FATWA FROM THE GRAND MUFTI OF EGYPT: PERMISSIBILITY OF SINGING #GODSAVETHEKING


ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF FATWA ON PERMISSIBILITY OF SINGING GOD SAVE THE QUEEN IN MASJIDS WITHIN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND COMMONWEALTH NATIONS WHERE HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN IS HEAD OF STATE.

(Fatwa issued before the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Fatwa from His Eminence Dr Shawki Allam is valid under KING CHARLES III who is the new head of state and includes the national anthem of GOD SAVE THE KING)

Shaykh Dr Shawki Allam

The Grand Mufti

Dar al-Iftaa in Egypt

{If you realise this not, then ask of those who possess the message˺.} [An-Nahl: 43]

(Praise be to Allah alone and may peace and blessing upon last Prophet, our Mater Mohammed the Messenger of Allah and upon His Family, Companions and those who benevolently follow Him till the Day of Judgement)

Having read the request submitted by the Imam of Shah Jahan Mosque in the UK

Dated 24/7/2022, and listed under number 317 in the year 2022, stating:

We have recently provided a civic service in the Mosque, part of which included Islamic prayer and recitation of the Quran, in addition to one Christian prayer read by a Christian Priest and concluded with the National Anthem. However, we were taken by surprise to see some Muslims objecting by saying that that shouldn’t have happened in the mosque and it was blasphemy. The gathering comprised men and women, guests from the local government, a local MP, the Mayor of the borough and other dignitaries/personalities. The Christian men and women sat with their families and the Muslim men and women sat with their families. We gave the ladies garments consisting of head covering and long dresses.

Can a civic service be performed in a mosque? Can the National Anthem be played in the mosque’s hall where I subsequently spoke to the people and performed the Dhohor prayer? Can a Christian Priest perform a prayer by saying, “Our Father” to the Christians, whereas Muslims were only listening silently in the same place of prayer? Can this mixed group be in the Mosque’s place of prayer?

The Answer:

Mosques are the venerated houses of Allah. Entering them requires observing the glorification Allah, be He exalted, bestowed upon them, thereby showing respect and solemnness for them, and avoiding acting in a way that could violate their sacredness or reduce their sanctity. Therefore, they are places designated for praying, supplicating and worshipping Allah, be He exalted, and performing His rites, where He, the exalted, said, “That whoever venerates/honours the sacred ordinances of Allah, it is best for him in the sight of his Lord.” [Al-Hajj 30] He, the exalted, said, “That light shines˺ in houses which Allah has permitted to be raised to honour; for the celebration, in them, of His name, where He is glorified in the mornings and in the evenings.” [An-Nur 36].

It does not violate the sacredness or reduce the sanctity of a Mosque, if non-Muslim Christians enter and perform their pray therein. This is particularly true if it is for the purpose of co-operation and demonstration of the common humanity and moral values that both Muslims and Christians equally advocate, as long as the sanctity of the mosque is observed and it is kept clean. It is also important to respect its sacredness by adhering to its ethics and preserve its rights. Such was the guidance of the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, when he received a delegation of the Christians of Najran in his Mosque, where he allowed them to perform their prayer in it. He also hosted a delegation of the Tribe of Thaqif, where they stayed in it for days, during this time they were duly talking, debating and praying in it. They watched Muslim prayers and the Muslims watched their prayers.

Othman bin Abul Aas al-Thaqafi, may Allah be pleased with him, reported, “When the Thaqif delegation came to Allah’s Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, he made them stay in the Mosque, so that it may soften their hearts.” Narrated by Imam Ahmed in “Al-Musnad”, Abu Dawud in “Al-Sunan”, Ibn Khuzaymah in “Al-Sahih” and Al-Tabarani in “Al-Mu’jam Al-Kabir”.

When the Najran delegation came to Allah’s Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, they entered his mosque while he was praying the Asr prayer. They were wearing the clothes of monks, jubbahs and cloaks, in the opulence of the men of bani al-Hareth bin Ka’b, even when some of companions the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, who saw them then said, “We have never seen a delegation like them”. When it was time for their prayer, they prayed in the mosque of Allah’s Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family. Then Allah’s Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, said, “Let them be” so they prayed facing east. Narrated by Al-Bayhaqi in “Dala’il al-Nubuwwa” (5/ 381-382, Dar El Kotob El-Ilmiya), it was mentioned by Ibn Heshal in his “Biography” (1/ 574, Dar El Fekr), it was corrected by Sheikh Ibnul-Qayym in “Ahkam Ahlul_Dhimma” (1/397, Ramady), and stated that Abu Sufian had entered the mosque before he embraced Islam, so had Umair bin Wahb.

