I learned that there are no worshiping places of other religion than Islam in Saudi Arabia. This is for political reason or because of something written explicitly in Quran? Whether for political reason or as dictated by Quran, can any reason be associated with this prohibition?

I am not aware of any country that forbids building a mosque despite being a non-Islamic state. How the tolerance of these countries is viewed by Islamic scholars?

  • 2
    the direct answer to "why are no worhiping places of other religion?" is simple: public practice of religions other than Islam is prohibited by the state. I guess the real question, then, is "why is this prohibited?". It may seem a minor difference, but it may be worth an edit to clarify your question. Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 6:51
  • 2
    The two things are not mutually exclusive. Such rulings can often be directly tied to how the Quran is interpreted and applied. To use an example that I am more familiar with: the fact that some US states are trying to enforce laws to respect "creationism", and that many Christian places do not have these laws: does not mean that those laws are purely political. They are not; they are entirely and wholly driven from the religion (and its interpretation/application). Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 7:00
  • 1
    @MarcGravell, I have edited the question to seek logic behind prohibition. I hope that there not too many sub-question in this question. Please edit the question if something is not clear yet. Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 7:07
  • 1
    Thanks Farzad. Infomation on Iran and UAE was useful. I don't have enough reputation to upvote. Will soon do that. Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 9:55

3 Answers 3


The Saudi Grand Mufti (back inMarch) apparently justified this on the teachings from Islam. If you copy/paste the following into google, you'll see many news reports of this, however, I cannot cite any in particular as the "original" / "authentic" source:

The Grand Mufti, who is the highest official of religious law in Saudi Arabia, as well as the head of the Supreme Council of Islamic Scholars, cited the Prophet Mohammed, who said the Arabian Peninsula is to exist under only one religion.

Vexingly, none of the sources I looked at said what the citation from Mohammed was, so it is very hard to comment on whether this conclusion is valid (by which I mean: has Quranic / Hadith support, as is the claim) or ... somewhat stretched. I suspect the original proclamation is in Arabic, but if any readers have access to the original statement (March 2012) I welcome edits!

So; religion is certainly being used as part of the official reason / justification, however it is not always the case that the official reason for something is the actual reason. I am also aware that this attitude has received much critique from within the international Muslim community, with many saying there is no Quranic justification for this, and many others saying it contradicts the teachings of the Quran.

Regrettably, I speculate that the actual reason is more simple: the authorities in that location a: wanted it, and b: could get away with it.

  • 2
    Thanks Marc. I suspected that it has to do with local authorities and your answer confirms that. Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 9:56
  • 1
    @satya I confess I personally only regard it as a partial answer. I was actually hoping that in a few hours (international timezones, etc) we might see a few more perspectives. I would actually say "leave this not marked as answered yet", but: it is up to you. Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 10:37
  • 1
    Thanks Marc. I understand your concern which is readily supported by answer by mtk. I will wait for some more time for different perspectives. Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 15:08

The Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta' consisting of the Mufti Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al Al-Shaykh, Shaykh Salih Al-Fawzan,(May Allah preserve them), Shaykh Abdullah ibn Ghudayyan and Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd (May Allah have mercy on them) answered a similar question. The complete answer and verdict can be found here.

Islam came into being to remove Shirk (associating partners with Allah), idolatry and polytheism. Make no mistake, the ultimate crime according to Islam is Shirk.

Allah says in Qur'an:

Indeed, the religion in the sight of Allah is Islam.

And He says :

And whoever desires other than Islam as religion - never will it be accepted from him, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.

Now, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia adopts Islamic Shariah as the law of the land. How can you expect something that encourages disbelief to be constructed in their land? It is the Islamic duty to forbid disbelief. Hence, the public worship of anything other than Allah is forbidden. What you do in private, however, cannot be monitored. The least that can be done is prevent construction of churches, temples and so forth. Because they promote disbelief and apostasy is a crime punishable by death under Islamic Shariah which is carried out by the legal authorities in the country.

So a good analogy would be - If cocaine is banned, how logical would it be to legalize cocaine selling shops?

Apart from this, unlike everyone says here, there is a hadith to support this action:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) stated:

There should not be two religions together in the Arabian Peninsula. [Al-Muwatta, vol.2, pg.892, Narration of Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her).]

Thus, scholars have unanimously agreed upon the prohibition of building temples such as churches in Muslim countries. They have also agreed that there is an obligation of destroying churches and any other places of worship if they have been recently built.

Allah says in Surah Al-Maidah:

Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwâ (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allâh. Verily, Allâh is Severe in punishment

  • 4
    IMO this is a bit of an oversimplification. It assumes that an "Islamic state" has the authority to allow or disallow the building of places of worship. I think if you look at the model of governments the early khilafahs followed, they followed a small government policy. Gov't was limited to a few things, and by and large citizens did as they pleased. The only times other places of worship were phased out was when their followers accepted Islam or if they were expelled.
    – Ansari
    Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 21:50
  • 1
    (continued) Now if there are non-Muslim immigrants who want to build that's a tricky issue. Regardless, it's not as simple as "This is an Islamic government. They cannot allow non-Islamic places of worship."
    – Ansari
    Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 21:50
  • 1
    @Ansari Your opinion is noted. I am just reporting the reason cited by the scholars of the kingdom. If you want to call it oversimplification, fine.
    – Abdullah
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 8:52
  • 2
    @Ansari Moreover, it is a scholarly verdict. It sure is tricky and I assume the scholars analyzed the circumstances before issuing the verdict. It will not be false to say that they have knowledge of Qur'an and Sunnah more than us. So, oversimplification, I would say is just your assumption. These issues are better left to scholars.
    – Abdullah
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 9:04

In fact according to Quran Mecca is one great exception that should be mentioned here:

O ye who believe! Truly the Pagans are unclean; so let them not, after this year of theirs, approach the Sacred Mosque. And if ye fear poverty, soon will Allah enrich you, if He wills, out of His bounty, for Allah is All-knowing, All-wise. (At-Tubah:28)

According to this verse everyone who prays anyone beside Allah, the only God, would be forbidden to enter Mecca and, thus, live there as well. If there is no one in Mecca but Muslims (a true unitarian) then there is to be no church and temple as well! But again note that Mecca is just one exception. I know many Christian and Jews may criticize me for not considering them as true unitarians, but the very concept of trinity, that Allah has child (like Uzeir that Jews believe in and Jesus that Christian believe in) or the God has parents (like Christian believe about Jesus) puts them out from the circle of true unitarians, and this has some evidences that they do not believe in God as they should, e.g. the Jews approved Moses but rejected another prophet of Allah, Jesus, and the Christians approved Jesus but rejected another prophet of Allah, Muhammad, may Allah bless them all:

Those who deny Allah and His messengers, and (those who) wish to separate Allah from His messengers, saying: We believe in some but reject others: And (those who) wish to take a course midway (An-Nesaa':150)

Anyway, I'm not going deep inside this subject, only note that no non-Muslim is allowed to enter or live in Mecca and that clarifies why there would be no church or temple. But in other places that's not an Islamic order. You see Saudi's clerics give such extreme orders on behalf of Islam then they are the greatest ally for US and Israel in the region as well. They kill Muslims, both Shia and Sunni, for the sake of defending the privileges of the Imperialism in this strategic region, Middle East. Sorry for the political answer, but the question was itself political.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .