The Prophet Muhammad once remarked, “The (whole) earth has been made a mosque (or a place of prayer) and a means of purification for me, so wherever a man of my ummah may be when the time for prayer comes, let him pray.”
(Sahih Bukhari, 335)
# What does Masjid mean?
The word Masjid literally means any place in which one performs the act of Sujud (prostration) and acts of worship or devotion.
The Arabic word Masjid is derived from the word Sajada, meaning “he became humble or submissive or he bent himself down on the ground before God”. It is prostrating oneself in prayer by dropping gently upon the knees, placing the palms of the hands on the ground, a little before the place of the knees, and then putting the nose and the forehead on the ground, the former first, between the two hands.
In other words, Masjid or mosque is the place of the public religious service. The word Masjid is used in the Quran, especially in connection with the Meccan sanctuary, Masjid Al-Haram, or the Sacred Mosque of Mecca.
In the Quran, the same word, Masjid, has been used for the places of worship belonging to the Christians and Jewish people as well. The Quran declares:
“And similarly, We caused them to be found that they [who found them] would know that the promise of Allah is truth and that of the Hour there is no doubt. [That was] when they disputed among themselves about their affair and [then] said, “Construct over them a structure. Their Lord is most knowing about them.” Said those who prevailed in the matter, “We will surely take [for ourselves] over them a masjid.”
The famous historian Ibn Khaldun has also used the word Masjid generally meaning a place of worship of any religion in Muqaddimah.
Today the Arabic ‘Masjid’, and the English ‘mosque’ are used exclusively for religious houses in Islam.
# What is a Jaami’ ?
Another word is used sometimes for Mosque : Jaami’. Similarly, Jami is a congregational mosque or the mosque in which a congregation assembles to perform the Friday prayer. A Mosque is, properly speaking, a place of meeting in the general sense of the word. This is the reason why it is also called Jami, a place of gathering.