View Full Version : Reserving Places in The Mosque

08-24-2011, 01:11 AM
Reserving Places in The Mosque

The male worshipper is commanded with attending the Masjid early and with standing near to the Imaam himself, and not reserving his place by the use of a stick, or a staff or a prayer mat. Those who reserve places in this manner do so with the intention of praying in the first row and attaining the reward for that. However by merely placing a stick, or a prayer mat in the front row and then leaving the masjid, a person opposes the Sunnah.

Though the Sunnah strongly encourages men to reach the first row since it is the most excellent for men, this excellence is not attained by placing an object such as a stick, a book or a prayer mat in the first row and then exiting the masjid to fulfill one's worldly needs such as shopping or returning home, hoping that when they return they will find their reserved place vacant due to them leaving an object reserving their place. And whoever thinks they have reached the excellence of the first row even if they arrive late by virtue of 'reservation by stick or prayer mat' is hugely mistaken in his thinking. Rather such a person in fact loses reward, and has prevented others from good as well as earning sin on the basis that he has contradicted the Sunnah.

People in the Masaajid are the same, no one has more right than another - and virtue of the front row is achieved by getting to it first not by leaving an object there to reserve a place. And whoever reserves a place in this manner has compelled others and has prevented those who have more right by virtue of them being there earlier. So there is no doubt the one who comes early for each prayer has more right to the front row, and if one leaves his book or his prayer mat or his reading table in the front row and then exits the masjid for his worldly needs and then returns to his place, he has opposed the Sunnah, wronged his brothers and is considered sinful. So the intended purpose and desire for which he has done all this, i.e. the pleasure of Allaah, is not attained. Indeed the one who comes early and finds the front row taken by these objects that have been placed there and reserved and therefore is forced to pray in the back rows, then his reward is more excellent and greater. And this is because he did not come early except for the first row and its immense reward but he was prevented from it without due right, so he achieved its excellence by virtue of his intention and desire - and the one who unjustly reserved the place in opposition to the Sunnah lost his reward and Allaah knows best.

Shaikhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah stated:

"It is not permitted for anyone that he reserve anything in the Masjid, not a mat that he has layed out before his actual presence in the masjid, nor a carpet and not other than that, and it is not allowed for anyone to pray on it without his permission either, rather it should be removed and one should pray in its place in that place in the most correct of the two sayings of the scholars, and Allaah knows best."

And he also stated: "It is not for anyone to put forward a rug for himself whilst he himself comes late. And there is no Islamic right binding due to what is laid down for him in advance. Rather it is removed and one prays in its place according to what is correct." [Majmoo' al-Fatawa, (22/123), (23/410) and refer to al-Fatawa as-Sa'diyyah p. 184]
Some harmful effects of reserving places in this incorrect manner include:

That some people are elevated over others without due right, and are seen as proud and arrogant.
You may see them climbing over the heads and shoulders of people who are seated just to reach "their reserved place". That these reserved places become a cause for dispute and hatred between the worshippers in the most excellent of places, i.e. the Houses of Allaah. That sometimes the rows are not completed even after the worshippers are standing and ready to pray because someone has "reserved" his place and a gap remains as the people are afraid to fill the gap as the "owner" may return and claim it, so then the one who filled that gap has nowhere to go except right to the back row!

As for the one who enters the masjid early and comes to the front row and places his stick or book down and then steps forward or slightly backward in search of a sutrah and he prays and returns back to his place in the front row, then there is no harm in that. Or the one takes his place early in the front row and then places his rug or stick there and then sits back against a pillar whilst he reads the Book of Allaah for example, and waits for the next prayer, then there is no harm in that, with the condition that he does not climb over the heads of the people to reach his place, and nor does he harm them in anyway - and it is better that he does not do so if he can find an alternative. [Refer to al-Fatawa as-Sa'diyyah p. 186]

As for the one who comes to the masjid early with the intention of waiting for the prayer, and then he nullifies his wudoo, then there is no harm if he places a stick or something similar on the floor until he returns - and if he returns he has more right to it due to the hadeeth of Abu Hurairah (radhi Allaahu 'anhu) that the Prophet (salallaahu 'alaihi wassallam) said:

"If one of you gets up from his place, then he returns to it, he has more right to it." [Muslim (2179), Abu Dawood (4853).Imaam an-Nawawee (rahimahullaah) stated:

"Our companions have stated: This is the right of the one who sat in a place in the masjid or other than that, for the prayer, as an example - then he leaves with the intended purpose of returning to it, such as [leaving] with the intention of making wudoo, or for a small task and then he returns, then his place is not nullified due to that. It is for him to make the one who came after him stand and sit in that place himself. And it upon the seated person to obey him. And they differ: Is it obligatory upon him [to move]? From the two stances: The most correct of the two being that is an obligation."

