The question of whether can a Muslim go to church has sparked debates, among scholars. Muslims sometimes do get invitations to attend weddings and funerals in church.
In this article, we will address viewpoints on whether Muslims can visit churches drawing references from the Quran and Hadith.
Perspectives of Islamic Scholars
Scholars hold various opinions regarding Muslims attending church. Some believe that it is forbidden (haram) for Muslims to enter churches while others argue that it is permissible under circumstances.
Prohibition of Church Entry
According to the Hanafi and Shafi’i schools of thought entering churches is considered haram for Muslims.
The Hanafi school asserts that churches are inhabited by devils and hence should be avoided by Muslims.
On the other hand, the Shafi’i school limits this prohibition to churches containing images.
Permissibility of Church Entry
Islamic scholars have different opinions on whether it is acceptable for Muslims to enter church in certain situations.
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto in Canada states that there is nothing wrong with a Muslim visiting a church, for legitimate reasons.
For instance, participating in a funeral or wedding ceremony, fosters friendly connections with individuals who follow Christianity.
The reason for visiting churches is an aspect when considering if it is acceptable for Muslims to enter them. If the intention behind visiting a church is to display tolerance and understanding then it is not permissible.
However, if the aim is to invite Christians to Islam and create opportunities for conversations about it without participating in their worship then it is considered permissible.
Examples from Hadith
The Hadith provides instances of how Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) interacted with individuals from different faiths. He allowed a group of Christians to pray in his mosque in Medina and he accommodated a delegation from Najran within his mosque.
Whether or not Muslims can attend churches remains a subject of debate among scholars. While some scholars believe that it is forbidden (haram) for Muslims to enter churches others hold the view that it can be permitted under circumstances like going there for funerals, weddings, and societal meetings.