Mosques in Muslim Communities


By Ameera Abid

Although the definition of a mosque can be put into a simple sentence like, “A mosque is a place of worship for Muslims,” it is far more than that simple definition. Many mosques we see around us carry a legacy, a back story, a struggle. One should ponder on this every once in a while. People living in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries are blessed by the availability of mosques in every neighborhood, to offer their prayers.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “The earth has been made a place of prostration and a means of purification for me”. (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

This is manifest in the many times we have seen a small crowd of men and women offering the prayer on pavements, in parks, malls, and in the airports.

Today I would like to shed light on the mosques, built for the worship of Allah, as a place for the prayer to be held in congregation. This avalanche of the construction of mosques started when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) with his own two hands positioned the first stones for the construction of Masjid Qubaa in Madinah. It started then, and evolved into the network of hundreds of thousands of mosques we see today, all over the world.

Although the Kaabah and the area around it was the first sanctuary or House of God, Masjid Qubaa was the first mosque that was constructed for the sole purpose of offering prayer in Islam.

Why is a mosque such an important part of the Muslim community? A mosque is not just a concrete building where Muslims come in to pray and then leave. It is a place of purity and meditation. A place where we are overwhelmed by the existence of Allah the greatest entity of all, a place where it does not matter which type of house you live in, or what job you have. It is a place where you see the beautiful yet strange sight of a janitor standing, shoulder to shoulder, with an upper-class business man.

A mosque is not only a place of worship, but a place for education. Free of charge to all mosque-goers, it offers lessons and lectures and teaches that which will benefit you not only in this world, but also in the life beyond death.

Every Friday, the khutbah is conducted. A Khutba is an Islamic lecture or sermon conducted by the Imam of the masjid.

In the khutba the Imam tackles a variety of topics, it can be informing the Muslims about important issues elsewhere in the world or addressing a pressing problem in the local community. The sermon can be about a historical event that needed elaboration. The majority of people are so busy with work and trying to spend time with family that they otherwise would have no time to study Islamic sciences, so the Friday sermon serves in offering a chance to learn.

The whole experience of going to the mosque teaches you etiquettes, good manners, and kindness, as you extend greetings to other worshipers, respect others, and keep a low voice.

It is unnecessary to spend too much on the construction of a mosque. However, throughout history, Muslims have designed and built mosques with beautiful architectural designs and delicate work both in the interior and exterior of the mosques.

There are some prominent features that most mosques incorporate in their structure. The minaret is a slender tower, with a balcony from which a muezzin calls the adhan for prayer. Most mosques have attractive domes. Inside the mosque is a minbar, which is a platform usually with three steps from which the Imam gives his sermons. Apart from these basic structures, all else is flexible when building a mosque.

There are Mosques that I have come across that are so small that they only have space for barely three rows. And there are Mosques that I have prayed in that look like a palace.

The beauty of the three most holy sites in Islam; the Grand Mosque in Makkah, The Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, and Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, is known to all and needs no more elaboration. Hence, I will mention another five of the most beautiful mosques in the world.

Hassan II Mosque:

The largest mosque in Morocco located in Casablanca is also the 13th largest mosque in the world. Its minaret is 689 feet tall and is topped with a laser light that is directed towards the Kabah. Its walls are hand crafted and the roof is retractable. This Mosque stands overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It can contain 105,000 worshippers at a time.

Zahir Mosque:

It is one of the oldest mosques in Malaysia, located in Kedah. It was constructed in 1912. Five domes adorn the structure by which the main dome has a measurement of 45 feet in radius and 30 feet in height. Malaysian, Indian, and Middle Eastern design greatly influence its structure. It is a sight to behold and an experience to visit.

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque:

This mosque is located in Bander Seri Begawan, Brunei and can be seen from anywhere in the city. The most prominent feature of this mosque is the dome which is covered in pure gold. It was built on an artificial lagoon on the Brunei River and has bridges protruding to and from it. Nearly all the interior was imported from abroad. It is truly a marvel.

Faisal mosque:

The most prominent feature of Islamabad, Pakistan is this magnificent mosque. Without a typical dome, the mosque is shaped like a Bedouin tent, surrounded by four 260 feet tall minarettes. The design features eight-sided shell shaped sloping roofs forming a triangular worship hall standing without a single pillar, which can hold 10,000 worshippers, while the surrounding porticoes and the outside courtyard up to 200,000 more.

Badshahi Mosque:

Located in Pakistan in the city of Lahore, Badshahi Mosque boasts of an exterior that is decorated with carved red sandstone with marble inlay. It remains the largest and most recent of the grand imperial mosques of the Mughal Era, and is the second largest mosque in Pakistan.