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A mosque (/msk/; Arabic: masjid pl. masjid), sometimes spelt mosk, is a place of worship for followers of Islam. There are strict and detailed requirements in Sunni fiqh for a place of worship to be considered a masjid, with places that do not meet these requirements regarded as musallas. There are stringent restrictions on the uses of the area formally demarcated as the mosque (which is often a small portion of the larger complex), and, in the Sharia, after an area is formally designated as a mosque, it remains so until the Last Day. Quba Mosque is the first mosque in history, and mosques have developed significantly since Quba mosque. Many mosques have elaborate domes, minarets, and prayer halls. Mosques originated on the Arabian Peninsula, but are now found in all inhabited continents. The mosque serves as a place where Muslims can come together for salah (prayer) (Arabic: , alt) as well as a center for information, education, and dispute settlement. The imam leads the prayer.

Masjid Quba is the first mosque in Islam's history


The Great Mosque of Kairouan in Tunisia, was built in 670 and is the most prestigious mosque in the western Islamic world. The first three mosques were very simple open spaces on the Arabian Peninsula. Mosques evolved significantly over the next 1,000 years, acquiring their now-distinctive features and adapting to cultures around the world. Grand entryways and tall towers, or minarets, have long been and continue to be closely associated with mosques.


Mosques were built outside the Arabian Peninsula as Muslims moved to other parts of the world. Egypt became occupied by Muslim Arabs as early as 640, and since then so many mosques have appeared throughout the country that its capital city, Cairo, has acquired the nickname of city of a thousand minarets. Egyptian mosques vary in amenities, as some have Islamic schools (madrasas) while others have hospitals or tombs. Built soon after the conquest of northwest Africa, the first mosque built in this region is the Great Mosque of Kairouan (in Tunisia) founded by the Umayyad general Uqba Ibn Nafi during

the second half of the 7th century and considered as the oldest place of worship in the western Islamic world. The Great Mosque of Kairouan, which is one of the most significant and best preserved examples of early Islamic mosques, served due to its architectural characteristics as a model to many later mosques especially in north Africa and Al-Andalus. Mosques in Sicily and Spain do not primarily reflect the architecture of Visigothic predecessors, but instead reflect the architecture introduced by the Muslim Moors. It is hypothesized, however, that there were some elements of pre-Islamic architecture which were Islamicized into Andalusi and Maghribi architecture, for example, the distinctive horseshoe arch. The first Chinese mosque was established in the 8th century in Xi'an. The Great Mosque of Xi'an, whose current building dates from the 18th century, does not replicate many of the features often associated with traditional mosques. Instead, it follows traditional Chinese architecture. It is distinguished from other buildings by its green roof (Buddhist temples are often built with a yellow roof). Mosques in western China incorporate more traditional elements seen in mosques in other parts of the world. Western Chinese mosques were more likely to incorporate minarets and domes while eastern Chinese mosques were more likely to look like pagodas. By the 15th century, Islam had become the dominant religion in Java and Sumatra, Indonesia's two most populous islands. As with Hinduism and Buddhism before it, the new religion and its accompanying foreign influences were absorbed and reinterpreted, with mosques given a unique Indonesian/Javanese interpretation. At the time, Javanese mosques took many design cues from Hindu, Buddhist, and even Chinese architectural influences. They lacked, for example, the ubiquitous Islamic dome which did not appear in Indonesia until the 19th century, but had tall timber, multi-level roofs not too dissimilar to the pagodas of Balinese Hindu temples still common today. A number of significant early mosques survive, particularly along the north coast of Java. These include the Mesjid Agung back in Demak, built in 1474, and the Grand Mosque of Yogyakarta that feature multi-level roofs. Javanese styles in turn influenced the architectural styles of mosques among Indonesia's Austronesian neighbors: Malaysia, Brunei and the southern Philippines. In India, the first mosque has been claimed as Cheraman Juma Masjid in the early 7th century, but this claim is dubious. They diffused into a majority of India only during the reign of the Mughal Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Mughals brought their own form of architecture that included pointed, onion-shaped domes, as seen in Delhi's Jama Masjid. Mughal style became the dominant feature in many of the old mosques in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Mosques first arrived in the Ottoman Empire (mostly present-day Turkey) during the 11th century, when many local Turks converted to Islam. Several of the first mosques in the Ottoman Empire, such as the Hagia Sophia in present-day Istanbul, were originally churches or cathedrals in the Byzantine Empire. The Ottomans created their own design of mosques, which included large central domes, multiple minarets, and open facades. The Ottoman style of mosque usually included elaborate columns, aisles, and high

ceilings in the interior, while incorporating traditional elements, such as the mihrab.[11] Today, Turkey is still home to many mosques that display this Ottoman style of architecture. Mosques gradually diffused to different parts of Europe, but the most rapid growth in the number of mosques has occurred within the past century as more Muslims have migrated to the continent. Major European cities, such as Rome, London, and Munich, are home to mosques that feature traditional domes and minarets. These large mosques in urban centers are supposed to serve as community and social centers for a large group of Muslims that occupy the region. However, one can still find smaller mosques in more suburban and rural regions throughout Europe where Muslims populate, an example of this is the Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking, the first purpose built mosque in the UK. Mosques first appeared in the United States in the early 20th century, the likely first being one in Maine built by Albanian immigrants in 1915 as more immigrants continue to arrive in the country, especially from South Asia, the number of American mosques is increasing faster than ever before. Whereas only two percent of the country's mosques appeared in the United States before 1950, eighty-seven percent of American mosques were founded after 1970 and fifty percent of American mosques founded after 1980. According to early Muslim historians, towns that surrendered without resistance and made treaties with the Muslims gave the Muslims permission to take their churches and synagogues. One of the earliest examples of these kinds of conversions was in Damascus, Syria, where in 705 Umayyad caliph Al-Walid I bought the church of St. John from the Christians and had it rebuilt as a mosque in exchange for building a number of new churches for the Christians in Damascus. Overall, Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (AlWaleed's father) is said to have transformed 10 churches in Damascus into mosques. The process of turning churches into mosques was especially intensive in the villages where most of the inhabitants converted to Islam. The Abbasid caliph al-Ma'mun turned many churches into mosques. Ottoman Turks converted nearly all churches, monasteries, and chapels in Constantinople, including the famous Hagia Sophia, immediately after capturing the city in 1453 into mosques. In some instances mosques have been established on the places of Jewish or Christian sanctuaries associated with Biblical personalities who were also recognized by Islam. Mosques have also been converted for use by other religions, notably in southern Spain, following the conquest of the Moors in 1492. The most prominent of them is the Great Mosque of Cordoba. The Iberian Peninsula and southeast Europe are other regions in the world where such instances occurred once no longer under Muslim rule.

Religious functions
The masjid jmi', a central mosque, can play a role in religious activities such as teaching the Quran and educating future imams.


Inside the Istiqlal Mosque, in Jakarta, Indonesia, during Eid ul-Fitr. There are two holidays (Eids) in the Islamic calendar, Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, during which there are special prayers held at mosques in the morning. These Eid prayers are supposed to be offered in large groups, and so, in the absence of an outdoor eidgah larger mosques will normally host them for their congregants as well as the congregants of smaller local mosques. Some mosques will even rent convention centers or other large public buildings to hold the large number of Muslims who attend. Mosques, especially those in countries where Muslims are the majority, will also host Eid prayers outside in courtyards, town squares or on the outskirts of town in an Eidgah.

Ramadan events
Islam's holiest month, Ramadan, is observed through many events. As Muslims must fast during the day during Ramadan, mosques will host iftar dinners after sunset and the fourth required prayer of the day, maghrib. Food is provided, at least in part, by members of the community, thereby creating nightly potluck dinners. Because of the community contribution necessary to serve iftar dinners, mosques with smaller congregations may not be able to host the iftar dinners daily. Some mosques will also hold suhoor meals before dawn to congregants attending the first required prayer of the day, fajr. As with iftar dinners, congregants usually provide the food for suhoor, although able mosques may provide food instead. Mosques will often invite poorer members of the Muslim community to share in beginning and breaking the fasts, as providing charity during Ramadan is regarded in Islam as especially honorable. Following the last obligatory daily prayer (Isha') special, optional tarawih prayers are offered in larger mosques. During each night of prayers, which can last for up to two hours each night, usually one member of the community who has memorized the entire Quran (a Hafiz) will recite a segment of the book. Sometimes, several such people (not

necessarily of the local community) take turns to do this. During the last ten days of Ramadan, larger mosques will host all-night programs to observe Laylat al-Qadr, the night Muslims believe that Muhammad first received Quranic revelations. On that night, between sunset and sunrise, mosques employ speakers to educate congregants in attendance about Islam. Mosques or the community usually provide meals periodically throughout the night During the last ten days of Ramadan, larger mosques within the Muslim community will host Itikf, a practice in which at least one Muslim man from the community must participate. Muslims performing itikaf are required to stay within the mosque for ten consecutive days, often in worship or learning about Islam. As a result, the rest of the Muslim community is responsible for providing the participants with food, drinks, and whatever else they need during their stay.

The third of the Five Pillars of Islam states that Muslims are required to give approximately one-fortieth of their wealth to charity as zakat. Since mosques form the center of Muslim communities, they are where Muslims go to both give zakat and, if necessary, collect it. Prior to the holiday of Eid ul-Fitr, mosques also collect a special zakat that is supposed to assist in helping poor Muslims attend the prayers and celebrations associated with the holiday.

Countries with a minority Muslim population are more likely than Muslim-majority countries of the Greater Middle East to use mosques as a way to promote civic participation. American mosques host voter registration and civic participation drives that promote involving Muslims, who are often first- or second-generation immigrants, in the political process. As a result of these efforts as well as attempts at mosques to keep Muslims informed about the issues facing the Muslim community, regular mosque attendants are more likely to participate in protests, sign petitions, and otherwise be involved in politics. Nevertheless, a link between political views and mosque attendance can still be seen in other parts of the world. Following the al-Askari Mosque bombing in February 2006, imams and other Islamic leaders used mosques and Friday prayers as vehicles to call for calm and peace in the midst of widespread violence.

Social conflict
See also: Islamophobia and IsraeliPalestinian conflict File:Babri rearview.jpg The 16th Century Babri Mosque in India was destroyed by Hindu demonstrators in 1992. As they are considered important to the Muslim community, mosques, like other places of worship, can be at the heart of social conflicts. The Babri Mosque was the subject of

such a conflict up until the early 1990s when it was demolished. Before a mutual solution could be devised, the mosque was destroyed on December 6, 1992 as the mosque was built by Babur allegedly on the site of a previous Hindu temple marking the birthplace of Rama. The controversy surrounded the mosque was directly linked to rioting in Bombay (present-day Mumbai) as well as bombings in 1993 that killed 257 people. A February 2006 and June 2007 bombing that seriously damaged Iraq's al-Askari Mosque, exacerbated tensions that had already existed. Other mosque bombings in Iraq, both before and after the February 2006 bombing, have been part of the conflict between the country's groups of Muslims. However, mosque bombings have not been exclusive to Iraq; in June 2005, a suicide bomber killed at least 19 people at an Afghan Shia mosque near Jade Maivand. In April 2006, two explosions occurred at India's Jama Masjid. Following the September 11 attacks, several American mosques were targeted in attacks ranging from simple vandalism to arson. Furthermore, the Jewish Defense League was suspected of plotting to bomb the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, California. Similar attacks occurred throughout the United Kingdom following the 7 July 2005 London bombings. Outside the Western world, in June 2001, the Hassan Bek Mosque was the target of vandalism and attacks by hundreds of Israelis.

Saudi influence

Funded by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad is the largest mosque in Pakistan. Although the Saudi involvement in mosques around the world can be traced back to the 1960s, it was not until later in the 20th century that the government of Saudi Arabia became a large influence in foreign mosques. Beginning in the 1980s, the Saudi Arabian

government began to finance the construction of mosques in countries around the world. An estimated US$45 billion has been spent by the Saudi Arabian government financing mosques and Islamic schools in foreign countries. Ain al-Yaqeen, a Saudi newspaper, reported in 2002 that Saudi funds may have contributed to building as many as 1,500 mosques and 2,000 other Islamic centers. Saudi citizens have also contributed significantly to mosques in the Islamic world, especially in countries where they see Muslims as poor and oppressed. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, in 1992, mosques in war-torn Afghanistan saw many contributions from Saudi citizens. The King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, California and the Islamic Cultural Center of Italy in Rome represent two of Saudi Arabia's largest investments in foreign mosques as former Saudi king Fahd bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud contributed US$8 million and US$50 million to the two mosques, respectively.

Further information: Islamic architecture

The Shah Mosque in Iran represents Iranian architecture. It was constructed during the Persian Safavid dynasty. Arab-plan or hypostyle mosques are the earliest type of mosques, pioneered under the Umayyad Dynasty. These mosques have square or rectangular plans with an enclosed courtyard and covered prayer hall. Historically, in the warm Middle Eastern and Mediterranean climates, the courtyard served to accommodate the large number of worshippers during Friday prayers. Most early hypostyle mosques had flat roofs on prayer halls, which required the use of numerous columns and supports. One of the most notable hypostyle mosques is the Great Mosque of Cordoba in Spain, the building being

supported by over 850 columns. Frequently, hypostyle mosques have outer arcades so that visitors can enjoy the shade. Arab-plan mosques were constructed mostly under the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties; subsequently, however, the simplicity of the Arab plan limited the opportunities for further development, the mosques consequently losing popularity.

A mosque at the University of Indonesia which represents the Indonesian-Javanese style architecture

Abuja National Mosque in Nigeria

The first separate brand within mosque designs started appearing in Persia (Iran). The Persians had inherited a rich architectural legacy from the earlier Persian dynasties, and they started incorporating elements from earlier Parthian and Sassanid palace-designs into their mosques, influenced by buildings such as the Palace of Ardashir and the Sarvestan Palace. Thus, Islamic architecture started witnessing the introduction of such structures as domes and large, arched entrances, referred to as iwans. During Seljuq rule, as Islamic mysticism was on the rise, the four-iwan arrangement took form. The fouriwan format, finalized by the Seljuqs, and later inherited by the Safavids, firmly established the courtyard facade of such mosques, with the towering gateways at every side, as more important than the actual buildings themselves, and they typically took the form of a square-shaped, central courtyard with large entrances at each side, giving the impression of being gateways to the spiritual world. Soon, a distinctly Persian style of mosques started appearing that would significantly influence the designs of later Timurid, and also Mughal, mosque designs. The Ottomans introduced central dome mosques in the 15th century. These mosques have a large dome centered over the prayer hall. In addition to having a large central dome, a common feature is smaller domes that exist off-center over the prayer hall or throughout the rest of the mosque, where prayer is not performed. This style was heavily influenced by Byzantine religious architecture with its use of large central domes.] Hajja Soad's mosque took a pyramid shape which is a creative style in Islamic architecture. The Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan in a relatively unusual design fuses contemporary lines with the more traditional look of an Arab Bedouin's tent, with its large triangular prayer hall and four minarets. However, unlike traditional mosque design, it lacks a dome. The mosque's architecture is a departure from the long history of South Asian Islamic architecture. It is one of the most outstanding and modern Islamic architecture examples in the world. Mosques built in Southeast Asia often represent the Indonesian-Javanese style architecture, which are different from the ones found throughout the Greater Middle East. The ones found in Europe and North America appear to have various styles but most are built on Western artchitectural designs, some are former churches or other buildings that were used by non-Muslims. In Africa, most mosques are old but the new ones are built to give it a look of the Greater Middle East. This can be seen in the Abuja National Mosque in Nigeria and others.


The Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul A common feature in mosques is the minaret, the tall, slender tower that usually is situated at one of the corners of the mosque structure. The top of the minaret is always the highest point in mosques that have one, and often the highest point in the immediate area. The tallest minaret in the world is located at the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco.

