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Minaret of the Great Mosque of Testour Grande mosquee de testour.jpg
Minaret of the Great Mosque of Testour
Tiled minaret at Afag Khoja's mausoleum. Kashgar. Tiled minaret at Afag Khoja's mausoleum. Kashgar.jpg
Tiled minaret at Afag Khoja's mausoleum. Kashgar.

Minaret ( /ˌmɪnəˈrɛt,ˈmɪnəˌrɛt/ ; [1] Persian : گل‌دستهgoldasteh, Azerbaijani : minarə, Turkish : minare, [2] from Arabic : منارةmanarah [2] ) is a type of tower typically built into or adjacent to mosques. Minarets serve multiple purposes. While they provide a visual focal point, they are generally used for the Muslim call to prayer (adhan). The basic form of a minaret includes a base, shaft, a cap and head.[ citation needed ] They are generally a tall spire with a conical or onion-shaped crown.



In the early 9th century, the first minarets were placed opposite the qibla wall. [3] Oftentimes, this placement was not beneficial in reaching the community for the call to prayer. [3] They served as a reminder that the region was Islamic and helped to distinguish mosques from the surrounding architecture. [4]

In addition to providing a visual cue to a Muslim community, the other function is to provide a vantage point from which the call to prayer, or adhan, is made. The call to prayer is issued five times each day: dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and night. [5] In most modern mosques, the adhān is called from the musallah (prayer hall) via microphone to a speaker system on the minaret. [5]


The basic form of minarets consists of four parts: a base, a shaft, a cap and a head.[ citation needed ] Minarets may be conical (tapering), square, cylindrical, or polygonal (faceted).[ citation needed ] Stairs circle the shaft in a counter-clockwise fashion, providing necessary structural support to the highly elongated shaft. [6] The gallery is a balcony that encircles the upper sections from which the muezzin may give the call to prayer. [7] It is covered by a roof-like canopy and adorned with ornamentation, such as decorative brick and tile work, cornices, arches and inscriptions, with the transition from the shaft to the gallery typically displaying muqarnas. [7]


Different types of Minaret. 1. Iraq 2. Morocco 3. Turkey 4. India, 5. Egypt 6. Asia. Types of Minarets 6.jpg
Different types of Minaret. 1. Iraq 2. Morocco 3. Turkey 4. India, 5. Egypt 6. Asia.
The oldest standing minaret is in Tunisia's Great Mosque of Kairouan. Minaret of the Great Mosque of Kairouan, Tunisia.jpg
The oldest standing minaret is in Tunisia's Great Mosque of Kairouan.

The earliest mosques lacked minarets, and the call to prayer was often performed from smaller tower structures. [3] [9] [10] Hadiths relay that the early Muslim community of Medina gave the call to prayer from the roof of the house of Muhammad, which doubled as a place for prayer. [3]

Scholarly findings trace the origin of minarets to the Umayyad Caliphate and explain that these minarets were a copy of church steeples found in Syria in those times. The first minarets were derived architecturally from the Syrian church tower. Other references suggest that the towers in Syria originated from ziggurats of Babylonian and Assyrian shrines of Mesopotamia. [11] [12]

The first known minarets appear in the early 9th century under Abbasid rule, and were not widely used until the 11th century. [3] These early minaret forms were originally placed in the middle of the wall opposite the qibla wall. [3] These towers were built across the empire in a height to width ratio of 3:1. [3]

The oldest minaret is the Great Mosque of Kairouan in Tunisia and it is consequently the oldest minaret still standing. [3] [8] [13] The construction of the Great Mosque of Kairouan dates to the year 836. [3] [14] The mosque is constituted by three levels of decreasing widths that reach 31.5 meters tall. [3] [14]

Minarets have had various forms (in general round, squared, spiral or octagonal) in light of their architectural function. [6] Minarets are built out of any material that is readily available, and often changes from region to region. [3] The number of minarets by mosques is not fixed, originally one minaret would accompany each mosque, then the builder could construct several more. [15]

A depiction of the muezzin's call to prayer from the balcony of a minaret. The Muezzin's Call to Prayer (1878) - TIMEA.jpg
A depiction of the muezzin's call to prayer from the balcony of a minaret.

