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Architecture Panel 1

To function as a site of communal prayer, a mosque should have certain architectural features. The six outlined here (see the slideshow to the left for detailed images) are among the most common. Together, they create the look and feel of mosque space.

The QIBLA wall and MIHRAB.

These features define the orientation for prayer. The qibla wall indicates the direction of Mecca, the holy city of Islam. The mihrab, a prayer niche, is located in the qibla wall and functions as the spiritual center of the mosque, where the imam (the prayer leader) stands to direct the prayer. The mihrab’s niche-like form once served an acoustic purpose, but is now preferred for aesthetic reasons.

The MIDA’A or WUDUU (washing area).

This space is for ritual cleaning before prayers. It can be inside the mosque, typically near the entrance, or in a separate space nearby. Worshippers physically and spiritually cleanse themselves here before entering the haram.

The QUBBA (dome).

This feature differs in significance and appearance across regions. The dome’s appeal is rooted in its association with Persian and Ottoman societies, but today its popularity among Muslims is nearly universal.

The HARAM (sanctuary).

Prayers are held in this space. The haram is directly adjacent to the qibla wall. Its size and shape can vary, but it is usually covered by prayer rugs or a single carpet that has prayer lines (and sometimes individual prayer spaces) as part of its design.

The MINARA (minaret).

This tower or column was originally used as a high platform from which to broadcast the call to prayer. Although they can still be used this way, most minarets in the Detroit area are purely decorative.

The MINBAR (pulpit).

This raised structure allows the imam to preach to the congregation from a position visually accessible to everyone. Now large and sometimes very elaborately decorated, minbars were originally simple objects consisting of three steps.


Architecture Panel 1

Architecture Panel 1

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