The Difference between a Masjid and a Musalla

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Shaykh Al-Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked,” What is the difference between a masjid and a mussala? What are the regulations for the masjid? And what if people call the Athan and pray the five daily prayers at a musalla, could it be considered a masjid?

Answer: The entire earth is considered a masjid in the general meaning of the word. However the specific meaning for masjid is a place purposely built for prayers to be held at all times. A masjid is a place specifically built for prayer. It can be built by stone, mud, or cement. Even if the place is designated to be a masjid and it isn’t complete, but intended to be a masjid then it’s a masjid.

The musalla on the other hand is a place that a person conducts his prayers at sometimes. This place isn’t considered a masjid. He only prays there when the prayer comes in (and he can’t make it to the masjid). The proof for a musalla can be found in the Prophet’s action(peace and blessings be upon him). He used to pray his supererogatory in his house, and his house wasn’t a masjid. Also Utban ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) invited the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to his home , so he could pray in the place Utban used to pray. That place at Utban’s home wasn’t a masjid.

Therefore a musalla is a place where people conduct their prayers, and this place isn’t designed or designated to be a masjid. Additionally, the people who pray there know it’s a musalla.[1]

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Additional points of benefit for this subject:

  1. ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be on him), commanded that Masajid be built in villages, and that they be kept clean and perfumed.” [2]

Al-Bagawee said: “ This hadeeth shows that a place isn’t a masjid because it’s called a masjid. It’s a masjid when the owner of the place dedicates it be a masjid. And when it becomes a majsid he loses all ownership.[3]

  1. The Eid Mussala . Do the same verdicts which apply to the masjid apply to the Eid Musalla? And is the Eid Musalla considered a masjid? There are two positions for this issue;

A: It isn’t a masjid, but it has the same rulings for a masjid. Rulings like a clean place for the prayer, lining up straight in a row, and following the imam. This is the view of the majority of the ulema. They hold this position because congregational prayers aren’t regularly held in the Eid Mussala. And any place where the five daily prayers aren’t held isn’t considered a masjid.

B: The Eid Mussala is a masjid ,if the owner endowed it. Therefore the Eid Musalla has same rulings a masjid does. i.e It’s prohibited to buy and sell inside , and menstruating woman can’t enter. This is the view of the Hanbali school of thought.

Ibn Muflih said:” The correct view for the Eid Musalla is it’s a masjid. This is based on the hadeeth. “ Umm Atiyah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) commanded us to bring out on Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha ,the young women, and hijab-observing adult women and the menstruating women. The menstruating women stayed out of actual Salaat, but participated in good deeds and Duaa (supplication).

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered the menstruating women to stay out of the actual Musalla. Hence the Eid Mussala is a masjid and has the same verdicts a masjid does. And if it weren’t a masjid, he wouldn’t have ordered them to stay away from the area for prayer.[4]

The majority of the scholars answer this by saying the command for the menstruating women to stay away was so they could be recognized and not soil the musalla. Using the hadeeth from Um Atiyah (may Allah be pleased with her) to show the Eid Musalla is a masjid isn’t clear -cut. Rather, what’s closer in meaning is the command for the menstruating women to stay away from the musalla only applies to the actual prayer. If the menstruating women sit behind or close to women who are praying, then there is no harm in that action. However they mustn’t sit in the actual area for prayer.

The opinion that the  Eid Musalla is a masjid when a person endows it for prayer, is strong. There is no difference between Eid Prayer and the five daily prayers. And based on this view a person prays two rak’ah when he enters the Eid Musalla.[5]

  1. The Musalla for the funeral prayer isn’t a masjid. The funeral prayer doesn’t consist of Ruku, or Sajud. [6]

Allah the Most High knows best and to Him I repent.

Translated and compiled by Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Battle

Doha, Qatar 1431©

Republished and edited March 15, 2016

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[1] Majmu’ fatawa of Uthaymeen 15/ 72

[2] [ Abu Dawud 455 hadeeth da’eef

[3] Sharhus Sunnah 2/ 400

[4]   Al-Furu’ by ibn Muflih

[5]   Ahkamu Hudurul Masajid by Abdullah ibn Salih Fawzan page 14

[6]   Ahkamu Hudurul Masajid by Abdullah ibn Salih Fawzan page 14


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