Minarets in Masjid Al-Haram

Minaret of the Great Mosque of Kairouan The first mosques had no minarets, and even nowadays the most conservative Islamic movements, like Wahhabis, avoid building minarets, seeing them as ostentatious and hazardous in case of collapse. The first minaret was constructed in 665 in Basra during the reign of the Umayyad caliph Muawiyah I. Muawiyah encouraged the construction of minarets, as they were supposed to bring mosques on par with Christian churches with their bell towers. Consequently, mosque architects borrowed the shape of the bell tower for their minarets, which were used for essentially the same purpose calling the faithful to prayer. The oldest standing minaret in the world is the minaret of the Great Mosque of Kairouan in Tunisia, built between the 8th and the 9th century, it is a massive square tower consisting of three superimposed tiers of gradual size and decor. Before the five required daily prayers, a muezzin calls the worshippers to prayer from the minaret. In many countries like Singapore where Muslims are not the majority, mosques are prohibited from loudly broadcasting the call to prayer (adhan), although it is supposed to be said loudly to the surrounding community. The adhan is required before every prayer. However, nearly every mosque assigns a muezzin for each prayer to say the adhan as it is a recommended practice or sunnah of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. At mosques that do not have minarets, the adhan is called instead from inside the mosque or somewhere else on the ground.[20] The iqama, which is similar to the adhan and said immediately before the start of prayer, is usually not said from the minaret even if a mosque has one.


Prophet Mohammad Mihrab in Masjid al-nabawi Mihrab is semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla; that is, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca and hence the direction that Muslims should face when praying. The wall in which a mihrab appears is thus the "qibla wall." Mihrabs should not be confused with the minbar, which is the raised platform from which an Imam (leader of prayer) addresses the congregation.


The Hazrati Abu Bakr Siddique mosque in Flushing, Queens, New York City.

The domes, often placed directly above the main prayer hall, may signify the vaults of heaven and the sky. As time progressed, domes grew, from occupying a small part of the roof near the mihrab to encompassing the whole roof above the prayer hall. Although domes normally took on the shape of a hemisphere, the Mughals in India popularized onion-shaped domes in South Asia. Some mosques have multiple, often smaller, domes in addition to the main large dome that resides at the center.

Prayer hall

Inside the Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque in Damascus, Syria. The prayer hall, also known as the musallah, rarely has furniture; chairs and pews are generally absent from the prayer hall so as to allow as many worshipers as possible to line the room. Some mosques have Islamic calligraphy and Quranic verses on the walls to assist worshippers in focusing on the beauty of Islam and its holiest book, the Quran, as well as for decoration.

Hypostyle prayer hall in the Great Mosque of Kairouan (Mosque of Uqba).

Often, a limited part of the prayer hall is sanctified formally as a masjid in the sharia sense (although the term masjid is also used for the larger mosque complex as well). Once designated, there are onerous limitations on the use of this formally designated masjid, and it may not be used for any purpose other than worship; restrictions that do not necessarily apply to other areas of the mosque complex (although such uses may be restricted by the conditions of the waqf that owns the mosque) In many mosques, especially the early congregational mosques, the prayer hall has the hypostyle form (the roof held up by a multitude of columns). One of the finest examples of the hypostyle-plan mosques is the Great Mosque of Kairouan (also known as the Mosque of Uqba) in Tunisia. Usually opposite the entrance to the prayer hall is the qiblah wall, the visually emphasized area inside the prayer hall. The qiblah wall should, in a properly oriented mosque, be set perpendicular to a line leading to Mecca, the location of the Kaaba. Congregants pray in rows parallel to the qiblah wall and thus arrange themselves so they face Mecca. In the qiblah wall, usually at its center, is the mihrab, a niche or depression indicating the direction of Mecca. Usually the mihrab is not occupied by furniture either. Sometimes, especially during Friday prayers, a raised minbar or pulpit is located to the side of the mihrab for a khatib or some other speaker to offer a sermon (khutbah). The mihrab serves as the location where the imam leads the five daily prayers on a regular basis.

Ablution facilities

The wudu (or ablution) area, where Muslims wash their hands, forearm, face and feet before they pray. As ritual purification precedes all prayers, mosques often have ablution fountains or other facilities for washing in their entryways or courtyards. However, worshippers at much smaller mosques often have to use restrooms to perform their ablutions. In traditional mosques, this function is often elaborated into a freestanding building in the center of a

courtyard. This desire for cleanliness extends to the prayer halls where shoes are disallowed to be worn anywhere other than the cloakroom. Thus, foyers with shelves to put shoes and racks to hold coats are commonplace among mosques.

Contemporary features

A basement mosque in Stockholm, Sweden. Modern mosques have a variety of amenities available to their congregants. As mosques are supposed to appeal to the community, they may also have additional facilities, from health clinics to libraries to gymnasiums, to serve the community.

Makeshift and temporary structures for Islamic worship

A temporary place set aside for Islamic worship is called a musalla (Jama'at Khana in South Asia). A musallah is often not part of a permanent endowment (waqf), or it is otherwise not intended to become a permanent legal masjid (as defined in the Sharia). Often musallas are used while a community looks for a piece of land for a permanent masjid, or the establishment of a masjid is not practical at the time. They could be located in rented apartments, industrial units or store fronts.

Rules and etiquette

Mosques, in accordance with Islamic practices, institute a number of rules intended to keep Muslims focused on worshipping God. While there are several rules, such as those regarding not allowing shoes in the prayer hall, that are universal, there are many other rules that are dealt with and enforced in a variety of ways from mosque to mosque.

Prayer leader

Muslims praying inside a mosque in Netherlands, Europe. Appointment of a prayer leader is considered desirable, but not always obligatory. The permanent prayer leader (imam) must be a free honest individual and is authoritative in religious matters. In mosques constructed and maintained by the government, the prayer leader is appointed by the ruler; in private mosques, however, appointment is made by members of the congregation through majority voting. According to the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence, the individual who built the mosque has a stronger claim to the title of imam, but this view is not shared by the other schools. Leadership at prayer falls into three categories, depending on the type of prayer: five daily prayers, Friday prayer, or optional prayers According to the Hanafi and Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence, appointment of a prayer leader for Friday service is mandatory because otherwise the prayer is invalid. The Shafi'i and Hanbali schools, however, argue that the appointment is not necessary and the prayer is valid as long as it is performed in a congregation. A slave may lead a Friday prayer, but Muslim authorities disagree over whether the job can be done by a minor. An imam appointed to lead Friday prayers may also lead at the five daily prayers; Muslim scholars agree to the leader appointed for five daily services may lead the Friday service as well. All Muslim authorities hold the consensus opinion that only men may lead prayer for men. Nevertheless women prayer leaders are allowed to lead prayer in front of all-female congregations.


Storage for shoes

All mosques have rules regarding cleanliness, as it is an essential part of the worshippers' experience. Muslims before prayer are required to cleanse themselves in an ablution process known as wudu. However, even to those who enter the prayer hall of a mosque without the intention of praying, there are still rules that apply. Shoes must not be worn inside the carpeted prayer hall. Some mosques will also extend that rule to include other parts of the facility even if those other locations are not devoted to prayer. Congregants and visitors to mosques are supposed to be clean themselves. It is also undesirable to come to the mosque after eating something that smells, such as garlic.

Islam requires that its adherents wear clothes that portray modesty. As a result, although many mosques will not enforce violations, both men and women when attending a mosque must adhere to these guidelines. Men are supposed to come to the mosque wearing loose and clean clothes that do not reveal the shape of the body. Likewise, it is recommended that women at a mosque wear loose clothing that covers to the wrists and ankles, and cover their heads with a hijab or other covering. Many Muslims, regardless of their ethnic background, wear Middle Eastern clothing associated with Arabic Islam to special occasions and prayers at mosques.

As mosques are places of worship, those within the mosque are required to remain respectful to those in prayer. Loud talking within the mosque, as well as discussion of topics deemed disrespectful, is forbidden in areas where people are praying. In addition, it is disrespectful to walk in front of or otherwise disturb Muslims in prayer. The walls

within the mosque have few items, except for possibly Islamic calligraphy, so Muslims in prayer are not distracted. Muslims are also discouraged from wearing clothing with distracting images and symbols so as not to divert the attention of those standing behind them during prayer. In many mosques, even the carpeted prayer area has no designs, its plainness helping worshippers to focus.

Gender separation
Further information: Gender segregation and Islam

Ladies prayer hall in the Khadija Mosque in Berlin, Germany. Islamic law does not require men and women to be separated in the prayer hall; there is nothing written in the Quran about the issue of space in mosques and gender separation. However, traditional rules have segregated women and men. By traditional rules, women are most often told to occupy the rows behind the men. In part, this was a practical matter as the traditional posture for prayer - kneeling on the floor, head to the ground - made mixed-gender prayer uncomfortably revealing for many women and distracting for some men. Traditionalists try to argue that Muhammad preferred women to pray at home rather than at a mosque, and they cite a hadith in which Muhammad supposedly said: "The best mosques for women are the inner parts of their houses," although women were active participants in the mosque started by Muhammad. Muhammad told Muslims not to forbid women from entering mosques. They are allowed to go in. The second Sunni caliph Umar at one time prohibited women from attending mosques especially at night because he feared they may be sexually harassed or assaulted by men, so he required them to pray at home. Sometimes a special part of the mosque was railed off for women; for example, the governor of Mecca in 870 had ropes tied between the columns to make a separate place for women. Many mosques today will put the women behind a barrier or partition or in another room. Mosques in South and Southeast Asia put men and women in separate rooms, as the divisions were built into them centuries ago. In nearly two-thirds of American mosques, women pray behind partitions or in separate areas, not in the main prayer hall; some mosques do not admit women at all due to the lack of space and the fact that some prayers, such as the Friday Jumuah, are mandatory for men but optional for women. Although there are sections exclusively for women and children, the Grand Mosque in Mecca is desegregated

Non-Muslims in mosques
Under most interpretations of sharia, non-Muslims may be allowed into mosques, as long as they do not sleep or eat there. A dissenting opinion is presented by followers of the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence, who argue that non-Muslims may not be allowed into mosques under any circumstances. The Quran addresses the subject of non-Muslims, and particularly polytheists, in mosques in two verses in its ninth chapter, Sura At-Tawba. The seventeenth verse of the chapter prohibits those who join gods with Allah polytheists from entering mosques: It is not for such as join gods with Allah, to visit or maintain the mosques of Allah while they witness against their own souls to infidelity. The works of such bear no fruit: In Fire shall they dwell. The twenty-eighth verse of the same chapter is more specific as it only considers polytheists in the Sacred Mosque, the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca: O ye who believe! Truly the Pagans are unclean; so let them not, after this year of theirs, approach the Sacred Mosque. And if ye fear poverty, soon will Allah enrich you, if He wills, out of His bounty, for Allah is All-knowing, All-wise. According to Ahmad ibn Hanbal, these verses were followed to the letter at the times of Muhammad, when Jews and Christians, considered monotheists, were still allowed to the Masjid al-Haram. However, the Umayyad caliph Umar II later forbade non-Muslims from entering mosques, and his ruling remains in practice in present day Saudi Arabia. Today, the decision on whether non-Muslims should be allowed to enter mosques varies. With few exceptions, mosques in the Arabian Peninsula as well as Morocco do not allow entry to non-Muslims. For example, the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca is one of only two mosques in Morocco currently open to non-Muslims. However, there are also many other places in the west as well as the Islamic world where non-Muslims are welcome to enter mosques. Most mosques in the United States, for example, report receiving non-Muslim visitors every month. Many mosques throughout the United States welcome non-Muslims as a sign of openness to the rest of the community as well as to encourage conversions to Islam. In modern-day Saudi Arabia, the Grand Mosque and all of Mecca are open only to Muslims. Likewise, the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi and the city of Medina that surrounds it are also off-limits to those who do not practice Islam. For mosques in other areas, it has most commonly been taken that non-Muslims may only enter mosques if granted permission to do so by Muslims and if they have a legitimate reason. All entrants regardless of religious affiliation are expected to respect the rules and decorum for mosques.

In modern Turkey non-Muslim tourists are allowed to enter any mosque, but there are some strict rules. Visiting a mosque is allowed only between prayers; visitors are required to wear long trousers and not to wear shoes, women must cover their heads; visitors are not allowed to interrupt praying Muslims, especially by taking photos of them; no loud talk is allowed; and no references to other religions are allowed (no crosses on necklaces, no cross gestures etc.) Similar rules apply to mosques in Malaysia, where larger mosques that are also tourist attractions (such as the Masjid Negara) provide robes and headscarves for visitors who are deemed inappropriately attired.[66] In certain times and places, non-Muslims were expected to behave a certain way in the vicinity of a mosque: in some Moroccan cities, Jews were required to remove their shoes when passing by a mosque; in 18th century Egypt, Jews and Christians had to dismount before several mosques in veneration of their sanctity.

The Qibla (Arabic: , "direction"), also transliterated as Qiblah, Kiblah, Kble or Kibla, is the direction that should be faced when a Muslim prays during salah. It is fixed as the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca. Most mosques contain a wall niche, known as mihrab, that indicates the Qiblah. Most multifaith prayer rooms will also contain a Qibla, although usually less standardized in appearance than one would find within a mosque. Muslims all praying towards the same point is traditionally considered to symbolize the unity of all Muslims worldwide under Law of God. The Qiblah has importance beyond salaat and plays a part in various ceremonies. The head of an animal that is slaughtered using halal methods is aligned with the Qiblah. After death, Muslims are buried with their heads turned right towards the direction of the Qiblah. Thus, archaeology can indicate an Islamic necropolis if no other signs are present.

The current Qiblah of Islam points towards the Kaaba

Masjid al-Qiblatain is the place where the Qiblah was switched towards Mecca According to the traditional Muslim view, the Qiblah originally faced the Noble Sanctuary in Jerusalem. This Qiblah was used for over 13 years, from 610 CE until 623 CE. Seventeen months after the Islamic prophet Muhammad's 622 CE arrival in Medina the date is given as 11 February 624 the Qiblah became oriented towards the Kaaba in Mecca. According to traditional accounts from Muhammad's companions, the change happened very suddenly during the noon prayer in Medina, in a mosque now known as Masjid al-Qiblatain (Mosque of the Two Qiblahs). Muhammad was leading the prayer when he received revelations from God instructing him to take the Kaaba as the Qiblah (literally, "Turn then Thy face in the direction of the sacred Mosque:"). According to the traditional accounts contained in the hadith and sira, Muhammad, who had been facing Jerusalem, upon receiving this revelation, immediately turned around to face Mecca, and those praying behind him also did so. Some have claimed that the Qur'an does not identify or allude to Jerusalem as being the first Qiblah and that the practise of facing Jerusalem is only mentioned in traditional biographies of Muhammad and hadith collections.[5] There is also disagreement as to when the practice started and for how long it lasted.[5] Some sources say the Jerusalem Qiblah was used for a period of between sixteen to eighteen months.[6] The Jewish custom of facing Jerusalem for prayer may have influenced the Muslim Qiblah.[7] Others surmise that the use of Jerusalem as the direction of prayer was to either induce the Jews of Medina to convert to Islam or to "win over their hearts."[6] When relations with the Jews soured, Muhammad changed the Qiblah towards Mecca.[7] Another reason given why the Qiblah was changed is that Jews viewed the use of Jerusalem as signalling the Muslims' intention of joining their religion. It was changed to discredit this assumption.[6] Others state that it was changed because Muhammad was angered by that city or its people, and not because of his conflict with the Jews. The Qiblah, for any point of reference on the Earth, is the direction of the Kaaba. Some Muslims from North America determine this direction using a rhumb line, while most Muslims worldwide use a great circle. In Muslim religious practice, supplicants must face this direction in prayer. Muslims do not worship the Kaaba or its contents; the Kaaba is simply a focal point for prayer. In ancient times, Muslims travelling abroad used an astrolabe to find the Qiblah.[citation

Cheraman Juma Masjid is a mosque in the south Indian state of Kerala. Believed to be built in 7th century CE by Malik Bin Deenar, it is thought to be the oldest mosque in India, and the second oldest mosque in the world to offer Jumu'ah prayers.[8][9] Constructed during the lifetime of Muhammad, the bodies of some of his original followers are said to be buried there.[10] Unlike other mosques in Kerala state, which face westwards (towards the Qiblah), this mosque faces eastwards.

