Praise be to Allaah.
A masjid or mosque is a place which is prepared for the
purpose of offering the five daily prayers on a permanent basis and is
devoted for that purpose.
A place becomes a mosque when general permission is given to
pray in it, whether it is stated clearly that it is a waqf or endowment
given for the sake of Allah, or it is not stated, according to the majority
of scholars apart from the Shaafa‘is. See: al-Mawsoo‘ah al-Fiqhiyyah,
Ibn Qudaamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: A waqf is
valid if it is established verbally or by means of actions which indicate
that, such as if a person builds a mosque and give the people permission to
pray in it, or he establishes a graveyard and gives people permission to
bury the dead in it, because that is the custom and it indicates that
something is a waqf. So it is permissible to establish it by means of that
(action), as it may also be established verbally. That is like when a person
presents food to his guests. End quote from al-Kaafi, 2/250
A mosque is no longer the property of the one who establishes
it, because it is a waqf, so it is not permissible for him to sell it.
There are prayer rooms (musallas) that are set up in offices
and schools; these do not come under the rulings on mosques because they are
not established as waqfs and as such they do not cease to be the property of
their owners. Moreover, the five daily prayers are not held regularly in
them in most cases.
It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa’imah (5/169): What
is the difference between a mosque (masjid) and a prayer room (musalla)?
What I mean is: Is offering the prayer to greet the mosque (tahiyat
al-masjid) obligatory in a prayer room or does it not come under that
ruling? Or is it mustahabb and recommended?
A mosque (masjid) is a place that has been set aside for
offering the obligatory prayers on a permanent basis and is devoted for that
purpose. A prayer room or prayer place (musalla) is a place that is used for
prayer occasionally, such as the ‘Eid prayers, funeral (janaazah) prayers
and so on, and it is not set aside as a waqf for the five daily prayers. It
is not Sunnah to offer the prayer to “greet the mosque” when entering a
musalla; rather it is Sunnah to offer this prayer when entering a mosque for
one who wants to sit down in the mosque; he should do it before he sits
down, because the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said:
“When one of you enters the mosque, let him not sit down until he has prayed
two rak‘ahs.” Saheeh - agreed upon.
And Allah is the source of strength. May Allah send blessings
and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions. End
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Baaz, Shaykh
‘Abdullah ibn Ghadyaan, Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan; Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez Aal
ash-Shaykh, Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked
about the difference between a mosque and a prayer room, and when a place
may be regarded as a mosque.
He replied: With regard to the general meaning, the entire
earth is a mosque because the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon
him) said: “The earth has been made a place of prostration and a means of
purification for me.”
With regard to the specific meaning, a mosque is a place that
has been prepared for the purpose of prayer on a permanent basis and is
allocated specifically for that, whether it is built of stones, mud or
cement, or not. With regard to the prayer room or prayer place, it is a
place that a person uses to pray in, but he does not make it a place for
prayer on a permanent basis; rather he prays there if the time for prayer
comes. This is not a mosque. The evidence for that is the fact that the
Messenger (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) used to offer naafil
prayers in his house, and his house was not a mosque. Similarly, ‘Utbaan ibn
Maalik invited him to come to his house and pray in a place that ‘Utbaan
could take as a prayer room or prayer place, and that place was not a
mosque. So a prayer room is a place that is used for prayer without it being
set up specifically as a public mosque in which the people can pray and that
is known to have been set up specifically for that purpose.
End quote from Fataawa ash-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen,
From the above we may conclude that a mosque is a place that
fulfils the following conditions:
It has been set aside as a waqf
and is no longer the property of the one who established it
General permission to pray in
it has been given, i.e., anyone who wants to pray in it is not to be
prevented from doing so
It is established for the
purpose of offering the five daily prayers regularly and on a permanent
And Allah knows best.