By Dr. Shadee Elmasry
Just as the Prophet ﷺ had political rivals that envied his authority in Madina, he ﷺ had religious enemies that craved his spiritual authority. One of these was Abu Aamir, the Monk.
Abu Aamir was a pagan who became a Christian. He wore a wool frock, had long hair and beard, and lived on the outskirts of the city. When the Prophet ﷺ came, Abu Aamir refused to submit and moved away with a handful of followers. When those followers slowly became Muslim, he moved to Mecca. When the conquest of Mecca happened, he moved to Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem, he approached Heraclius and said I know people in Madina; we can overthrow Muhammad. Heraclius told him to create a base, so he wrote to the hypocrites, and they built a masjid a stone throw away from Masjid Quba, the first mosque the Prophet ﷺ built.
To gain validity, the hypocrites invited the Prophet ﷺ to pray in it, but the Muslims were headed to Tabuk so he postponed his visit. On the way back, Angel Jibril descended with revelation:
"As for those who took a mosque for harm, disbelief, division amongst the believers, and a safe haven for those who fought Allah and His Messenger in the past. They will swear, ‘We only seek good,’ but Allah witnesses that they are liars. Never set foot it in it. A masjid established on piety (Masjid Quba) is more worthy of praying in.”
Immediately, the Messenger ﷺ sent Umar to raze it to the ground.
Lessons from this:
1 Hypocrites have no choice but to damage the religion from the inside, and as such, they need validation through outward appearances and words.
2 Many believers are fooled by them, as Allah says in another verse, “Some of you listen to them.”
3 The hypocrites swear to want good, but words mean nothing if actions are the opposite.
4 Allah ensures the Prophet ﷺ never validates hypocrites with his presence. This is a testimony for the faith of those whom the Prophet ﷺ praised, visited, kept company with, and married into.
5 Sowing division amongst the believers is so bad that it is listed alongside kufr and waging war with Allah & His Messenger ﷺ.
6 Not all mosques can be prayed in. A masjid founded by those who have betrayed the Muslims, or adopted a theological heresy, are not to be prayed in.
7 If something is out of line in the sight of Allah it should be changed by the hand if one has the authority to do so.