A mihrab at the 16th century Jama Masjid, Fatehpur Sikri, indicating Qiblah From whencesoever Thou startest forth, turn Thy face in the direction of the sacred Mosque; that is indeed the truth from the Lord. And Allah is not unmindful of what ye do. So from whencesoever Thou startest forth, turn Thy face in the direction of the sacred Mosque; and wheresoever ye are, Turn your face thither: that there be no ground of dispute against you among the people, except those of them that are bent on wickedness; so fear them not, but fear Me; and that I may complete My favours on you, and ye May (consent to) be guided; It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces Towards east or West; but it is righteousness- to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the Allah-fearing. Qur'an, sura 2 (Al-Baqara), ayah 177[12] The two moments in each year when the sun is directly overhead the Kaaba, the direction of shadows in any sunlit place will point directly away from the Qiblah. This happens on May 27 or May 28 at 9:18 GMT and on July 15 or July 16 at 9:27 GMT. Likewise there are two moments in each year when the Sun is directly over the antipodes of the Kaaba. This happens on January 12 or January 13 at 21:29 GMT and on November 28 at 21:09 GMT. Because the Earth is almost a sphere, this is almost the same as saying that the Qiblah from a place is the direction in which a bird would start flying in order to get to the Kaaba by the shortest possible way. The antipodes of the Kaaba is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, in remote southern French Polynesia, some 35 mi (56 km) northeast of Tematangi atoll and 85 mi (137 km) west-northwest of Moruroa atoll.

Mihrab (Arabic: mirb, pl. marb) is a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla; that is, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca and hence the direction that Muslims should face when praying. The wall in which a mihrab appears is thus the "qibla wall." Mihrabs should not be confused with the minbar, which is the raised platform from which an Imam (leader of prayer) addresses the congregation.

The word mihrab originally had a non-religious meaning and simply denoted a special room in a house; a throne room in a palace, for example. The Fath al-Bari (p. 458), on the authority of others, suggests the mihrab is "the most honorable location of kings" and "the master of locations, the front and the most honorable." The Mosques in Islam (p. 13),

in addition to Arabic sources, cites Theodor Nldeke and others as having considered a mihrab to have originally signified a throne room. The term was subsequently used by the Islamic prophet Muhammad to denote his own private prayer room. The room additionally provided access to the adjacent mosque, and the Prophet would enter the mosque through this room. This original meaning of mihrab i.e. as a special room in the house - continues to be preserved in some forms of Judaism where mihrabs are rooms used for private worship. In the Qur'an (xix.12), the word mihrab refers to a sanctuary/place of worship.[2] During the reign of the Uthman ibn Affan (r. 644-656), the Caliph ordered a sign to be posted on the wall of the mosque at Medina so that pilgrims could easily identify the direction in which to address their prayers (i.e. that of Mecca). The sign was however just a sign on the wall, and the wall itself remained flat. Subsequently, during the reign of AlWalid ibn Abd al-Malik (Al-Walid I, r. 705-715), the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Mosque of the Prophet) was renovated and the governor (wli) of Medina, Umar ibn AbdulAziz, ordered that a niche be made to designate the qibla wall (which identifies the direction of Mecca), and it was in this niche that Uthman's sign was placed. Eventually, the niche came to be universally understood to identify the qibla wall, and so came to be adopted as a feature in other mosques. A sign was no longer necessary. The Qur'anic passage (xix.11) that refers to a mihrab "then he [i.e. Zakariya] came forth to his people from the sanctuary/place of worship" is inscribed on or over some mihrabs.[2]

Mihrab in the Mosque of Uqba also known as the Great Mosque of Kairouan; this mihrab dates in its present state from the 9th century, Kairouan, Tunisia

Present-day use
Today, Mihrabs vary in size, are usually ornately decorated and often designed to give the impression of an arched doorway or a passage to Mecca.

In exceptional cases, the mihrab does not follow the qibla direction. One example is the Mezquita of Crdoba, Spain that points south instead of southeast. Among the proposed explanations, there is the localization of the ancient Roman cardo street besides the old temple the Mezquita was built upon.

A sahn, (Arabic: , an), is a courtyard in Islamic architecture. Most traditional mosques have a large central sahn, which is surrounded by a riwaq or arcade on all sides. In traditional Islamic design, residences and neighborhoods can have private sahns. In Islamic and Arab architecture, the sahn courtyard is a common element in religious buildings and residences throughout the Arab world and beyond, used in urban and rural settings. The cloister is its equivalent in European medieval architecture and its religious buildings.

Large sahn of the Mosque of Uqba, surrounded by riwaq (arcades), in Tunisia.

Originally, the sahn was used for dwellings, as a secure and private setting within a residence compound's walls. Ruins of houses in Sumerian Ur with sahns have been found, from the Third Dynasty of Ur (2100 - 2000 BCE). In historic Persian garden design sahns were the location for private Paradise gardens. In traditional Persian architecture, the courtyard usually contained a howz or symmetrical pool, where wudu (Islamic ablutions) were performed.

The use of sahn in Islamic architecture continued until the mid-twentieth century, when modernist architecture began to influence Islamic cultures' residential and public buildings' designs.

Mosque design
Almost every historic or traditional mosque has a sahn. The use of the sahn in Middle Eastern countries' mosques was carried on to most Islamic countries' mosque architecture. Traditional mosque sahns are surrounded by the riwaq arcade on all sides. They also contain fountain water basins, such as a howz, for ritual purification cleansing and performing of wudu (Islamic ablutions), and flowing fountains for drinking water. The inner courtyard is not a religiously proscribed architectural feature, and some mosques, especially since the twentieth century, do not have a sahn.

Residential design
Residential sahns, part of a courtyard house, are the most private. The scale and design details differ: from urban to rural locales; different regions and climates, and different eras and cultures - but the basic function of security and privacy remain the same. The sahn can be a private garden, a service yard, and a summer season outdoor living room for the family or entertaining. Usually the main entrance of the house does not lead directly to the sahn. It is reached through a broken or curved corridor called a majaz (Arabic: , maz). This lets residents admit guests into the majlis (Arabic: , malis), a salon or reception room, without seeing into the sahn. It is then a protected and proscribed place where the women of the house need not be covered in the hijab clothing traditionally necessary in public. In urban settings, the sahn is usually surrounded by a colonnaded riwaq, and has a howz, or pool of water, in the middle. The residence's iwan, a private 'family room' veranda of three walls, usually overlooks the sahn and gives direct or stairway access to it. Upper floor rooms may also view it through mashrabiya, wooden lattice covered windows. The Moorish sahn patios of al-Andalus, in present day Spain, include World Heritage Sites such as the Court of the Lions and Court of the Myrtles at the Alhambra palace.

Urban design

Traditional Islamic neighborhoods can have a dedicated central open space, a communally private sahn, called saha (Arabic: , s), only for the neighbourhood's residents, usually consisting of members of the same tribe.

The idea of public open space, central in the middle of a city, a town square or central plaza, is part of historical and contemporary urban design in many cultures around the world. Ancient examples are the Greek agora and Roman forum. They can provide a place for various civic uses, such as: public gatherings, celebrations, and protests; city parks; open air markets and festivals; and transportation links.

Madrasa (Arabic: , madrasah pl. , madris) is the Arabic word (of Semitic origin; viz Hebrew midrash) for any type of educational institution, whether secular or religious (of any religion). It is variously transliterated as madrasah, madarasaa, medresa, madrassa, madraza, madarsa, medrese, etc. In English the word normally specifically means any type of religious school or college for the study of the Islamic religion, though this may not be the only subject studied. Today, 20,000 Madrassas educate over 1.5 million students per year.[1]

A madrasa in Visoko, Bosnia. The word madrasah is derived from the triconsonantal Semitic root -- D-R-S 'to learn, study', through the wazn (form/stem) ( (mafal(ah), meaning 'a place where something is done'. Therefore, madrasah literally means 'a place where learning and

studying are done'. The word is also present as a loanword with the same innocuous meaning in many Arabic-influenced languages, such as: Urdu, Bengali, Hindi, Persian, Turkish, Azeri, Kurdish, Indonesian, Malay and Bosnian / Croatian.[2] In the Arabic language, the word madrasah simply means the same as school does in the English language, whether that is private, public or parochial school, as well as for any primary or secondary school whether Muslim, non-Muslim, or secular.[3] Unlike the understanding of the word school in British English, the word madrasah is like the term school in American English, in that it can refer to a university-level or post-graduate school as well. For example, in the Ottoman Empire during the Early Modern Period, madrasas had lower schools and specialized schools where the students became known as danimends.[4] The usual Arabic word for a university, however, is simply (jmiah). The Hebrew cognate midrasha also connotes the meaning of a place of learning; the related term midrash literally refers to study or learning, but has acquired mystical and religious connotations. However, in English, the term madrasah usually refers to the specifically Islamic institutions. A typical Islamic school usually offers two courses of study: a if course teaching memorization of the Qur'an (the person who commits the entire Quran to memory is called a fi); and an lim course leading the candidate to become an accepted scholar in the community. A regular curriculum includes courses in Arabic, tafsir (Qur'anic interpretation), sharah (Islamic law), hadiths (recorded sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad), mantiq (logic), and Muslim history. In the Ottoman Empire, during the Early Modern Period, the study of hadiths was introduced by Sleyman I.[4] Depending on the educational demands, some madrasas also offer additional advanced courses in Arabic literature, English and other foreign languages, as well as science and world history. Ottoman madrasas along with religious teachings also taught "styles of writing, grammary, syntax, poetry, composition, natural sciences, political sciences, and etiquette."[4] People of all ages attend, and many often move on to becoming imams. The certificate of an lim for example, requires approximately twelve years of study. A good number of the uff (plural of fi) are the product of the madrasas. The madrasas also resemble colleges, where people take evening classes and reside in dormitories. An important function of the madrasas is to admit orphans and poor children in order to provide them with education and training. Madrasas may enroll female students; however, they study separately from the men.

Early history
See also: Nizamiyya and List of oldest madrasahs in continuous operation The first institute of madrasa education was at the estate of Hazrat Zaid bin Arkam near a hill called Safa, where Prophet Muhammad was the teacher and the students were some of his followers. After Hijjah (migration) the madrasa of "Suffa" was established in Madina on the east side of the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi mosque. Hazrat 'Ubada bin Samit was appointed there by the prophet as teacher and among the students. In the curriculum of the madrasa, there were teachings of The Qur'an,The Hadith, fara'iz, tajweed,

genealogy, treatises of first aid, etc. There were also trainings of horse-riding, art of war, handwriting and calligraphy, athletics and martial arts. The first part of madrasa based education is estimated from the first day of "nabuwwat" to the first portion of the "Umaiya" caliphate. Established in 859, Jmiat al-Qarawyn (located in al-Qarawyn Mosque) in the city of Fas, Morocco, is considered the oldest university in the world by some scholars,[5] though the existence of universities in the medieval Muslim world is debated. It was founded by Fimah al-Fihr, the daughter of a wealthy merchant named Muammad al-Fihr. This was later followed by the establishment of al-Azhar in 959 in Cairo, Egypt. During the late Abbsid period, the Seljuk vizier Nim al-Mulk created one of the first major official academic institutions known in history as the Madrasah Nimyah, based on the informal majlis (sessions of the shaykhs). Nim al-Mulk, who would later be murdered by the Assassins (ashshshn), created a system of state madrasas (in his time they were called the Nimiyyahs, named after him) in various Abbsid cities at the end of the 11th century.

Alauddin Khilji's Madrasa, Qutb complex, built in the early-14th century in Delhi, India. During the rule of the Fatimid[6] and Mamluk[7] dynasties and their successor states in the medieval Middle East, many of the ruling elite founded madrasas through a religious endowment known as the waqf. Not only was the madrasa a potent symbol of status but it was an effective means of transmitting wealth and status to their descendants. Especially during the Mamlk period, when only former slaves could assume power, the sons of the ruling Mamlk elite were unable to inherit. Guaranteed positions within the new madrasas thus allowed them to maintain status. Madrasas built in this period include the Mosque-Madrasah of Sultan asan in Cairo. Dimitri Gutas and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy consider the period between the 11th and 14th centuries to be the "Golden Age" of Arabic and Islamic philosophy, initiated by al-Ghazali's successful integration of logic into the madrasah curriculum and the subsequent rise of Avicennism.[8] At the beginning of the Caliphate or Islamic Empire, the reliance on courts initially confined sponsorship and scholarly activities to major centers. Within several centuries,

the development of Muslim educational institutions such as the madrasah and masjid eventually introduced such activities to provincial towns and dispersed them across the Islamic legal schools and Sufi orders. In addition to religious subjects, they also taught the "rational sciences," as varied as mathematics, astronomy, astrology, geography, alchemy, philosophy, magic, and occultism, depending on the curriculum of the specific institution in question.[9] The madrasas, however, were not centers of advanced scientific study; scientific advances in Islam were usually carried out by scholars working under the patronage of royal courts.[10] During this time,[when?] the Caliphate experienced a growth in literacy, having the highest literacy rate of the Middle Ages, comparable to classical Athens' literacy in antiquity but on a much larger scale.[11] The emergence of the maktab and madrasa institutions played a fundamental role in the relatively high literacy rates of the medieval Islamic world.[12] The following excerpt provides a brief synopsis of the historical origins and starting points for the teachings that took place in the Ottoman madrasas in the Early Modern Period: "Takprlzde's concept of knowledge and his division of the sciences provides a starting point for a study of learning and medrese education in the Ottoman Empire. Takprlzde recognizes four stages of knowledgespiritual, intellectual, oral and written. Thus all the sciences fall into one of these seven categories: calligraphic sciences, oral sciences, intellectual sciences, spiritual sciences, theoretical rational sciences, practical rational sciences. The first Ottoman medrese was created in znik in 1331, when a converted Church building was assigned as a medrese to a famous scholar, Dvd of Kayseri. Suleyman made an important change in the hierarchy of Ottoman medreses. He established four general medreses and two more for specialized studies, one devoted to the adth and the other to medicine. He gave the highest ranking to these and thus established the hierarchy of the medreses which was to continue until the end of the empire."[4]

Elementary education
Main article: Maktab

Registan, Sher-Dor Madrasa in Samarkand In the medieval Islamic world, an elementary school was known as a maktab, which dates back to at least the 10th century. Like madrasas (which referred to higher education), a maktab was often attached to an endowed mosque. In the 11th century, the famous Persian Islamic philosopher and teacher Ibn Sn (known as Avicenna in the West), in one of his books, wrote a chapter about the maktab entitled "The Role of the Teacher in the Training and Upbringing of Children," as a guide to teachers working at maktab schools. He wrote that children can learn better if taught in classes instead of individual tuition from private tutors, and he gave a number of reasons for why this is the case, citing the value of competition and emulation among pupils, as well as the usefulness of

group discussions and debates. Ibn Sn described the curriculum of a maktab school in some detail, describing the curricula for two stages of education in a maktab school.[13]

Primary education
Ibn Sn wrote that children should be sent to a maktab school from the age of 6 and be taught primary education until they reach the age of 14. During which time, he wrote, they should be taught the Qur'an, Islamic metaphysics, language, literature, Islamic ethics, and manual skills (which could refer to a variety of practical skills).[13]

Secondary education
Ibn Sn refers to the secondary education stage of maktab schooling as a period of specialization when pupils should begin to acquire manual skills, regardless of their social status. He writes that children after the age of 14 should be allowed to choose and specialize in subjects they have an interest in, whether it was reading, manual skills, literature, preaching, medicine, geometry, trade and commerce, craftsmanship, or any other subject or profession they would be interested in pursuing for a future career. He wrote that this was a transitional stage and that there needs to be flexibility regarding the age in which pupils graduate, as the student's emotional development and chosen subjects need to be taken into account.[14]

