for a woman to wear perfume upon going to Masjid as it may stimulate mutual sexual desire. The prohibition is also applied to wearing beautiful clothes and jewelry that affect men greatly. Al-Hafizh Ibn Hajar said, “Intermixing with men is also prohibited.” Al-Khattaby states in Ma’alim Al-Sunan: “The Arabic word ‘Tafal’ means ‘foul-smelling’. It is said, ‘imra’atun tafilah’ (woman not wearing perfume).” 10

4- Usamah ibn Zayd (may Allah be pleased with him) also narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “I have not left after me any cause of trial more injurious to men than the lure of women.” Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim 11. The Prophet describes women as being a cause of lure and trial that may befall men; thus how can we facilitate the way to the occurrence of this trial?! It is forbidden.

5- Abu Sa’id Al-Khudry (may Allah be pleased with him) also narrated that Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The life of the world is sweet and green (alluring). Allah makes you generations succeeding one another so that He may try you in respect of your actions. So beware of the beguilements of the world and of women. The first trial of Banu Isra’il was through women.” Narrated by Muslim. 12

Evidently, the Prophet (peace be upon him) commands men to be aware of the beguilements of women. The imperative mode of the verb ‘itaqu’ (beware) indicates the obligatory rule; but this obligation cannot be fulfilled in the case of intermixing.

6- Abu Dawud narrated in his Sunan and Al-Bukhari in his book entitled ‘Al-Kuna’ on the authority of Hamzah ibn Abu Asid Al-Ansary from his father (may Allah be pleased with him) that He heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say when he was coming out of the mosque, and men and women were mingling in the road: Draw back, for you must not walk in the middle of the road; keep to the sides of the road. Then, women kept so close to the wall that their garments were rubbing against it. This is the narration of Abu Dawud. Ibn Al-Athir states in “Al-Nihayah fi Gharib Al-Hadith”: ‘Yahquqna Al-Tariq’ is to walk in the middle of the road. Evidently, the Prophet (peace be upon him) forbids women from walking in the middle of the road to prevent the means of sexual enticement, thus intermixing is generally prohibited.

7- According to the report of Abu Dawud Al-Tayalisy in his Sunan and other collectors of Hadith, Nafi’ reported from ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) that when the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) built the Masjid, he assigned a door for women and said, “None of the men should enter through this door.”

Al-Bukhari also narrated in “Al-Tarikh Al-Kabir” on the authority of Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) from Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Do not enter the Masjid (mosque) from women’s door” The Prophet (peace be upon him) forbids intermixing between men and women even at the doors of Masjids. He also forbids men from entering the Masjids through the women’s doors so that all avenues leading to intermixing are closed. Clearly, prohibition of intermixing becomes more emphatic in other cases.

8- Al-Bukhari narrated in his Sahih on the authority of Um Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) who said, “Whenever Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) finished his prayers, the women would get up and he (peace be upon him) would stay on for a while in his place before getting up.” According to another narration in the Sahih of Al-Bukhari, “When the Messenger of Allah finished his prayers, women would go back to their houses before he left the Masjid.” In a third narration, “When women finished their prayers, they would rise and leave while the Prophet (peace be upon him) and men prayed with him would stay on for a while. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) rose, they would rise with him.” Clearly, the Prophet inhibited the practical gathering of men and women even at the pure places of worship, thus prohibiting this act in other places is most worthy of prohibition.

9- Al-Tabarany narrated in Al-Mu’jam Al-Kabir on the authority of Ma’qil ibn Yasar (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “It is better for one of you to be pierced by a steel pin in the head than to touch a foreign woman unlawful to touch.” 13 Al-Haythamy judged this Hadith in Majma’ Al-Zawa’id stating, ‘It is narrated by the reliable and trustworthy narrators approved by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.’ According to Al-Mundhiry in “Al-Targhib wa Al-Tarhib”, ‘Its narrators are reliable and trustworthy.”

10- Al-Tabarany also narrated on the authority of Abu Umamah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, It is better for a man to rub his shoulder against a pig covered with filth than to rub it against a shoulder of a non-Mahram woman unlawful for him to touch. Evidently, the Prophet (peace be upon him) forbids a man from touching a woman if he is not a Mahram (spouse or permanently unmarriageable relative), as it leads to evil consequences. Free intermixing is forbidden for the same reason. A careful look at the previous discussion makes it clear that intermixing between men and women is conducive to Fitnah (enticement and temptation). Exceptions are only made under necessity like intermixing of men and women at the two Holy Masjids in Makkah and Madinah. We pray Allah to guide the stray Muslims, increase the guidance of the faithful among them, grant success to their rulers to enjoin right and forbid wrong, and punish the guilty. He is All-Hearer, Ever Near and Responsive. End of quote.

