Mosque is the term used to denote a place of worship of the followers of Islam. Just as Christians pray in the Churches, Hindus in their Temples and Buddhists in their Monasteries, Muslims pray in Mosques.
Fact 1 What Are Mosques
Mosque is the English word used to denote the place where Muslims pray to their Allah. In Arabic, it is called “masjid” or “jami”. Its literal meaning is “place of prostration” to the Almighty God. . An open space or house of prayer in Islam is a mosque. There are two types of mosques. The masjid or Jami is a large mosque controlled by the state and is also known as “collective mosque” because it is a place where the entire community pray together especially on Fridays. There are smaller mosques, operated by different groups privately who are also a part of the society.
Fact 2 Structure Of The Mosques
Mosques are very important to Muslims. It is their way of establishing the presence of divine power on earth. The earliest mosques were built in the pattern of the place where Prophet Mohammad worshipped the Lord. It was the courtyard of his house in Medina. The holiest shrine is in Mecca, which is an area that surrounds the “Kaba”. Many changes have been made in the construction of the mosques, but the basic idea has not been changed. It is essentially a huge open space with a roof and contains a “mihrab” and a “Minbar”. A “minaret” is sometimes attached to it.
Fact 3 Uses Of The Mihrab, Minbar and Minaret
There are two specific constructions that are reserved for the “Imam” and the “Preacher”. The Mihrab is a semi-circular area where only the Imam of the mosque stands to lead the prayer. He points towards the direction of Mecca that is referred to as the “giblah”.
The “Minbar” is a seat that is placed at the top of the steps of the mosque on the right side of the Mihrab. The preacher or Khatib uses it as a pulpit. Earlier, the rulers used this seat to speak to the people who gathered at the mosque and delivered lectures also from the Minbar. In some of the mosques, there was a wooden screen or a box near the Mihrab. It was actually placed there to protect the ruler from enemies while he said his prayers.
The Minaret stands outside the mosques. In the beginning, it was a high place, but now it is constructed like a high tower. The “Muezzin (crier)” uses it to remind all Islam followers the time of worship and is done five times a day. A washing area is also found near the mosques for ablution before entering the holy area for prayers.
Fact 4 Other Features Of Mosques
Despite various changes have been made in the materials used for building mosques and their designs according to the heritage and culture of the different Muslim communities, certain features have been kept the same in all the mosques that proves their respect for tradition and a sense of unity.
The Prayer hall is located in the center of the mosques and is nearly empty, so that worshippers in great numbers can pray together. During prayer, they sit, kneel and then bow down touching the floor. Along the pillars and walls, there are bookshelves where copies of the Holy and other religion-related treatises are kept.
Muslims use rugs known as “sajada” to kneel and prostrate during prayer. These are prayer rugs, especially made for the purpose and are well decorated like embroidered small carpets.
Fact 5 Friday Prayer
Muslims pray five times a day. Friday is considered as a special day of contemplation and congregation, celebration and supplication. So they never fail to say their prayers on Fridays even if they have important work.