Mosque Architecture

The mosque, or as it is known in Arabic, masjid, meaning “place of prostration,” is the center of worship for people of the Islamic faith. While every mosque has its distinctive features depending on geographical location or the time period in which it was constructed, the few universal characteristics of mosques provide an informative perspective to some key Islamic values.

    Mihrab- The mihrab is a small niche that indicates the direction of Mecca, to which all Muslim prayer is directed.

    Minaret- The minaret is the tower from which the call to prayer is made.

    Qubba- The Qubba is the dome, or domes, which are often present in Mosques. The dome is though to represent   heaven, and assists in circulation of air as well as amplification.

     Sahn- The Sahn is the courtyard that attaches to the main prayer hall in many mosques.

The prayer hall itself has little furniture, in order to fit more people, and is sparsely decorated, as to not offend Allah.

Mosques also contain washing stations, so that visitors may cleanse themselves before prayer.

While every mosque is designed in a distinct way with different presentations of these features, most mosques adhere to three main models: the hypostyle mosque, the four-iwan mosque, and the centrally planned mosque. The hypostyle mosque is the oldest mosque style, inspired by the Prophet Muhammed’s own house in Medina. This style of mosque consists of a large interior courtyard surrounded by a column-supported rectangular hall. The four-iwan mosque developed later than the hypostyle mosque, in the early 11th century. This style also features a central courtyard, yet its four walls are iwans, or open vaulted porches. The third style, the centrally planed mosque, is inspired by the Hagia Sophia and has a large central dome, with thin minarets on the building’s corners.

Sources Referenced:

“Introduction to Mosque Architecture.” Khan Academy. Accessed March 10, 2015.


Khan, Hasan-Uddin. “Mosque: Architectural Aspects.” Encyclopedia of Religion. Ed. Lindsay Jones. 2nd ed. Vol. 9. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005. 6207-6210. World History in Context. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.

Moon, Meg. “The Main Features of a Mosque.” Hub Pages. Last modified 2012.

Accessed March 10, 2015.



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