Al-Hafiz Ibn Rajab stated in “Fatḥ al-Bari” (3/391, Al-Ghoraba’ library) in mentioning the Thaqif delegation, [he had a tent pitched up for them in the rear of the mosque so that they can see the Muslims at prayer; in bowing and prostrating].

He also said (3/391): [this was the same with all Arab and the Christians of Nagran delegations; they all entered the mosque into the Prophet’s audience and stayed there.]

This was not limited to the people of the Book; such an approach of good treatment and generous hospitality was extended to even include those who were not from the people of the Book. The purpose was also in order to make then see the worship of and prayer to Allah, in fulfilment of what Allah, be He exalted, said, “And if anyone from the polytheists asks for your protection ˹O Prophet˺, grant it to them so they may hear the Word of Allah, then escort them to a place of safety” [At-Tawba: 6]; Al-Hafiz Ibn Rajab said in “Fath al-Bari” (3/391): [When the polytheists of Quraish came to pay ransom for the captives of the Battle of Badr, they used to stay at the mosque].

Sheikh Ibnul-Qayym said in “Zad al-Ma‘ad” (3/525, al-Resala foundation): [a polytheist may enter the mosque… and be enabled to listen to the Quran and to see the people of Islam and their worship].

This beneficent Prophetic guidance in treating non-Muslims is should Muslims adhere to and follow. It is in fact the right approach which defines of the methodology of moderation in its pure call, evident truths, and in the honourable morals it fulfils, the good treatment it stimulates, the common principles it commands to adhere to in order lay firm the foundation of social peace and citizenship and the humanitarian values it aims to hold up high. To achieve this in a correct and noticeable manner, which would negate distorted information and fallacious doubts about Islam, particularly in the western countries when a negative picture is depicted about Muslims because of the crimes and extremist ideology shown and attributed to Islam by some of the mass media.

Scholars’ texts successively stated that non-Muslims may enter a mosque and did not distinguish between a man and a woman in this respect. The Hanafy scholars permitted this in absolute sense, as mentioned in “Bahr al-Ra’ik” by Imam Najim (8/231, Dar al-Kitab al-Islamy).

However, what was mentioned in some of scholars’ texts that can be said to male it undesirable or restricted is in “Roudat al-Talibeen” by Imam al-Nawawi (1/296, al-Maktab al-Islamy), “al-Moghny” by Imam Ibn Qudamah (99/359-360, Cairo library), and “al-Insaf” by Imam al-Mardawi (4/241, Dar Ihya’ al-Turath al-Araby): they are justified on the grounds of their historical contexts and restrictions of their specific circumstances which cannot be discounted from their reality, and because of the time distance, differences in political and social systems and changes of circumstances so that such a mode civic service has become a part of the peaceful co-existence between Muslims and non-Muslims, and a practical application of the principle of citizenship and joining the society in a civic state مواكبة المجتمع في الدولة المدنية. It is established in the rule of Islamic law the “judgment is carried with its reasoning in existence and non-existence” الحكم يدور مع علته وجودا وعدماً; as stated in “Tashnief al-Masame’” by Imam al-Zarkashi (3/54, Qurtoba Library).

In conclusion: in order for such a civic service including performing prayers to be permitted to take place between Muslims and non-Muslims in a mosque, it has to meet the following conditions:

First: the meeting has to be for the purpose of co-operation and highlighting the humanitarian common aspects.

Second: such meeting cannot be used to enter into conflicts and disputes, or to cause doubts.

Third: to adhere to the ethics of the mosque and to observe its sacredness and sanctity. So if such ethics are adhered to and conditions are complied with; there would be nothing to prevent the civic service, including sermons and prayers, from taking place, particularly if the aim and objective is to achieve societal peace and to highlight the common humanitarian aspects, which is there to stop false claims and accusations that depict Islam by what it is not, that is to say, it is a religion of violence segregation and isolation, when in fact it is a religion of mercy, tolerance, co-operation and peace.

*As for playing the National Anthem at the mosque: it is internationally customary that in all countries of the world national anthem be played on every occasion or in gatherings intended to benefit and serve the interest of the nation; for listening to it moves the patriotic feelings and the respect for the nation’s sovereignty. This would have a great effect on the desire to act for good of the country and nation. Upon hearing it, it is also customary to attentively listen to it in appreciation of the homeland and glorification of the sound representing it. Therefore, when playing the national anthem at the mosque, it is a prerequisite that when playing the national anthem at the court of the mosque, those present do not cause noise and clamour, nor do they violate the status and respect of the mosque. This is first.

Second: the national anthem could be sung in lyrics without melody, or played by melody without lyrics, or lyrics with melody, it is also called the ‘national salute’; as it is in all situations a sound played for the good meanings it conveys, namely, to arouse the patriotic feeling and alert the sense of belonging of Muslims and non-Muslims. Everything with noble intention is permissible.