Higher education
See also: Ijazah During its formative period, the term madrasah referred to a higher education institution, whose curriculum initially included only the "religious sciences", whilst philosophy and the secular sciences were often excluded.[15] The curriculum slowly began to diversify, with many later madrasas teaching both the religious and the "secular sciences", [16] such as logic, mathematics and philosophy. Some madrasas further extended their curriculum to history, politics, ethics, music, metaphysics, medicine, astronomy and chemistry.[17] The curriculum of a madrasah was usually set by its founder, but most generally taught both the religious sciences and the physical sciences. Madrasas were established throughout the Islamic world, the most famous being the 10th century al-Azhar University and the 11th century Nimyah, as well as 75 madrasas in Cairo, 51 in Damascus and up to 44 in Aleppo between 1155 and 1260. Many more were also established in the Andalusian cities of Crdoba, Seville, Toledo, Granada (Madrasah of Granada), Murcia, Almera, Valencia and Cdiz during the Caliphate of Crdoba.[18] In the Ottoman Empire during the early modern period, "Madrasas were divided into lower and specialized levels, which reveals that there was a sense of elevation in school. Students who studied in the specialized schools after completing courses in the lower levels became known as danimends."[4] While "madrasah" can now refer to any type of school, the term madrasah was originally used to refer more specifically to a medieval Islamic centre of learning, mainly teaching

Islamic law and theology, usually affiliated with a mosque, and funded by an early charitable trust known as waqf.[19]

Law school
See also: Sharia and Fiqh Madrasas were largely centered on the study of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). The ijzat al-tadrs wa-al-ift ("license to teach and issue legal opinions") in the medieval Islamic legal education system had its origins in the 9th century after the formation of the madhhib (schools of jurisprudence). George Makdisi considers the ijzah to be the origin of the European doctorate.[20] However, in an earlier article, he considered the ijzah to be of "fundamental difference" to the medieval doctorate, since the former was awarded by an individual teacher-scholar not obliged to follow any formal criteria, whereas the latter was conferred on the student by the collective authority of the faculty.[21] To obtain an ijzah, a student "had to study in a guild school of law, usually four years for the basic undergraduate course" and ten or more years for a post-graduate course. The "doctorate was obtained after an oral examination to determine the originality of the candidate's theses", and to test the student's "ability to defend them against all objections, in disputations set up for the purpose." These were scholarly exercises practiced throughout the student's "career as a graduate student of law." After students completed their post-graduate education, they were awarded ijazas giving them the status of faqh 'scholar of jurisprudence', muft 'scholar competent in issuing fatws', and mudarris 'teacher'.[20] The Arabic term ijzat al-tadrs was awarded to Islamic scholars who were qualified to teach. According to Makdisi, the Latin title licentia docendi 'license to teach' in the European university may have been a translation of the Arabic,[20] but the underlying concept was very different.[21] A significant difference between the ijzat al-tadrs and the licentia docendi was that the former was awarded by the individual scholar-teacher, while the latter was awarded by the chief official of the university, who represented the collective faculty, rather than the individual scholar-teacher.[22] Much of the study in the madrasah college centered on examining whether certain opinions of law were orthodox. This scholarly process of "determining orthodoxy began with a question which the Muslim layman, called in that capacity mustaft, presented to a jurisconsult, called mufti, soliciting from him a response, called fatwa, a legal opinion (the religious law of Islam covers civil as well as religious matters). The mufti (professor of legal opinions) took this question, studied it, researched it intensively in the sacred scriptures, in order to find a solution to it. This process of scholarly research was called ijtihd, literally, the exertion of one's efforts to the utmost limit."[20]

Medical school
See also: Bimaristan Though Islamic medicine was most often taught at the bimaristan teaching hospitals, there were also several medical madrasas dedicated to the teaching of medicine. For

example, of the 155 madrasa colleges in 15th century Damascus, three of them were medical schools.[23] No medical degrees were granted to students, as there was no faculty that could issue them. Therefore no system of examination and certification ever developed in the Islamic tradition, in contrast with medieval Europe.[24] In the Early Modern Period in the Ottoman Empire, "Suleyman I added new curriculums ['sic'] to the Ottoman medreses of which one was medicine, which alongside studying of the adth was given highest rank."[4]

Madrasa and university

Note: The word jmiah (Arabic: ) simply means 'university'. For more information, see Islamic university (disambiguation). There is disagreement whether madrasas ever became universities. Scholars like Arnold H. Green and Seyyed Hossein Nasr have argued that starting in the 10th century, some medieval Islamic madrasas indeed became universities.[25][26] George Makdisi and others,[27][28] however, argue that the European university has no parallel in the medieval Islamic world.[29] Darleen Pryds questions this view, pointing out that madrasas and European universities in the Mediterranean region shared similar foundations by princely patrons and were intended to provide loyal administrators to further the rulers' agenda.[30] Other scholars regard the university as uniquely European in origin and characteristics.[31][32][33][34][35] al-Qarawyn University in Fez, Morocco is recognized by many historians as the oldest degree-granting university in the world, having been founded in 859 by Fatima alFihri.[5][36][37] While the madrasa college could also issue degrees at all levels, the jmiahs (such as al-Qarawyn and al-Azhar University) differed in the sense that they were larger institutions, more universal in terms of their complete source of studies, had individual faculties for different subjects, and could house a number of mosques, madrasas, and other institutions within them.[19] Such an institution has thus been described as an "Islamic university".[38] Al-Azhar University, founded in Cairo, Egypt in 975 by the Ismal Sh Fatimid dynasty as a jmiah, had individual faculties[39] for a theological seminary, Islamic law and jurisprudence, Arabic grammar, Islamic astronomy, early Islamic philosophy and logic in Islamic philosophy.[40] The postgraduate doctorate in law was only obtained after "an oral examination to determine the originality of the candidate's theses", and to test the student's "ability to defend them against all objections, in disputations set up for the purpose."[20] Abd al-Laf al-Baghdd also delivered lectures on Islamic medicine at alAzhar, while Maimonides delivered lectures on medicine and astronomy there during the time of Saladin.[41] Another early jmiah was the Nimyah of Baghdd (founded 1091), which has been called the "largest university of the Medieval world."[42] Mustansiriya University, established by the Abbsid caliph al-Mustanir in 1233, in addition to teaching the religious subjects, offered courses dealing with philosophy, mathematics and the natural sciences.

However, the classification of madrasas as "universities" is disputed on the question of understanding of each institution on its own terms. In madrasas, the ijzahs were only issued in one field, the Islamic religious law of sharah, and in no other field of learning.[43] Other academic subjects, including the natural sciences, philosophy and literary studies, were only treated "ancillary" to the study of the Sharia.[44] For example, a natural science like astronomy was only studied (if at all) to supply religious needs, like the time for prayer.[45] This is why Ptolemaic astronomy was considered adequate, and is still taught in some modern day madrasas.[45] The Islamic law undergraduate degree from al-Azhar, the most prestigious madrasa, was traditionally granted without final examinations, but on the basis of the students' attentive attendance to courses.[46] In contrast to the medieval doctorate which was granted by the collective authority of the faculty, the Islamic degree was not granted by the teacher to the pupil based on any formal criteria, but remained a "personal matter, the sole prerogative of the person bestowing it; no one could force him to give one".[47] Medievalist specialists who define the university as a legally autonomous corporation disagree with the term "university" for the Islamic madrasas and jmiahs because the medieval university (from Latin universitas) was structurally different, being a legally autonomous corporation rather than a waqf institution like the madrasa and jmiah.[48] Despite the many similarities, medieval specialists have coined the term "Islamic college" for madrasa and jmiah to differentiate them from the legally autonomous corporations that the medieval European universities were. In a sense, the madrasa resembles a university college in that it has most of the features of a university, but lacks the corporate element. Toby Huff summarizes the difference as follows: From a structural and legal point of view, the madrasa and the university were contrasting types. Whereas the madrasa was a pious endowment under the law of religious and charitable foundations (waqf), the universities of Europe were legally autonomous corporate entities that had many legal rights and privileges. These included the capacity to make their own internal rules and regulations, the right to buy and sell property, to have legal representation in various forums, to make contracts, to sue and be sued."[49] As Muslim institutions of higher learning, the madrasa had the legal designation of waqf. In central and eastern Islamic lands, the view that the madrasa, as a charitable endowment, will remain under the control of the donor (and their descendent), resulted in a "spurt" of establishment of madrasas in the 11th and 12th centuries. However, in Western Islamic lands, where the Maliki views prohibited donors from controlling their endowment, madrasas were not as popular. Unlike the corporate designation of Western institutions of higher learning, the waqf designation seemed to have led to the exclusion of non-orthodox religious subjects such a philosophy and natural science from the curricula.[50] The madrasa of al-Qarawyn, one of the two surviving madrasas that predate the founding of the earliest medieval universities and are thus claimed to be the "first universities" by some authors, has acquired official university status as late as 1947.[51] The other, al-Azhar, did acquire this status in name and essence only in the course of numerous reforms during the 19th and 20th century, notably the one of 1961 which introduced non-religious subjects to its curriculum, such as economics,

engineering, medicine, and agriculture.[52] It should also be noted that many medieval universities were run for centuries as Christian cathedral schools or monastic schools prior to their formal establishment as universitas scholarium; evidence of these immediate forerunners of the university dates back to the 6th century AD,[53] thus well preceding the earliest madrasas. George Makdisi, who has published most extensively on the topic[54] concludes in his comparison between the two institutions: Thus the university, as a form of social organization, was peculiar to medieval Europe. Later, it was exported to all parts of the world, including the Muslim East; and it has remained with us down to the present day. But back in the middle ages, outside of Europe, there was nothing anything quite like it anywhere.[55] Nevertheless, Makdisi has asserted that the European university borrowed many of its features from the Islamic madrasa, including the concepts of a degree and doctorate.[20] Makdisi and Hugh Goddard have also highlighted other terms and concepts now used in modern universities which most likely have Islamic origins, including "the fact that we still talk of professors holding the 'Chair' of their subject" being based on the "traditional Islamic pattern of teaching where the professor sits on a chair and the students sit around him", the term 'academic circles' being derived from the way in which Islamic students "sat in a circle around their professor", and terms such as "having 'fellows', 'reading' a subject, and obtaining 'degrees', can all be traced back" to the Islamic concepts of ab ('companions, as of the prophet Muhammad'), qirah ('reading aloud the Qur'an') and ijzah ('license [to teach]') respectively. Makdisi has listed eighteen such parallels in terminology which can be traced back to their roots in Islamic education. Some of the practices now common in modern universities which Makdisi and Goddard trace back to an Islamic root include "practices such as delivering inaugural lectures, wearing academic robes, obtaining doctorates by defending a thesis, and even the idea of academic freedom are also modelled on Islamic custom."[56] The Islamic scholarly system of fatw and ijm, meaning opinion and consensus respectively, formed the basis of the "scholarly system the West has practised in university scholarship from the Middle Ages down to the present day."[57] According to Makdisi and Goddard, "the idea of academic freedom" in universities was also "modelled on Islamic custom" as practiced in the medieval Madrasa system from the 9th century. Islamic influence was "certainly discernible in the foundation of the first delibrately planned university" in Europe, the University of Naples Federico II founded by Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor in 1224.[56] However, all of these facets of medieval university life are considered by standard scholarship to be independent medieval European developments with no tracable Islamic influence.[58] Generally, some reviewers have pointed out the strong inclination of Makdisi of overstating his case by simply resting on "the accumulation of close parallels", but all the while failing to point to convincing channels of transmission between the Muslim and Christian world.[59] Norman Daniel points out that the Arab equivalent of the Latin disputation, the taliqa, was reserved for the ruler's court, not the madrasa, and that the actual differences between Islamic fiqh and medieval European civil law were profound.[59] The taliqa only reached Islamic Spain, the only likely point of

transmission, after the establishment of the first medieval universities.[59] In fact, there is no Latin translation of the taliqa and, most importantly, no evidence of Latin scholars ever showing awareness of Arab influence on the Latin method of disputation, something they would have certainly found noteworthy.[59] Rather, it was the medieval reception of the Greek Organon which set the scholastic sic et non in motion.[60] Daniel concludes that resemblances in method had more to with the two religions having "common problems: to reconcile the conflicting statements of their own authorities, and to safeguard the data of revelation from the impact of Greek philosophy"; thus Christian scholasticism and similar Arab concepts should be viewed in terms of a parallel occurrence, not of the transmission of ideas from one to the other,[60] a view shared by Hugh Kennedy.[61] Tony Huff, in a discussion of Makdisi's hypothesis, concludes: It remains the case that no equivalent of the bachelor's degree, the licentia docendi, or higher degrees ever emerged in the medieval or early modern Islamic madrasas.[62]

Female education
See also: Islamic feminism, Women in Islam, and Women's literary salons and societies in the Arab World From around 750, during the Abbasid Caliphate, women became renowned for their brains as well as their beauty.[63] In particular, many well known women of the time were trained from childhood in music, dancing and poetry. Mahbuba was one of these. Another feminine figure to be remembered for her achievements was Tawaddud, "a slave girl who was said to have been bought at great cost by Hrn al-Rashd because she had passed her examinations by the most eminent scholars in astronomy, medicine, law, philosophy, music, history, Arabic grammar, literature, theology and chess".[64] Moreover, among the most prominent feminine figures was Shuhda who was known as "the Scholar" or "the Pride of Women" during the 12th century in Baghdad. Despite the recognition of women's aptitudes during the Abbasid dynasty, all these came to an end in Iraq with the sack of Baghdad in 1258.[65] Women played an important role in the foundations of many Islamic educational institutions, such as Fatima al-Fihri's founding of the University of Al Karaouine in 859. This continued through to the Ayyubid dynasty in the 12th and 13th centuries, when 160 mosques and madrasas were established in Damascus, 26 of which were funded by women through the Waqf (charitable trust) system. Half of all the royal patrons for these institutions were also women.[66] According to the Sunni scholar Ibn Askir in the 12th century, there were opportunities for female education in the medieval Islamic world, writing that women could study, earn ijazahs (academic degrees), and qualify as scholars and teachers. This was especially the case for learned and scholarly families, who wanted to ensure the highest possible education for both their sons and daughters.[67] Ibn Asakir had himself studied under 80 different female teachers in his time. Female education in the Islamic world was inspired by Muhammad's wives, such as Khadijah, a successful businesswoman. According to a

hadith attributed to Muhammad, he praised the women of Medina because of their desire for religious knowledge:[68] "How splendid were the women of the ansar; shame did not prevent them from becoming learned in the faith." While it was not common for women to enroll as students in formal classes, it was common for women to attend informal lectures and study sessions at mosques, madrasas and other public places. While there were no legal restrictions on female education, some men did not approve of this practice, such as Muhammad ibn al-Hajj (d. 1336) who was appalled at the behaviour of some women who informally audited lectures in his time:[69] "[Consider] what some women do when people gather with a shaykh to hear [the recitation of] books. At that point women come, too, to hear the readings; the men sit in one place, the women facing them. It even happens at such times that some of the women are carried away by the situation; one will stand up, and sit down, and shout in a loud voice. [Moreover,] her 'awra will appear; in her house, their exposure would be forbidden how can it be allowed in a mosque, in the presence of men?" The term awrah is often translated as 'that which is indecent', which usually meant the exposure of anything other than a woman's face and hands, although scholarly interpretations of the awrah and ijb have always tended to vary, with some more or less strict than others.[69] While women accounted for no more than one percent of Islamic scholars prior to the 12th century, there was a large increase of female scholars after this. In the 15th century, al-Sakhawi devotes an entire volume of his 12-volume biographical dictionary al-aw al-lmi to female scholars, giving information on 1,075 of them.[70] More recently, the scholar Mohammad Akram Nadwi, currently a researcher from the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, has written 40 volumes on the muadditht (the women scholars of adth), and found at least 8,000 of them.[71]

Madrasas by region
This section requires expansion. (December 2009)

A Muslim kindergarten in Yangzhou, China

Madrasas in the Ottoman Empire

"The first Ottoman Medrese was created in znik in 1331 and most Ottoman medreses followed the traditions of sunni Islam."[4] "When an Ottoman sultan established a new medrese, he would invite scholars from the Islamic worldfor example, Murad II brought scholars from Persia, such as Al al-Dn and Fakhr al-Dn who helped enhance the reputation of the Ottoman medrese".[4] This reveals that the Islamic world was interconnected in the early modern period as they traveled around to other Islamic states exchanging knowledge. This sense that the Ottoman Empire was becoming modernized through globalization is also recognized by Hamadeh who says: "Change in the eighteenth century as the beginning of a long and unilinear march toward westernization reflects the two centuries of reformation in sovereign identity."[72] nalck also mentions that while scholars from for example Persia, traveled to the Ottomans in order to share their knowledge, Ottomans traveled as well to receive education from scholars of these Islamic lands, such as Egypt, Persia and Turkestan.[4] Hence, this reveals that similar to today's modern world, individuals from the early modern society traveled abroad to receive education and share knowledge and that the world was more interconnected than it seems. Also, it reveals how the system of "schooling" was also similar to today's modern world where students travel abroad to different countries for studies. Examples of Ottoman madrasas are the ones built by Mehmed the Conqueror. He built eight madrasas that were built "on either side of the mosque where there were eight higher madrasas for specialized studies and eight lower medreses, which prepared students for these."[4] The fact that they were built around, or near mosques reveals the religious impulses behind madrasa building and it reveals the interconnectedness between institutions of learning and religion. The students who completed their education in the lower medreses became known as danismends[4] This reveals that similar to the education system today, the Ottomans had a similar kind of educational system in which there were different kinds of schools attached to different kinds of levels. For example, there were the lower madrasas and then the specialized ones and for one to get into the specialized area meant that they had to complete the classes in the lower one in order to adequately prepare themselves for higher learning.[4] This is the rank of madrasas in the Ottoman Empire from the highest ranking to the lowest: (From nalck, 167).[4] 1. 2. 3. 4. Semniye Darulhadis Madrasas built by earlier sultans in Bursa. Madrasas endowed by great men of state.

