The word ‘mosque’ in Arabic is Masjid, means a place of prostration before the Allah. So Masjid is a place where the devout perform five daily prayers (a ritual involving kneeling and touching the forehead upon the ground in humble prostration before the Allah). A mosque could be any place where humility before Allah is expressed in prayer. Tradition says that “the earth is a masjid for you, so pray wherever you are at the time of prayer”. So those who prayed at home or anywhere in earth are treated as equal to the prayers performed in a masjid.

It is believed that the first mosque in the world is K’aba (Mashid-ul-Haram) at Mecca. All the mosques in the world are oriented towards it. However, the first mosque in Indian sub-continent at Muzris (Kodungallur in Kerala) is unique as it did not face Mecca, but towards east.

Cheraman Mosque - first mosque in India at Kodungallur

Places of worship used previously by other religious groups may also be used as a mosque after the graven images, if any, and all the signs of polytheistic worship have been wiped out.

No unclean things should be taken into the mosque. Special prayers should be recited when entering and leaving the mosque. No commerce should be transacted in the mosque. Similarly, no search for lost materials should be made. None should make loud noise or even recite prayers loudly in such a way to disturb others. Well mannered and polite conversation is expected from the devotees.

Though the basic function of a mosque is for congregational prayers, other activities than worship and prescribed rituals are also carried out. Mosques are centres of learning (in Qur’anic verses and law), jurists delivered their judgment or decisions within its limits. In some places the mosque kitchen provided food for pious souls, poor and needy. It also serves as a hostel for students. Thus, the mosque is a prayer house, a school, a hostel and sometimes a kitchen.


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.