The Mosque (Masjid)

The mosque is a place of worship used by Muslims. Islam encourages people to perform their prayers in the mosque and also encourages its adherents to help participate in the building of mosques.

Prophet Muhammad said, “Whoever builds a mosque, Allah will build for him a house in Paradise.” Mosques play a vital role in Muslim life, as in addition to the five daily congregational prayers and the recommended prayers, the mosque also accommodates Muslims during the Friday noon prayers and on the eid[1] holidays. Mosques are considered sacred places; men and women who are ritually impure may not enter them until they have ritually cleansed themselves. In addition, mosques should not be sold or defiled. The Quran states,

“The mosques of Allah shall be maintained only by those who believe in Allah and the last day, perform prayers, give zakat and fear none but Allah. It is they who surely are on true guidance.” (9:18)

The first mosque built by Prophet Muhammad (when he migrated from Mecca to Madina) was called the Mosque of Qubah. It is located on the outskirts of the city of Madina. However, the holiest of all mosques and the first house of worship that was built on the earth is al-Masjid al-Haram, the sacred mosque in Mecca [Kabah]. The second holiest mosque is the Prophet’s Mosque (in Madina) which was built after the Prophet’s migration from Mecca to Madina.

Mosques have many distinctive features. There is the musallah (prayer hall), the minbar (pulpit where the preacher (or imam) stands to deliver the sermon), and the mihrab (the niche that faces the direction of the Kabah in Mecca, al-qiblah).

Even though the presence of God is everywhere, the Quran states,

“To Allah belong the East and the West, so wherever you turn your face there is the face of Allah.” (2:115)

Nevertheless, as a sign of unity, Muslims are instructed to face the qiblah (the direction of the Kabah in Mecca) during the prayers. Mosques also have domes and minarets from which, in countries with a majority of Muslims, the call to prayer is announced daily.

Before a person enters a mosque, ones’ shoes must be removed, and women should be dressed modestly (hijab). Neither men nor women should speak loudly while inside.

Mosques belong to God – not to specific individuals, families, communities, or tribes as the Quran states,

“And the mosques are for Allah alone, so invoke not anyone along with Allah.” (72:18)

Hence, barring people from conducting their worship in a mosque is considered a grave sin in Islam. The Quran states,

“And who is more unjust than those who forbid that Allah’s name be glorified and mentioned much in Allah’s mosques and strive for their ruin?” (2:114)

[1] Eid literally means ‘celebration’ and for the Muslims, it refers to a religious holiday, in particular, a Muslim holiday. Muslims have two major days of celebration (Eid): Eid al-Fitr, which is the celebration to close the period of fasting during the Month of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha, celebration of the sacrifice which relates to the trial which Prophet Abraham was put through in which he was ordered by God to sacrifice his first born son, Ishmael.

Discovering Islam by Sayed Moustafa Al-Qazwini