Local styles

Central Asia

Minaret. Khotan Minaret. Khotan. 2011.jpg
Minaret. Khotan
During the Seljuk period, minarets were highly decorated with geometric and calligraphic design. [16] They were built prolifically, even at smaller mosques or mosque complexes. Additionally, minarets during the Seljuk period were characterized by their circular plans and octagonal bases. [17] The Bukhara minaret remains the most well known of the Seljuk minarets for its use of brick patterns and inscriptions. [17]
The "international Timurid" style surfaced in central Asia during the 17th century and is categorized by the use of multiple minarets. [17] Examples of this style include the minarets on the roof of the south gate in Akbar's Tomb at Sikandra (1613), the minarets on the Tomb of Jahangir (1628-1638), as well as the four minarets surrounding the mausoleum of the Taj Mahal. [17]
The styles of minarets have varied slightly throughout the history of Egypt. Most minarets were on a square base, however, the shaft could be plain or decorated and topped with various crowns and pavilions. [16] The tiers of the minaret are often separated by balconies. [16]
The Mosque of al-Hakim, built between 990 and 1010, has a square base with a shaft that tapers towards the crown. [16]
East China
Eastern Chinese minarets were heavily influenced by the Islamic minarets of Iran. [17] They often had circular platforms and cylindrical shafts with decorative patterns of the Chinese landscape. [17] The Tower of Light, also known as the Guangta minaret (1350), merges aspects of Islamic and Chinese architecture. [17]
The Great Mosque of Samarra has a unique spiral minaret. m'dhn@ smr (1).jpg
The Great Mosque of Samarra has a unique spiral minaret.
The Great Mosque of Samarra (848–852) is one of the earliest minarets and is characterized by a 30-metre-high (98 ft) cylindrical tower outside the walls of the mosque. [3] A common Abbasid style of minaret, also seen in Iraq, is characterized by a structure with a polygonal base and a thick cylindrical shaft. It is also typically found on the roof of the mosque. [17]
Two examples of this style are the Mosque of al-Khaffafin and the Mosque of Qumriyya.
The minarets of 12th century Iran often had cylindrical shafts with square or octagonal bases that taper towards their capitals. These minarets became the most common style across the Islamic world. These forms were also highly decorated. Pairs of minaret towers that flank the mosque entrance originate from Iran. [16]
Southeast Asia
Tower minarets were not as common in Southeast Asia as mosques were designed to function more as community structures. Mosques were designed to be much smaller and occasionally contained staircase minarets. [17]
The minaret at the Great Mosque of Kairouan, built in 836, influenced all other minarets in the Islamic west. [3] It is the oldest minaret in the Muslim world.
The Seljuks of Rum, a successor state of the Seljuks, built paired portal minarets from brick that had Iranian origins. [16]
In general, minarets in Anatolia were singular and received decorative emphasis while the mosque remained plain. [16] The minarets were used at the corners of mosques, as seen in the Divrigi Great Mosque.
The Suleymaniye Mosque in Turkey has minarets reaching 70 meters. Suleymaniye Mosque (8393803091).jpg
The Süleymaniye Mosque in Turkey has minarets reaching 70 meters.
The Ottoman empire continued the Iranian tradition of cylindrical tapering minaret forms with a square base. [16] Minarets were often topped with crescent moon symbols. [16] Use of more than one minaret, and larger minarets, was used to show patronage. [16]
For example, the Suleymaniye Dome has minarets reaching 70 meters.
West Africa
West African minarets are characterized by glazed ceramics that allowed the structures to take on new monumental forms. [17] Typically, they are a single, square minaret with battered walls. Notable exceptions include a few octagonal minarets in northern cities - Chefchaouen, Tetouan, Rabat, Ouezzane, Asilah, and Tangier - and the round minaret of Moulay Idriss.

