Answered by Shaykh Yūsuf Badāt
Is it permissible for non Muslims to enter the main prayer hall area of a masjid (mosque)?
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
Jazāk Allāh Khayran / Thank you for contacting the Mathābah answer services for your question.
In response to your concern, kindly note that it is islamically permissible for non-Muslims (Christians, Jews, idolaters, atheists, agnostics etc,) to enter the masjid (mosque), as long as there is a purposeful benefit related to their entry [for example construction, maintenance, interfaith, visit to explore, educational event etc.], they are outwardly clean and they respect the sacredness of the masjid.
The author of I’elā Al Sunan writes,
“Numerous narrations evidently validate the permissibility of [both] non-muslims entering, and also allowing them to enter the masjid. They should not be prohibited from entering. As for the Qur‘ānic verse 9:28; ‘O you who believe, the idolaters are impure indeed, so let them not approach Al-Masjid-al-Ḥarām’ is attributed to not allowing entry in the event of appropriation, taking authority over the mosque [causing harm] or other such similar situations. For indeed Almighty Allāh states, ‘It was not for such men to enter them (the masājid) except in awe’ (Qur‘ān 2:114). There is also no evidence to differentiate a specific masjid from another. ” (I’elā Al Sunan)
Imam Abū Bakr Ibn Abī Shaybah (may Allāh’s mercy be upon him) has recorded the following narration on the topic:
“The delegation of Thaqīf arrived to see the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) while he was in the masjid in a canopy of his. It was said to him, ‘O Messenger of Allāh, they are idolaters!’. The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) responded saying, ‘Nothing causes the earth to become impure’.” (Muṣannaf Ibn Abī Shaybah)
Also refer to the following narrations:
‘Othmān Ibn Abī al-Ᾱs (may Allāh be pleased with him) reports, “When the delegation of Thaqīf arrived to see the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings upon him), he lodged them in the masjid so that it would be a kind gesture for their hearts.” (Abū Dāwūd)
Abū Hurayrah (may Allāh be pleased with him) reports regarding the story of Thumāmah Ibn Uthāl (a disbeliever at that time) “he was positioned at one of the pillars of the masjid”. (Bukhārī & Muslim)
And Allāh Knows Best