Although Ottoman madrasas had a number of different branches of study, such as calligraphic sciences, oral sciences, and intellectual sciences they primarily served the function of an Islamic center for spiritual learning. "The goal of all knowledge and in particular, of the spiritual sciences is knowledge of God."[4] Religion, for the most part, determines the significance and importance of each science. As nalck mentions: " Those which aid religion are good and sciences like astrology are bad."[4] However, even though

mathematics, or studies in logic were part of the madrasa's curriculum, they were all centered around religion. Even mathematics had a religious impulse behind its teachings. "The Ulema of the Ottoman medreses held the view that hostility to logic and mathematics was futile since these accustomed the mind to correct thinking and thus helped to reveal divine truths"[4] keyword being divine. nalck also mentions that even philosophy was only allowed to be studied so that it helped to confirm the doctrines of Islam."[4] Hence, madrasas schools were basically religious centers for religious teachings and learning in the Ottoman world. Although scholars such as Goffman have argued that the Ottomans were highly tolerant and lived in a pluralistic society, it seems that schools that were the main centers for learning were in fact heftily religious and were not religiously pluralistic, but centered around Islam. Similarly, in Europe "Jewish children learned the Hebrew letters and texts of basic prayers at home, and then attended a school organized by the synagogue to study the Torah."[73] Wiesner-Hanks also goes on to mention that Protestants also wanted to teach "proper religious values."[73] This goes on to show that in the early modern period, Ottomans and Europeans were similar in their ideas about how schools should be managed and what they should be primarily focused on. Thus, Ottoman madrasas were very similar to present day schools in the sense that they offered a wide range of studies; however, the difference being that these studies, in its ultimate objective, aimed to further solidify and consolidate Islamic practices, and theories.

As is previously mentioned, religion dominated much of the knowledge and teachings that were endowed upon students. "Religious learning as the only true science, whose sole aim was the understanding of God's word."[4] Thus, it is important to keep this impulse in mind when going over the curriculum that was taught. The following is taken from nalck.[4]

A) Calligraphic sciencessuch as styles of writing. B) Oral sciencessuch as Arabic language, grammar and syntax. C) Intellectual scienceslogic in Islamic philosophy. D) Spiritual sciencestheoretical, such as Islamic theology and mathematics; and practical, such as Islamic ethics and politics.

Social life and the Medrese

As with any other country during the Early Modern Period, such as Italy and Spain in Europe, the Ottoman social life was also interconnected with the medrese. Medreses were built in as part of a Mosque Complex where many programs, such as aid to the poor through soup kitchens were held under the infrastructure of a mosque, which reveals the interconnectedness of religion and social life during this period. "The mosques to which medreses were attached, dominated the social life in Ottoman cities."[74] Social life was not dominated by religion only in the Muslim world of the Ottoman Empire; however, was also quite similar to the social life of Europe during this period. As Goffman says:

"Just as mosques dominated social life for the Ottomans, churches and synagogues dominated life for the Christians and Jews as well."[74] Hence, social life and the medrese were closely linked, since medreses as is previously mentioned taught many curricula, such as religion, which highly governed social life in terms of establishing orthodoxy. "They tried moving their developing state toward Islamic orthodoxy."[74] Overall, the fact that mosques contained medreses comes to show the relevance of education to religion in the sense that education took place within the framework of religion and religion established social life by trying to create a common religious orthodoxy. Hence, medreses were simply part of the social life of society as students came to learn the fundamentals of their societal values and beliefs.

Main article: Madrassas in Pakistan The madaris rose as colleges of learning in the Islamic world in the 11th century, though there were institutions of learning earlier. They catered not only to the religious establishment, though that was the dominant influence over them, but also the secular one. To the latter they supplied physicians, administrative officials, judges and teachers.


This is a madarasa of the Jamia Masjid mosque in Srirangapatna, India. This mosque dates back to the 1700s and is where Tipu Sultan used to pray. In India, there are around 30,000 operating madrasas.[75] The majority of these schools follow the Hanafi school of thought. The religious establishment forms part of the mainly two large divisions within the country, namely the Deobandis, who dominate in numbers (of whom the Darul Uloom Deoband constitutes one of the biggest madrasas) and the Barelvis, who also make up a sizeable portion (Sufi-oriented). Some notable establishments include: Al Jamiatul Ashrafia, Mubarakpur, Manzar Islam Bareilly, Jamia Nizamdina New Delhi, Jamia Nayeemia Muradabad which is one the largest learning centres for the Barelvis. The HR[clarification needed] ministry of Government of India has

recently[when?] declared that a Central Madrasa Board would be set up. This will enhance the education system of madrasas in India. Though the madrasas impart Quranic education mainly, efforts are on to include Mathematics, Computers and science in the curriculum. Expansion After the British occupation of India and the emergence of Darul Ulum Manazar-e Islam Bareilly Sharif, Indian Muslim Scholars left India to establish madrasas in other regions of the world. Some of the most notable of these madrasas are Darul Ulum Holocombe, which produced scholars such as Sheik Ibrahim Memon Madani, or Darul Uloom AlMadania. These offshoot schools symbolize an emotional drive based upon both religion and patriotism that is not evident elsewhere.[citation needed] Madrasas and Arabic Colleges in Kerala Main article: Education in Kerala#Madrasas and Arabic Colleges The Arabic and Islamic educational system has also become a channel for employment in the Middle East in modern times in Kerala.[76] Originating in 8th century madrasas for primary children, Arabic and Islamic schooling in Kerala was patronized and funded by the British colonial government. Today, the system of Arabic and Islamic education has grown and further integrated with Kerala government administration. In 2005, an estimated 6,000 Muslim Arabic teachers taught in Kerala government schools, with over 500,000 Muslim students. Stateappointed committees, not private mosques or religious scholars outside the government, determine the curriculum and accreditation of new schools and colleges. Primary education in Arabic and Islamic studies is available to Kerala Muslims almost entirely in after-school madrasa programs - sharply unlike full-time madrasas common in north India, which may replace formal schooling. Arabic colleges (over eleven of which exist within the state-run University of Calicut and the Kannur University) provide B.A. and Masters' level degrees. At all levels, instruction is co-educational, with many women instructors and professors.[77] Islamic education boards are independently run by the following organizations, accredited by the Kerala state government: Samastha Kerala Islamic Education Board, Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, and Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind.[78] With Malayam rather than Urdu as the lingua franca of Kerala Muslims, these madrasas and colleges are relatively unknown and unlinked from Urdu-based madrasas in the rest of India, due to the linguistic barrier.[77]

Main article: Education in the Philippines In 2004, madaris were mainstreamed in 16 regions nationwide mainly in Muslim areas in Mindanao under the auspices and program of the Department of Education. the

Department of Education adopted DO 51 putting in place the teaching of Arabic Language and Islamic Values for (mainly) children of Muslims in the public schools. The same order authorized the implementation of the Standard Madrasa Curriculum (SMC) in the private madaris (Arabic for schools, the singular form is Madrasa). While there has been recognized Islamic schools, i.e. Ibn Siena Integrated School (Marawi), Sarang Bangun LC (Zamboanga) and SMIE (Jolo), their Islamic studies varied. Since 2005, the AusAID-funded DepEd-project Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM) has assisted a group of private madaris seeking government permit to operate (PTO) and implement the SMC. These private madaris are scattered throughout Regions XI, XII and the ARMM.

There are three different madrasa education systems in Bangladesh: The original darse nizami system, the redesigned nizami system, and the higher syllabus alia nisab. The first two categories are commonly called Qawmi or non-government madrasas.[79] Amongst them the most notable are Al-Jamiatul Ahlia Darul Ulum Moinul Islam in Hathazari, AlJamiah Al-Islamiah Patiya, in Patiya and Jamia Tawakkulia Renga Madrasah in Sylhet. As of 2006, there were 15,000 registered Qawmi madrasas with the Befaqul Mudarressin of Bangladesh Qawmi Madrasah Education Board,[80] though the figure could be well over double that number if unregistered madrasas were counted.[81]

South Africa
In South Africa, the madrasas also play a social and cultural role in giving after-school religious instruction to children of Muslims who attend government or private nonreligious schools. However, increasing numbers of more affluent Muslims' children attend full-fledged private Islamic schools, which combine secular and religious education. Among Muslims of Indian origin, madrasas also used to provide instruction in Urdu, although this is far less common today than it used to be.

United States
On May 26, 2012, Congressman Andr Carson of Indiana called for additional Madrasas in the United States.[82] There is a madrassa in Queens, NY called Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamaat of New York.[83] In Brooklyn, NY there is also a madrassa named Khalil Gibran International Academy.[84] Presently, the Darul Uloom in New York City, an affiliate of Darul Uloom Haqqania in Pakistan, also serves as a Madrassa.

A minaret (Persian: menare,Turkish: minare,[1] from Arabic manra (lighthouse) , sometimes )is a distinctive architectural feature of Islamic mosques, generally a tall spire with an onion-shaped or conical crown, usually either free standing or taller than any associated support structure. The basic form of a minaret includes a base, shaft, and gallery.[2] Styles vary regionally and by period. Minarets provide a visual focal point and are used for the call to prayer (adhan).

In addition to providing a visual cue to a Muslim community, the main function of the minaret is to provide a vantage point from which the call to prayer, or adhan, is made. The call to prayer is issued five times each day: dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and night. In most modern mosques, the adhan is called from the musallah, or prayer hall, via microphone to a speaker system on the minaret. Minarets also function as air conditioning mechanisms: as the sun heats the dome, air is drawn in through open windows then up and out of the minaret, thereby providing ventilation.[citation needed]


The minaret of the Great Mosque of Kairouan- the oldest standing minaret.[3] City of Kairouan, Tunisia

The earliest mosques lacked minarets, the call to prayer performed elsewhere; hadiths relay that the Muslim community of Medina gave the call to prayer from the roof of the house of Muhammad, which doubled as a place for prayer. Around 80 years after Muhammad's death the first known minarets appeared.[4] Minarets have been described as the "gate from heaven and earth", and as the Arabic language letter alif (which is a straight vertical line).[5] The massive minaret of the Great Mosque of Kairouan in Tunisia is the oldest standing minaret.[3][6] Its construction began during the first third of the 8th century and was completed in 836 CE.[7] The imposing square-plan tower consists of three sections of decreasing size reaching 31.5 meters.[7] Considered as the prototype for minarets of the western Islamic world, it served as a model for many later minarets.[7] The tallest minaret, at 210 metres (689 ft.) is located at the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco The tallest brick minaret is Qutub Minar located in Delhi, India.[8] In some of the oldest mosques, such as the Great Mosque of Damascus, minarets originally served as illuminated watchtowers (hence the derivation of the word from the Arabic nur, meaning "light").[citation needed]

Minarets basic form consist of three parts: a base, shaft, and a gallery. For the base, the ground is excavated until a hard foundation is reached. Gravel and other supporting materials may be used as a foundation; it is unusual for the minaret to be built directly upon ground-level soil. Minarets may be conical (tapering), square, cylindrical, or polygonal (faceted). Stairs circle the shaft in a counter-clockwise fashion, providing necessary structural support to the highly elongated shaft. The gallery is a balcony which encircles the upper sections from which the muezzin may give the call to prayer. It is covered by a roof-like canopy and adorned with ornamentation, such as decorative brick and tile work, cornices, arches and inscriptions, with the transition from the shaft to the gallery typically sporting muqarnas. Originally plain in style, a minaret's origin in time can be determined by its level of ostentation.[citation needed]

- Muezzin
A muezzin (/muzn/; Turkish: mezzin from Arabic: , muain), or muzim, is the person appointed at a mosque to lead, and recite, the call to prayer (adhan) for every event of prayer and worship in the mosque. The Muezzin's post is an important one, as he is the one responsible for each call to prayer. The community depends on him for accurate prayer schedules (salat, Turkish namaz). Historically a muezzin would have recited the adhan or call to prayer by the minarets in order to be heard by those around the mosque. Now, mosques often have loudspeakers

mounted on the top of the minaret and the muezzin will use a microphone allowing the call to prayer to be heard at great distances without climbing the minaret.

A Muezzin Calling from the Top of a Minaret the Faithful to Prayer

The professional muezzin is chosen for his good character, voice and skills to serve at the mosque; he however is not considered a cleric, but in a position rather comparable to a Christian sexton. When calling to prayer, the muezzin faces the Qiblah, the direction of the Ka'bah in Mecca, while he recites the adhan. During the worship service, the muezzin in some mosques stands on a special platform (called the mezzin mahfili in Turkish), which is opposite the imam's minbar and gives responses during the imam's sermon, the khutbah. The call of the muezzin is considered an art form, reflected in the melodious chanting of the adhan. In most modern mosques, electronic amplification aids the muezzin in his task.

The institution of the muezzin has existed since the time of Muhammad. The first muezzin was Bilal ibn Ribah, who walked the streets to call the believers to come to prayer. Although many of the customs associated with the muezzin remained undecided at the time of Muhammad's death, including which direction one should choose for the calling, where it should be performed, and the use of trumpets, flags or lamps, all of these are elements of the muezzin's role during the adhan.

After minarets became customary at mosques, the office of muezzin in cities was sometimes given to a blind man, who could not see down into the inner courtyards of the citizen's houses and thus could not violate privacy.

- Imam
An imam (Arabic: , plural: A'immah; Persian: ) is an Islamic leadership position. It is most commonly in the context of a worship leader of a mosque and Muslim community by Sunni Muslims only. In this context, Imams may lead Islamic worship services, serve as community leaders, and provide religious guidance. It may also be used in the form of a prefix title with scholars of renown.

