From Asia to Europe to America, a mosque is a foremost place for Muslims to worship. It, in many ways, is the quintessential Islamic building. The mosque, Masjid in Arabic, means “place of prostration” and is a modest effort to recreate pure divine presence on earth.
Throughout history, mosques have been used for offering prayer, study of Islam or as a place to meditate and relax. Mosques differ from region to region in terms of size and design, depending upon the density of Muslim population in that area. Muslims in the past and even in the present hire local artisans and architects to build and beautify mosques. Though the designs may vary depending upon the culture the mosque is built in, some features stay essentially the same.
Every mosque has a mihrab, a niche in the wall that indicates the direction of Qibla, towards which the Muslims pray. A minbar (pulpit) is also commonly found in mosques which is used by an Islamic scholar to deliver religious sermons and speeches.
The home of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is considered to be the first mosque of Islam; a typical 7th Century Arabian house, with a courtyard surrounded by rooms supported by columns in Madina. This was the style adopted by Arabs to build mosques for centuries. With the advent of technology and infusion of modernism, the architecture for mosques changed considerably.
Let’s look at some of the present day famous mosques from around the world.
Masjid-al Haram, the largest mosque in the world, was built around Ka’aba. It has been modified and extended several times under the reign of various Muslims rulers. The present design with Ka’aba enclosed in the centre of the mosque is based on the rebuilding ordered by Abbasid Caliph Al-Mahdi.
Masjid-e-Nabawi was established by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself, upon his migration from Mecca to Madina. It is the second largest mosque in the world after Masjid-al Haram.
3.Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Mosque, situated in Abu Dhabi, is world’s third largest mosque after the ones in Mecca and Madina. It was named after its owner Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan. Built to strengthen Islamic culture, the mosque also serves as the last resting place for Sheikh Zayed.
The Qolsharif Mosque, situated in Russia (Kazan), is the main centre for all islamic activities and religious enlightenment. It is the biggest mosque in Russia and Europe (outside of Turkey). It is a re-creation of a multi-minaret Mosque in the capital of Khanate of Kazan which was destroyed in 1552 by the army of Ivan.
The Umayyad mosque also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus is the oldest stone Mosque that still stands today. It was built in 705-715 by the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid 1.
The Badshahi Mosque, also known as the “Emperor’s Mosque” is located in the heart of Lahore. It was built by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1673 and is one of the most significant landmarks of the city.
7.Nur Astana Mosque
Nur Astana Mosque, situated in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, is the third largest mosque in Central Asia. It was constructed in 2005 and is an exquisite sight with its geometrical patterning and contrasting colours of Blue, white, red and gold.
8.Siddiqa Fatima Zahra Mosque
Siddiqa Fatima Zahra Mosque, situated in Kuwait near Kuwait International Airport, resembles Taj Mahal in India. Built in 2011, the mosque occupies an area of 3200 square meters and can hold 4000 worshippers at a time.
9.The Blue Mosque
A popular tourist site and historically known as the blue mosque is located in Istanbul, Turkey. The mosque is also known as the Sultan Ahmed mosque, since it was built between years 1609 and 1616, in the reign of Ahmed I. The mosque remains open for visitors and tourists except for the congregation time, for about half an hour for each prayer.
10.Akhmad Kadyrov Mosque
Akhmad Kadyrov Mosque, located in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, is officially known as the Heart of Chechnya. It is one of the largest mosques in Russia. It is named after Akhmad Kadyrov, who commissioned the construction. The mosque was officially in 2008 where the Chechen leader spoke in presence of the Russian leader Vladimir Putin.