#450: Helping to Clean Other Religion’s House of Worship

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. Is it permissible for a Muslim to help clean the house of worship of another religion?

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

Allah SWT states:

وَتَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْبِرِّ وَالتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ

“And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.” [1]

Al-Sobuni said: Help and cooperate in righteousness and charity and leave any transgression (and help each other in) matters that bring about obedience towards Allah SWT. [2]

The ruling of helping non-Muslims

In the issue of a Muslim helping a non-Muslim, the type of help is divided into two, which are:

  • Social charity and humanity

In the issue of social welfare, we as Muslims are encouraged to be charitable towards all humans regardless of the differences in religion, race, lineage, skin color and others. This is based on a narration from Abu Dzar RA where Rasullullah PBUH said:

وَخَالِقِ النَّاسَ بِخُلُقٍ حَسَنٍ

“And behave well towards the people.” [3]

The word people in the hadith is considered a general word that includes all mankind regardless of who he is and this includes disbelievers themselves. Thus, it is obligatory to do good in the interaction between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Likewise, Allah SWT also states:

لَّا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ

“Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” [4]

Ibn Kathir in his commentary stated: Allah didn’t prohibit you from doing good towards the disbelievers who aren’t against you because of your religion, like the women, and the weak amongst them, that is by doing good and being fair towards them. Indeed, Allah loves those who are fair. [5]

From Asma’ binti Abi Bakar RA, she said:

قَدِمَتْ عَلَيَّ أُمِّي وَهِيَ مُشْرِكَةٌ فِي عَهْدِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، فَاسْتَفْتَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، قُلْتُ: وَهِيَ رَاغِبَةٌ، أَفَأَصِلُ أُمِّي؟ قَالَ: نَعَمْ صِلِي أُمَّكِ.

“My mother came to me during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and she was a pagan. I said to Allah’s Apostle (seeking his verdict), “My mother has come to me and she desires to receive a reward from me, shall I keep good relations with her?” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Yes, keep good relation with her. “ [6]

From Zubair RA, he said:

قَدِمَتْ قُتَيلة عَلَى ابْنَتِهَا أَسْمَاءَ بِنْتِ أَبِي بَكْرٍ بِهَدَايَا: صِنَاب وَأَقِطٌ وَسَمْنٌ، وَهِيَ مُشْرِكَةٌ، فَأَبَتْ أسماء أن تقبل هديتها تُدْخِلَهَا بَيْتَهَا، فَسَأَلَتْ عَائِشَةُ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، فَأَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ، عَزَّ وَجَلَّ:  (لَا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ) إِلَى آخِرِ الْآيَةِ، فَأَمَرَهَا أَنْ تَقْبَلَ هَدِيَّتَهَا، وَأَنْ تُدْخِلَهَا بَيْتَهَا

“Qutailah once came to meet her daughter, Asma binti Abu Bakar bringing mastigure (meat) and essential oil when she was still a disbeliever. Asma refused her gift and didn’t invite her mother into her house. Then, Aisyah asked the Prophet PBUH regarding this matter, and then, Allah SWT revealed the verse “لَا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ” and he asked Asma to accept her mother’s gift and invite her inside her house.” [7]

In this verse, it clearly shows the ruling of being charitable to a group of non-Muslims who aren’t against Muslims is permissible according to syarak. A Muslim who sees a non-Muslim in need, then he should help the non-Muslim. For example, if a Muslim sees a famished or thirsty non-Muslim, he is commanded to help the non-Muslim. Likewise, if he sees a blind non-Muslim who is trying to cross a road, then he should help him in this situation. This showcases the true character of Islam as a blessing for all.

  • Other religious practices and sin

In the book al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyah, it is stated:

ذَهَبَ جُمْهُورُ الْفُقَهَاءِ إِلَى أَنَّهُ لاَ يَجُوزُ لِلْمُسْلِمِ أَنْ يَعْمَل لأِهْل الذِّمَّةِ فِي الْكَنِيسَةِ نَجَّارًا أَوْ بَنَّاءً أَوْ غَيْرَ ذَلِكَ، لأِنَّهُ إِعَانَةٌ عَلَى الْمَعْصِيَةِ، وَمِنْ خَصَائِصِ دِينِهِمُ الْبَاطِل، وَلأِنَّهُ إِجَارَةٌ تَتَضَمَّنُ تَعْظِيمَ دِينِهِمْ وَشَعَائِرِهِمْ

“Most scholars are of the opinion that it is impermissible for a Muslim to work for zimmi non-Muslims (who reserves the right to stay in a Muslim country) in their churches as carpenters, contractors or others, for it is considered as helping a sin (disbelief), moreover, the main basis of their religion is wrong. The prohibition is due to the fact that taking pay from something that contains elements that upholds their religion and eminence of their religions.” [8]

Thus, according to this opinion, cleaning the house of worship of a religion other than Islam is prohibited, the same as its analogical deduction towards the construction, repairs, construction or other related works. The analogical deduction is based on the existence of the same illah (the reason for the ruling).

In the issue involving other religions’ religious rituals, it is impermissible for a Muslim to help for it involves shirk towards Allah SWT. This is clear according to the statement of Allah SWT:

وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ

“But do not cooperate in sin and aggression.” [9]

Imam al-Qurtubi stated in his commentary: And don’t cooperate in sin and aggression, that is the ruling after evil, and enmity which is oppression on man. [10]

In this matter, it clearly shows that Allah SWT prohibits helping in sinful matters and transgressions which Allah has set limitations to, including cleaning their houses of worship that are affected or dirtied due to a flood of others.

Conclusion

To conclude, we state that it is not an issue to offer help to non-Muslims in the form of humanitarian aid such as cleaning their houses that were affected by a flood, granting them food and other aid. However, if the help involves religion and faith such as cleaning their house of worship is prohibited in line with the Islamic legal maxim that prohibits any form of shirk and prevents any form of cooperation and help that leads to shirk. Its purpose is to close any room that as though shows that Muslims acknowledge their religion.

May Allah SWT grant us understanding in this religion and distances us from being involved in any elements of shirk.

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] Surah al-Maidah: 2

[2] See Sofwah al-Tafasir, 1/301

[3] Narrated by al-Tirmizi (1987)

[4] Surah Al-Mumtahanah (8)

[5] See Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 8/90

[6] Narrated by al-Bukhari (2620) and Muslim 1003

[7] Narrated by Ahmad (16111), al-Tayalisi (1744) and al-Bazzar (2208). Syeikh Syuaib al-Arnout in Takhrij al-Musnad (16111) stated the sanad of this hadith is dhaif

[8] See al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyah, 38/158

[9] Surah Al-Ma’idah: 2

[10] See Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 6/47

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