This fatwa is noteworthy since Islamic apologists in the West routinely deny that Islamic law forbids non-Muslims to build new houses of worship or repair old ones. Not only does Sheikh Sa’id ‘Abd-al-‘Athim affirm that, but he also explains why it’s different when Muslims are forbidden to build mosques in Italy — which, of course, isn’t even happening. “Fatwa: On Resembling the Infidels,” from Translating Jihad, March 22:
Translated from al-fath.net, the website of Egyptian Shaykh Sa’id ‘Abd-al-‘Athim, 7 Dec 2010:
Title of the fatwa: The ruling on building and repairing churches for Christians in the lands of Muslims
Fatwa number: 7
Fatwa date: 7 Dec 2010
Question: Peace be upon you, as well as the mercy and blessings of Allah. Our eminent shaykh, I read in one of your fatwas on this good and blessed website that it is not permissible for Christians to build or repair churches. What is the evidence for this? Is there evidence in the Qur’an or Sunnah which says that it is forbidden to build churches, or does that only come from jurisprudence?
Answer: In the name of Allah, to Allah be the praise. Peace be upon the Messenger of Allah, as well as upon his family, companions, and whoever follows him.
This is explained in detail in the book, “The Rulings for the People of the Dhimma [i.e. Jews and Christians]” by Imam Ibn Qayyim. It should also suffice you to review my book, “Calling the People of the Book to the Religion of the Lord of Mankind,” for there are useful things in it. I previously answered your question, and explained to you what they do with the Muslims in some European countries like Italy, in regards to preventing them from building mosques there. The shari’ah does not treat equally things which are different, nor does it treat differently things which are equal. This is the justice by which oppression is removed. For example, when a person of the Book congratulates me on my holiday, he is congratulating the truth, but when I congratulate him on his holiday, I am congratulating falsehood, for holidays are one of the greatest signs of the religion. Wherefore the infidels, even if they have to spend a great deal of money, would like for Muslims to participate with them in their holidays. There is the saying, “Whoever resembles a people is of them,” and also, “Whoever loved a people will be gathered with them.” Similarity on the outside leads to similarity on the inside…