- For the mountain formation, see Minarets
( , from Arabic manāra
usually مئذنة) are distinctive architectural features of Islamic mosques
. Minarets are
generally tall spires with onion-shaped
or conical crowns, usually either free standing or taller than any
associated support structure.
As well as providing a visual cue to a Muslim community, the main
function of the minaret is to provide a vantage point from which
the call to prayer (adhan
) is made.
Call to prayer in Islam happens five times each day. These times
are at sunrise, noon, day, sundown, and evening.In most modern
mosques, the adhan is called not from the minaret but from the
, or prayer hall
, via a
Minarets also function as air conditioning mechanisms: as the sun
heats the dome, air is drawn in through open windows then up and
out of the minaret, thereby providing natural ventilation.
The earliest mosques
were built without
minarets, the adhan
(call to prayer)
was performed elsewhere; hadiths
community of Madina
gave the call to prayer from the roof of the
house of Muhammad
, which doubled as a place
for prayer.Around 80 years after Muhammad's death the first known
Minarets have been described as the "gate from heaven and earth",
and as the Arabic language
(which is a straight vertical line).
world's tallest minaret (at 210 metres) is located at the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco The world's
tallest brick minaret is Qutub Minar located in Delhi, India.
two 230 metre tall minarets under construction in Tehran, Iran.
In some of
the oldest mosques, such as the Great Mosque of Damascus, minarets originally served as illuminated
watchtowers (hence the derivation of the word from the Arabic
nur, meaning "light").
Minarets basic form consist of three parts: a base, shaft, and a
gallery. For the base, the ground is excavated until a hard
foundation is reached. Gravel
supporting materials may be used as a foundation; it is unusual for
the minaret to be built directly upon ground-level soil. Minarets
may be conical (tapering), square, cylindrical, or polygonal
(faceted). Stairs circle the shaft in a counter-clockwise fashion,
providing necessary structural support to the highly elongated
shaft. The gallery is a balcony which encircles the upper sections
from which the muezzin
may give the call to
prayer. It is covered by a roof-like canopy and adorned with
ornamentation, such as decorative brick and tile work, cornice
, arches and inscriptions,
with the transition from the shaft to the gallery typically
. Originally plain in
style, a minaret's origin in time can be determined by its level of
Styles and architecture
can vary widely
according to region and time period. Here are a few styles and the
localities from which they derive:
- Turkish (11th
- 1, 2, 4 or 6 minarets related to the size of the mosque. Slim,
circular minarets of equal cross-section are common.
- Egypt (7th
century) / Syria (until 13th
- Low square towers sitting at the four corners of the mosque.
- For a
free-standing conical minaret surrounded by a spiral staircase, see
- Egypt (15th
- Octagonal. Two balconies, the upper smaller than the lower,
projecting mukarnas, surmounted by an elongated finial.
- Persia (17th century)
- Generally two pairs of slim, blue tile clad towers flanking the
mosque entrance, terminating in covered balconies.
- Tatar (18th century): A sole minaret is used, placed at the centre of a
- Morocco: Typically a
single square minaret. A notable exception is the octagonal minaret
located in Chefchaouen.
- India: Octagonal,
generally three balconied, with the upper most roofed by an
onion dome and topped by a small finial.
Image:Tower of the Great Mosque of
Kairouan.JPG|Minaret of the Mosque of Uqba in Kairouan, Tunisia, 8th-9th centuryImage:Charminar
Hyderabad.jpg|The Charminar in Hyderabad, IndiaImage:Minaret Al Muhdhar Mosque Tarim
Yemen.jpg|The minaret of the Al Muhdhar mosque in Tarim, YemenMosque atTarim,
Yemen, is measured 53 metres (175 ft)
highImage:Blue Mosque, Istanbul 2007.JPG|The six
minareted Sultan Ahmed
Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.Image:Faisal mosque2.jpg|Faisal Mosque Minaret, Islamabad, Pakistan
Image:Iraqi Minaret.jpg|A typical Iraqi
minaret, BaghdadImage:June21 2004-Wazir Khan Mosque Lahore
(22).jpg|The minaret of the Wazir Khan
Mosque in LahoreImage:kuzkandimasjid.jpg|The minaret of the
Jamiah Masjid in Baghdada, MardanImage:Shahi Mosque 6.jpg|One of the minarets
of the Badshahi
Mosque also in
Image:Kharanagh-minaret.jpg|Old adobe minaret in
wooden pole used as minaret in Nouadhibou, MauritaniaFile:5701-Linxia-City-a-mosque-near-Daxia-River-SW-of-downtown.jpg|A
minaret in Linxia, typical of small-town
mosques in Gansu, ChinaFile:Huisheng-Mosque-minaret-0461.jpg|The
"bare tower" of Huaisheng
Mosque, Guangzhou, ChinaFile:Tongxin mosque.JPG|Chinese-style
minaret of Tongxin Mosque, Ningxia, ChinaFile:Karakol-Dungan-Mosque-Minaret-3.jpg|Wooden
minaret of the Dungan Mosque in
Karakol, KyrgyzstanFile:A Swift's Call To Prayer.jpg|Sabah State Mosque minaret in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (Borneo).File:Moschee Wangen bei Olten
cropped.jpg|Minaret in Wangen bei Olten, Switzerland.
- "minaret." Online Etymology
Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 21 Mar. 2009.