Confusion Of The Terms ‘Mosque And Masjid’

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All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all worlds. May peace and blessings of Allah be upon his last prophet, leader of all messengers, Muhammad (pbuh).

Some stories seem unfamiliar, but are needed to be known. Islam has a wide range of knowledge since the Holy Qur’an started more than 1431 year ago. Muslims were given a right to ask about what they don’t understand, or something which confuses them, and that’s why Allah Taala sent messengers to preach what is needed, guide the people to the straight path and prevent them from going astray. The last Prophet to guide humankind and the jinn is our beloved one, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). After that, He left two great things; the Holy Book and His Acts (Tradition/ Hadith) which if we act upon them accordingly, we will never go astray. The Quran is the leading book of all books since it covers everything that concerns everything in this life and that of the hereafter. So a Muslim has to hold it firmly and never let it slip away from them. Knowledge in the Holy Quran has been described and placed on a high rank as an obligatory for Muslim believers. We need to know what is in and out of Islam, we need to understand what everything in it means, we need to know the origins of names, activities, sayings and other related things. To know all these, we have to go deep into books written by devout Muslim scholars and other prominent great thinkers. Allah (sw) says in the Holy Quran 16:43:

“And We sent not before you Any but men to whom We reveal then. O people! Ask the men of knowledge if you know not.”

This Ayah encourages Muslims to ask whatever they have no knowledge about. Do not let those who don’t know our religion control us.

In this regard, I have taken an advantage to write about the two confusing terms “The Mosque and the Masjid”.

At least we Muslim have to hold down using some words that were derived from other language based on a long sequence of definitions lest we are not certain to the meaning. If a particular Islamic place or action is named in Arabic and other languages form the name according to their understanding, this automatically deteriorates the true and original meaning of the Arabic word. Islam is well understood in Arabic, though we need to translate the language except in some fields. Nowadays, we have to be very careful when using other languages to name Islamic sacred names, such as God for Allah, and other articulations of Islamic Arabic names such as Mecca for Makkah, Mohamed/Mahomed/Muhomed for Muhammad among others. I’m sorry, but this changes the spelling of the original word in Arabic, but I don’t indicate that all Islamic names in other languages are not allowed – we should use that which we know better and have gone through them deeper. Allah (sw) says:

“If someone honors Allah’s sacred things, that is better for him his Lord’s sight,” (22:30)

In this Ayah, Allah (sw) indicates that these sacred things are His pkrgperties, so we must respect and honor them as in doing so, we honor HIM.

At the outset of my topic, I would like to begin the meaning of Masjid which is called Mosque in English and has other names in other languages respectively. Although different in terms, all mean what Masjid mean, but I would like to shed light on another dimension;

Masjid literally means ‘a place for self-prostration,’ that is, a place formally designated for the saying of prayers. According to a hadith, the Prophet of Islam observed: “The masjid is a house of God-fearing people.” This means, in effect, that it is a center for the inculcation of reverence, where individuals learn what is meant by piety and are thus prepared for a life of devotion to the Almighty.

As I was going through this topic, I got hold of the library and read a book “THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING ISLAM” you can judge it by name; this book pointed out that the term ‘mosque’ is derived from the Spanish word for ‘mosquito’. The page continues like this: “…it was termed as such because during the Crusades, King Ferdinand said they were going to go and squash the Muslims ‘like mosquitoes’…”
Subhaana’Allah! In the English language I have found that there are four possible origins for the word ‘mosque’. The first possibility is that it derives from the French word ‘mosquee’ that existed during the period in French linguistic history known as ‘Middle French’. The second possibility is that it is a derivative of the Arabic word ‘masjid’. The third possibility is that it derives from the Old Italian word ‘moschea’ and the final possibility is that it comes from the Old Spanish word ‘mezquita’. These various words were used to describe the Muslim place of worship in the various languages mentioned.
I found no indication that mosque was derived from the word ‘mosquito’. Regarding the appearance of the term mosque in the English language, scholars suggest it was around 1711 AD. This is far after King Ferdinand and the Crusades. It might be that the term ‘mezquita,’ used to describe a masjid in old Spanish, came from the word ‘mosquito’ and then subsequently the term ‘mezquita’ was used to form the term mosque. However, this would not mean that the term mosque was developed as a result of the related story.
With the above in mind, I believe it is important to keep a sensible perspective when approaching the origin of words. Words are dynamic and over time often change their meanings from what they originally may have been intended for. It is likely that there are many words in all languages that result from the ignorance or hatred that may have once existed between peoples, races, tribes or religions. We should consider contemporary usage of words and the intention of their current meanings as most important.

… just a segment of my research …

11 COMMENTS

  1. Loud and clear.It is advisable to use Quranic term 'masjid' and not otherwise because the name mosque has no any base in islam.Please let us spread this information as much as possible so that this becomes a rightly guided ummat inshaallh.

  2. Alhamdullilahi brother for your clear explanation of the two terms. I have understood you fully. I will prefer the word masjid to mosque.

  3. Really thits is an educative and informative research,care must be taken when it comes to the usage of other concepts and names in our religin. There are a lot and a lot of words that has lost their original meanings wether these words are from the Holy qur'an,Hadith,FIqh (Islamic jurisprudence)etc…I have an example here,look the word Jihad (fighting in the cause of Allah) now has completely lost ists original meaning,enemies of Islam are using this word as a synonym to terrorism see how hatred these people are!!,so we have to be careful when using these words which are being changed from their original forms just to save the interests of these enemies of Islam. Translating these names or concepts from Arabic into other languages is not wrong at all,only that we must be cautious that these names or concepts don't loose their intended meanings,other wise I rather idvice to use them in their original form (Arabic)

  4. may Allah Subhana watala grant brother Milanzie abundant blessings for sharing this knowlegde with us. indeed we need to use the Arabic name Masjid because we are not certain with the origin of Mosque.

    We need more of this kind of information from brothers and sisters out there so that we can get maximum benefit from this website.

    • Ameen … may Allah encourage us i n readig all articles published on this site without neglecting one, for we don't know in which one did Allah put one's blessings when they act upon what it says.

      • But still we have a lot of misconceptions that needs to be corrected. For example the mixture of Dhuhr and Jumuah Prayers, are some of the things we need to understand from the origin and how it came for other people to follow.

        • Insha'Allah we shall be taking profound researches on issues like these; we do not have time to sit and watch some people complicate our deen, we need to share what we have to overcome all false and correct erroneous convictions about any Islamic knowledge. Allah will ask us on the Day of Judgment how we spent our knowledge. Let's pray to have a soft tongue to answer to all the questions

  5. Thank you brother for this enlightening article. It is indeed advisable to stick to the original name than the derivatives. I believe there is no one who would prefer to be called by the interpretation of his name. Therefore it will be better for us muslims to be using terms that will avoid this confusion.

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