I had read somewhere in Maimonidian literature that Jews are allowed to pray in Mosques. Is it even allowed for them to Join the Muslim congregation and pray the Salat for they worship the same God (According to Maimonides)?

Some references, from http://www.hashlamah.org/co-worship.html:

A Muslim historian, Ibn al-Qifti (1172-1248) reports nothing less than that the Rambam himself, on numerous occasions, voluntarily went to mosques to pray [1], under no compulsion and seeing no contradiction with his Judaism. Ibn al-Qifti notes that this was towards the end of Maimonides’ life and was not an event of his youth, under fear of the Al-Mohades who had invaded Al-Andalus in his youth.[1] Kenneth Seeskin writes, in The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides, “although Ibn al-Qifti’s book has come down to us in a later recension, and contains some errors, we have no reason to doubt the information on Maimonides.”[2]

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef witnessed prominent rabbis who prayed in the Mosque at the Cave of Machpelah. He then determines decisively that in Mosques it is permitted to pray and learn there. [3]

[1] Tarikh al-Hukama, p. 318, trans. Kraemer in Fine, 2001. 424.
[2] Kenneth Seeskin, The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides, (Cambridge University Press: 2005)

[3] Responsa Yabiah Omer 7, Yoreh De'ah 12, paragraph 4.

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    If you can provide any additional information about where in Maimonides you read this, it would make it easier for people here to verify.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 4:22
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    Re. praying Jewish prayers in a mosque, I am not aware of any such remark by Maimonides. However, some later authorities have permitted praying Jewish prayers there based upon Maimonides' ruling on monotheism in Islam. Regardless, reciting the salah would be objectionable to Judaism because 1.) any possible Muslim prayer derives from a religion that fundamentally contradicts tenets of Judaism, and 2.) the salah itself essentially includes the shahada.
    – Fred
    Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 6:06
  • Additionally, I suspect that it would be prohibited for a Jew to appear to join in prayer with a Muslim congregation even if the Jew is reciting his own Jewish prayers
    – Fred
    Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 6:08
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    – rosends
    Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 13:25
  • Is the question at the end of the first paragraph a question or an assertion? If the former, why are you importing information from answers into the question instead of simply letting the question ask and the answers answer?
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 15:07

4 Answers 4


As Dov F has noted, the argument over praying in a mosque is now split between R. Ovadia Yosef and the Tzitz Eliezer. Please see the update below regarding the original Rambam responsa that is referred to by R. Ovadia.

The Tzitz Eliezer writes against praying in a mosque in his responsa Volume 14, #91:

ולמדנו מכאן שהקדשים של כותים וגם המשוגע של הישמעאלים אע"פ שאין טועין אחריהם לעשותן אלהות, הואיל ומשתחוים לפניהם השתחואה של אלהות דין ע"א יש להן לכל דבר איסור של ע"א...

הרי למדנו מפורש מדברי הר"ן דגם לעבודת הישמעאלים והשתחויתם לנביא השקר שלהם דין ע"א יש לקדשיהם לכל דבר, וא"כ ברור לפי"ז שגם בית המסגד שלהם שבו הם מבצעים עבודתם יש לו ג"כ דין של בית ע"א לכל דבר ואסור ליכנס לשם, וברוך אלקינו שהבדילנו מן התועים ונתן לנו תורת אמת. בברכה ובהוקרה אליעזר יהודא וולדינברג.

We learn [from the Ran] that the sanctuaries of Samaritans and Muslims, even though they don't err in creating a deity, since they bow down and prostrate they have the status of idolatry in all matters...

We have learned from the Ran that even the worship of Muslims and their prostration to their false prophet has the status of idolatry for all matters, and thus it is clear that their mosque where they perform this worship has a status of a house of idolatry for all matters and it is forbidden to enter into there. And blessed is our God who separated us from those who stray and gave us a true Torah.

On the other hand, according to R. Ovadia a Jew is allowed to pray in a mosque. He cites many authorities who allow this, but his main source to rely on is the Rambam [Maimonides].

He writes in the end of his responsa Yabia Omer Volume 7 Yoreh Deah #12:

ומעתה נראה שהמסגדים של הערבים אין להם דין בתי עבודה זרה, ומותר להכנס בתוכם. ואפילו הר"ן שאמר שהואיל ומשתחוים לפניהם כעבודה של אלהות דין ע"ז יש להם, י"ל שאילו הוה שמיע ליה כל מ"ש הרמב"ם בתשובה לא היה אומר כן. שבודאי הרמב"ם היה בקי בהם ביותר. ... וא"כ הוא הדין שמותר להתפלל במסגד של הערבים... וא"כ גם במסגד של ערבים שאין שם ע"ז, ותפלתם להשי"ת ביחוד שאין בו דופי, אין שום איסור להתפלל שם, וכן ראיתי לכמה גאונים וצדיקים שהיו מתפללים בתוך המסגד של מערת המכפלה, ועד עכשיו יש שם בהכ"נ קבוע לתפלה, לאחינו תושבי חברון וקרית ארבע. ואמנם בשו"ת ציץ אליעזר חלק י"ד (ס"ס צא) כתב להשוות דין המסגד של ערבים לכניסיה של נוצרים, ע"פ דברי הר"ן סנהדרין (סא ב). ובמחכ"ת עמו הסליחה. שאנו תופסים עיקר כדברי הרמב"ם שהישמעאלים לאו עובדי ע"ז נינהו, וממילא אין למסגדיהם דין בית ע"ז. ... ומ"ש התוס' מגילה (ו א) ד"ה טרטיאות, שקשה לומר שבאותם מקומות יכולים ללמוד שם, זהו רק בבתי ע"ז, אבל במסגדים של ישמעאלים שאין שם ע"ז כלל אף התוס' מודים שמותר להתפלל וללמוד שם