Sunni Imams

An imam leading prayers in Cairo, Egypt, in 1865. Main article: Imam khatib (Sunni Islam) The Sunni branch of Islam does not have imams in the same sense as the Shi'a, an important distinction often overlooked by those outside of the Islamic faith. In every day terms, the imam for Sunni Muslims is the one who leads Islamic formal (Fard) prayers, even in locations besides the mosque, whenever prayers are done in a group of two or more with one person leading (imam) and the others following by copying his ritual actions of worship. Friday sermon is most often given by an appointed imam. All mosques have an imam to lead the (congregational) prayers, even though it may sometimes just be a member from the gathered congregation rather than an officially appointed salaried person. Women can not lead prayers except it is an all female maleeha iqbal trained as, and practice, the role of imam among female-only congregations; these are often the wives of imams (see Nusi)). The person that should be chosen according to Hadith is one who has most knowledge of the Qu'ran and is of good character, the age is immaterial.[citation needed] The term is also used for a recognized religious scholar or authority in Islam, often for the founding scholars of the four Sunni madhhabs, or schools of jurisprudence (fiqh). It

may also refer to the Muslim scholars who created the analytical sciences related to Hadith or it may refer to the heads of the Prophet Muhammad's family in their generational times.[citation needed] The following table shows the considered imams in the context of scholarly authority by Sunni Muslims:

Shi'a imams
Main article: Imamah (Shi'a doctrine) In the Shi'a context, imams have a meaning more central to belief, referring to leaders of the community. Twelver and Ismaili Shi'a believe that these imams are chosen by God to be perfect examples for the faithful and to lead all humanity in all aspects of life. They also believe that all the imams chosen are free from committing any sin, impeccability which is called ismah. These leaders must be followed since they are appointed by God.

Islamic architecture encompasses a wide range of both secular and religious styles from the foundation of Islam to the present day, influencing the design and pagal style made by muslims and their construction of buildings and structures in Islamic culture.Tahleel made a famous mughal architecture named akbar fort . The principal Islamic architectural types are: the Mosque, the Tomb, the Palace and the Fort. From these four types, the vocabulary of Islamic architecture is derived and used for buildings of less importance such as public baths, fountains and domestic architecture.[1][2]

Specifically recognizable Islimic architectural style emerged soon after Muhammad's time, inspired by Islam with addition of localized adaptations of the former Sassanid and Byzantine models. The Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al-Sakhrah) in Jerusalem (691) is one of the most important buildings in all of Islamic architecture, marked by a strong Byzantine influence (mosaic against a gold background, and a central plan that resembles that of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, although the church itself was renovated several times in the Islamic period[3]), but already bearing purely Islamic elements, such as the great epigraphic frieze. It featured interior vaulted spaces, a circular dome, and the use of stylized repeating decorative arabesque patterns. The desert palaces in Jordan and Syria (for example, Mshatta, Qasr Amra, and Khirbat al-Mafjar) served the caliphs as living quarters, reception halls, and baths, and were decorated to promote an image of royal luxury. The Germanic Visigoths in Spain also contributed to Islamic architecture. They invented the inward curving horseshoe arch in Spain and used them as one of their main architectural features, After the Moorish invasion of Spain in 711 AD the form was taken by the Umayyads who accentuated the curvature of the horseshoe.[4]

Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem

The Nur-Astana Mosque in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Dome of the mihrab (9th century) in the Great Mosque of Kairouan also known as the Mosque of Uqba, in Kairouan, Tunisia

Inside the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Religious and civic architecture were developed under the Umayyads, when new concepts and new plans were put into practice. Thus, the "Arab plan", with court and hypostyle prayer hall, truly became a functional type with the construction of the Umayyad Mosque, or the Great Mosque of Damascus (completed in 715 by caliph AlWalid I)[5] on top of the ancient temple of Jupiter and in place of the basilica of St. John the Baptist, the most sacred site in the city. This building served as a point of reference for builders (and for art historians) for the birth of the Arab plan, as Byzantine Christian. The Abbasid dynasty (750 A.D.- 1258[6]) witnessed the movement of the capital from Damascus to Baghdad, and then from Baghdad to Samarra. The shift to Baghdad influenced politics, culture, and art. The Great Mosque of Samarra, once the largest in the world, was built for the new capital. Other major mosques built in the Abbasid Dynasty include the Mosque of Ibn Tulun in Cairo, Abu Dalaf in Iraq, the great mosque in Tunis. Abbasid architecture in Iraq as exemplified in the Fortress of Al-Ukhaidir (c.775-6) demonstrated the "despotic and the pleasure-loving character of the dynasty" in its grand size but cramped living quarters.[7] The Great Mosque of Kairouan (in Tunisia), considered as the ancestor of all the mosques in the western Islamic world,[8] is one of the best preserved and most significant examples of early great mosques. Founded in 670 AD, it dates in its present form largely from the Aghlabid period (9th century).[9] The Great Mosque of Kairouan is constituted of a massive square minaret, a large courtyard surrounded by porticos and a huge hypostyle prayer hall covered on its axis by two cupolas.[8] The Great Mosque of Samarra in Iraq, completed in 847 AD, combined the hypostyle architecture of rows of columns supporting a flat base above which a huge spiraling minaret was constructed. The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul also influenced Islamic architecture. When the Ottomans captured the city from the Byzantines, they converted the basilica to a mosque (now a

museum) and incorporated Byzantine architectural elements into their own work (e.g. domes). The Hagia Sophia also served as a model for many Ottoman mosques such as the Shehzade Mosque, the Suleiman Mosque, and the Rstem Pasha Mosque. Distinguishing motifs of Islamic architecture have always been ordered repetition, radiating structures, and rhythmic, metric patterns. In this respect, fractal geometry has been a key utility, especially for mosques and palaces. Other significant features employed as motifs include columns, piers and arches, organized and interwoven with alternating sequences of niches and colonnettes.[10] The role of domes in Islamic architecture has been considerable. Its usage spans centuries, first appearing in 691 with the construction of the Dome of the Rock, and recurring even up until the 17th century with the Taj Mahal. As late as the 19th century, Islamic domes had been incorporated into Western architecture.[11][12]

Early history

Section of the Umayyad-era Mshatta Facade, now in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, from a palace near Amman There are few buildings dating from the era of Prophet Muhammad, but one example is the Juatha mosque in Saudi Arabia. The Rashidun Caliphate (632661) was the first state to use Islamic Architecture. The Umayyad Caliphate (661750) combined elements of Byzantine architecture and Sassanid architecture, but Umayyad architecture introduced new combinations of these western and eastern styles.[13] The horseshoe arch appears for the first time in Umayyad architecture, later to evolve to its most advanced form in al-Andalus.[14] Umayyad architecture is distinguished by the extent and variety of decoration, including mosaics, wall painting, sculpture and carved reliefs with Islamic motifs.[15] The Umayyads introduced a transept that divided the prayer room along its shorter axis.[16] They also added the mihrab to mosque design.[16] The mosque in Medina built by al-Walid I had the first mihrab, a niche on the qibla wall, which seems to have represented the place where

the Prophet stood when leading prayer. This almost immediately became a standard feature of all mosques.[16] The Abbasid architecture of the Abbasid Caliphate (7501513) was strongly influenced by Sassanid architecture, and later by Central Asian styles. The Abbasid mosques all followed the courtyard plan. The earliest was the mosque that al-Mansur built in Baghdad. since destroyed. The Great Mosque of Samarra built by al-Mutawakkil was 256 by 139 metres (840 by 456 ft). A flat wooden roof was supported by columns. The mosque was decorated with marble panels and glass mosaics.[17] The prayer hall of the Abu Dulaf mosque at Samarra had arcades on rectangular brick piers running at right angles to the qibla wall. Both of the Samarra mosques have spiral minarets, the only examples in Iraq.[17] A mosque at Balkh in what is now Afghanistan was about 20 by 20 metres (66 by 66 ft) square, with three rows of three square bays, supporting nine vaulted domes.[18]

Moorish ceiling in Alhambra Construction of the Great Mosque at Crdoba (now a cathedral known as the Mezquita) beginning in 785 CE marks the beginning of Moorish architecture in the Iberian peninsula and North Africa (see Moors). The mosque is noted for its striking interior arches. Moorish architecture reached its peak with the construction of the Alhambra, the magnificent palace/fortress of Granada, with its open and breezy interior spaces adorned in red, blue, and gold. The walls are decorated with stylized foliage motifs, Arabic inscriptions, and arabesque design work, with walls covered in glazed tile. Their other, smaller, survivals such as the Bab Mardum in Toledo, or the caliphal city of Medina Azahara. Moorish architecture has its roots deeply established in the Arab tradition of architecture and design established during the era of the first Caliphate of the Umayyads in the Levant circa 660AD with its capital Damascus having very well preserved examples of fine Arab Islamic design and geometrics, including the carmen, which is the

typical Damascene house, opening on the inside with a fountain as the house's centre piece.

Bab al-Futuh gate built by the Fatimid vazir Badr al-Jamali Fatimid architecture in Egypt followed Tulunid techniques and used similar materials, but also developed those of their own. In Cairo, their first congregational mosque was alAzhar mosque ("the splendid") founded along with the city (969973), which, together with its adjacent institution of higher learning (al-Azhar University), became the spiritual center for Ismaili Shia. The Mosque of al-Hakim (r. 9961013), an important example of Fatimid architecture and architectural decoration, played a critical role in Fatimid ceremonial and procession, which emphasized the religious and political role of the Fatimid caliph. Besides elaborate funerary monuments, other surviving Fatimid structures include the Aqmar Mosque (1125)[19] as well as the monumental gates for Cairo's city walls commissioned by the powerful Fatimid emir and vizier Badr al-Jamali (r. 1073 1094). The reign of the Mamluks (12501517 AD) in Egypt marked a breathtaking flowering of Islamic art which is most visible in old Cairo. Religious zeal made them generous patrons of architecture and art. Trade and agriculture flourished under Mamluk rule, and Cairo, their capital, became one of the wealthiest cities in the Near East and the center of artistic and intellectual activity. This made Cairo, in the words of Ibn Khaldun, "the center of the universe and the garden of the world", with majestic domes, courtyards, and soaring minarets spread across the city.

Persian style

Inside the Shah Mosque in the city of Isfahan.

The Shah Mosque, constructed in 1629, in Isfahan, Iran.

Friday Mosque of Herat in Afghanistan

Closeup of the Lotfallah Mosque in Isfahan, Iran. Completed in 1618, it became the private mosque of the Safavid royalty.

The Shrine of Hazrat Ali in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan.

The Islamic conquest of Persia in the 7th century led early Islamic architects to borrow and adopt many traditions and ways of the fallen Persian empire. Islamic architecture thus borrows from Persian architecture and can be some what called an extension and further evolution of Persian architecture. In Persia and Central Asia, the Tahirids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, and Ghurids struggled for power in the 10th century, and art was a vital element of this competition. Great cities were built, such as Nishapur and Ghazni (Afghanistan), and the construction of the Great Mosque of Isfahan (which would continue, in fits and starts, over several centuries) was initiated. Funerary architecture was also cultivated. Under the Seljuqs the "Iranian plan" of mosque construction appears for the first time. Lodging places called khans, or caravanserai, for travellers and their animals, or caravansarais, generally displayed utilitarian rather than ornamental architecture, with rubble masonry, strong fortifications, and minimal comfort.[20] Seljuq architecture synthesized various styles, both Iranian and Syrian, sometimes rendering precise attributions difficult. Another important architectural trend to arise in the Seljuk era is the development of mausolea including the tomb tower such as the Gunbad-i-qabus (circa 1006-7) (showcasing a Zoroastrian motif) and the domed square, an example of which is the tomb of the Samanids in the city of Bukhara (circa 943).[21] The Il-Khanate period provided several innovations to dome-building that eventually enabled the Persians to construct much taller structures. These changes later paved the way for Safavid architecture. The pinnacle of Il-Khanate architecture was reached with the construction of the Soltaniyeh Dome (13021312) in Zanjan, Iran, which measures 50 m in height and 25 m in diameter, making it the 3rd largest and the tallest masonry dome ever erected.[22] The thin, double-shelled dome was reinforced by arches between the layers.[23] The tomb of ljeit in Soltaniyeh is one of the greatest and most impressive monuments in Iran, despite many later depredations. Iranian architecture and city planning also reached an apogee under the Timurids, in particular with the monuments of Samarkand, marked by extensive use of exterior ceramic tiles and muqarnas vaulting within. The renaissance in Persian mosque and dome building came during the Safavid dynasty, when Shah Abbas, in 1598 initiated the reconstruction of Isfahan, with the Naqsh-e Jahan Square as the centerpiece of his new capital.[24] The distinct feature of Persian domes, which separates them from those domes created in the Christian world or the Ottoman and Mughal empires, was the colorful tiles, with which they covered the exterior of their domes, as they would on the interior. These domes soon numbered dozens in Isfahan, and the distinct, blue- colored shape would dominate the skyline of the city. Reflecting the light of the sun, these domes appeared like glittering turquoise gem and could be seen from miles away by travelers following the Silk road through Persia. This very distinct style of architecture was inherited to them from the Seljuq dynasty, who for centuries had used it in their mosque building, but it was perfected during the Safavids when they invented the haft- rangi, or seven- colour style of tile burning, a process that enabled

them to apply more colours to each tile, creating richer patterns, sweeter to the eye.[25] The colours that the Persians favoured where golden, white and turquoise patterns on a dark- blue background.[26] The extensive inscription bands of calligraphy and arabesque on most of the major buildings where carefully planned and executed by Ali Reza Abbasi, who was appointed head of the royal library and Master calligrapher at the Shah's court in 1598,[27] while Shaykh Bahai oversaw the construction projects. Reaching 53 meters in height, the dome of Masjed-e Shah (Shah Mosque) would become the tallest in the city when it was finished in 1629. It was built as a double- shelled dome, with 14 m spanning between the two layers, and resting on an octagonal dome chamber.[28] Persian-style mosques are also characterized by their tapered brick pillars, large arcades and arches each supported by several pillars. In South Asia, elements of Hindu architecture were employed, but were later superseded by Persian designs.[29]

Azerbaijani architecture

The Bibi-Heybat Mosque in Baku, Azerbaijan The Islamic conquest of Persia in the 7th century also helped Islamic architecture to flourish in Azerbaijan.[30][31] The country became home of Nakchivan and ShirvanAbsheron architecture schools. An example of the first direction in the Azerbaijani Islamic architecture is the mausoleum of Yusuf, built in 1162.[32] The Shirvan-Absheron school unlike Nakchivan style used stones instead of the bricks in the construction. At the same characteristics of this trend were the asymmetry and stone carving, which includes famous landmarks like Palace of the Shirvanshahs.

Turkistan (Timurid) architecture

Registan is the ensemble of three madrasas, in Samarkand, modern day Uzbekistan. Timurid architecture is the pinnacle of Islamic art in Central Asia. Spectacular and stately edifices erected by Timur and his successors in Samarkand and Herat helped to disseminate the influence of the Ilkhanid school of art in India, thus giving rise to the celebrated Mughal school of architecture. Timurid architecture started with the sanctuary of Ahmed Yasawi in present-day Kazakhstan and culminated in Timur's mausoleum Gure Amir in Samarkand. The style is largely derived from Persian architecture. Axial symmetry is a characteristic of all major Timurid structures, notably the Shah-e Zendah in Samarkand and the mosque of Gowhar Shad in Mashhad. Double domes of various shapes abound, and the outsides are perfused with brilliant colors.

Ottoman architecture
Main article: Ottoman architecture

Selimiye Mosque, built by Sinan in 1575. Edirne, Turkey.

The standard plan of Ottoman architecture was inspired in part by the example of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople/Istanbul, Ilkhanid works like Oljeitu Tomb and earlier Seljuk and Anatolian Beylik monumental buildings and their own original innovations. The most famous of Ottoman architects was (and remains) Mimar Sinan, who lived for approximately one hundred years and designed several hundreds of buildings, of which two of the most important are Sleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul and Selimiye Mosque in Edirne. Apprentices of Sinan later built the famous Blue Mosque in Istanbul and the Taj Mahal in India. The most numerous and largest of mosques exist in [Turkey], which obtained influence from Byzantine, Persian and Syrian-Arab designs. Turkish architects implemented their own style of cupola domes.[29] For almost 500 years Byzantine architecture such as the church of Hagia Sophia served as models for many of the Ottoman mosques such as the Shehzade Mosque, the Suleiman Mosque, and the Rstem Pasha Mosque. The Ottomans mastered the technique of building vast inner spaces confined by seemingly weightless yet massive domes, and achieving perfect harmony between inner and outer spaces, as well as light and shadow. Islamic religious architecture which until then consisted of simple buildings with extensive decorations, was transformed by the Ottomans through a dynamic architectural vocabulary of vaults, domes, semidomes and columns. The mosque was transformed from being a cramped and dark chamber with arabesque-covered walls into a sanctuary of esthetic and technical balance, refined elegance and a hint of heavenly transcendence.