·                 If it is in the form of lyrics without melody: it would be considered a poem. Under Sharia law, it is permissible to read poetry in the mosque, if it contains good meaning and advocates doing good. This is based on the fact that the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, let Hassan Bin Thabet, may Allah be pleased with him, to read poetry in the mosque. So if this was not allowed, the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, would have prevented him from doing that.

Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that Omar bin al-Khattab passed by Hassan Bin Thabet, may Allah be pleased with them, while he was reciting a poem in the mosque and a gazed at him in disapproval.  So Hasan said: “I used to recite (poetry) in this mosque in the presence of one (i.e. the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family) who was better than you”. “Then he turned towards Abu Hurairah and said (to him), “I ask you by Allah, did you hear Allah’s Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, saying (to me), “Retort on my behalf. O Allah! Support him (i.e. Hassan) with the Holy Spirit?” Abu Huraira said, “Yes”. Agreed upon.

Aisha, Mother of the Faithful, reported that he Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, would set up a pulpit in the mosque for Hassan and he would stand on it and satirize whoever spoke badly of the Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family. The Messenger may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, said: “Indeed, the Holy Spirit was with Hassan whenever he defended the Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family”. Imam Ahmed in “al-Mosnad”, Abī Dawud and al-Termethi in “al-Sunan”.

Badr al-Din al-Ainy said in “sharh Sunan Abu Dawud” (4/412. Al-Roshd Library): [The Hadith indicated that poetry is right that qualifies its owner to be verbally supported by the angels victory, whatever has this status is unimaginable to be forbidden in the mosque, for what is forbidden in the mosque is obscenity and falsehood].

Imam Abu al-Abbas al-Qurtubi said in “AL-Mufhem Lema Oshkela min Talkhis Kitab Muslim“ (6/418, Dar Ibn Katheer): [there were different opinions; those who totally rejected, those who permitted. However, it is better to consider in detail; that is to examine the poem; if it about for praising or defending Allah, be He exalted, or His Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, like that by Hassan, or if it is about urging  people to do good, then it is good for mosques and other places, otherwise, it shouldn’t be permitted].

The scholar Ibn Battal said in “Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari” (2/103, Al-Roshd Library): [ Scholars had different views on reciting poetry in the mosque. Some permitted it if the theme is not bad. Ibn Habib said: I saw Ibn al-Magshoun and Mohammed bin Salam reciting poem in the mosque and remembering the days of the Arabs. Al-Yarbou’ and al-Dahhak ibn Othman were reciting Malik and relating to him the news of the Arabs and he was attentively listening to them].

  • If it is in the form of melody without lyrics, which is known as the ‘national salute’, or lyrics sung along with the melody: then Sharia permitted listening to all forms of music provided it is not associated with anything forbidden, such as drinking intoxicants or insolence and provided it does not move forbidden urges and encourages debauchery. These conditions are completely met in the national anthem, as it is a piece of music composed in relation to the country or nation’s anthem to be a symbol of that country or nation and it is played in military celebrations and some public occasions, which requires its music to be serious and solemn. Music was permitted under these conditions in their entirety in the books of Sunnah and Imams literature. Some of them classified its permissibility; so where music is not forbidden to listen to or to play, then it is a sound; the good of it is good and the bad of it bad. The bases for forbidding it, the correct of it is implicit, and the explicit of it is incorrect.

In respect of playing music I the mosque: the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family did not prohibit that. It was reported that Aisha, Mother of the Faithful, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “The Ethiopians of yazkanoun came to the mosque on a day of Eid; the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, called me and placed my head over his shoulder and I kept watching them playing, so much so that I was the one who was distracted by watching them. Muslim in “al-Sahih”.

It was reported that Barida al-Aslami, may Allah be pleased with him, said: Allah’s Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, went in some of his battles. When he left, a black female slave came and said: O Messenger of Allah, I vowed that Allah returned you safely, I would play the tambourine and sing in your presence. The Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, said to her, “if you made the vow, then do, otherwise don’t” imam Ahmed in “al-Musnad”, al-Termethi in “al-Sunnan”.

Imam Shawkani said in “Nail Alawtar”: (8/119, Dar al-Hadith) [Evidence proved that there no vowing in disobeying Allah. The permission came from him, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, to this woman to sound the tambourine is an evidence that what she did was not disobedience on this occasion].

In addition, since the basis of the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims is citizenship, then it would be appropriate for the gathering to include all their aspects and humanly relationships of solidarity, co-operation, righteousness, compassion, getting together, consulting, exchange presents, courtesy and to give and take at individual and group levels.

