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Islam: The Religion and the People by Buntzie Ellis Churchill, Bernard Lewis

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Chapter 4: The Mosque

The name mosque comes from the Arabic masjid, literally “a place of prostration,” that is, of worship. In this sense, as a place of prayer, the mosque is the equivalent of the church in Christendom. Until modern times, it was in no way the equivalent of the church in the other sense of that word—an institution parallel with the state, with its own hierarchy and jurisdiction, its own laws and even courts to administer them. In that sense, the church had no equivalent in classical Islam, where state and church were one, both in principle regulated by the same holy law.

In early times, in places newly added to the realms of Islam, Muslims tended to adapt or copy preexisting places of worship. But these proved in many ways unsuitable, ...

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