Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,
As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh. (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)
One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:
The mosques at the time of the Prophet were simple and did not have domes or minarets. Would building a mosque today with domes and minarets today be considered an innovation?
(There may be some grammatical and spelling errors in the above statement. The forum does not change anything from questions, comments and statements received from our readers for circulation in confidentiality.)
In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and who-ever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol, no person, no grave, no prophet, no imam, no dai, nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.
It is absolutely true that the first mosques of Quba and Masjid Nabawi built during the Prophet's (saws) time were made of mud bricks, tree trunks and leaves, etc. They did not have Domes, Minarets or Marbles. They were extremely simple and made for the sole purpose of worshipping Allah Subhanah. To understand the situation, you must go back 1400 years and see the financial ability of the state and its people at that time in Medina. The Prophet (saws) and his companions had just migrated from Makkah, and most of their wealth and their belongings were usurped by the mushriks of Makkah. They were absolutely poor and the masjids reflected their financial ability. It was not that their houses were made of marble and fancy materials and the masjids of Allah were made of simple materials... that was the way they built their homes, and similarly that was the way they built Allah's house for worship.
In the times of the early muslims, we must realize that the technology of microphones, etc. were not available and thus the domes were erected so that the sound of the imam could be heard due to the echo by the whole congregation. The minarets were also erected later so that as the muslim populations and towns began to grow in size, this minaret, which was normally the highest peak in their local architecture, was visible and and the moaddhin used to climb these minarets and proclaim the adhan from a height to enable a large gathering of people to hear the adhan and call to prayer.
Now to say that making mosques today with bricks, concrete and marble are an innovation or "biddah" is taking things a bit too far. Yes, they are changes in the way the mosques are built, but innovation and "biddaats" are normally innovations in the rites of worship, or something cultural or "rasms" which later on seem to constitute as an act of worship. There were many things which were left to evolution and changes and allowed very much in Islam. For eg. the Prophet (saws) rode distances on horses, but it would be wrong to say that today travelling distances by cycle, cars, planes, etc. are innovations. Similarly, the Prophet (saws) wore clothes which were appropriate to those times, but it would be wrong to say that wearing a suit or a pant are innovations. Also, wars were fought with swords at the time of the Prophet (saws), but today it would be disastrous if the enemy has tanks and missiles, and Muslims were to defend themselves with swords!!! So a lot of things which did not constitute an act of worship, were allowed and in fact propagated in Islam to evolve with the times. Thus mosques were built appropriate to the times of 1400 years ago with the best materials available to them according to their financial ability.
May Allah guide you and us all to the Straight Path of Islam.
Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allah’s Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.
Your Brother in Islam,