He said: "And there is no difference between him standing from it, and leaving in the place a rug or similar to that or not, and Allaah knows best." [Sharh an-Nawawee 'ala Saheeh Muslim (14/412)]
Whoever comes first to a place in the masjid then he has greater right to it, and it is not permitted for someone to move him from the place which he was present at first, regardless of whether he is from the noble ones or from the weak ones, whether young or old, unless he fears from him harm, such as one who has eaten garlic or has been smoking a cigarette.

There occurs in the hadeeth of Ibn 'Umar (radhi Allaahu 'anhumaa) from the Prophet (salallaahu 'alaihi wassallam) that he prohibited for a man that he stand from his seated place and for another to sit there, rather they should spread out and make space. (Bukhaaree (5014), Muslim (2177)).
This hadeeth is specific for open gatherings and sittings and foremost of these are the masaajid. Ibn Abee Jamrah stated:

"The people with regard to the allowable affairs are the same as each other. So whoever reaches something first, then he has greater right to it, and whoever takes a right to something and someone else takes that from him without right, then he has compelled/forced him [unjustly], and compulsion is haraam." (See Bahjatun-Nufoos of Ibn Abi Jamrah (4/194))
So the people should spread out and try and sit together and fill the rows and make room for one another, with the condition that one is not squeezed and thus loses his ability to be at ease in the prayer.

Wallaahu a'lam, walhamdulillaahi rabbil-'aalameen.

08-27-2011, 02:41 AM
RESERVING PLACES IN THE MOSQUE. (Translated by Dawud Burbank)

Shaikh `Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Naasir as-Sa`dee -rahimahullaah(d.1376 H)was asked: What is the ruling on reserving places (at-tahjeer) in the mosque?

Answer: You should know -may Allaah have mercy upon you- that reserving places in the mosque, and placing a stick; when the person is delayed in his house, or in the market place, from attending, is not lawful, and is not permissible. That is because this is contrary to the Legislation; and contrary to what the Companions, and those who followed them upon goodness, were upon. So the Prophet ( صلى الله عليه و سلم) encouraged the people to come to the front in the mosques, and to draw close to the imaam themselves; and he gave encouragement with regard to the first row, and said: << If the people knew what there is in the call, and in the first row>>, meaning with regard to tremendous reward, << and then they did not find any way to it except to draw lots, then they would indeed draw lots.>>

And compliance with this, and this tremendous reward, will not come about except for one who himself comes to the front and precedes. As for one who puts his stick or the like down, and comes later on, then he has acted contrary to what the bringer of the Legislation encouraged, and he is not complying with his command. So whoever claims that he attains the virtue of coming to the front, and the virtue of the place of excellence, by reserving a place in it, when he actually comes later, then he is a liar. Rather the person who does this misses out on the reward, and he acquires sin and accountability.

So from the evil effects of that, is that he believes that by reserving a place of virtue at the start of the row, or in the place of virtue, that he can attain the virtue of being at the front. This is a false and futile belief, because the virtue cannot be attained except by one who himself arrives and precedes. As for one who reserves a place of virtue, but comes later on, then he does not attain anything of the virtue; for the virtue is for the one who comes first, not for the one whose stick arrives first.

So if there were any good in that action, then the people who would have been most eager upon it would have been the Companions -radiyallaahu `anhum. However, Allaah kept them free of this vile action, just as He kept them free of every vile action. So if the person who reserves a space knew that he is sinful, and that his praying at the back of the mosque would be better for him, and safer for him, than the sin, then he would not venture to do it. Rather he would keep far away from it; and how could he attain reward through performing an action that is forbidden, and not permissible?!

Also from the evil effects of that is that the mosques are for Allaah, and the people are on an equal footing within them. No one has a right in them except for the one who comes forward himself. So if someone else precedes, then he has more right. So if a person reserves for himself something which someone else has a right to, then he will be sinful and disobedient to Allaah, and he will be wronging the person whose right it is; and the right will not just be for a single person, rather everyone who arrives before him will have a right to his place. He will therefore have wronged a large number of people. So if we imagine a person coming, and the first row has been reserved by people wrongfully, so therefore he takes his place in a row further back, then he will have greater excellence than them, and greater reward, and will be more secure from sin. So Allaah knows from his intention that if he had found it empty he would have prayed in it. So he is the one who attains its virtue; whereas they attain sin, and they miss out on the reward.