See also

Related Research Articles

Mosque Place of worship for followers of Islam

A mosque, also called masjid, is a place of worship for Muslims. Any act of worship that follows the Islamic rules of prayer can be said to create a mosque, whether or not it takes place in a special building. Informal and open-air places of worship are called musalla, while mosques used for communal prayer on Fridays are known as jumaʿ. Mosque buildings typically contain an ornamental niche (mihrab) set into the wall that indicates the direction of Mecca (qiblah), ablution facilities and minarets from which calls to prayer are issued. The pulpit (minbar), from which the Friday (jumu'ah) sermon (khutba) is delivered, was in earlier times characteristic of the central city mosque, but has since become common in smaller mosques. Mosques typically have segregated spaces for men and women. This basic pattern of organization has assumed different forms depending on the region, period and denomination.

Islamic architecture Architectural style

Islamic architecture comprises the architectural styles of buildings associated with Islam. It encompasses both secular and religious styles from the early history of Islam to the present day. Islamic architecture developed to fulfill Islamic religious ideals, for example, the minaret was designed to assist the muezzin in making his voice heard to throughout a specific area.

Great Mosque of Samarra

The Great Mosque of Samarra is a mosque from the 9th century CE located in Samarra, Iraq. The mosque was commissioned in 848 and completed in 851 by the Abbasid caliph Al-Mutawakkil who reigned from 847 until 861. The mosque is located within the 15,058-hectare (37,210-acre) Samarra Archaeological City UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed in 2007. The mosque consisted of a rectangular building on the inside measuring 239 x 156 meters and an outer, enclosing rectangle structure measuring 374 x 443 meters. The minaret rises on the mosque's Northeastern side and at the time of construction, it was the world's largest mosque. This building project was one of the most complex imperial projects in Iraq and in the Islamic world. The symmetrical layout is viewed to bring a beauty to the eye of the viewer. The architecture and designs were used to call travelers, foreigners, and residents to prayer and to the Islamic faith. This was an Iraqi style mosque with grand structures and designs yet simplicity to not take away from the importance of the focus on God.

Moroccan architecture

Moroccan architecture refers to the architecture characteristic of Morocco throughout its history and up to modern times. The country's diverse geography and long history, marked by successive waves of settlers through both migration and military conquest, are all reflected in its architecture. This architectural heritage ranges from ancient Roman and Berber (Amazigh) sites to 20th-century colonial and modern architecture.

Kutubiyya Mosque

The Kutubiyya Mosque or Koutoubia Mosque is the largest mosque in Marrakesh, Morocco. The mosque's name is also variably rendered as Jami' al-Kutubiyah, Kutubiya Mosque, Kutubiyyin Mosque, and Mosque of the Booksellers. It is located in the southwest medina quarter of Marrakesh, near the famous public place of Jemaa el-Fna, and is flanked by large gardens.

Umayyad Mosque Mosque in Syria

The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus, located in the old city of Damascus, is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world. The mosque is also important in Islam because of its historical and eschatological reports and events associated with the mosque. The mosque is the fourth holiest site of Islam.

Great Mosque of Kairouan

The Great Mosque of Kairouan, also known as the Mosque of Uqba, is a mosque situated in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Kairouan, Tunisia and is one of the most impressive and largest Islamic monuments in North Africa.

Moorish architecture Architectural style historically developed in the western Islamic world

Moorish architecture, is a style within Islamic architecture which developed in the western Islamic world, which included al-Andalus, and the Maghreb. The term "Moorish" comes from the Western European designation of the Muslim inhabitants of these regions as "Moors", which itself comes from Latin "Mauri", originally a designation of the inhabitants of the Berber kingdom of Mauretania. Some scholars also use the term Western Islamic architecture or "architecture of the Islamic west" for this subject.

