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Designing Buildings That May Be Used for Sinful Purposes

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: I’m currently working in an architectural practice.  I understand that there are certain buildings which I’m not allowed to design (from my understanding) such as casinos, churches, places where alcohol is consumed, night clubs, etc. But what about designing buildings where sin may occur through such as gender interaction in mixed schools, offices etc?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

According to the Hanafi school, any building can be designed, regardless of what it is used for. If its primary use is sinful activity (like casinos, night clubs, etc), designing it is deemed indirect assistance in sin, which is disliked but not sinful. However, in light of the difference of opinion on this matter, one should strive one’s utmost to avoid designing such buildings. [Kasani, Bada’i al-Sana’i; Sarakhsi, Mabsut]

As for buildings whose primary purpose is not sinful yet there might be incidental presence of sin there, such as improper gender interaction in mixed schools or offices, designing them is not even indirect assistance in sin. They are perfectly fine to design, since their primary activity is lawful. A legal maxim states, “Leeway that is not given in primary considerations is given in secondary considerations” (yughtafar fil-tabi` ma la yughtafar fil-matbu`) [Majalla]

And Allah knows best.

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

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This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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