Discourses in Masjids and Disturbing Others

<QUESTION>

A group of brothers affiliated with Jamaat-i-Tabligh conducted a gathering after Salatul-Fajr at the Masjid where one of the brothers rose and spoke for about 15 minutes. This was between the time that the congregational prayer had finished and before Shuruq. The brother who gave the speech was speaking so loud that others making dhikr in the masjid could not concentrate/focus.

Following the speech, the brothers continued chatting until Shuruq and afterwards. The question is: is what they've done okay in terms of the Sunnah, or should they be doing things differently so as not to cause a disturbance to others? And if the latter, what should an outsider such as myself do if anything (i.e. approach one of them in a polite way) to suggest that they do things differently so as to be accommodating to the needs of/respectful of the others present in the masjid.

<ANSWER>
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

The houses of Allah (masajid) are the places of worshipping Allah Most High. They are designated for the offering of prayer (salat), recitation of the Qur’an (tilawah), remembrance of Allah (dhikr), seeking and teaching sacred knowledge, seeking and imparting with religious guidance, etc.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

“These Masjids are not meant for any urine or filth, rather they are for the remembrance of Allah Most High (dhikr), prayer and the recitation of the Qur’an.” (Sahih Muslim, no. 285)

As such, all these forms of worshiping Allah are important and necessary, and neglecting any of them is inappropriate.

As far as raising one’s voice in the Masjid is concerned, Imam al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) states:

“It is disliked (makruh) to…raise one’s voice in the Masjid whilst doing any form of Dhikr except for the one who is seeking knowledge (mutafaqqiha).”

However, Allama Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) comments on the above by stating that raising one’s voice whilst doing Dhikr (m: in all its forms) is permissible due to the various evidences found in the Sunnah, except in certain circumstances. He concludes his discussion by quoting Imam Sha’rani as saying:

“All the scholars (ulama) have agreed, both early (salaf) and late comers (khalaf), upon the recommendation of group Dhikr (m: meaning loudly) in the Masjid, except when it disturbs a sleeping person, the one engaged in prayer and the one reciting Qur’an.” (Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar, 1/660)

Therefore, all the various forms of Ibadah are necessary, and the objective of all these acts is the pleasure of Allah Most High. Thus, Muslims should avoid arguing and making a big fuss about these matters and causing disunity amongst Muslims.

If a particular time is designated for a Dars, lecture, religious advice, etc, then that is allowed, for the time has been set for it. Those who do not wish to participate and would like to carry out other forms of individual worship such as the recitation of the Qur’an should go to one side of the Masjid and carry out their worship there. Imparting of sacred and religious knowledge is very important, as Imam al-Haskafi stated that, raising the voice is permissible in the Masjid for those seeking and learning knowledge, thus one should not object to this. This includes all types of discourses, for all of them include some sort of knowledge.

However, if a group of people are engaged in a religious discussion, as you have pointed out in the question (which in the Jama’ah Tabligh terminology is known as Mashwara), then that should be done in a way that it does not disturb others who are engaged in other forms of worship.

Thus, they should go to the back or one side of the Masjid without raising their voice, for as Imam Ibn Abidin pointed out, one is not allowed to raise one’s voice in the Masjid to the point that it disturbs others who are engaged in worship.

And Allah knows best

[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester , UK