A minbar (Arabic: منبر, also romanized as mimbar or mimber) is a pulpit in the mosque where the imam (prayer leader) stands to deliver sermons (خطبة, khutbah) or in the Hussainia where the speaker sits and lectures the congregation. The word is a derivative of the Arabic root n-b-r ("to raise, elevate"); the Arabic plural is manābir (Arabic: منابر).
While minbars are usually more akin to pulpits in elevation and structures they have a function and position more similar to that of a lectern, emphasizing contact with the audience.[original research?] The minbar is usually shaped like a small tower with a pointed roof and stairs leading up to it. Some believe decorating it is part of the sunnah, oppositely the prophet Muhammed only had a platform with 3 steps. The minbar is located to the right of the mihrab, the niche that indicates the direction of prayer (i.e. towards Mecca). The minbar is also a symbol of authority.
In some mosques there is a platform (müezzin mahfili in Turkish) opposite the minbar. That is the place where the assistant of the Imam, the muezzin, stands during prayer. The muezzin recites the answer to the prayer of the Imam. This feature is the Islamic equivalent of the pulpit found in Christian churches,[original research?]although mosques differ in many ways from churches.
Nowadays the oldest Islamic pulpit in the world to be preserved intact is the minbar of the Great Mosque of Kairouan (in the city of Kairouan in Tunisia). Dating from the 9th century (at about 862 AD), it is an eleven-step staircase made of carved and sculptured teak wood. Composed of an assembly of over three hundred finely sculpted parts, the minbar of the Great Mosque of Kairouan is considered as a jewel of Islamic wooden art.
- Andrew Petersen, Dictionary of Islamic architecture, Routledge, 1996, page 191
- Muḥammad ʻAdnān Bakhīt, History of humanity, UNESCO, 2000, page 345
- Minibar of the Great Mosque of Kairouan (Qantara Mediterranean Heritage)
- Lynette Singer (ed.): The Minbar of Saladin. Reconstructing a Jewel of Islamic Art (London: Thames & Hudson 2008).
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