Fourth: A non-Muslim is allowed to build a Masjid for Muslims but it is obligatory that the Masjid is run by a Muslim. If this is not possible, the Masjid may be run by the one who built it even if he was a Kafir (disbeliever).

Fifth: It is desirable for a Muslim to spend some of his money on the construction of Masjids and other charitable projects. This provides a means of getting closer to Allah provided that the money he spends is not of the obligatory Zakah, for Zakah should be distributed only to the legal eight avenues specified.

Sixth: Non-Muslims are allowed to finance Islamic projects like building masjids or schools, if no harm is expected to take place against Muslims from this.

  1. Ahmad, vol. 2, p. 412; Al-Bukhari, Fat-h-ul-Bary, nos. 335, 438, and 3122; Muslim, no. 523, Al-Tirmidhy, no. 1553; Al-Nasa*y, Al-Mujtaba; vol. 1, p. 210; Al-Darimy, Al-Sunan, no. 1396 with different wordings. 

  2. Ahmad, vol. 2, pp. 317 and 350, and vol. 4, pp. 396 and 398; Muslim, no. 153; Ibn Mardawaih, Al-Durr Al-Manthur, vol. 3, p. 325; and Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, vol. 2, p. 342. 

  3. Ahmad, Al-Musnad, vol. 5, pp. 351, 353, and 357; Al-Darimy, Al-Sunan, vol. 2, p. 298; Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, vol. 2, p. 212 and vol. 3, p. 133; Abu Dawud, no. 2149; Al-Tirmidhy no. 2777; Al-Bayhaqy, Al-Sunan, vol. 7, p. 90; and Ibn Abu Shaybah, Al-Musannaf, vol. 2, p. 324. 

  4. Ahmad, vol. 2, pp. 276, 317, 329, 344, 359, 372, 411, 528, 535, and 536; Al-Bukhari, Fat-h-ul-Bary, no. 6612; Muslim, no. 2657; and Abu Dawud, no. 2152. 

  5. Ahmad, vol. 6; p. 371; Ibn Khuzaymah, Sahih, no. 1689; Ibn Hibban, Sahih, no. 2217; and Ibn Abu Shaybah, vol. 2, pp. 382 and 385. 

  6. Ibn Khuzaymah, nos. 1691-1692; Al-Tabarany, Al-Mu’jam, vol. 2, p. 35. 

  7. uslim, no. 440; Abu Dawud, no. 678; Al-Tirmidhy, no. 224; Al-Nasa’i, Al-Mujtaba, no. 821; Ibn Majah, Al-Sunan, no. 1000; Ibn Khuzaymah, Al-Sahih, no. 1693; and Al-Darimy, Al-Sunan, no. 1272. 

  8. Ahmad, vol. 6, p. 363; Muslim, no. 443; Ibn Khuzaymah, no. 1680; and Ibn Hibban, Sahih, nos. 1212 and 2215. 

  9. Ahmad, vol. 2, p. 475 and vol. 5, pp. 192-193; Abu Dawud, no. 565; Ibn Khuzaymah, Sahih, no. 1679; Al-Darimy no. 1282; and Ibn Hibban, nos. 2211 and 2214. 

  10. Ihkam Al-Ahkam, vol. 2, p. 139. 

  11. Ahmad, vol. 5, pp. 200-210; Al-Bukhari, Fat-h-ul-Bary, no. 5069; Muslim, no. 2740-2741; Al-Nasa*y, Al-Sunan Al-Kubra, and Tuhfat Al-Ashraf, vol. 1, p. 49; Ibn Majah, no. 3998; Al-Bayhaqy, Al-Sunan, vol. 7, p. 91; and Al-Tirmidhy no. 2780. 

  12. Ahmad, vol. 3, pp. 19, 22, and 61; Muslim, no. 2742; Al-Bayhaqy, vol. 7, p. 91; Al-Tirmidhy, no. 2191; Ibn Majah, no. 4000; and Ibn Khuzaymah, no. 1499. 

  13. Al-Tabarany, Al-Kabir, vol. 20, p. 213; and Ibn Abu Shaybah, Al-Musannaf, vol. 4, p. 341, Mawquf Hadith. 

May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet, his family and Companions