Minarets serve several functions. While they serve as a visual focal point, they are most commonly associated with the Muslim call to prayer (adhan). A minaret's fundamental structure consists of a base, a shaft, a cap, and a head. A towering spire with a conical or onion-shaped crown is typical. The term comes from Latin meaning "little mountain."
In medieval Europe, many churches had two towers: one to watch over the people below, the other to watch over the priest in his sanctuary above. Minarets were originally built on mosques designed by Arab architects for Arabs living under Islamic rule. They provide a clear view from many stories up for those who pray on the ground floor where the mosque exists. Because they are so visible, many people believe they must be powerful magnets for evil spirits. In fact, they have no magical properties but may symbolize faith in some countries.
There are three main types of minarets: free-standing, attached to a wall, and coiled. Free-standing minarets are the most common and can reach heights of more than 60 feet. They usually consist of a wooden base covered with dressed stone or brick, which provides support for the heavy metal mast that rises above it. The mast itself is often hollow, filled with air during construction to reduce weight and cost. It is here that the minaret's slender shaft begins.
The muezzin uses minarets, which are towers near or built into mosque structures, to shout out the adhan, which indicates that it is time to worship in Islam. The adhan is a call to prayer written out by the muezzin using a small horn called a zunnr. The word minaret comes from Persian meaning "a tower or spire."
Minarets were originally designed to be seen from far away, so that Muslims gathering early before daybreak would know when to pray. They continue to play an important role today, especially in countries where mosques have been targeted for destruction. Minarets serve as witnesses against those who want to destroy Islam's most sacred site. They also help guide Muslim prayers and act as a landmark for travelers.
There are several different types of minarets: straight, with many tiers; slightly curved, with only two or three tiers; or very curved, with only one tier. The more tiers there are, the higher the minaret is. A hook at the top can be used for storage or to hold an umbrella during rainstorms.
Straight minarets are the most common type and can range in height from around 30 feet to over 100 feet.
The beacon in Islamic religious architecture is the tower from which the devout are summoned to prayer five times a day by a muezzin, or crier. The call to prayer (adhan) was issued from the highest roof in the area of the mosque during the Prophet Muhammad's time. Today, it comes from a loudspeaker mounted on the wall of the minaret itself.
Inside a minaret you will always find a spiral staircase that leads up to an observation platform called a muqarnas. On early minarets, this was the only part open to the public, but now often there is also a small room where visitors can pray.
People have been building minarets for over 1,000 years. The first ones were made of wood and later ones used stone or brick. But whatever material they are made of, all minarets contain several parts: the base, the body, the drum, the upper section with the dome, and the antennae, which are usually made of metal.
In conclusion, a minaret is a tower built into a mosque that calls people to prayer. It is located near the front entrance of the mosque. Although not all mosques have a minaret, many do; they're especially common in the Middle East.