Great Mosque of Aurungzeb and the adjoining Ghats.

Charminar at Old City in Hyderabad

Ahle hadees mosque Tamil Nadu,India

Another distinctive sub-style is Indo-Islamic architecture in South Asia, it is a fusion of Arab, Central Asian and Persian elements with the local Hindu architecture. The most famous examples of Mughal architecture are the series of imperial mausolea, which started with the pivotal Tomb of Humayun, but is best known for the Taj Mahal, completed in 1648 by emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal who died while giving birth to their 14th child. The Taj Mahal is completely symmetrical except for Shah Jahan's sarcophagus, which is placed off center in the crypt room below the main floor. This symmetry extended to the building of an entire mirror mosque in red sandstone to complement the Mecca-facing mosque place to the west of the main structure. A famous example of the charbagh style of Mughal garden is the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore, where the domeless Tomb of Jahangir is also located. The Red Fort in Delhi and Agra Fort are huge castle-like fortified palaces, and the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri, 26 miles (42 km) west of Agra, was built for Akbar in the late 16th century.[33]

Sino-Islamic architecture
Main article: Chinese mosques Hui people who have also migrated to the south such as this Darunaman Mosque, locating in Chiang Rai province, Thailand shows a great mixture between Chinese and Islamic architecture.

The Great Mosque of Xi'an, China The first Chinese mosque was established in the 7th century during the Tang Dynasty in Xi'an. The Great Mosque of Xi'an, whose current buildings date from the Ming Dynasty, does not replicate many of the features often associated with traditional mosques. Instead, it follows traditional Chinese architecture. Some Chinese mosques in parts of western China were more likely to incorporate minarets and domes while eastern Chinese mosques were more likely to look like pagodas.[34] An important lathan feature in Chinese architecture is its emphasis on symmetry, which connotes a sense of grandeur; this applies to everything from palaces to mosques. One notable exception is in the design of gardens, which tends to be as asymmetrical as possible. Like Chinese scroll paintings, the principle underlying the garden's composition is to create enduring flow; to let the patron wander and enjoy the garden without prescription, as in nature herself. Chinese buildings may be built with either red or grey bricks, but wooden structures are the most common; these are more capable of withstanding earthquakes, but are vulnerable to fire. The roof of a typical Chinese building is curved; there are strict classifications of gable types, comparable with the classical orders of European columns. Most mosques have certain aspects in common with each other however as with other regions Chinese Islamic architecture reflects the local architecture in its style. China is renowned for its beautiful mosques, which resemble temples. However in western China the mosques resemble those of the Arab World, with tall, slender minarets, curvy arches

and dome shaped roofs. In northwest China where the Chinese Hui have built their mosques, there is a combination of eastern and western styles. The mosques have flared Buddhist style roofs set in walled courtyards entered through archways with miniature domes and minarets.[35]

Indonesian-Malay architecture

The Minangkabau Royal Palace in Sumatra, Indonesia. The predominantly-Muslim regions of South East Asia have been slow to adopt Middle Eastern architectural styles for Islamic sites. For centuries, most Javanese mosques lacked a dome. Instead, they had a multi-tiered roof (of Javanese or even Chinese influence) comparable with the multi-level pagodas of neighbouring Bali. The architecture of Javanese mosques had a clear influence on the design of other mosques in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines. The minaret of the Menara Kudus Mosque, in Central Java, demonstrated further pre-Islamic influence on local Islamic architecture. From the 1940s onwards, Indonesian mosques developed a more standard, international style, with a dome and minaret.

Sahelian-Islamic architecture
Main article: Sudano-Sahelian In West Africa, Islamic merchants played a vital role in the Western Sahel region since the Kingdom of Ghana. At Kumbi Saleh, locals lived in domed-shaped dwellings in the king's section of the city, surrounded by a great enclosure. Traders lived in stone houses in a section which possessed 12 beautiful mosques (as described by al-bakri), one centered on Friday prayer.[36] The king is said to have owned several mansions, one of which was sixty-six feet long, forty-two feet wide, contained seven rooms, was two stories high, and had a staircase; with the walls and chambers filled with sculpture and painting.[37] Sahelian architecture initially grew from the two cities of Djenn and Timbuktu. The Sankore Mosque in Timbuktu, constructed from mud on timber, was similar in style to the Great Mosque of Djenn.

Somali-Islamic architecture
Main article: Somali architecture

Almnara Tower Somalia. The peaceful introduction of Islam in the early medieval era of Somalia's history brought Islamic architectural influences from Arabia and Persia, which stimulated a shift from drystone and other related materials in construction to coral stone, sundried bricks, and the widespread use of limestone in Somali architecture. Many of the new architectural designs such as mosques were built on the ruins of older structures, a practice that would continue over and over again throughout the following centuries.[38] Concordant with the ancient presence of Islam in the Horn of Africa region, mosques in Somalia are some of the oldest on the entire continent. One architectural feature that made Somali mosques distinct from other mosques in Africa were minarets. For centuries, Arba Rukun (1269), the Friday mosque of Merca (1609) and Fakr ad-Din (1269) were, in fact, the only mosques in East Africa to have minarets.[39] Fakr ad-Din, which dates back to the Mogadishan Golden Age, was built with marble and coral stone and included a compact rectangular plan with a domed mihrab axis. Glazed tiles were also used in the decoration of the mihrab, one of which bears a dated inscription. The 13th century Al Gami University consisted of a rectangular base with a large cylindrical tower architecturally unique in the Islamic world. Shrines to honor Somali patriarchs and matriarchs evolved from ancient Somali burial customs. In Southern Somalia the preferred medieval shrine architecture was the Pillar tomb style while the North predominantly built structures consisting of domes and square plans.


The Sebilj is a pseudo-Ottoman style wooden fountain in the centre of Baarija square in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Common interpretations of Islamic architecture include the following: The concept of God or Allah's infinite power is evoked by designs with repeating themes which suggest infinity. Human and animal forms are rarely depicted in decorative art as God's work is considered to be matchless. Foliage is a frequent motif but typically stylized or simplified for the same reason. Arabic Calligraphy is used to enhance the interior of a building by providing quotations from the Qur'an. Islamic architecture has been called the "architecture of the veil" because the beauty lies in the inner spaces (courtyards and rooms) which are not visible from the outside (street view). Furthermore, the use of grandiose forms such as large domes, towering minarets, and large courtyards are intended to convey power.

Architecture Forms and Styles of mosques and buildings in Muslim countries

Main article: mosque


The interior of the Mezquita in Crdoba, Spain. Many forms of Islamic architecture have evolved in different regions of the Islamic world. Notable Islamic architectural types include the early Abbasid buildings, T-Type mosques, and the central-dome mosques of Anatolia. The oil-wealth of the 20th century drove a great deal of mosque construction using designs from leading modern architects.

Arab-plan or hypostyle mosques are the earliest type of mosques, pioneered under the Umayyad Dynasty. These mosques are square or rectangular in plan with an enclosed courtyard and a covered prayer hall. Historically, because of the warm Mediterranean and Middle Eastern climates, the courtyard served to accommodate the large number of worshippers during Friday prayers. Most early hypostyle mosques have flat roofs on top of prayer halls, necessitating the use of numerous columns and supports.[40] One of the most notable hypostyle mosques is the Mezquita in Crdoba, Spain, as the building is supported by over 850 columns.[41] Frequently, hypostyle mosques have outer arcades so that visitors can enjoy some shade. Arab-plan mosques were constructed mostly under the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties; subsequently, however, the simplicity of the Arab plan limited the opportunities for further development, and as a result, these mosques gradually fell out of popularity.[40] The Ottomans introduced central dome mosques in the 15th century and have a large dome centered over the prayer hall. In addition to having one large dome at the center, there are often smaller domes that exist off-center over the prayer hall or throughout the rest of the mosque, where prayer is not performed.[42] This style was heavily influenced by the Byzantine religious architecture with its use of large central domes.[40]


The Great Mosque of Kairouan, with a large courtyardsehan surrounded by arcades, located in Kairouan, Tunisia. The traditional Islamic courtyard, a sehan in Arabic (ar: ), is found in secular and religious structures. 1. When within a residence or other secular building is a private courtyard and walled garden. It is used for: the aesthetics of plants, water, architectural elements, and natural light; for cooler space with fountains and shade, and source of breezes into the structure, during summer heat; and a protected and proscribed place where the women of the house need not be covered in the hijab clothing traditionally necessary in public. 2. A sehancourtyard is in within almost every mosque in Islamic architecture. The courtyards are open to the sky and surrounded on all sides by structures with halls and rooms, and often a shaded semi-open arcade. Sehans usually feature a centrally positioned ritual cleansing pool under an open domed pavilion called a

howz . A mosque courtyard is used for performing ablutions, and a 'patio' for rest or gathering.

Main article: Islamic Gardens

The tomb of Hafez is a primary example of a Persian garden, with the typical, enclosed space, water channels and large trees that provide cooling shades. The Qur'an uses the garden as an analogy for paradise and Islam came to have a significant influence on garden design. The concept of paradise garden was commonly used the Persian gardens, as well as Charbagh garden of Mughal architecture.

Main article: Arabesque (Islamic art)

Complex Mosaic patterns also known as Girih are popular forms of architectural art in many Muslim cultures. An element of Islamic art usually found decorating the walls and window screens of mosques and Muslim homes and buildings, the arabesque is an elaborate application of repeating geometric forms that often echo the forms of plants, shapes and sometimes animals (specifically birds). The choice of which geometric forms are to be used and how they are to be formatted is based upon the Islamic view of the world. To Muslims, these forms, taken together, constitute an infinite pattern that extends beyond the visible material world.[43] To many in the Islamic world, they in fact symbolize the infinite, and therefore uncentralized, nature of the creation of the one God ("Allah" in Arabic). Furthermore, the Islamic Arabesque artist conveys a definite spirituality without the

iconography of Christian art. Arabesque is used in mosques and building around the Muslim world, and it is a way of decorating using beautiful, embellishing and repetitive Islamic art instead of using pictures of humans and animals (which is forbidden Haram in Islam).

Main article: Islamic calligraphy

Islamic calligraphy on large pishtaq of the Taj Mahal Arabic calligraphy is associated with geometric Islamic art (the Arabesque) on the walls and ceilings of mosques as well as on the page. Contemporary artists in the Islamic world draw on the heritage of calligraphy to use calligraphic inscriptions or abstractions in their work. Instead of recalling something related to the reality of the spoken word, calligraphy for the Muslim is a visible expression of spiritual concepts. Calligraphy has arguably become the most venerated form of Islamic art because it provides a link between the languages of the Muslims with the religion of Islam. The holy book of Islam, al-Qur'n, has played a vital role in the development of the Arabic language, and by extension, calligraphy in the Arabic alphabet. Proverbs and complete passages from the Qur'an are still active sources for Islamic calligraphy

An iwan (Persian: eyvn, Arabic: Iwan)[1][2] is a rectangular hall or space, usually vaulted, walled on three sides, with one end entirely open. The formal gateway to the iwan is called pishtaq, a Persian term for a portal projecting from the facade of a building, usually decorated with calligraphy bands, glazed tilework, and geometric designs.[3][4] Since the definition allows for some interpretation, the overall forms and characteristics can vary greatly in terms of scale, material, or decoration. Iwans are most commonly associated with Islamic architecture; however, the form was invented much earlier and fully developed in Mesopotamia, around the third century CE during the Parthian Persian period.

The root for this term is Old Persian 'apadana' (see Apadana palace at Persepolis) where king Darius I declares in an inscription, "I Darius,........ had this 'apadana' constructed.." This is a name given to this particular palace in modern literature, although the name simply implies a type of structurethe iwan, not a particular palace. The term in Old Persian stand for "unprotected" (a-pd-ana), since the design allows for the structure to be open to the elements on one side, whence the term. At Persepolis, however, the 'apadana' takes the form of a veranda, where instead of a vaulted hall, there is a flat roof held up by columnsbut still, open to the elements on only one side. A comparable would be found 2000 years later in Isfahan at the Palace of Chehel Sotoun. By the time of the Parthian and the Sasanian dynasties, iwan had emerged as two types of structure: the old columned one, and a newer vaulted structureboth, however, carrying the same native name of apadana/iwan, because both types are "unprotected" (open on one side to the elements). Iwans were a trademark of the Parthian Empire (247 BCAD 224) and later the Sassanid architecture of Persia ( 224 -651.), later finding their way throughout the Arab and Islamic architecture which started developing in 7th century AD, after the period of Muhammad (c. 570 632).[5] This development reached its peak during the Seljuki era, when iwans became a fundamental unit in architecture, and later the Mughal architecture.[6][7] The form is not confined to any particular function, and is found in buildings for either secular or religious uses, and in both public and residential architecture. Strictly the term iwan refers to the room, not to the portico or arch with which it is often fronted. The four-centred arch typically opens on to a central courtyard or Sehan.


Yazd, Iran Many scholars including Edward Keall, Andr Godard, Roman Ghirshman, and Mary Boyce, discuss the invention of the iwan as developing in Mesopotamia, the area around todays Iraq. Although debate remains among scholars as to how the iwan developed, there is a general consensus that the iwan evolved locally, and was thus not imported

from another area.[8] Similar structures, known as pesgams, were found in many Zoroastrian homes in Yazd, where two or four halls would open onto a central court; however, it is not known whether these spaces were vaulted. The feature which most distinctly makes the iwan a landmark development in the history of Ancient Near Eastern architecture is the incorporation of a vaulted ceiling (see vault). A vault is defined as a ceiling made from arches, known as arcuated, usually constructed with stone, concrete, or bricks.[10] Earlier buildings would normally be covered in a trabeated manner, with post and lintel beams. However, vaulted ceilings did exist in the ancient world before the invention of the iwan, both within Mesopotamia and outside it. Mesopotamian examples include Susa, where the Elamites vaulted many of their buildings with barrel vaults, and Nineveh, where the Assyrians frequently vaulted their passages for fortification purposes.[11] Outside Mesopotamia, a number of extant vaulted structures stand, including many examples from Ancient Egypt, Rome, and the Mycenaeans. For example, the Mycenaean Treasury of Atreus, constructed around 1250 BCE, features a large corbeled dome. Egyptian architecture began to use vaulting in their structures after the Third Dynasty, after around 2600 BCE, constructing very early barrel vaults using mud brick.[12]

Parthian Iwans
Although some scholars have asserted that the iwan form may have developed under the Seleucids, today most scholars agree that the Parthian Persians were the inventors of the iwan.[13] One of the earliest Parthian iwans was found at Seleucia (Seleucia-on-theTigris), located on the Tigris River, where the shift from post-and-lintel construction to vaulting occurred around the 1st century CE.[11] Other early iwans have been suggested at Ashur, where two buildings containing iwan-like foundations were found. The first building, located near the ruins of a ziggurat, featured a three-iwan faade.[14] The proximity of the building to a ziggurat suggests that it may have been used for religious preparations or rituals.[15] It could also indicate a palatial building, as it was common for the ziggurat and palace to be situated next to one another in the Ancient Near East. The second iwan building is located across a courtyard, and Walter Andrae, a German archaeologist, suggested that it served as an administrative building rather than as a religious center because there is no evidence of inscriptions or wall carvings.[16] Although the absence of inscriptions or carvings does not equate necessarily to a civic function, it was not uncommon for iwans to serve a secular use, as they were frequently incorporated into palaces and community spaces.[17] Other early sites including Parthian iwans include Hatra, the Parthian ruins at Dura Europos, and Uruk.[18]

