Question # 389: Is it allowed to socialize in masjids like asking each other about health, businesses, ups and downs in life?

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “There will come a time when people will sit in circles in the mosques and they will have no concern except this world. Allah has no need of them so do not sit with them.” Hence, involving in idle talks in the mosques is disliked as it demeans the purpose for which the mosques are built, i.e., acts of worship. Idle talks include utterance of evil, lies, backbiting, slander, talebearing, ostentation, hypocrisy, obscenity, dispute, self-praise, falsehood, controversy, distortion, harming people and violating their privacy and honor. Nevertheless, during the time of Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), the companions would chat and talk about matters of the Jaahiliyah and laugh but he would smile. Hence, it is permissible to engage in permitted kinds of talk in the mosque (talking about worldly matters in a truthful manner in which there is nothing haraam) and so long as it does not disturb worshippers. However, activities such as buying, selling, hiring or announcing/asking about something one has lost are prohibited. Among the other permissible acts in the mosques are: exchanging greetings, saying salaam and shaking hands, gathering to eat food without contaminating the premises, and expressing joy or arranging halal activities during Eid festivals.

Long Answer: Al-Hakim reported in al-Mustadrak that Anas ibn Malik (رضي الله عنه) said: The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “There will come a time when people will sit in circles in the mosques and they will have no concern except this world. Allah has no need of them so do not sit with them.” (This is a sahih hadith even though al-Bukhari and Muslim did not narrate it. Al-Dhahabi said in al-Talkhees that it is sahih)

This hadith states that this blameworthy deed is disliked, because the mosques are not built for such a purpose. Allah commanded that mosques should be built to remember Him and to conduct prayers and acts of worship and obedience to Him, such as Itikaaf (retreat, seclusion for devotion and worship), and different kinds of dhikr such as circles for reciting Qur’an and seeking knowledge. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said about mosques: ”It is built for the remembrance of Allah, prayer and the recitation of the Qur’an.’’ (Muslim)

As for giving the greeting of salaam and shaking hands, there is nothing wrong with this, for these are acts of obedience to Allah… [Nevertheless,] Muslims should beware of doing anything that may offend or disturb those who come to the mosque for worship. This includes disturbing those who are reading Qur’an, praying or remembering Allah in the mosque. It is an evil deed (sayiah) to disturb the people in the mosque by talking about worldly affairs, because this is offensive to them and distracts Muslims from doing acts of worship properly. Disturbing others is not allowed, even if it takes the form of reading Qur’an… Ahmad ibn Shuayb al-Nisaa’i reported in al-Sunan al-Kubra under the heading Dhikr Qawl al-Nabi (صلى الله عليه و سلم) Laa yajhar badukam ala badin fil-Qur’an (Mentioning the statement of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), None of you should compete with one another in reciting Qur’an loudly), a report from Abu Haazim al-Timaar from al-Bayaadi, that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) came out and found the people praying and reciting in loud voices. He said: The one who is praying is conversing with his Lord, so let him think about what he is saying to Him. Do not compete with one another in reciting Qur’an loudly. Ibn Muhayreez (may Allah have mercy on him) is reported to have said: Speaking in the mosque is idle talk, except for one who is praying, or remembering his Lord, or asking for help or giving help. (Musannaf Abd al-Razzaaq, part 8, Baab Kalaam Ikrimah)

[However,] it is permissible to engage in permitted kinds of talk in the mosque, even if that has to do with worldly matters, so long as it will not disturb worshippers.

Muslim narrated in his Saheeh from Jaabir ibn Samurah (رضي الله عنه) that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) would not get up from the place in which he had prayed Fajr until the sun had risen, and when the sun had risen, he would get up. They used to chat and talk about matters of the Jaahiliyah, and they would laugh but he smiled.

An-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “It is permissible to engage in permitted kinds of talk in the mosque, and to talk about worldly matters and other permissible topics, even if that leads to laughter and the like, so long as it is permissible, because of the hadith of Jaabir ibn Samurah.” (Al-Majmoo‘ Sharh al-Muhadhdhab) He further said: “’It is disliked to dispute and speak aloud in the mosque, and speak about lost and found properties. This view is supported by the narration reported by Imam Muslim that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Let those who are wise and possess religious knowledge be directly behind me in the prayer, and then those who are nearest to them in these respects.” He repeated this three times and then added: “And beware of indulging in the loose talks of the markets (when you are in the mosque) … That is to cause noise [because of speaking loudly], disputing and arguing, speaking loudly, and causing afflictions.”

