What are the rulings on the breaking down of a masjid in order to rebuild a bigger one on a different spot of the same compound. Also if this is wrong, what is to become of the newly built masjid? Is it permissible to perform salaat there? Does this new building qualify as a masjid? And finally how does one treat with or rectify this situation?
It is only permissible to break down a masjid when it has become very old and it has to be repaired or rebuilt. In this case, the new masjid will be built on the same spot of the old masjid. Breaking down a masjid for the simple reason of building a bigger one is not permissible. The masjid is the house of Allah and must be treated with the greatest respect. It cannot be likened to ‘a building’ which can be removed and rebuilt anytime one wishes to do so. Once a masjid has been built in an area, then immediately, all the laws regarding it’s sanctity, upkeep, etc. etc. comes upon it. The building, the spot on which it stands, and everything that is in the masjid, falls into the category of waqf and hence, belongs to Allah alone.
If the masjid needs to be bigger, in order to accommodate more people, then there is no need to break down the existing masjid. An extension can be done on the present masjid to cater for a bigger crowd. In this way, the masjid will be protected from being destroyed wrongfully, and the extra space needed will also be created.
If this is not done, and instead, the present existing masjid was broken down without a valid reason, acceptable in the shariah, then those incharge of making this decision will be accountable to Allah (for this).
If the old masjid was broken and a new masjid was built, then for the sake of unity, everyone should perform their salaah in the new masjid. It would be permissible to perform salaah there, and the new building will be considered as a new masjid. However, those who were guilty of making this wrong decision will continue to live with this ‘wrong’ upon their shoulders, if they acted contrary to the teachings of Islam.
If the new masjid was not built on the spot/area of the previous masjid, then this area of the previous masjid must be demarcated, so that people will not disrespect this area by walking with their shoes/ slippers and/or by cars parking on this area. If the building of the previous masjid is still standing, then it should be used for religious purposes to have classes etc. It should not be deserted or totally neglected.
The situation can be rectified by doing the correct thing. Those who are known to be authorities of the masjid or are in charge of making this decision, should meet with a sound and reliable scholar of Islam and discuss the matter.They should then follow the guidelines which have been given.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan