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Saturday, 9 July 2016

Mosque

The word mosque comes from the Arabic word masjid meaning "place of worship" or "prostration in prayer  The mosque serves as a place where Muslims can come together for prayer as well as a center for information, education, social welfare, and dispute settlement.

The first mosque in the world is often considered to be the area around Islam's holiest place, the Kaaba in Mecca now known as the Masjid al-Haram.(literally "the sacred mosque")

The Masjid al-Haram surrounds the Kaaba, and it is the holiest site in Islam. By Ali Mansuri, Wijipedia Commons

The Masjid al-Haram is the largest mosque in the world.

Muslims face in the direction of the Kaaba while performing their daily prayers

Pilgrims circumambulating the Kaaba. By Mardetanha - Wikipedia Commons

The earliest mosques were based on the plan of Christian basilicas, although different influences contributed to their architectural development.

From the earliest days of Islam, the mosque was the center of the Muslim community, a place for prayer, meditation, religious instruction, political discussion, and a school.

The first mosques had no minarets. The first minaret was built in 665 in Basra during the reign of the Umayyad caliph Muawiyah I. Muawiyah encouraged the building of minarets, as they were supposed to be the same as bell towers on Christian churches. Because of this, mosque architects used the shape of the bell tower for their minarets.

The top of the minaret is the highest point in the mosque, and usually the highest point in the area around the mosque. The tallest minaret in the world is in the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco.

Hassan II Mosque

The most conservative Islamic groups, like Wahhabis, still avoid building minarets. They see them as simply a fancy decoration and unnecessary.

The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque of Damascus, is one of the largest mosques in the world and also one of the oldest sites of continuous prayer since the rise of Islam. The mosque is believed by Muslims to be the place where Jesus will return at the End of Days and is considered by some Muslims to be the fourth-holiest place in Islam.

When Spain was under Muslim control, some of the most attractive buildings were mosques. After Spain came under Christian control in 1491,  the Christians did not tear down the mosques. Instead, they simply put a crucifix in them to make them into churches. These mosques influenced the Renaissance architecture in Europe.

Originally a cathedral from the Byzantine Empire, The Hagia Sophia was a mosque from 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on February 1, 1935.

The Hagia Sophia. By Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada - Wikipedia Commons

The Hagia Sophia informed the architecture of mosques from after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. As a result the Ottomans began building central dome mosques in the fifteenth century. These mosques have a large dome centered over the prayer hall.

The Badshahi mosque was built in Lahore, Pakistan in 1671. It can accommodate 100,000 people in the courtyard where services are held and became the largest mosque in the world upon construction. Today it is the seventh largest mosque in the world and is open to non-Muslim tourists.

Badshahi Mosque July 1 2005 pic32 by Ali Imran  Wikipedia Commons

The Islamic Center of America is a mosque located in Dearborn, Michigan. It is the largest mosque in North America and the oldest Shia mosque in the United States.

Britain's first mosque was recorded in 1860, at 2 Glynn Rhondda Street in Cardiff.

In 1961, there were seven mosques in the UK and by 1985, 338.

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