And thus it appears that the Arab mosques do not have the status of houses of idolatry, and it is permitted to enter into them. And even though the Ran said that their prostrating is a kind of worship to a deity that grants their worship idolatrous, it can also be said that had he [the Ran] heard what the Rambam wrote in his responsa he wouldn't have said what he did, since the Rambam was obviously the more erudite between the two of them...[R.Ovadia then lists other authorities who are lenient on the matter] ...

And thus it is also permitted to pray in an Arab mosque... And so, in an Arab mosque, where there is no idolatry, and their prayers are to God with an untainted monotheistic belief, there is no prohibition to pray there. And I also saw many great rabbis and righteous individuals who would pray in the cave of Machpelah [which is also a mosque]. And even now there is a fixed synagogue to pray for our brothers living in Hevron and Kiryat Arba.

This is even though the Tzitz Eliezer wrote equating the law of an Arab mosque with a Christian church, in the way of the Ran. May his honorable Torah forgive us, but we regard the main point in the words of the Rambam - that Ishmaelites are not idolators - and so their moques are not idolatrous...And even the Tosafot, who argued against learning in an idolatrous house of worship, would acknowledge that Arab mosques are not at all idolatrous and a Jew can pray and learn there.

Notice that R. Ovadia does not mention praying alongside Muslims during their Salat, and so it is not clear what he thinks about that situation (although I suspect there would be an issue of maarit ayin - where one may misinterpret such actions to believe that Muslim prayer is the same as Jewish prayer). Nevertheless, this is the main responsa today that allows for a Jew to enter and pray in a mosque.

-- UPDATE --

For the sake of clarity, I'll provide the source from Rambam. It's brought down by the Chida in his book Maarit Ayin (Likutim, #8, page 79A), who records the responsa:

סימן ח' ש"ע י"ר סי' דין ז' ישמעאלים וכו' בברכי יוסף רמזתי תשובת הרמב"ם ז"ל כ"י ובשיורי ברכה י"ד ק"א סי' קכ"ג שם כתבתי יותר ותשובת הרמב"ם ז"ל כ"י שהבאתי שם אין עמדי. אך ראיתי באגרות הרמב"ם הנדפסות דף מ"ד מדפוס אמשטרדם תשובת הרמב"ם ז"ל לגר צדק דקרי בחיל דהגם דמקדם היו עובדים ג' ע"ז זה היה קודם דת הישמעאלים אך עתה בכל זה מכונים לשמים וענין ע"ז נכרת מפיהם והם ונשיהם וטפם אין להם טעות ביחוד ע"ש באורך

A same responsa from Rambam can be found in English in A Maimonides Reader ed. Isadore Twersky, "Letter to an Inquirer" (477). It records the second half of the responsa:

...When your teacher called you a fool for denying that Muslims are idolaters he sinned grievously, and it is fitting that he ask your pardon, though he be your master. Then let him fast and weep and pray; perhaps he will find forgiveness. Was he intoxicated that he forgot the thirty-three passages in which the Law admonishes concerning "strangers"? For even if he had been in the right and you in error, it was his duty to be gentle; how much more, when the truth is with you and he was in error!

The source is found in Teshuvot HaRambam #448. The halacha of Muslims not being idolators is codified in Rambam's Mishneh Torah, Maachalot Asurot, Ch. 11, Halacha 7:

וכן כל עכו"ם שאינו עובד עכו"ם כגון אלו הישמעאלים יינן אסור בשתייה ומותר בהנייה וכן הורו כל הגאונים, אבל אותם העובדים עכו"ם סתם יינם אסור בהנייה

And with regard to any gentile that doesn't worship false deities, such as the Ishmaelim [Arabs], it is forbidden to drink his wine. It is, however, permitted to benefit from it. The Geonim rule in this way. However, regarding those who worship false deities, it is forbidden to benefit from their ordinary wine.

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    Note that the idea of actually participating in the Muslim prayers themselves, which appears to be the point of the question, is not addressed in this answer, but given that the permissibility of entering the building at all is in doubt (along with, of course, everything else we know about not participating in other religions), it seems very clear that everyone would agree that participating in the prayer service would be forbidden.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 14:41
  • שבודאי הרמב"ם היה בקי בהם ביותר - should be translated as "Certainly the Rambam was more of an expert in these matters" He wasn't saying the Rambam is more erudite than the Ran in general, but rather more of an expert on Islam.
    – Yishai
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 15:14

The Salat includes the line "And I bear witness that Muhammad is [Allah's] servant and Messenger" which contradicts Jewish belief. You would not be allowed to say this line, and I think you would not be allowed to participate in the Salat in a manner that makes people think you are saying this line.

