Answered by Salman Younas

Question: It is often stated among Muslims that a prayer in the Holy Mosque in Makkah is worth 100,000 prayers in any non-holy city, and that one in the Mosque of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in Madinah is worth 50,000 such prayers. These mosques have been around for hundreds of years and during that time, they have been expanded from their original limits. To be sure that one’s reward for praying is multiplied 100,000 or 50,000 times, within which limits exactly does one have to pray, does one’s prayer have to be congregational; and, does a woman within either of the holy cities get the same multiplied reward for praying alone, in her hotel room for example?

Answer: I pray you are well and in the best of health.

Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “A prayer in this mosque of mine is a thousand times greater than a prayer in other than it, except for the Masjid al-Haram.” [Sahih Bukhari; Sahih Muslim] Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, in his Talkhis al-Habir, mentions other variant narrations, among them the report of Abu al-Darda’ narrated in Tabarani’s Mu`jam al-Kabir wherein the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) stated, “A prayer in the Masjid al-Haram is akin to a hundred thousand prayers, a prayer in my mosque to a thousand prayers, and a prayer in the Bayt al-Maqdis to five hundred prayers.” This increase of a hundred thousand in the Masjid al-Haram, as mentioned by Tabarani, was also narrated by Bazzar in his Musnad. Ibn Hajar, in his Fath al-Bari, states that, “Bazzar said it is authentic (hasan).”

As for the increase in the Mosque of the Prophet being fifty thousand then there seems to be no clearly established narration to support this except the report of Anas ibn Malik, which has been deemed weak. In his commentary on Ibn Majah, al-Sindi stated that, “in the Zawa’id it is mentioned that its chain is weak because the state of Abu al-Khattab al-Dimashqi is not known.” [Sharh al-Sindi] It also opposes the number stipulated in other, much stronger narratives. [Kashmiri, al-`Urf al-Shadhi]

Regardless, without going into a detailed analysis of the narrations in question, which is the domain of someone specialized in hadith, what can be said is that praying in the Masjid al-Haram and the Prophet’s Mosque carries an immense increase in reward that one should strive to attain at some point in life.

The Vicinity Of The Masjid al-Haram In This Context:

Regarding the vicinity wherein this increase in reward relates to then this has been an issue of difference of opinion between the scholars. Imam al-`Iraqi mentions that the term “Masjid al-Haram” can denote four possible meanings:

[a] The Ka`bah itself,

[b] The Ka`bah and the surrounding mosque,

[c] The whole of Mecca, or

[d] The whole area that is considered “inviolable” (haram), namely the area wherein hunting is prohibited.

[al-`Iraqi, Tarh al-Tarhib]

Based on this, some of the scholars stated that the increase in reward relates only to the Ka`bah, others said to the Ka`bah and the surrounding mosque, while others stated that it encompasses the whole of Mecca. Ibn `Abidin, in his Radd al-Muhtar, mentions all of these positions and then states:

“Shaykh Wali al-Din `Iraqi said, ‘The increase in reward is not specific to the mosque that was in the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) but includes all of that which was increased on top of it. Rather, the well-known position (mashhur) amongst our companions is that it includes the whole of Mecca, rather all of its inviolate zone (haramihaa) wherein hunting animals are prohibited [to hunt] as Nawawi verified.’”

This was also mentioned by Ibn Hajar in his Fath al-Bari, al-`Iraqi in his Tarh al-Tarhib, and Badr al-Din al-`Ayni in his `Umdat al-Qari. Thus, any prayer prayed within the vicinity of the haram of Mecca is increased manifold.

The Vicinity Of The Prophet’s Mosque:

As for the Mosque of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), both Ibn Hajar and al-`Iraqi convey the position chosen by Imam Nawawi, namely that the increase in reward relates specifically to the congregational mosque present during the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). This is gleaned from the narration of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) mentioned previously, namely, “A prayer in this mosque of mine (masjidi hadha)….” The crux of Imam Nawawi’s argument is basically that the demonstrative pronoun “this” indicates that the reward relates to the mosque present during the Prophet’s (Allah bless him and grant him peace) life.

However, Imam Kashmiri in his Fayd al-Bari states:

“Is the increase confined to the mosque that was present during the period of the possessor of prophethood [i.e. the period of the prophet], specifically, or does it include all of the structures [built] after it? The chosen position with `Ayni is that it encompasses all [of the building built after].”

This position was also mentioned by Shurunbulali in his Imdad al-Fatah.

Thus, according to this latter opinion, the increase in reward relates to the whole area that is considered the Prophet’s Mosque in our times..

Women’s Prayer:

In regards to a woman, then her prayer in her house is superior to praying in a mosque due to the numerous prophetic narrations explicating so. It is narrated from Umm Salamah (Allah be well pleased with her) that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) stated, “The best mosque for a woman is the inner part of her house.” [Musnad Ahmad] Similarly, Umm Humayd narrates that a woman went to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) desirous of praying with him to which he replied similarly. [Ibid] One should note that these prophetic statements were intended towards the women who were living in Mecca or Medina.

As for the reward of praying on the depths of her home, it is akin to a man praying in congregation.

However, there is nothing wrong with women praying in the mosque if propriety is upheld. Further, if there is some benefit in praying within the mosque, such as spiritual upliftment, then this would be taken into consideration. In the end, praying at these sacred places is a chance that many may not repetitively get, so there would be no harm in them desiring to make most of such a blessed opportunity. The reward of praying within the confines of one’s home, though, would still remain superior based on the prophetic words to that effect.

And Allah Knows Best

Wasalam
Salman

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

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