Sasanian Iwans
The Sasanian Persians also favored the iwan form, and adopted it into much of their architecture; however, they transformed the function. The Parthian iwan led to other spaces, but its primary function served as a room itself. In contrast, the Sasanian iwan

served as a grand entranceway to a larger, more elegant space which was usually domed.[19] Both the Parthian and Sasanian iwans were often elaborately decorated with inscriptions and sculpted reliefs including scenes of hunting, vegetal motifs, abstract, geometric patterns, and animal scenes.[20] The reliefs style shows a blend of influences including other Near Eastern cultures, Roman, and Byzantine decorative traditions.[21] For instance, the rock-cut iwan at Taq-i Bustan features Roman style figures, Easterninspired vegetal patterns and crenellations, and wide-eyed, stylized Byzantine-esque angels and mosaic interiors. The most famous example of a Sasanian iwan can be found at Ctesiphon, located on the Tigris River about twenty-five miles south of Baghdad, where the Sasanians built a palace complex, known as the Taq-i Kisra, or Arch of Khosrau, with an enormous stone iwan around the sixth century CE.[22] The dating for the Taq-i Kisra has been debated throughout history; however, a variety of documents detailing the arrival of Byzantine sculptors and architects sent by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, suggest that the correct date for the construction is around 540 CE.[23] The 540 CE date suggests that the construction of the Taq-i Kisra, and perhaps Justinians help was in response to the victory of Sasanian king Khosrau I over Antioch in 540 CE, which is depicted in the mosaics decorating the interior of the Taq-i Kisra.[24] The Taq-i Kisra was finally demolished for the most part by al-Mansur, who reused the bricks to build his own palace complex.[25]

Islamic Iwans
Islamic art and architecture was also heavily influenced inspired by Roman, Byzantine, and Sasanian designs, both due to the presence of extant examples and contact between cultures. For example, the Great Mosque of Damascus was built in the early eighth century CE on the site of a Roman Christian Church, and incorporates a nave-like element with a tall arcade and clerestory. The Sasanian Empire also had a tremendous impact on the development of Islamic architecture; however, there was some overlap between the Sasanians and the Muslims making it difficult at times to determine who was influencing whom.[26] Islamic art and architecture borrows many Sasanian decorative motifs and architectural forms, including the iwan; however, the adoption of the iwan was not immediate. For example, the implementation of the standard four-iwan plan which has become standard in Islamic mosque design was not introduced until the twelfth century, long after its invention in the first century CE.[27] Iwans were used frequently in Islamic non-religious architecture before the twelfth century, including houses, community spaces, and civic structures such as the bridge of Si-o-Se Pol in Isfahan.[28] Furthermore, Islamic architecture incorporated the Sasanian placement for the iwan by making it a grand entrance to the prayer hall or to a mosque tomb, and often placing it before a domed space.[29] One of the first elaborate iwans used in an Islamic religious context can be found at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which dates from the 12th Century.[30] The history of the evolution of the standard four-iwan plan has been debated by scholars, and some claim that it originated in madrasas, or religious schools designed to educate aristocratic children about Sunnism.[31] However, the four-iwan plan was already in use in palace and temple architecture during both the

Parthian and Sasanian periods.[11] The use of iwans would continue to flourish in both mosques and secular spaces starting in the thirteenth century, and would become one of the most iconic images within Islamic architecture, as suggested by the elaborate seventeenth-century iwans in the Great Mosque at Isfahan.

The Iwan of Khosrau

The Iwan of Khosrau is a Sassanid-era Persian monument in Mada'in which is the only visible remaining structure of the ancient city of Ctesiphon. It is near the modern town of Salman Pak, Iraq. Construction began during the reign of Khosrau I after a campaign against the Eastern Romans in 540 AD.[32] The arched iwan hall, open on the facade side, was about 37 meters high 26 meters across and 50 meters long, the largest vault ever constructed at the time.[33]

The Great Iwan of Cairo

The Great Iwan (or al-Iwan al-Kabir, Dar al-'Adl, Iwan of al-Nasir) of Cairo was a public and ceremonial space located in the southern section of the Saladin Citadel where the Mamluk sultan sat enthroned to administer justice, receive ambassadors, and carry out other duties of state. The structure used to be known as Dar al-'Adl during the reign of Saladin, the Mamluk ruler of the Bahri dynasty Al-Nasir Muhammad rebuilt the monumental structure twice, in 1315 and 1334. The Great Iwan was demolished by Muhammad Ali Pasha in the early 19th century. The 19th century Description de l'Egypte depicted a square hypostyle structure with five parallel aisles and a dome. The building was open to the exterior on three sides through arcades, and the main faade was articulated with a large central arch flanked by two smaller arches on either side.

Pointed Arch
The Pointed Arch The pointed arch has become a common feature of most European churches. Where did it come from and how? The full article, see below, gives the full story and the debate concerning its origin. Below is only an extract from the full article in the pdf file where all references and end notes are found. The Origin Early historians of architecture such as Havell (1913) and Rivoira (1914) thought that the pointed arch occurred in India carved out of a solid block of some seventh century temples. This view has been dismissed by the famous historian Hill (1993). He believed in the Muslim origin of the invention of the pointed arch. The first appearance of the pointed arch in the Muslim World was traced to the Al-Aqsa Mosque(endnote 1) (780), but the Palace of Ukhaidir - Iraq remains the first building where the pointed arch was used constructively and systematically. The main advantage of the pointed arch was that it concentrated the thrust of the vault on a narrow vertical line that could be supported by the flying buttresses, a major feature of Islamic architecture and also European Gothic architecture. The pointed arch enables the reduction of the lateral thrust on foundations. It enabled architects to lighten the walls and buttresses which had to be massive to support earlier semicircular arches(endnote 2). Additionally, it resolved the difficulty of achieving level crowns in the arches of the vault allowing the vault to become suitable for any ground plan. To tackle the question of height, Muslim structural engineers had employed a variety of techniques, in addition to the pointed arch. The method used in Kairawan Mosque Tunisia (endnote 3) (836) is revealing. Here, in order to gain a crown level of height, masons have raised the arcade of narrow areas above the arcade of other areas. In the Great Mosque of Cordoba, a more impressive method consisting of intersecting arches as well as building a second arcade on top of a first lower level arcade was introduced (figure 7). These clearly show the genius as well as the rational thinking in addressing various architectural problems.

Transmission of the Pointed Arch Historic sources indicate that Sicily played the role of intermediary for the transmission of many Muslim motifs including the pointed arch. Professor Conant (1954) established

the Sicilian connection through Amalfitan merchants who had trade links with Egypt where the pointed arch of Ibn Tulun - Egypt (figure 8) must have been the source. White (1971) Endorsed this theory(endnote 4) suggesting that it was transmitted to Amalfi - Italy in 1000 through commercial and trade ties with Egypt. It was first used in the porch of the Abbey of Monte Cassimo - Italy in 1071. This challenges the idea widely adopted in Europe that the pointed arch, on which Gothic architecture is based, was an invention of European architects in their efforts to overcome the static problems in Romanesque vaulting. It is worthnoting that while works were being carried out, Monte Cassimo became the retiring place for the Tunisian Christian scholar, Constantine the African. A physician and a distinguished scholar in mathematics, science and theology, with large experience of Muslim building techniques and forms in Muslim Fatimid North Africa, Constantine would have undoubtedly commented or advised in the building process. Furthermore, according to Meyerhof (1931), Constantine had an assistant Arab monk nicknamed "the Saracen" who helped him in translating Arabic books. Such connections give credibility to this theory. In 1083, St Hugh the Abbot of Cluny (South France) visited Monte Cassimo, five years before the work on the third Church of Cluny started (1088-1095). Conant (1954) revealed that the new church of Cluny used some 150 pointed arches in the aisles. Other Muslim features included the use of catenary vaulting, polyfoil cusps framing the triforium arches, and the rectangular frame enclosing the arch of the gate (1109-1115), known as Ijmiz, (destroyed in 1810). In 1130, Abbot Suger visited Cluny and between 1135 and 1144 he and his engineers built St Denis, the first Gothic building. The adoption of Cluny and Monte Cassimo, the two most influential churches in Europe, of the pointed arch and other Muslim forms encouraged the rest of Christian Europe to adopt it leading to its rapid spread across much of France, especially in the south, later in Germany in mid 12th century (Heer (1962, p.332), and eventually to the rest of Europe.


Minbar of the Molla elebi Mosque in Istanbul.

Picture showing the minbar of the Great Mosque of Kairouan (Mosque of Uqba); this pulpit, the oldest in existence, is still in its place of origin (in the prayer hall of the mosque) and it is protected by a glass panel in order to preserve this precious preaching chair, in Kairouan, Tunisia.

Maqsurah (Arabic desolc yllaretil) ( -off space), an enclosure, a box or wooden screen near the Mihrab or the center of the qibla wall, which was originally designed to shield a worshiping ruler from assassins.[1] The imam officiating inside the maqsurah typically belonged to the same school of law to which the ruler belonged.[2] There also may have been some spiritual connotation similar to the chancel screen in churches. They were often wooden screens decorated with carvings or interlocking turned pieces of wood (mashrabiyya).[3]

Historically, it was first innovated by Muawiyah I, Umayyad caliph, in Umayyad Mosque. The Companions Mihrab belonged to the Maqsura of the Companions.[4]

The Caliph (Arabic: alfah/khalfah) is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. The word derives from the Arabic Khalfah (helpinfo), which means vicegerent.Following Muhammad's death in 632, the early leaders of the Muslim nation were called Khalifat Rasul Allah, the political successors to the messenger of God (referring to Muhammad). Some academics prefer to transliterate the term as Khalfah. A Calipha is either a female caliph or the wife or widow of a caliph. There was one known instance in history that a calipha ruled a Caliphate: Sitt al-Mulk was regent of the Fatimid Caliphate from 1221 to 1223. Some caliphas, such as Zaynab an-Nafzawiyyah and AlKhayzuran bint Atta, wielded great influence in the courts of their husbands.

A riwaq (or rivaq) is an arcade or portico open on at least one side. It is an architectural design element in Islamic architecture and Islamic garden design. A riwaq often serves as the transition space between interior and outdoor spaces. As portico or arcade structure, it provides shade and adjustment to sunlight in hot climates, and cover from rain in any locale.

Riwaq arcade at the Mosque of Uqba courtyard, Tunisia.

As an arcade element the structure is often found surrounding and defining the courtyards of mosques and madrasahs, and used for covered circulation, meeting and rest, and ritual circumambulation. the arcade element is also found along principal walkways of larger bazaars. Examples Riwaq arcade examples include:

Surrounding the Kaaba in the Masjid al-Haram mosque courtyard in Mecca, and the Mosque of Uqba courtyard in Tunisia. Along the main avenues of the Persian era Bazaar of Kashan, in present day Iran.

The Kaaba (Arabic: al-Kabah IPA: [lkb], "The Cube"), also known as the Sacred House ( Baytu l-arm), is a cuboid building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the most sacred sites in Islam.[1]

Al-Masjid al-Haram, the most sacred mosque in Islam, is built around the Kaaba.[2] Muslims are expected to face the Kaaba during prayers, no matter where they are. From any given point in the world, the direction facing the Kaaba is called the Qibla. One of the Five Pillars of Islam requires every Muslim to perform the Hajj pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime if able to do so. Multiple parts of the Hajj require pilgrims to make Tawaf, the circumambulation seven times around the Kaaba in a counterclockwise direction. This circumambulation is also performed by pilgrims during the Umrah (lesser pilgrimage).[1] However, the most dramatic times are during the Hajj, when about 6 million pilgrims gather to circle the building on the same day.

Location Mecca, al-Hejaz, Saudi Arabia

The Kaaba is a cuboid-shape structure which is made of granite quarried from nearby hills. Standing upon a 250 cm (98 in) marble base that projects outwards about 35 cm (14 in).[1] It is approximately 13.1 m (43 ft) high, with sides measuring 11.03 m (36.2 ft) by 12.86 m (42.2 ft).[5][6] Inside the Kaaba, the floor is made of marble and limestone. The interior walls are clad with marble halfway to the roof. The marble is inset with Qur'anic inscriptions. The wall directly adjacent to the entrance of the Kaaba has six tablets inlaid with inscriptions. The top part of the walls are covered with a green cloth embroidered with gold Qur'anic verses. Caretakers anoint the marble cladding with scented oil used on the Black Stone outside. Three pillars stand inside the Kaaba, with a small altar set between one and the other two. Lamp-like objects (possible crucible censers) hang by a rope above the platform. An enclosed staircase leads to the roof.

A drawing of the Kaaba. See key at left for details.

A technical drawing of the Kaaba showing dimensions and elements.

Pilgrims circumambulating the kaaba. Structures Each numbered item in the following list corresponds to features called out in the diagram image, on right. 1. Al-ajaru l-Aswad, "the Black Stone", is located in the Kaaba's eastern corner. Its northern corner is known as the Ruknu l-rq, "the Iraqi corner", its western as the Ruknu sh-Shm, "the Levantine corner", and its southern as Ruknu l-Yaman "the Yemeni corner".[1][6] The four corners of the Kaaba roughly point toward the four cardinal directions of the compass.[1] Its major (long) axis is aligned with the rising of the star Canopus toward which its southern wall is directed, while its minor axis (its east-west facades) roughly align with the sunrise of summer solstice and the sunset of winter solstice.[7][8] 2. The entrance is a door set 2.13 m (7 ft) above the ground on the north-eastern wall of the Kaaba, which acts as the faade.[1] In 1979 the 300 kg gold doors made by chief artist Ahmad bin Ibrahim Badr, replaced the old silver doors made by his father, Ibrahim Badr in 1942.[9] There is a wooden staircase on wheels, usually stored in the mosque between the arch-shaped gate of Ban Shaybah and the Zamzam Well. 3. Meezab-i Rahmat, rainwater spout made of gold. Added in the rebuilding of 1627 after the previous year's rain caused three of the four walls to collapse. 4. Gutter, added in 1627 to protect the foundation from groundwater. 5. Hatim, a low wall originally part of the Kaaba. It is a semi-circular wall opposite, but not connected to, the north-west wall of the Kaaba known as the hatm. This is 90 cm (35 in) in height and 1.5 m (4.9 ft) in width, and is composed of white marble. At one time the space lying between the hatm and the Kaaba belonged to the Kaaba itself, and for this reason it is not entered during the tawaf. Some believe that the graves of Ismail and his mother Hagar[1] are located in this space. 6. Al-Multazam, the part of the wall between the Black Stone and the entry door. 7. The Station of Abraham, a glass and metal enclosure with what is said to be an imprint of Abraham's foot. Abraham is said to have stood on this stone during the construction of the upper parts of the Kaaba, raising Ismail on his shoulders for the uppermost parts.[10] 8. Corner of the Black Stone (East).

9. Corner of Yemen (South-West). Pilgrims traditionally acknowledge a large vertical stone that forms this corner. 10. Corner of Syria (North-West). 11. Corner of Iraq (North-East). This inside corner, behind a curtain, contains the Babut Taubah, Door of Repentance, which leads to a staircase to the roof. 12. Kiswa, the embroidered covering. Kiswa is a black silk and gold curtain which is replaced annually during the Hajj pilgrimage.[11][12] Two-thirds of the way up is a band of gold-embroidered Quranic text, including the Shahada, the Islamic declaration of faith. 13. Marble stripe marking the beginning and end of each circumperambulation. 14. The station of Gabriel.[13]

Religious significance

Masjid al-Haram and Kaaba during Hajj, 2008. The Kaaba is one of the holiest sites in Islam, and similar to the Temple Mount for Jewish people, where they also turn to to pray.[1]

Main articles: Hajj and Umrah The Haram is the focal point of the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages[14] that occur in the month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the Islamic calendar and at any time of the year, respectively. The Hajj pilgrimage is one of the Pillars of Islam, required of all able-bodied Muslims who can afford the trip. In recent times, about 6 million Muslims perform the Hajj every year. Some of the rituals performed by pilgrims are symbolic of historical incidents. For example, the episode of Hagar's search for water is emulated by Muslims as they run between the two hills of Safa and Marwah whenever they visit Mecca. The Hajj is associated with the life of the Islamic prophet Muhammad from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Sayyidna Ibrahim (Abraham).

A kiosk is a small, separated garden pavilion open on some or all sides. Kiosks were common in Persia, Indian Subcontinent, and in the Ottoman Empire from the 13th century onward. Today, there are many kiosks in and around the Topkap Palace in Istanbul, and they are still a relatively common sight in Balkan states.

Squares and parks