I sort of think that if there were a Muslim prayer that happened to be perfectly compatible with Jewish theology, you would be OK saying this prayer with a Muslim congregation. But that's just a guess.

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    how can giving a messenger status to a prophet which bough monotheism to pagans contradict with "jewish" beliefs?
    – knowit
    Commented Dec 14, 2015 at 6:49
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    @knowit For one thing, because they believe the "messenger" taught that the Jews' Torah is radically altered from the original, and that the Muslim view regarding the contents of the Torah is correct instead.
    – Fred
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 1:12
  • @Fred even the samaritans believe the same. Yet are considered as Jews. Moreover the Quran does not allude to textual corruption but semantic corruption.
    – knowit
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 5:27
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    @knowit However the Quran characterizes what it describes as corruption of the Torah, there are multiple places in the Quran where Judaism is described as significantly different from the way Judaism actually is. So practically speaking, the Jewish and Muslim views of the Torah are quite divergent. | Regarding your point about Samaritans: Jews do not generally consider Samaritans to be Jews, though they do have a somewhat complicated status in rabbinic literature. Anyway, Judaism does not accept Samaritan beliefs as correct or compatible with the Torah.
    – Fred
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 6:10

RaMbaM himself prostrated ( http://www.chayas.com/qidah.htm ), and his son Rabbeinu Avarohom said that the islamic prostration comes from our prophets. He also said we should be ashamed that the goyim are taking our minhagim while we are taking the bad minhagim of the goyim(Hamaspik LaOvdei HaShem).

I also found this from a blog that is promoting the site that OP has posted: "The Ishmaelites are not at all idolaters; [idolatry] has long been severed from their mouths and hearts; and they attribute to God a proper unity, a unity concerning which there is no doubt. And because they lie about us, and falsely attribute to us the statement that God has a son, there is [nevertheless] no reason for us to lie about them and say that they are idolaters... And should anyone say that the house that they honor [the Ka‘abah] is a house of idolatry and an idol is hidden within it, which their ancestors used to worship, then what of it? The hearts of those who prostrate toward it today are [directed] only toward Heaven . . . [Regarding] the Ishmaelites today - idolatry has been severed from the mouths of all of them [including] women and children. Their error and foolishness is in other things which cannot be put into writing because of the renegades and wicked among Israel [koferim/apostates]. But as regards the unity of God they have no error at all." Maimonides (the Rambam) in his responsum to ‘Obadyah the proselyte."

http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=1733&pgnum=68 this is the source. I think its on page 403 or earlier. I read a little but I don't have time to read through all of that. I assume he is quoting correctly, if not please correct him.

But regarding joining muslims in prayer is not something RaMbaM would agree with. For he says they are apikorsim, that is the reason we are not allowed to teach them Torah. However, christians who are ovdei avodoh zoroh are allowed to be though the holochoth of banei NoahH, for they don't hold that the Torah was changed.

  • Is your intention to this page?
    – b a
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 5:42
  • I really don't know because I can't see anything on hebrewbooks for some reason. I donwloaded the pdf from the top of the page. Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 7:33
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    Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef witnessed prominent rabbis who prayed in the Mosque at the Cave of Machpelah. He then determines decisively that in Mosques it is permitted to pray and learn there. Responsa Yabiah Omer 7, Yoreh De'ah 12, paragraph 4.
    – knowit
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 8:57
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    To pray jewish prayers and learn Torah is fine, but to join muslim prayers and learn Quran is not. Indeed muslims are apikorsim for they believe the Torah was changed. That is why a jew can't teach a muslim Torah because he is an apikorus. Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 17:56
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    @ezra regarding prostration he didnt prostrate like muslims, he prostrated like our our prophets and sages,aleiham hashsholom, did and codified as halokho in the gamaro. which he codified in his mt word by word Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 1:31

It is permitted to enter a mosque. This is the ruling of R. Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer Vol. 7 YD 12) and it is based on the Rambam.

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    I don't see how this answers the question, which assumed as much and asked about praying with the congregation.
    – msh210
    Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 16:14
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    -1 The Rambam did not say this in the responsum; he said that, although Islam has many doctrines that are incorrect (to put it much more mildly than the Rambam did), Islam's concept of the unity of G-d is correct. Therefore, R' Ovadia Yosef inferred that it is permitted to enter a mosque. It is worth noting that there are many different opinions about the status of Islam's view on G-d as well as on the question of the permissibility of entering a mosque.
    – Fred
    Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 17:28
  • @Fred There aren't "many opposing views." There is a Tzitz Eliezer which disagrees with R' Ovadia but as far as I know no one agrees with him l'halacha, and I do not believe he is correct either. Your first point is well taken though.
    – Dov F
    Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 17:37
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    The Ran holds Islam is Avoda Zara because of the whole Meka situation. Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 18:17
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    Until the full explanation is added and the actual question answered, I would call this a comment only. Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 3:17

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