It is considered as a matter of great merit to construct a mosque. Tradition of the Prophet says that “Anyone who builds a mosque for Allah, He will build a house for him in paradise”.

A mosque should be built only on faultless or sinless ground and only with money obtained by righteous means. A mosque can be built anywhere, but if the site had been a cemetery, only after the removal of the cadavers.

In the beginning mosque structure was quite simple. The genesis of the mosque is found in the house constructed by the Prophet after his exile from Mecca. It was a large enclosure with an open portico at one end and roofed with palm leaves. It had neither a dome nor minarets and cloisters.

The most common plan for mosque evolved out of the Caravanserai’s of the Middle East. There were a series of buildings, mostly halls, around an open court yard. Access was through a series of steps leading to an open area where the tank of water was available. The entrance and opposite end where the Mihrab was located could be roofed more elaborately with domes and other conspicuous structures. Minarets were placed at convenient points. The scriptures ordained that they should accord protection from sun and rain, but specifically prohibited over ornamentation and shown structures when designing a mosque.

Islamic architecture has evolved from a synthesis of various styles prevalent in different Islamic countries. Indian indigenous style of architecture was different both in form and spirit which a mosque is required. This conflict prevailed in the first phase of design and construction of mosques in India, but gradually overcome this difficulty through a blend of two different styles and evolved the Indo-Islamic architecture.

The mosque architecture in Kerala did not show any of the features of the Arabic or Indo-Islamic style of architecture. The early mosques of Kerala are basically in the unique architectural tradition of the region. They are simple buildings with tiled roofs, large prayer halls covered verandah all around, tall basements, walls made of laterite blocks. As in the case of temples and churches, wood has been profusely in the construction. Early mosques in Kasaragod and Kannur districts show influence of Jain style of architecture. The Thalankara mosque was an old Jain Basthi. Certain mosques in Kannur show two different styles with Indo-Saracenic elements with the minerates and British colonial style with double cylindrical pillows, large windows etc.

Early mosques  in Kerala architectural style

Recently there is a trend to adopt Islamic style of architecture prevalent in North India for the construction or to renovate/reconstruct mosques in Kerala. In many cases, there has been adoption of Indo-Saracenic style. While early mosques were compact structure, the new ones are large to accommodate increasing population. The decoration is kept moderate but contrast with the straight lines and sharp angles of traditional Kerala architecture. The minarets have become a dominant feature in the recent style

Palayam Juma Mazjid-an example for modern mosque architecture

Whatever the regional style of construction, the mosques continue to be the primary place where the faithful remember Allah in their worship.


Madhava Menon.T. (ed). 2000. A Handbook of Kerala (Vol.1). International School of Drvidian Linguistics, Thiruvananthapuram.
Wainers, David. 2001. An Introduction to Islam. Foundation Books, New Delhi.
Ziyadu-Din Desai. 2003. Mosques of India. Publication Division, Ministry of Information & Braodcasting, Government of India, New Delhi.