Banning criminals and thieves from the Masjid

Respected Mufti Sahib,
In the United States there are unrepentant known “Muslim” criminals involved in anti-Islamic and anti-social behavior. Some while trying to evade the authorities will attempt to hide out in the masjid under the pretext of i’tikaf, etc.  We publicize their names and photo’s and prevent  such known criminals from frequenting the masjid to protect the worshipers from their harm and Shaytani influence.

Invariably the retort of such individuals (who wish to hide behind Shari’ah) is that no one can be barred from coming into the masjid, as free access is a shari’i requirement of a masjid, while a musalla has no such restriction.

Our question as we are not qualified to issue fataawa is, is it within the right  (according to Fiqah hanafi) of those who maintain the masjid to bar such known unrepentant criminals from entering the masjid for fear of their harm and or influence on the unsuspecting elders and youth?

We are asking for the proofs from Hanafi references such as Durrul Mukhtar, Fatwa Alamgiri, Qazi Khan etc, as we wish to quiet the descent within the community about these criminals and the fitna that is running rampant.
Jazaakumullahu Khayran

In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.

Answer

Generally speaking it is considered unlawful and unjust to prevent someone from coming to the Masjid.

Allah (SWA) in the Holy Qur’an has said,

“And who is crueler than the one who prevents the mosques of Allah from His name being recited therein, and strives for their destruction? It was not for such men to enter them except in awe. For them there is disgrace in this world, and for them, in the other world, there is a mighty punishment. To Allah belongs the East and the West. So, whichever way you turn, there is the Face of Allah. Indeed, Allah is all-Embracing, all-Knowing.” (Surah Baqarah v.114-v.115)

However, when we look at the hadiths of the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam we find that He Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam, prevented people from entering the masjid on issues less severe than the one’s you mentioned in the question.

For example, the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam said, “Keep your insane people and your children away from the Masjid” (Sunan Ibn Majah p.54 v.1)

Saaiduna Mughirah Bin Shubah Radiallahu Anhu narrates, “I ate garlic and came to the place where the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam was praying; one rakat of prayer had been performed when I joined. When I entered the mosque, the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam noticed the odour of garlic. When the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam finished his prayer, he said: He who eats from this plant should not come near us until its odour has gone away…” (Sunan Abu Dawud p.179 v.2)

The upshot of the aforementioned discussion is that it will be permissible to prevent and bar known criminals and thieves from coming to the Masjid.

It should be borne in mind that this rule does not apply for Jummah prayers. One of the requirements of Jummah is that there must be “Izn Aaam”, i.e. everyone should be allowed to come to the Masjid to perform the Jummah. If anyone is barred or prevented, it will lead to everyone’s Jummah being spoiled.

The following conditions are necessary for the Jummah Salah to be correct:

  1. A large town

The Jummah Salah will not be valid unless it is held in large towns or cities.  To hold Jummah Salah in small villages is not permissible.  Saaiduna Ali Radiallahu Anhu has said “The Jummah and Eid prayers cannot be held except in large towns.”   (Mussanaf Abdur Razzaq)

A large town is where the number of males upon whom the Jummah Salah is compulsory is so large that no mosque in the town could accommodate all of them together.   (Ilmul Fiqh p.146 v.2)

Another definition of Mufti Mahmood Saheb (RA) is that the village is such that there are shopping malls, basic necessities can be found and the local population is between three and four thousand.   (Fatawa Mahmoodiyah p.301 v.1)

  1. Time of Zuhr prayer
  2. The Khutbah
  3. Congregation

There are three people besides the Imam (four Muslims) at your workplace which will constitute the congregation.  The presence of females or minors only is not enough.   (Raddul Muhtar p.24 v.3)

  1. Izn Aaam (general call for the prayer)

Finally, I could not find any texts from Raddul Muhtar, Fatawa Hindiyyah etc… where it clearly states the permissibility of barring criminals and thieves from the Masjid. However, I did come across a fatwa written by Mufti Rashid Ahmad (RA) in his Ahsanul Fatawa and Molana Yusuf Ludhyanwi (RA) in his Aapke Masaail where they have allowed the closing of Masjids between prayer times and at night due to the danger of thieves.

Only Allah Knows Best

Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham.

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