What does Islam say about harming places of worship?
Wifaqul Ulama Interfaith (Department)
[They are] those who have been evicted from their homes without right — only because they say, “Our Lord is Allah .” And were it not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned. And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might. [Al-Qur’aan (TMQ) 22:40]
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh (Peace, Blessings & Mercy of Allah be upon You).
This statement is being issued on the 26th of July 2016 and supersedes all previous statements on the subject.
The protection of monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques (as houses of worship) is an enshrined principle in the Qur’aan which cannot be violated. Commentators of the Qur’aan have consistently explained this verse to mean that despite disagreements in theology and nature of worship, it is the responsibility of Muslims to not only avoid harm but to (actively) protect these places of worship from harm.
Umar (may God be pleased with him) at Jerusalem followed the example and it has been consistently followed throughout the centuries by Muslims.
The covenant of Umar (may God be pleased with him) begins with the following words:
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. This is the assurance of safety which the servant of God, Umar, the Commander of the Faithful, has given to the people of Jerusalem. He has given them an assurance of safety for themselves for their property, their churches, their crosses, the sick and healthy of the city and for all the rituals which belong to their religion. Their churches will not be inhabited by Muslims and will not be destroyed. Neither they, nor the land on which they stand, nor their cross, nor their property will be damaged. They will not be forcibly converted. No Jew will live with them in Jerusalem.…
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) placed the following words in his treaty with the Christians of Najran:
…He who preserves it, respects it, and abides by its dictates, will have fulfilled his obligations and will have adhered by the covenant of the Messenger of Allah. He, however, who breaks it, opposes it or changes it, will carry his crime on his head for he will have betrayed the Covenant of Allah, broken his faith, resisted His Authority and contravened the will of His Messenger: he will thus be an imposter in the eyes of Allah. For protection is obligatory in Allah’s religion and the covenant confirmed. He who does not abide by this covenant will have violated his sacred obligations, and he who violates his sacred obligations is unfaithful and will be rejected by Allah and by all sincere Believers…
It is in contradiction to the teachings of Islam to harm places of worship or those inhabiting those places of worship. It is the duty of Muslims to protect these places and the worshippers. We, therefore condemn attacks on all places of worship from Nigeria to France and stand in solidarity with humanity in condemning these attacks.
(Shaykh) Hashim Sacha (Interfaith Lead, Wifaqul Ulama) was asked about the developing events at the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray and he responded:
These are disturbing times. We are being confronted by yet another sad, deplorable tragedy. We offer condolences to all those affected, share their grief and offer our support. It is ever more important for all of humanity to stand together and resist attempts to divide us. Our strength is in our unity. All Human life is equally precious. The developing story about the loss of life and property at Banghazi by alleged French aerial bombardment is equally tragic and regrettable.