Is it permissible to sell a masjid building and purchase a new one because of the congregation is getting too big for the masjid?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh
A Musjid is Waqf. A Waqf property belongs to Allah (Ta’ala). That includes a Musjid.
It is a well-established and unanimously accepted principle that a Waqf property cannot be sold or gifted to anyone. This is clearly understood from the following Hadith:
حدثنا مسدد حدثنا يزيد بن زريع حدثنا ابن عون عن نافع عن ابن عمر رضي الله عنهما قال أصاب عمر بخيبر أرضا فأتى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال أصبت أرضا لم أصب مالا قط أنفس منه فكيف تأمرني به قال إن شئت حبست أصلها وتصدقت بها فتصدق عمر أنه لا يباع أصلها ولا يوهب ولا يورث في الفقراء والقربى والرقاب وفي سبيل الله والضيف وابن السبيل لا جناح على من وليها أن يأكل منها بالمعروف أو يطعم صديقا غير متمول فيه
Hadhrat Ibn Umar (Radhiyallahu Anhuma) said “In the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ), `Umar gave in charity some of his property, a garden of date-palms. `Umar said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! I have some property which I prize highly and I want to give it in charity.” The Prophet; said, “Give it in charity (i.e. as an endowment) with its land and trees on the condition that the land and trees will neither be sold nor given as a present, nor bequeathed, but the fruits are to be spent in charity.” So `Umar gave it in charity, and it was for Allah’s Cause, the emancipation of slaves, for the poor, for guests, for travellers, and for kinsmen. The person acting as its administrator could eat from it reasonably and fairly, and could let a friend of his eat from it provided he had no intention of becoming wealthy by its means.’’ (Bukhari, Hadeeth # 2620)
Therefore, it is not permissible for one to sell the Musjid and use such funds to purchase another property. The trustees of the Musjid should purchase the property next to the Musjid and use such property to expand the Musjid. If that is not possible, then the Musjid trustees and seniors of the community should consult with each other and agree to build another Musjid to accommodate for the growing needs of the Muslim community. However the present Musjid will remain as a Musjid forever until the day of Qiyamah.
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Checked and Approved,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.
1 و لو خرب ما حوله و استغني عنه يبقي مسجدا عند الامام و الثاني ابدا الي قيام الساعة و به يفتي فلا يعود ميراثا و لا يجوز نقله و نقل ماله الي مسجد اخر سواء كانوا يصلون فيه او لا (الدر المختار، ص 358، ج 4، كتاب الوقف)