Emin Minaret

The Emin Minaret or Emin Tower stands by the Uyghur mosque located in Turfan, Xinjiang, China. At 44 meters (144 ft) it is the tallest minaret in China. The Qing Empire conquered this largely Muslim region in the 1750s by defeating the Dzungar Mongols with their superior weaponry in a series of battles. The Uyghurs under Emin Khoja 額敏和卓 joined the Qing Empire for protection against the Dzungars and the Emin minaret was named after Emin Khoja.

Great Mosque of Aleppo

The Great Mosque of Aleppo also known as Umayyad Mosque, is the largest and one of the oldest mosques in the city of Aleppo, Syria. It is located in al-Jalloum district of the Ancient City of Aleppo, a World Heritage Site, near the entrance to Al-Madina Souq. The mosque is purportedly home to the remains of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, both of whom are revered in Islam and Christianity. It was built in the beginning of the 8th century CE. However, the current building dates back to the 11th through 14th centuries. The minaret was built in 1090, and was destroyed during fighting in the Syrian Civil War in April 2013.

Seljuk architecture Building tradions used by Seljuk dynasty

Seljuk architecture comprises the building traditions used by the Seljuk dynasty, when it ruled most of the Middle East and Anatolia during the 11th to 13th centuries. After the 11th century, the Seljuks of Rum emerged from the Great Seljuk Empire developing their own architecture, though they were influenced and inspired by the Armenian, Byzantine and Persian architectural traditions.

İlyas Bey Mosque

İlyas Bey Mosque is a historical Islamic religious building at Milet in Didim district of Aydın Province, western Turkey. It was built in 1403 by Ilyas Bey (1402–1421), ruler of the Turkish Menteshe emirate.

Umayyad architecture

Umayyad architecture developed in the Umayyad Caliphate between 661 and 750, primarily in its heartlands of Syria and Palestine. It drew extensively on the architecture of other Middle Eastern civilizations and that of the Byzantine Empire, but introduced innovations in decoration and new types of building such as mosques with mihrabs and minarets. It was also inspired by Islamic architecture, and they made mosques with vibrant colours and used geometric designs because representational art wasn't allowed.

Talha Mosque

Talha Mosque or Qubbat Talha, one of the oldest mosques in Sana'a (Yemen), was built by order of the Ottoman Wali Hadji Mehmed Pasha from 1619 to 1620, during the first Ottoman occupation. The minaret was built at the same time.

Minarets of the Temple Mount

The Temple Mount has four minarets in total: three on the western flank and one on the northern flank.

Phoenix Mosque Mosque in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

Phoenix Mosque is a mosque in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. It is known for being one of the four great mosques of China. It is also one of the earliest mosque built in China. The origin of this mosque dates back to Tang or Song dynasty.

Mosque architecture in Indonesia

Mosque architecture in Indonesia refers to the architectural traditions of mosques built in the archipelago of Indonesia. Initial forms of the mosque, for example, were predominantly built in the vernacular Indonesian architectural style mixed with Hindu, Buddhist or Chinese architectural elements, and notably didn't equip orthodox form of Islamic architectural elements such as dome and minaret. Vernacular architectural style varies depending on the island and region.

Eger minaret

The Eger minaret is an Ottoman era minaret tower located in Eger city, northern Hungary. It is the most northern minaret left from Ottoman rule in Europe. The minaret is 40 metres high and built from red sandstone. It was built in the early 17th century as part of the Djami of Kethuda mosque and used for the Muslim call to prayer (Adhan). The mosque no longer exists, but the minaret survives as a preserved monument of Hungary and a major tourist attraction of Eger. There are 97 steps on the spiral staircase inside, which leads to a balcony at 26 meters from the ground offering unique views of the surrounding city.

Ats-Tsauroh Great Mosque of Serang Mosque in Indonesia

Ats-Tsauroh Great Mosque of Serang is a congregational mosque in the city of Serang, Banten, Indonesia. Founded in 1870, it is one of the oldest mosques in Banten province.


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Further reading