From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the mountain formation, see Minarets (California). For the National Security Agency surveillance operation, see Project MINARET.
"Minar" redirects here. For the village in Iran, see Minar, Iran.

A minaret (/ˌmɪnəˈrɛt, ˈmɪnəˌrɛt/;[1] Persian: مناره‎‎ menare, Turkish: minare,[2]), from Arabic: منارةmanāra, also known as Goldaste (Persian: گلدسته‎‎) lit. "lighthouse", is a distinctive architectural feature of mosques, generally a tall spire with a conical or onion-shaped crown, usually either free-standing or taller than associated support structure. The basic form of a minaret includes a base, shaft, and gallery.[3] Styles vary regionally and by period. Minarets provide a visual focal point and are used for the call to prayer (adhān).


In addition to 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, or adhan, is made. The call to prayer is issued five times each day: dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and night. In most modern mosques, the adhān is called

from the musallah (prayer hall) via microphone to a speaker system on the minaret.

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 ventilation.[citation needed]


The oldest standing minaret is in Tunisia's Great Mosque of Kairouan.[4]

The earliest mosques lacked minarets, and the call to prayer was performed elsewhere;[5] hadiths relay that the Muslim community of Medina 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 appeared.[6]

Minarets have been described as the "gate from heaven and earth", and as the Arabic language letter aleph (which is a straight vertical line).[7]

The massive minaret of the Great Mosque of Kairouan in Tunisia is the oldest standing minaret.[4][8] Its construction began during the first third of the 8th century and was completed in 836 CE.[9] The imposing square-plan tower consists of three sections of decreasing size reaching 31.5 meters.[9] Considered as the prototype for minarets of the western Islamic world, it served as a model for many later minarets.[9]

The tallest minaret, at 210 metres (689 ft) is located at the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. The tallest brick minaret is Qutub Minar located in Delhi, India.[10]

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").[citation needed]


The basic form of minarets consists of three parts: a base, shaft, and a gallery. For the base, the ground is excavated until a hard foundation is reached. Gravel and other 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 that 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, cornices, arches and inscriptions, with the transition from the shaft to the gallery typically sporting muqarnas.

Local styles[edit]

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

Minaret of the Great Mosque of Samarra
Minaret (malwiya) of the Great Mosque of Samarra
In pre-Islamic Firouzabad, Iran, at the center of the circular city was a spiral fire temple tower, the architectural precedent of the Minaret of the Great Mosque of Samarra, illustrating the Sassanid influence on early Islamic architecture.
(7th century) Quadrangular, the Mosque of Uqba of Kairouan has the oldest minaret in the Muslim world.
Turkish (11th century)
1, 2, 4 or 6 minarets related to the size of the mosque.[citation needed] Slim, circular minarets of equal cross-section are common.
Egypt (7th century) / Syria (until 13th century)
Low square towers sitting at the four corners of the mosque.
For a free-standing conical minaret surrounded by a spiral staircase, see Malwiya.
Egypt (15th century)
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)
Tatar mosque: A sole minaret, located at the centre of a gabled roof.
Typically, a single square minaret; notable exceptions include a few octagonal minarets in northern cities - Chefchaouen, Tetouan, Rabat, Ouezzane, Asilah, and Tangier - and the round minaret of Moulay Idriss.
South Asia
Octagonal, generally three balconied, with the upper most roofed by an onion dome and topped by a small finial.


See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]