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Talking in the mosque may be divided into two categories:

  1. That which disturbs those who are praying, reading Qur’an or studying. This is not permissible, and no one has the right to do that which will disturb those who are praying, reading Qur’an or studying.
  1. That which does not disturb anyone. So long as it is about good things then it is good. If it is about worldly matters, then some of it may not be allowed and some of it may be permissible. That which is not allowed includes buying, selling, and hiring. It is not permissible to buy and sell in the mosque, or to hire someone or be hired in the mosque, or to make announcements asking about something one has lost, because the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “If you hear someone making announcements (in the mosque) about something he has lost, then say: ‘May Allah not restore it to you, for the mosques were not built for this purpose.’”

That which is permissible includes people talking about worldly matters in a truthful manner in which there is nothing haraam. (Fataawa Noor ‘ala ad-Darb)

With regard to the hadith, “Talking in the mosque consumes good deeds as fire consumes wood,” it has no basis from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). (as-Silsilah ad-Da‘eefah by Shaykh al-Albani)

Az-Zarkashi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “…There is also nothing wrong with that gathering being accompanied by some appropriate food and drink. Ibn Maajah narrated that ‘Abdullah ibn al-Haarith ibn Jaz’ az-Zubaydi said: At the time of the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) we used to eat bread and meat in the mosque. (Narrated by Ibn Maajah in his Sunan; classed as sahih by al-Albani) But something should be spread on the floor and precautions should be taken to avoid contaminating the mosque, lest any food be spilled and attract vermin. This is so long as the food does not have any unpleasant smell. If that is the case – such as garlic, onions, leeks and the like – then it is makrooh to eat it in the mosque, and the one who has eaten it should not be allowed to enter the mosque until the smell has gone.” (I‘laam as-Saajid bi Ahkaam al-Masaajid)

It is prescribed for the Muslims to express joy on the festivals prescribed in Islam, and to gather for that purpose, and there is no reason why that should not be in the mosque. Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (رضي الله عنها) said: I remember the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) screening me with his upper garment whilst I was watching the Abyssinians playing in the mosque, until I was the one who had had enough. So, you should understand the fondness that young girls have for amusement. According to another report narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim, that was on the Day of Eid, when the black men were playing with shields and spears.

Idle Talk

Before we close, let’s briefly define idle talk. Sahl ibn Sa‘d (رضي الله عنه) narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “He who guarantees for me what is between his jaws and what is between his thighs, I guarantee him Paradise.” This means that the one who uses his or her tongue only regarding relevant matters and restrains it from what does not concern him or her, and guards his or her private parts against illicit acts, is promised Paradise by the Prophet.

Moreover, Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) warned: “One might utter a word thinking it to be trivial but he thereby sinks [because of it] in Hell further than the distance of the east”; the wording reported by Muslim  states: “farther than the distance between the east and the west.” Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr said that an example of such a word “is what a person utters before an unjust ruler [in order to please him].”

In another version of the hadith, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) mentioned that it may be “a word that he does not understand” , meaning he is unaware of whether it is good or bad, as explained by Shaykh Al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abdus-Salaam, who added, “Hence, it is prohibited for a Muslim to speak any [such] word.”

Commenting on this hadith, An-Nawawi said, “[It] encourages a man to watch his tongue. If a person wants to say something, he should think of, and fully grasp, what it is before he utters a word. If he finds that there is benefit in it, he should say it, otherwise, he should hold his tongue.”

‘Abdullaah Ibn Mas‘ood (رضي الله عنه) would reportedly say: “By Allah, nothing needs prolonged confinement more than my tongue.” He also used to say, “O my tongue, say good words and you will succeed, and speak no evil and you will be secure; otherwise, you will regret.”

Another Companion, Abu Ad-Dardaa’ (رضي الله عنه) said, “Protect your ears from your mouth; indeed, you have two ears and one mouth, in order to hear more than you talk.”

Besides, Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, “They used to say that the tongue of the believer is behind his heart; when he wants to say something, he contemplates it with his heart and then utters it. Whereas, the tongue of the hypocrite is in front of his heart; when he intends to say anything, he utters it before deliberating it in his heart.” He went a step further, saying, “He who does not watch his tongue does not understand his religion.”

If you ask why the virtue of silence is so great, it is because the tongue, with hardly any effort, may lead to evil, lies, backbiting, ostentation, hypocrisy, obscenity, dispute, self-praise, indulgence in falsehood, controversy, distortion, harming people and violating their privacy and honor. Moreover, it has a charm that affects the heart, it is motivated by a person’s temperament and is influenced by Shaytaan. Those who indulge in idle talk can barely control their tongues so as to utter what they like and restrain it from what is not pleasing to them. It is one of the ambiguous facts that danger lies in idle talk, whereas safety lies in silence, thus its enormous virtue.

Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “Man does not utter any word except that with him is an observer prepared [to record].” (Soorah al-Kahf, 18:50)

(The above answer is based on various answers provided by Islamqa.info and Islamweb.net, a web site belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar on the topic)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam