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Offline Reader Questions

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Verse 2:187 and the Role of Classical Mosques
« on: March 25, 2013, 07:15:34 PM »

salamu aleikum

To this day I was convinced that the Masjid means mosque. Well, I stumbled upon this verse.If Masajid is translated here as a mosque, the verse is absolutely no sense ... can anyone help me?

2:187 Lawful for you in the night of the abstinence/fast is sexual approach to your women, they are a garment for you and you are a garment for them. God knows that you used to betray/deceive yourselves so He turned towards you and He forgave you; so now approach them and seek what God has decreed/written for you. And you may eat and drink until becomes distinct the white thread, from the black thread, of dawn. Then you shall complete the abstinence/fast until the night, and do not approach them while you are devoting/staying in the maSaJiD /. These are God's boundaries, so do not transgress them. It is thus that God makes His revelations clear to the people that they may be righteous.

This implies wives could theoretically be approached by husbands in the masajid!if one takes masajid=mosques , why even mention mosques, when there is much greater chance of sexual temptation in the homes? The traditional commentators have an explanation for this: Jalalayn says this is referring to 'itikaf'

or  points the word "(approach) THEM" to " eat and drink" and we should not approach them (we should not eat and drink) when we are in the mosque?
thanks and salam

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Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Verse 2:187 and the Role of Classical Mosques
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2013, 07:19:17 PM »
Salamun Alaikum.

When we study classical sources, it is best to think of these places as if one is present in 7th century Arabia in the middle of the desert and not to think in terms of modern day mosques. Ancient mosques were used for a multitude of societal purposes and not like many today that only open their doors for prayers.


First, we need to understand the role of a Mosque from the Quran. If one reads verse 2:125, it is clear what the purpose of the ancient house that Prophet Abraham built intended to provide:

  • A place of return (mathabatan) - a place of visitation, a resort
  • A place of security (aman) - where one finds refuge, protection, assistance.
  • A place of seclusion, stay, attachment, to give one self up to in purpose, to be devoted, to be resident (akifina). This is also supported by verse 2:187 (akifuna fil-masajid)
  • A place of worship - ruku (bow) and sujud (prostrate).

Now the verb 'akafa' in Arabic can clearly imply residency or to inhabit. This is quite appropriate if you consider 7th century Arabia where most things moved at the gait of a camel or at best, a horse. It is quite probable that people may have flocked to the Sacred Mosque from distant places during the month of Ramadan and stayed there as residents with their families for a while by pitching tents or whatever manner they established residency.

This is supported by the following verse:

As to those who have rejected (God), and would keep back (men) from the Way of God, and from the Sacred Mosque, which We have made (open) to (all) mankind - equal is the dweller there / inhabitant (Arabic: akifu) and the visitor from the country - and any whose purpose therein is profanity or wrong-doing - them will We cause to taste of a most Grievous Penalty.

Akifuna is simply a masculine plural which includes women too. But today, it is not unheard of to know of women being discouraged from mosques completely.

Now, 2:187 clearly establishes the permission of intimacy in the nights of the fasts BUT it prohibits it for those that are 'akifina' in the mosques. (Staying at the mosques temporarily).

So the rights of intimacy granted do not apply to those that have residency at the mosques, whether it is for 'mathabatan', 'aman' or whether they have come to stay for sustained worship.

I hope that helps, God willing.

'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell