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What is the ruling for praying in churches, monasteries and others?



Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

The definition for church is a house of worship for Christians. While monasteries are places where people live as a community under religious vows.

We will start the discussion with Allah SWT’s statement:

وَلَوْلَا دَفْعُ اللَّـهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُم بِبَعْضٍ لَّهُدِّمَتْ صَوَامِعُ وَبِيَعٌ وَصَلَوَاتٌ وَمَسَاجِدُ يُذْكَرُ فِيهَا اسْمُ اللَّـهِ كَثِيرًا

“[They are] those who have been evicted from their homes without right - only because they say, "Our Lord is Allah." And were it not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned. And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might.”

Surah al-Haj (40)

Al-Maraghi said: If Allah SWT did not sanction to prophets and Muslims to fight the idolaters and uphold religion, surely the idolaters would have destroyed all places of worship. Hence the meaning of the verse may be: if it is not for Allah SWT, surely in the times of Prophet Moses AS, the churches would have been destroyed, and during the time of Prophet Jesus AS, synagogues and houses of worships would have been destroyed, and in the time of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, mosques would have been destroyed. (See Tafsir al-Maraghi, 9/4565)


The Ruling of Praying in Churches

Islamic scholars have two differing opinions on this issue:

First: According to the majority of the scholars, including Ibn Abbas, it is makruh (undesirable) to pray in the house of worship of non-Muslims, may it be abandoned or well-kept, unless in desperate circumstances, then it is no longer undesirable. For example, as shelter from extreme heat and cold or heavy rain, or enemies, wild animals and others. [1]

The reason it is restricted is due to the fact that these places is where shaytan like to be and there are paintings and idols in them. In addition, it is a place where there are many temptations that would prevent us from focusing and obtain khusyuk in prayer.

Second: Hanbali’s scholars hold the opinion that it is not a problem to perform prayer in a clean church. The act is permitted according to al-Hasan al-Basri, Umar bin Abdul Aziz, al-Sya’bi, Imam Abd al-Rahman al-Awza’ie and Sa’ad bin Abdul Aziz. This opinion is narrated by Sayyidina Umar RA and Abu Musa al-Asy’ari RA. They perform prayer inside the Ka’bah where there are paintings in it. [2]. Furthermore, the permissibility is also due to a statement by the Prophet PBUH, where the Prophet PBUH said:

فَأَيْنَمَا أَدْرَكَتْكَ الصَّلاَةُ فَصَلِّ فَهُوَ مَسْجِدٌ

“Whenever time comes for prayer, pray, for that is a mosque (for you).”

Sahih Muslim (520)

Al-Imam al-Nawawi states in his book al-Majmu’: It is makruh to pray in places of shaytan’s nest, which are the places of wine, deception or tyranny and all places of sins,”



We hold the stronger opinion of the majority of scholars and mazhab Syafie that states that it is makruh to pray in churches. In the context of Malaysia, we feel that there is no need to pray in churches when our country’s official religion is Islam and there are many mosques, surau and places for prayer that are especially built for praying for Muslims. Hence, it is best to avoid praying in churches.

May Allah SWT gives us understanding in obeying His commandments. Ameen.


[1] Refer al-Fiqh al-Islamiy wa Adillatuh, 1/829-830.

[2] This is during the early times of Islam, not the present.