Are Christians allowed to renovate churches in Muslim Countries?
I’ve read that Subki claimed there was an ijma’a that churches aren’t allowed to be renovated. However, Imam Ahmad and Shafi’i have stated otherwise, equating the prohibition of rebuilding churches as their ultimate destruction. So could you perhaps offer an opinion on this? Furthermore, the Kuwaiti encyclopedia of fiqh claims that Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanafi, and Hanbali have agreed that it is haraam to obstruct a non-muslim from renovating or rebuilding his church. So which is it?
Wa Alaykum al-Salam
Shukran, for your question.
The ruling on renovating churches in Muslim lands stems from building or maintaining places of worship in countries in which Muslim governments have succeeded non-Muslim governments.
According to all four schools of jurisprudence, when the building or maintaining of churches is permitted, so is their renovation.
Khatib al-Shirbini wrote, “Where we permit churches, there is no problem in renovating them when required, so that they may remain extant. Thereafter, should the restoration be hidden (not public)? Two views exist (within the Shafi’i school). The preponderant view is no. Accordingly, clay walls may be renewed inside and out, just as fallen walls may be rebuilt. Similarly, if the church becomes dilapidated, it may be rebuilt” (Mughni al-Muhtaj).
As for Imam Subki’s reference to ijma’ in his Fatawa, it may be understood that he was referring to those instances where the building or maintaining of churches is not permitted.
And Allah knows best.
[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.