  • When the Christian Priest said: “Our Father” to the Christians, in the hearing of the Muslims; if it is permitted for them to perform their prayer with its rites and rituals in the mosque while the Muslims are watching; then utterances and expressions, which are less than the rituals, are also permitted in the presence and hearing of Muslims. The Rule is: “whatever is generally permitted in its higher aspect, the lower aspect in its specificity is permitted”. Furthermore, the original speech was directed at those who believe in it and used to canonical discourse. The mere presence of Muslims and hearing that doesn’t require acknowledging what is contrary to their belief. Belief is in the heart and firmness and steadfastness of belief cannot be affected by such external matters that comes into contact with the members that maybe seen, heard or read by Muslims intentionally or unintentionally.

It is reported that Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, said: the Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, said “Allah does not look at your bodies nor your images; but He looks at your hearts” Imam Muslim in “al-Sahih”.

Imam al-Nawawi said in “Sharh Sahih Muslim” (16/121, Dar Ihya’ al-Turath al-Aaraby): [The meaning of “Allah looked” here means His repayment and calling to account, namely, this would be in relation to what goes on in the heart and not the visible images.  When Allah looks, He is all-seeing and sees everything. The purpose of the hadith is that in all this, only the heart that is taken into consideration].

Islam laid down general principles dealing with non-Muslims, that is to accept their opinions and conduct on the basis of the principle of difference, to respect their freedom, way of thinking, points of view and beliefs, so long as none of that affects the general higher principles of society and public order. He, the exalted, said: “You have your way, and I have my Way”. [Al-Kafiroun: 6].

  • With regard to mixing men and women in the mosque: is what Muslim predecessor and successor did was that the mere presence of women together with men in one place is not forbidden per se, what is forbidden would be in the social format if it is contrary to the noble sharia, such as when women show what is not permitted for them to show under sharia or if the gathering for having or doing something forbidden; or the mixing between men and women would include touching or getting too close. the guidance on this is found in the correct texts and presidents that allow the permissibility of the gathering of men and women in one place.

It is reported that Sahel bin Aad al-Sa’edi, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “When Abu Usaid al-Sa’edi got wedded, he invited the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, and his Companions. No one made food for them and brought it to then except his wife, Um Usaid” Al Bukhari in “Sahih”.

Imam Ibn Battal said in “Sharh Sahih Al-Bukhara” (6/53): [In this respect ‘hijab’ (meaning: the separation of women from men in a place and dealing indirectly) is not an obligation on the women of the Faithful,  it is specifically for the wives of the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, as Allah mentioned in His Holy Book saying: “And when you ˹believers˺ ask his wives for something, ask them from behind a barrier”].

In the mosque itself: the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, did not prohibit that. It is reported about Ibn Omar, may Allah be pleased with them, that the Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, said: “Do not prevent the women of Allah from going to Allah’s mosques”

It is reported about Anas Ibn Malek, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, said: “when I am praying and wanting to lengthen the prayer, if I hear a child crying, so I shorten it as I know how hard it would be for the mother because of his crying” Agreed upon both of them.

Imam Rajab said in “Fath al-Bari” (8/40-41, al-Ghuraba’ al-Athariya Library): [what is intended here is: that women attended prayers behind the Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, together with their children and the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, knew that and used to take into consideration in his prayer their situation, what affects them and used to avoid any hardship they may be under. This is evidence that their attendance in congregation with him was not frowned upon; otherwise he would have prevented them from attending to pray with him].

It is reported that Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them, said: “A woman was praying behind the Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and his Family, she one of the best looking women. So some of the people used to move forward to the first row so that they can see her, and cause others to move back to be in rear row” al-Termethi, al-Nesa’I and Ibn Maja in “al-Sunan”.

Accordingly, based on the question: there is no Sharia impediment to carry out the civic service in the manner undertaken in the court of the mosque, there is nothing to prevent playing the national anthem of the country of which the participants are citizens. There is also nothing wrong with Muslims in respect of the Christian Priest‘s sermon and saying “Our Father” addressing his sermon to the Christians among those present, while the Muslims are hearing it. As explained above, all this is on condition that the purpose of such a service and gathering is in accordance with Sharia, in that it for the good and in the interest of society and to highlight common humanitarian aspect between Muslims and non-Muslims, provided that the ethics of the mosque are adhered to, its sanctity be observed and it is kept clean.

Allah, be He exalted, knows best

Dr Shawki Allam

Grand Mufti of the Arab Republic of Egypt

1/8/2022

BELOW ARE THE SCANNED COPIES OF THE FATWA – Any people disputing this are encouraged to contact the Grand Mufti of Egypt or any senior scholars from their own madhabs, sects, groups who are versed in Quranic, Hadith, Sunnah.

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