Design and symbolism of the mosque

The word ‘mosque’ means 'place of prostration'. Generally, a mosque is any place where a Muslim prays and worships Allah. Prostration shows the dedication of one’s life to Allah and the features of a mosque reinforce this submission to him.

FeatureSymbolism/significance
Dome This symbolises Allah’s universe. It allows air to circulate, particularly in hot countries, and it is built over the prayer hall to allow one’s voice to be amplified.
MinaretThis tall tower is where the call to prayer is heard from. The call to prayer begins with ‘Allahu Akbar’ meaning ‘Allah is the greatest’. Now, recordings are used more so than the traditional method of a man (known as the muezzin) climbing to the tower to call Muslims to worship.
The star and crescent This is sometimes seen at the top of a mosque, and is a commonly known symbol relating to Islam. The five pointed star reflects the Five Pillars of Islam which are central to the faith, and the crescent moon and stars are symbols relating to the greatness of the creator.
Prayer hall This is simply a large hall that the men use for worship. It is a very important part of the mosque. There are no seats as Muslims worship and pray on the floor. Women will often worship on a balcony at the back of the prayer hall.
Washing area The ritual washing, known as wudu, takes place in this area before worship. A water source will be available (sometimes a simple tap, or sometimes a fountain in a beautiful courtyard).
Mihrab This is an alcove within the qiblah wall (prayer wall) which shows the direction of the Ka’bah at Mecca.
Minbar This is a platform from which the imam preaches his sermon during Friday worship. There are usually three steps, and the imam will not go to the top as a sign of respect and humility before Allah.
Decoration There are no images or statues of Allah in a mosque, or anywhere else. This is to stop the risk of idolatry and to allow worship of the true God, rather than representations of him. Often, calligraphy and decorative patterns will be used instead to decorate the mosque.
The dome in a mosque is built over the prayer hall to allow voices to be amplified