The following sample essay will focus on the Muslim place of worship – the mosque. Read the introduction, body and conclusion of the essay, scroll down.
The mosque is the Muslim place of worship, which in Arabic is refered to as the Masjid this means ‘place of prostration’ because Muslims bow low to God when praying. Mosques can be set up anywhere you place a prayer mat and kneel down to prostrate yourself and pray to Allah. It does not necessarily need to be a building but it is necessary to go to a mosque during festival times as it helps the Muslim community to join together and become closer.
Another distinctive feature of a mosque is the Islamic symbol of the moon and star.
This represents how the light of the moon and stars guide men through the desert, which links in with the idea that, the moon and stars guide Muslims through life. Male Muslims will prayer five times a day in the mosque, female Muslims do not need to attend the mosque to prayer as much as it is seen as their duty to hold and keep the house together so they often pray at home.
The Friday prayer in the mosque, called the jum’ah is the most important. ALL MALE Muslims in the area will try and join together for that prayer. It shows Muslims uniting themselves throughout the world.
Most mosques have one or more slender towers called minarets. In Arab villages, a man would stand on the balcony at the top facing Mecca and call to the other Muslims to prayer.
He is called a Muezzin but nowadays in Arab villages, a recording or a loudspeaker will be used instead. Most mosques have a dome on the outside which is important in hotter countries because it allows the air to flow around the building more easily. But its main purpose in this country is to make the voice louder when someone is speaking and it also becomes a distinctive feature of the mosque.
To Muslims the shape of the dome represents God and the eternity of life. It also shows the significance of Allah compared to the size of us as it represents Allah creator of the universe looking down on us. In the mosque that we visited there was no dome or minaret because it was a converted hotel this also means that the call to prayer (adhan) was made within the mosque and was loud enough to be heard no matter where you were in the mosque. Every Mosque must have somewhere for Muslims to wash themselves before going to pray. Big mosques perhaps in other countries may have a large open-air pool or water fountain.
But in this country and in the smaller mosques there tends to be small bathroom facilities and sometimes there is a cloakroom. Muslims must always have somewhere to put their shoes because they have to take them off before entering the mosque to stop dirt and dust entering the holy building. On our visit to Bournemouth mosque we noticed that there was a small room to put your shoes and coat pegs to put any belongings on before entering the mosque. In the mosque there were two separate wudu areas, one for the woman and one for the men.
Each Muslim must perform the ritual washings before praying so that they are clean when they are praying to Allah. The significance of them being clean on the outside symbolises them being clean on the inside as they have the right intent or niyyah to pray to Allah Below are some of the ritual washings all Muslims must perform: Inside the mosque it is very bare, there are no seats (except for medical reasons when the person will sit on a small stool and perform the prayer movements mentally rather than physically) and people either pray on their own mats or on the carpet provided.
It does not necessarily matter if all the prayer movements are perfect because it is the intention (niyyah) to prayer that counts. Muslims will devote their time and focus completely on Allah, which is the intention of prayer. Muslims have nothing to distract them from their prayer but at Bournemouth Mosque there were two Medallions which helped Muslims to focus on their prayer. The medallions remind them that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah . As well as ritual communal prayer Muslims also perform a personal prayer which is called the du’a and can be recited before or after the ritual communal prayer.
Muhammad had stopped people praying to idols because he was afraid that people may go back to worship them. This is called idolatry or Shirk in Islam and is the greatest sin to all Muslims as they believe that Allah can forgive all sins except shirk. This is why there are no paintings or statues in the mosque. Muslims are not allowed to draw animals or people because they believe that only God can create them. Mosque walls may be decorated with patterns some are mosacis others are words written in calligraphy, which are usually passages taken from the Quran.
This applied to Bournemouth Mosque, as there was an embroided calligraphy pattern that was made from real gold thread(probably to represent the significance and value of the writing) and was taken from the doorway of the Kabah. This specific piece of tapestry is called Kiswah and is very sacred to Muslims it also contained the first few passages from the Quran and it contained some of the 99 names of Allah. It is also situated in the holy city of Mecca where no non-Muslims are allowed especially in Ramadan.
As well as this there were many pictures of the holy mosque in Median which is Known as the Prophets Mosque and has a great value to Muslims as it was where the seal of the prophets Muhammad (pbuh) was born, lived and died (in Medina). In some Mosques there are geometric paintings or designs on the walls they are significant to Muslims as the patterns within them have significant meanings. The patterns are based on a circle which represents the eternity of Allah because the patterns nd circles will go on forever and ever.
The prayer hall is the most important part of the mosque and there is not usually much to see apart from a lot of space that is essential for large numbers of Muslims to come and perform their prayers with all the movements. The prayer hall can also be used for many other different purposes like funeral services and a coumintey centre but it is never used for weddings even at the rear occasions when the wedding takes place in the mosque. When Muslims lay down their mats to prayer they lay them down so that they point towards Ka’ba in Mecca.
Each of the prayer movement has a significant meaning and all are a very important part of the routine. Below are the sequence of the movements and the meaning which Muslims must perform when the pray. The direction in which they face is called the qiblah and they always know where to face as there is an alcove on the wall which is called the Mihrab. The Mirhab doesn’t just point to Mecca but it also helps to make the imams voice who leads the prayer louder. He will usually face it with his back towards the rest of the Muslims who are worshipping Allah
Also in the mosque there is the mimbar which is a set of three stairs to raise the person who is preaching at that point which is usually the imam. The mimbar is only used when the imam is preaching at the jum’ah. In addition to the main features of the mosque there is also a charity box in which Muslims can donate any amount of money to the mosque. They do not have to donate money all the time but at least once a year, as giving 2. 5% of your annual wage to charity is one of the 5 pillars of Islam that all Muslims must try to complete.
The Islamic word for the charity box is Zakah and it means exactly what it says. Overall the prayer hall is probably the most important part of the mosque. In addition to this there is the community room which is used for socialising and getting to know each other and a classroom to educate the young Muslims so that they can teach them the right what to follow there religion etc. In the community room there is also a copy of the Qur’an which is the direct word of Allah and the hadith which contains the teachings and examples of Muhammad these are the two Islamic holy books. many mosques these books will be kept on the highest shelf but it is not essential. However it is essential to wash yourself before picking up the book and it must be treated with a lot of respect so nothing should ever be placed on top of it. The Mosque is usually set out something like the following: On the right there is the mimbar it has three steps and the Iman will stand on the second. The main reason for this is that it is a tradition which Muslims like to follow
In this picture there are two microphones at different heights, one for standing prayer positions and one for the e very low prayer positions which in Islam are called Salah. Finally in the Mosque there is a prayer clock to indicate what times the prayers are done as it they change throughout the year according to the sightings of the moon and the times of dawn and dusk. Most mosques will have a board but in Bournemouth mosque they had brought a digital clock in order to make it easier and more understandable when reading and changing the times.