Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, born in 1925, in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, is an Islamic spiritual scholar who is well-versed in both classical Islamic learning and modern disciplines. The mission of his life has been the establishment of worldwide peace. He has received the Padma Bhushan, the Demiurgus Peace International Award and Sayyidina Imam Al Hassan Peace award for promoting peace in Muslim societies. He has been called ’Islam’s spiritual ambassador to the world’ and is recognized as one of its most influential Muslims . His books have been translated into sixteen languages and are part of university curricula in six countries. He is the founder of the Centre for Peace and Spirituality based in New Delhi.


HERE we reproduce a news report which has been published in various newspapers. The text presented below has been published in The Times of India, dated February 17, 2018:

Muzaffarnagar: Muslims agree to remove mosque for bridge construction

The long-pending construction work of an overbridge in Muzaffarnagar city could now see the light of the day after members from the Muslim community gave their consent to remove a roadside mosque affecting the project.

The project had remained stalled for the past 10 years with the religious structure playing as a major hindrance. However, the locals held a meeting and decided to remove the mosque for the betterment of the area and smooth flow of traffic. The district administration had made adequate security arrangements to deal with any eventualities considering the sensitivity of the issue. However, the demolition drive was conducted under peaceful atmosphere and no untoward incident was reported from the spot.

It is commonly believed that the construction of a mosque is an eternal construction—once built, the mosque cannot be relocated. But it must be clarified that the shifting of a mosque from one location to another (relocation) is not a taboo. It is in line with Islamic teachings.

This injunction about mosque-building was established in the later period of Islam, during the Abbasid era (750–1258 AD). The Quran and the teachings of the Prophet do not have any injunction about the sanctity of the location of a mosque.

During the Abbasid period, some jurists gave a fatwa (juristic sanction) that once a mosque is built at a location, it cannot be shifted from there. But this fatwa was not unanimously accepted by all jurists and clerics; only a handful subscribed to this idea.

Present-day Muslim clerics called the above fatwa an ijtihadi (creative reinterpretation) issue, that is one dealing with the personal opinion of a scholar and which could be altered if need arises. In other words, if required, a mosque could be relocated from its original position and this would be completely permissible in Islam. The Hanbali School of Jurisprudence endorses this principle as is alluded to in the book of Ibn Qadama, a Hanbali scholar (1147-1123 AD):

If there arises a need, the ground part of a mosque could be made into a well (saqaya) or a shop and this is Islamic; even demolishing a mosque to make a well or a shop is permissible in Islam. In lieu, the mosque should be re-built at a different location (Al-Mughni, Ibn Qudama).

Another principle of jurisprudence is talfiq—this means using the fatwa (injunction) of a school of jurisprudence and applying it to other schools of jurisprudence. This principle could be used in the case of mosque relocation because although the Hanafi School does not allow for relocation of a mosque, the Hanbali School does allow it.

In Islam the issue of mosque-building is on the basis of need, not only on the basis of sacredness. In the modern world, when the era of city planning came about, in Muslim cities for example, Makkah and Madinah, old mosques were relocated in large numbers. This was done because these old structures served as obstacles in the task of city planning. For example, if the Bilal Mosque was built at a certain place, then relocating it involved removing it from its original place and building another mosque with the same name at a different location.

At the original location of this mosque, a new construction would come up under the city plan.

A mosque is undoubtedly a respectful place. But if need arises, the location of a mosque could be used for another purpose or to cater to a requirement, and doing so would be completely Islamic.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
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