A mosque is a place where Muslims gather to worship. Mosques have been a central part of Muslim communities since the early days of Islam.
Faisal Mosque in Pakistan by Fraz.khalid1. 2011.
What are the functions of a mosque?
The mosque serves a variety of roles in the lives of Muslims. Its most important role is as a house of prayer. Muslims often visit the mosque to participate in prayer with large groups. Mosques also provide religious education, local charity, and a meeting place for Muslims to have religious discussions.
Who leads the mosque?
Mosques are often led by an Islamic leader called an "imam". The imam sometimes leads the prayers, especially the Friday prayer, and is responsible for the religious guidance of those who attend the mosque.
Minarets are towers that are often built as part of a mosque. They are used for calling Muslims to prayer. Five times each day, a man called a "muezzin" issues the call for prayer from the minaret. Minarets come in a variety of styles and shapes, but they are generally tall, narrow towers.
Mosques have a room set aside specifically for prayer. This room has a wall that faces in the direction of Mecca. There is usually a niche in the wall called a "mihrab" to indicate the proper direction. The Muslim worshipers then face toward this wall when they pray.
There generally isn't any furniture or chairs in the prayer room. Worshipers use prayer mats to kneel on while praying.
A Mosque with Minarets and Domes Source: Wikimedia Commons. User: Noumenon
The minbar is a raised stand where the prayer leader, or imam, leads the prayers or delivers a religious message.
Some mosques are elaborately decorated with tiles and carpets. There are no pictures of people or animals in the decorations, however, to make sure that idols are not worshiped in the mosque. Instead, the decorations use repeated geometric designs, scrolling leaves and flowers, or words from the Quran written in calligraphy.
Depending on the mosque, women and men may worship in different areas. Sometimes the mosque will have a separate prayer room or area where women can pray.
There are many famous and historic mosques throughout the world. Here is a list of some of the most famous:
Al Haram Mosque - Located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, this mosque is considered the most sacred mosque in the world and is the home to the Kaaba. Muslim pilgrims from around the world visit this mosque each year as part of the Hajj (pilgrimage).
Al Nabawi Mosque - This mosque is the second-most sacred of the mosques and was built by the prophet Muhammad in Medina, Saudi Arabia.
Al-Aqsa Mosque - Located in Jerusalem, this mosque is part of the Temple Mount and sits near the Dome of the Rock shrine.
Faisal Mosque - This mosque was designed to look like a desert tent, but is said to hold up to 74,000 people on the main grounds. It is located in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Mosque in Medina by Ahmed Medineli
Interesting Facts about Mosques
The tallest minaret in the world is the minaret at the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. It is 689 feet tall.
Cleanliness is important to Muslims when they worship. There is usually an area in the mosque where visitors wash and remove their shoes before entering the prayer room.
The capacity of the Al Haram Mosque is said to be increased to up to 4,000,000 people during the Hajj.
The Al Nabawi Mosque is also called the "Prophet's Mosque." The Prophet Muhammad actually worked on the construction of the original mosque.
The word "mosque" is the English translation of the Arabic "al-masjid", which means "place for prostration."