The Qur’an’s Take on the term “Mosque”

Someone on Twitter who goes by the handle “Counterwording” constantly tweets, “Did you know that Park51 [new name for the center] is not a mosque…?” [Bracket Mine.] This person claims that the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero would not be a mosque. I wonder if “Counterwording” knows what a mosque is. The word “mosque” is derived from Arabic word “masjid,” which means a “place of worship.” Why would this person argue the proposed center couldn’t be classified as a mosque? It is not like Muslims would not be worshiping there at least five times a day. The term “mosque” is not exclusive to a Muslims’ place of worship. In Suratul Al-Isra, chapter 17 of the Qur’an, verse 1 and 7, Allah said:

YUSUFALI: Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things).

PICKTHAL: Glorified be He Who carried His servant by night from the Inviolable Place of Worship to the Far distant place of worship the neighbourhood whereof We have blessed, that We might show him of Our tokens! Lo! He, only He, is the Hearer, the Seer.

SHAKIR: Glory be to Him Who made His servant to go on a night from the Sacred Mosque to the remote mosque of which We have blessed the precincts, so that We may show to him some of Our signs; surely He is the Hearing, the Seeing.

YUSUFALI: If ye did well, ye did well for yourselves; if ye did evil, (ye did it) against yourselves. So when the second of the warnings came to pass, (We permitted your enemies) to disfigure your faces, and to enter your Temple as they had entered it before, and to visit with destruction all that fell into their power.

PICKTHAL: (Saying): If ye do good, ye do good for your own souls, and if ye do evil, it is for them (in like manner). So, when the time for the second (of the judgments) came (We roused against you others of Our slaves) to ravage you, and to enter the Temple even as they entered it the first time, and to lay waste all that they conquered with an utter wasting.

SHAKIR: If you do good, you will do good for your own souls, and if you do evil, it shall be for them. So when the second promise came (We raised another people) that they may bring you to grief and that they may enter the mosque as they entered it the first time, and that they might destroy whatever they gained ascendancy over with utter destruction.

In these verses, a Jewish temple—not a Muslim place of worship—was called a “mosque” during the time of Prophet Muhammad.

Muslims in minority Muslim countries sometimes refer to their mosques as Islamic centers. A mosque doesn’t have to have a minaret to qualify as a mosque. The proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero, even with additional facilities and without a minaret, is a mosque. “Counterwording” should stop playing with words.