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Minaret (/ˌmɪnəˈrɛt, ˈmɪnəˌrɛt/;[1] Persian: مأذنة‎ ma'thena, Azerbaijani: minarə, Turkish: minare,[2] from Arabic: منارة‎ manarah [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.[3] They are generally a tall spire with a conical or onion-shaped crown. They can either be free-standing or taller than the associated support structure. The architecture, function, and role of the minaret vary by region and time period.

Functions


Minarets attached to mosques serve two main functions: to perform the call to prayer and to act as a symbol of Islam.

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.[6] In most modern mosques, the adhān is called from the musallah (prayer hall) via microphone to a speaker system on the minaret.[6]

Construction


The basic form of minarets consists of four parts: a base, a shaft, a cap and a head.[3] Minarets may be conical (tapering), square, cylindrical, or polygonal (faceted).[3] Stairs circle the shaft in a counter-clockwise fashion, providing necessary structural support to the highly elongated shaft.[7] The gallery is a balcony that encircles the upper sections from which the muezzin may give the call to prayer.[8] 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.[8]

History


The earliest mosques lacked minarets, and the call to prayer was often performed from smaller tower structures.[4][10][11] 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.[4]

The first known minarets appear in the early 9th century under Abbasid rule, and were not widely used until the 11th century.[4] These early minaret forms were originally placed in the middle of the wall opposite the qibla wall.[4] These towers were built across the empire in a height to width ratio of 3:1.[4]

The oldest minaret is the Great Mosque of Kairouan in Tunisia and it is consequently the oldest minaret still standing.[4][9][12] The construction of the Great Mosque of Kairouan dates to the year 836.[4][13] The mosque is constituted by three levels of decreasing widths that reach 31.5 meters tall.[4][13]

Minarets have had various forms (in general round, squared, spiral or octagonal) in light of their architectural function.[7] Minarets are built out of any material that is readily available, and often changes from region to region.[4] The number of minarets by mosques is not fixed, originally one minaret would accompany each mosque, then the builder could construct several more.[14]

Local styles


Styles and architecture can vary widely according to region and time period. Here are a few styles and the localities from which they derive:

Central Asia

See also


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