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Islam / Structures / Mosque
Arabic: mihrābPlay sound

Mihrab in al-Azhar Mosque, Cairo, Egypt

Mihrab in small mosque on Mount Sinai, Egypt

Niche in a mosque, indicating the qibla, the direction in which a Muslim shall perform his salat.
The mihrab is the position of the person leading the congregation in prayer, and is by most Muslims considered the most holy place in the mosque, even if a mihrab is never dedicated to God, but frequently to religious personalities. A mosque will normally have only one mihrab.
The mihrab is by both Muslim and Western scholars considered as an element taken from churches, an element added to the mosque of architectural reasons. The mihrab was probably introduced in the 3rd century of Islam, in the 9th century CE.
Mihrabs can be of wood, but is normally made out of masonry, and adorned with pillars. Mihrabs very often come highly ornamented.

By Tore Kjeilen