The Etiquette and Rules of the Masjid
Islam made the Masjid the heartbeat of the Muslim society. It is the hangout of Muslims where they meet one another daily not to perform the prayers only but also for other acts of worship and activities that are beneficial for the Muslim community.
The prophet (S.A.W.) taught us that the Masajid are Allah's houses and that they have etiquette and rules that should be learned and upheld by every Muslim. We should teach our families and children these rules and remind other Muslims to uphold these rules. This guarantees the Masajid play their roles properly and effectively that they were designed for.
The etiquette and rules include:
1-The Muslim should avoid everything that has an offensive smell like garlic, onion, or smoking and even too much perfume*. And the Muslim should wear clean clothes and socks when he comes to the Masjid so that he does not offend other Muslims around him with an offensive smell. Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said: "Whoever eats garlic, onion, then keeps away from our Masjid because the angels get offended from what offends the children of Adam." Imam Muslim reported that Omar (R.A.) used to say while he on the Minbar: "I saw the Prophet (S.A.W.) when he found their smell (garlic, onion) from a man in the Masjid, he ordered him to be taken out." then Omar said: "If you must eat them, then cook them well."
*(Our beloved Prophet liked to use perfume but the tendency nowadays to use concentrated oils that are meant to be diluted and apply these directly on our skin and beards is equally offensive sometimes more than garlic and onions. A refined scent is light, delicate and pleasing to Allah)
2- The Muslim should say a supplication, which the prophet used to say while on his way to the Masjid. Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) used to say: "O Allah, make in my heart light, in my vision light, on my right light, behind me light, in my nerves light, in my flesh light, in my blood light, in my hair light, and in my skin light."
3- The Muslim should enter the Masjid with his right foot first, and then say what was reported by Imam Muslim, the prophet (S.A.W.) used to say: "BIsmillah. In the name of Allah, O Allah, open for me the gates of your mercy." The prophet (S.A.W.) used to like to start with his right in every thing. Imam Bukhari reported that "Ibn Omar (R.A.) used to step with his right foot first when he entered the Masjid, and step out with his left foot first when he walked out of the Masjid." If there is a group of people who want to enter the Masjid at the same time, then the one on the right should go in first to uphold the Sunnah of the prophet (S.A.W.).
4- The Muslim should give Salam to the people as he enters the Masjid, even if the people are praying, because the companions used to give Salam to the prophet (S.A.W.) while he is in his prayer, and he used to reply with a hand gesture. There are many Ahadith about that, among which reported by Imams Bukhari and Muslim that Souhaib (R.A.) said: "I passed by the prophet (S.A.W.) while he was praying and gave Salam to him, he replied to me with a gesture." And Ibn Omar (R.A.) asked Bilal (R.A.): How did you see the prophet (S.A.W.) reply to them (his companions) when they gave Salam to him while he was engaged in prayer?" Bilal said: "By spreading his palm."
5- The one who inters the Masjid should not run to catch up with a Rak'ah, rather he should remain quiet because the prophet (S.A.W.) forbade running in such a situation. Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) said: "If the prayer started, then do not join it running, and join it walking and quiet, and pray whatever you caught up with, and make up for what you missed."
6- The Muslim should not distract other praying Muslims in the Masjid, because the praying Muslim is in contact with Allah (S.W.T.) so he should not be distracted not even with reciting Qur'an, supplication, or remembrance of Allah. Imam Ahmad reported Abdullah bin Omar (R.A.) narrated that the prophet (S.A.W.) saw some people praying, and they became loud in their prayer. He said: "The praying person is in contact with his Lord, so let him concentrate on whom he is in contact with, and do not raise your voices over one another with Qur’an."
Raising voices while talking is not allowed while Muslims are praying. Imam Bukhari reported that Assa'eb (R.A.) said: "I was in the Masjid, and a man called me, I turned to him and there was Omar (R.A.). And he said: "Bring me these two men", then I brought them to him. Omar asked: "Where are you from? They replied from the people of At-Ta'ef. He said: "If you were from the people of Al-Madinah, I would have hurt you because you raised your voices in the Masjid of the messenger of Allah (S.A.W.)."
7- The one who inters the Masjid should not sit until he prays two Rak'ahs. Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) said: "When one of you enters the Masjid, he should pray two Rak'ah before sitting down." There are other Ahadith with the same meaning.
8- The Muslim should place something in front of him during prayer as a barrier between him and the passersby in front of him, and that he gets closer to it as the prophet used to do. Imam Bayhaqi reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) said: "If you pray, then pray toward sutrah (some barrier) and get closer to it." So if you enter the Masjid and want to pray, then get closer to the wall of Qiblah so much that there is just enough room between you and the wall to pray. If you prostrate, there should be no room between your prostration spot and the wall more than a sheep pass. Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that: "Between the place of his prostration (S.A.W.) and the wall there was no room more than sheep pass." In another Hadith reported by Imam Bukhari when the prophet (S.A.W.) used to pray, he leave between him and the wall three arm lengths." If you find people already at the wall of the Qiblah, then pray behind one of them because he will be as a sutrah for you like the companions used to do.
9- The Muslim should not pass in front of the praying Muslim. Imams Bukhari, Muslim and others reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) said: "If the passer in front of the praying person knew how much sin he committed, it would have been better for him to wait for forty than to pass in front of him."
10- The Muslim should sit where he finds a place in the Masjid. The Muslim should not skip people or squeeze himself between two people who are already sitting. Many Ahadith conveyed this meaning.
11- The Muslim should keep himself busy supplicating and remembering Allah (S.W.T.) while he is sitting in the Masjid, because he is in the prayer as long as he is waiting for the prayer.
12- The Muslim should keep the Masjid clean and in good shape and smell because it is the house of Allah (S.W.T.). The prophet (S.A.W.) considered spitting in the Masjid to be a sin that could be forgiven only if the Muslim cleans the area. Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) said: "Spitting in the Masjid is a sin and its expiation is clean it." When the prophet (S.A.W.) saw a spit in the Masjid, he used to remove it with a stone. The companions of the prophet (S.A.W.) used keep the Masjid clean. Imam Abu Dawod reported that Abdullah bin Omar (R.A.) used to put perfume inside the Masjid when Omar (R.A.) sat on the Minbar to deliver Friday speech.
13- The Muslims should keep away from the Masjid all selling and buying transactions and crying out about something lost. Imams At-Tirmthi and An-Nisa'i reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) said: "If you see some one selling or buying inside the Masjid, say to him: May Allah not make your trading profitable. And if you see someone crying out inside the Masjid about something he has lost, say to him: May Allah not restore it to you, for the Masajid were not built for this."
14- The Muslim should not walk out of the Masjid after the Athan before he prays with the Muslims. This is even if he already prayed that obligatory prayer (which will be considered a Nafelah (extra) when he prays with the other Muslims). Imam Ahmad reported that Abu Hurairah (R.A.) said: the prophet (S.A.W.) ordered us, when we are in the Masjid and the Salah is called for, not to leave the Masjid until we pray."
15- The Muslim should say Salam to the people before he leaves the Masjid. Imams Abu-Dawoud, and At-Tirmith reported in a good hadith that the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said, "When one of you joins a gathering he should greet those present; and when he leave them he should greet them because the first salutation is not better than the last one."
16- The Muslim should leave the Masjid start with his left foot first and say what the prophet (S.A.W.) use to say: "Bismillah, In the name of Allah, O Allah open for me the gates of your blessings, o Allah protect me from Satan."