■Type of mosque
■ Facilities in mosque
■ Function of mosque
■ When looking at Indian mosque
■ List of photos of mosques
■What is mosque ?
Prayer (salat), an essential ritual for Muslims, can be conducted anywhere except for considered to dirty, such as tombs and slaughter houses. The English word "mosque" came from the Arabic word "masjid" meaning "a place for prostration (sajada)". In its original meaning, a mosque could be a piece of carpet for prayer. However, mosque generally means a Islamic religious building where many people with the same intention can pray together. Mosques throughout the world are built based on an axis facing Mecca (qibla). In reality, there is, of course, some inaccuracy seen in the direction.
■Types of mosques
Let me list the types of mosques first. At the prayer at noon every Friday, young male members of community get together at the "Friday Mosque" (Jami Mosque, it is called Jama Masjid in India) and in principal they pray collectively with a leader of prayer (imam). There, hutba is chanted and name of the ruler of the time is uttered to the public. When Islam established its political power in a new place, a Friday Mosque is built at first. With an increase of the number of Muslims, construction of mosques become more active, and major cities came to have plural Friday mosques and numerous other mosques. These include, apart from Friday Mosques, block mosques (hara, mahale), private prayer buildings and mosques completed with tombs, prayer open spaces (idgah or Amusallah) for major festivals (id) in the suburb, etc. There are many cases in which one room of a complex is set aside to be used as as a public mosque. As seen, there exist various types of mosques in different locations and size, wherever Muslims exist.
■Facilities of mosques
Let's look at various facilities commonly seen in these mosques. The only element essential to a mosque is a hollow space (mihrab) on qibla wall, showing the direction of Mecca. This is only a mark for prayer and it is never a sacred sanctuary like a chancel in Buddhist temple. In some cases, a lump, symbolizing a light, considered to be one of the predicaments of God, is drawn inside the mihrab, or a few mihrabs are provided on the qibla wall of a single mosque. In a Friday Mosque Minbar, a platform in the form of stair, next to the mihrab, may be provided for the preacher (imam), who leads prayer. Muslims, who are considered to be equal in the eyes of God, pray collectively, lining up parallel to the qibla wall, being led by the imam. A facility for purification (udu, which is conducted before prayer, is important as well. Muslims purify their bodies with water then carry out their prayer. Water flowing from fountains (hauz) in the courtyard (sahan) is not only important for ritual purposes but it effectively creates a pure and clean atmosphere. A tower (minaret, minar), from which a call for prayer can be announced, is not necessarily essential, however, it is a facility often seen in mosques. In Muslim towns, the voice of muazzin (a person who recites a call for prayer) reverberates from the minaret in the mosque before each prayer five times a day. Also, in Islam it is not considered to be good for women to be seen by males outside of her own family. Thus a special area for female prayer (zanana) may be provided in mosques. As for the smaller items, one can find a high platform (dikka), a Koran stand, a carpet for prayer, a mosque lump and candle stand and prayer beads.
■Function of mosque
The primary function of a mosque is, of course, a place for prayer. However, the first mosque built was a residence for the prophet Muhammad when he propagated in Medina. In addition, the early mosques became a stronghold for Muslim political power. Derived from these early mosques, historical mosques had multiple functions. A Friday Mosque was a place for administration where proclamation of regulations and trials were conducted, a place for learning, with a library attached providing for lectures, and a place to teach children about the Koran. Also, in some cases, a mortuary and a place to wash remains are included and a ritual for the deceased could be held. Most of all, it was a place where local people got together and exchanged information. In this way, a mosque functioned as a public place with multiple purposes in Islamic cities, and it still does. It should be mentioned that a mosque as a religious architecture has no object or such direct prayers toward. Upon prayer, Muslims become aware of the fact that they are religious Muslims who are equal in front of God, and a mosque provides an immaculate public place in which to conduct the prayer.
■When looking at Indian mosques
While common items from the world of Islam have been mentioned above, what we should consider first when we look at mosques in India is the fact that Mecca is at the west of the Indian continent. Thus, the fasade of most mosques in India faces to the east. The biggest difference with mosques in the Middle East can be seen in the arrangement of the courtyard. Mosques in the Middle East, small scale mosques and large scale ones alike, frequently have a courtyard, and the four sides of the courtyard are divided into aracade or collonade mostly in the same way. In India, while Friday Mosques (Jama Masjid) often have a courtyard, at the west side of the courtyard a deep majestic prayer room is provided and there is a great difference in the arrangement of the west side from the other three sides. Also, many small block mosques or mosques with tombs do not have a courtyard and there is a rectangular prayer room constructed, at the east side of which is a front yard surrounded by walls. The special feature of mosques in India are that (1) gate building is important in Friday Mosques, (2) areas for female prayer (zanana) is provided architecturally in many Friday Mosques built before the Mugharlid, (3) many mihrabs are seen in a mosque, and (4) many wall mosques considered to be mosques for burial are seen in Delhi.
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Map of the city surveyed
List of photographs by facility