JEDDAH (Web Desk) – The Saudi government has opened the doors of four historical mosques to non-Muslims in a bid to promote Islamic culture and architecture
These mosques include: Jamia Mosque Rehma (Jeddah), King Fahd Mosque, King Saud Mosque (Jeddah), and Mosque Al Taqwa.
According to the Imam of Quba Mosque Sheikh Saleh al Maghamsi, there is no restriction on non-Muslims to enter a mosque.
“Anybody can enter a mosque, as Islam does not restricts entry for non-Muslims,” al Maghamsi told Al Arabiya.
However, in Makkah, the Islam’s holiest city located in western Saudi Arabia, non-Muslims are strictly forbidden from entering the city.
The ban is based on a verse of the Quran which reads:
“O ye who believe! The idolaters only are unclean. So let them not come near the Inviolable Place of Worship after this their year. If ye fear poverty (from the loss of their merchandise) Allah shall preserve you of His bounty if He will. Lo! Allah is Knower, Wise.” (9:28)
The Quran is seen as the direct word of God, so it is usually taken literally. ‘Inviolable Place of Worship’ is seen to mean the Grand Mosque in Makkah, but exactly what it means is subject to some interpretation as it is possible that Medina was referred to by the phrase as well.
There is a hadith that reports the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) saying that ‘no two religions can co-exist’ in Arabia.
History has tended toward the interpretation of these rules that puts both Makkah and Medina off-limits, but permits non-Muslims to live in – but not become citizens of – contemporary Saudi Arabia.
There are also Saudis (and others) who argue that the ‘no two religions’ rule should be applied only to Makkah and Medina. This would permit non-Muslims to live freer lives in the Kingdom as well as potentially relax some of the more austere constraints Saudi society imposes.
However, the recent move aiming to remove cultural barriers between Muslims and non-Muslims is being widely hailed across the world. It is hoped that the opening of these historical mosques for non-Muslims will help them bridge the vast gap between West and Arabia, Islam’s birthplace.