And from the evils of that is that it invites stepping over people, and causing harm to them, and the bringer of the Legislation has forbidden that. So he combines reserving something for himself, coming late, and stepping over the people. Therefore he is doing what is forbidden from a number of aspects.

And from them is that if he places his stick, it causes him to become lazy, and to delay in coming. So when he knows that he will find a place at the front of the mosque, even if he comes late, then his heart cools, and he becomes lax about coming forward (early). He therefore misses out on a great amount of good, and he acquires a large amount of sin. And from the evils is that it provokes rancour, enmity, and disputation in the houses of Allaah, which were not built except for the remembrance of Allaah, and for His worship.

And from the evils is that the Prayer of the person who reserves a place is deficient, because sins, if they do not nullify deeds, then they render them deficient; and there are from the scholars those who hold that the Prayer of the person who wrongfully reserves a place is not correct; just the same as a person who prays in a place which he has seized illegally: his Prayer is not correct because he illegally took the place, and wronged someone else.

And from the evils of that is that the person who habitually reserves a place is one who is persisting upon disobedience to Allaah, because he is committing it, resolved to keep on doing it; and persisting upon sins runs contrary to Eemaan. He -the Most High- said:

[[Meaning: And they do not persist upon sin which they have commited whilst they know, (but rather they repent.)]][Soorah Aali `Imraan (3):135]

And lesser sins become major sins through persistence upon them. So the amazing thing is that most of those who do that are people who have a desire for good; and perhaps the repugnance of this matter has departed from them on account of their persistance upon it, and the fact that some of them follow others.

So desire for good cannot be realized through seeking closeness to Allaah by doing something forbidden. Rather the person who desires good should be the farthest of the people away from acts of disobedience to Allaah; and from wronging the people with regard to their rights. So nothing draws a person closer to Allaah except obedience to Him. So worse than this is that the person reserves something for himself, or for someone else, and (in doing so) combines a number of sins.

So how can a Believer, who is rightly guided, who has life in his heart, be pleased to commit a matter which has these evils and harmful effects?! So what is obligatory upon everyone who does that is that he should repent to Allaah, and resolve that he will not return to it; since a person who knows that this is not permissible, but then persists upon this sin, is one who is taking Allaahıs prohibitions lightly; bold upon acts of disobedience to Allaah. It is to be feared that he is from those who love to be praised for what they have not done: for show and repute; he loves to be praised for his praying in the first row, and for the place of virtue; whereas he is actually a sinner who is wronging the people of the mosque, and he does not attain the virtue. Yet he persists upon this blameworthy and despicable characteristic.

So we believe that the Believer, who is earnest about his Religion, when he knows that this is forbidden, and he knows the evils and harms contained in it, and how it reduces his Prayer or nullifies it, he will not undertake it and he will not do it; because there is no benefit for him in that, neither in his Religion nor in his worldly life. Rather it is entirely harmful for him. So the person who is granted success should seek the aid of Allaah upon abandoning it, and upon being resolved not to return to it; and he should seek Allaahıs forgiveness from what has emanated from him, because Allaah forgives extensively and is Merciful. He -the Most High- said:

[[Meaning: And I am indeed forgiving to those who repent, truly believe and worship Allaah alone, perform righteous deeds, and remain constant upon right guidance.]][Soorah TaaHaa (20):82]

And we ask Allaah to preserve us and our brothers the Muslims from acts of disobedience to Him, and that He pardons us and them what has occurred from us previously from them. Indeed He is Beneficent, Generous. As for a person who comes to the mosque, and his intention is to wait for the Prayer; but then something occurs: for example he needs to perform wudoo, or the like, and then he returns, then there is no harm for him; and he has more right to his place, and no blame is attached to him. Likewise a person who is in the mosque, and he places his stick or the like, so that he can pray or recite Quraan in another place in the mosque. Then there is no harm; with the condition that he does not step over people, and does not harm them.And Allaah knows best, and may Allaah extol Muhammad, and grant him peace and security.
************************************************** ********
[Ref.: al-Fataawas-Sa`diyyah, pp.182-186: Maktabatul-Ma`aarif, 2nd edn., 1402 H].