The difference between a mosque and a temple.

Questions of religion are probably some of the most difficult and controversial in our history. And although the essence of all the main religions known to human civilization comes down, in general, to one goal - to do good and to be a Man, the attributes, rituals and ceremonies that accompany them may outwardly differ significantly. For example, even places of prayer (mosques, synagogues, temples), where believers of different religions gather, are not at all similar to each other.

We will not go into complex religious issues. But it is entirely within our power to explain how a mosque differs from a temple. This question often arises both on the Internet and in everyday communication. Many surmise that there is some difference between these two "houses of prayer", but what it is, they absolutely do not know. Let's try to fill this gap.


Historical background

Temple is the common name for prayer places in the Christian religion. The early Christians could not build separate buildings for joint worship. As we know, Christianity originated during the pagan Roman Empire and was severely persecuted by local and higher authorities. Therefore, the services were held in secret and often in places that were not suitable for this. For example, the fact of the administration of Christian rituals in the catacombs is widely known - this is how underground burials were called in those distant times. By the way, they were widespread not only in the enlightened Roman Empire, but also in the "barbarian" East, where the first followers of Christ were also disliked, rightly seeing them as a threat to local cults.

Roman laws considered the burial dungeons inviolable, and therefore they were little visited. Just walking around the cemetery, as is customary in our times, was considered by the Romans to be an extremely unethical act. Therefore, there was no better place for illegal meetings of adherents of the new religion.

Christianity gained recognition in the 4th century AD. The official date can be called 313 AD. e., when Emperor Constantine the Great gave the go-ahead for the legalization of the young religion. After that, not immediately, but rather quickly, the construction of official Christian churches began throughout the Roman state. This is a brief history of the emergence of churches and the development of norms of behavior in them among Christians.


The first "legal" temples were in the shape of an elongated quadrangle, where columns were the main design element. Later, Christianity spread to the whole of Western Europe, broke up into different currents - accordingly, various architectural styles of the construction of the "Houses of God" and some differences in the conduct of religious services arose.

Given that Russia is more of an Orthodox country, we decided to first focus on describing the architecture of an Orthodox church (church):

  • have a different shape, but must correspond to any Christian symbol. For example, the appearance of an eight-pointed star represents the sign of the star of Bethlehem.
  • Symmetrical arrangement along the central axis.
  • The middle of the temple is made in a cubic shape.
  • The structure of the temple consists of three interconnected rooms - the temple itself, the vestibule and the altar.
  • At least one dome is required. In fact, there can be a lot of domes, and their number is strictly symbolic. For example, on Trinity Hill there is the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, made of wood and crowned with 33 domes according to the number of earthly years of Christ. Domes also differ in shape (helmet or bulb) and color - again, all in strict accordance with certain religious symbols.
  • The tops of the domes are crowned with a cross - it is different in shape among Orthodox Christians and Catholics, but the essence of this symbol is the same - a crucifixion.
  • Another essential element of any temple is the bell tower. Its main purpose is to call a Christian to prayer. Also used in various emergencies (fires, natural disasters, epidemics, enemy invasion) or during religious holidays. Available in all Christian churches, regardless of faith.
  • Facades, interiors are decorated with arches, niches. Window openings are narrow.
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  • The altar in the church faces east as a sign that "Divine Light is emanating from there." You can go to the altar from three entrances: through the doors of the iconostasis (north and south) and through the main entrance - the so-called Royal Gates, located opposite the Altar, the most important part of the altar.
  • Outwardly, Orthodox churches look elegant, but no frills. However, the interior decoration of even a relatively poor church amazes with its rich appearance, abundance of gilding and silver, expensive materials, as well as magnificent murals.

We talked about the main features of the architecture of Orthodox churches. But, by and large, the system of arrangement of all Christian churches is almost the same, with the exception of some non-fundamental differences.

Rituals and behavior

What can and cannot be done in the temple? What norms of behavior have been developed over almost 17 centuries of the official existence of Christian churches? There are general rules that are the same for all cults of service - both for Christians with Muslims, and for Jews with Brahmins: you must not drink, smoke, use foul language, show disrespect to others and directly to the place of service. However, then the differences begin. Let us list some of the basic norms of behavior characteristic of Christian holy houses, as well as the procedure for conducting worship. Let's go directly to this very architecture.


The external differences between mosques are mainly associated with the historical development of the Islamic world. The earliest style in the architecture of mosques includes the first prayer buildings in the Arab East, which derived a lot from the local building flavor. By the way, scientists believe that the appearance of some of the elements (domes, roundness of lines, arches, etc.) of the first mosques was inspired by the Byzantine culture.

The Ottoman Empire made a significant contribution to the appearance of these places of worship. In particular, the central dome (above the prayer hall) appeared exactly there, during the period of the spread of Turkish influence throughout the Middle East.

In general, we can say that each historical era that has taken place since the first mosque appeared, left a noticeable mark in the style of these buildings. However, the common elements are easily recognizable and are present to one degree or another in most mosques. We will briefly list them:

  • The forms of the mosque are varied - from a triangular, square appearance to a multi-level and multi-angled structure, reminiscent of some kind of airy fantastic palace. However, most of the mosques have a square or polygonal outline.
  • Thin towers flying up into the air are minarets. Originally used as lighthouses (a fire was lit inside) and an observation post for protection, then they passed into complete submission to spiritual authority and became the place from where the muezzin calls believers to prayer.
  • The number of minarets can be any. Muslims do not have any regulations on this matter. For example, in one of the most important shrines of Islam, the Al-Haram mosque, there are 9 of them. And somewhere they may be absent altogether.
  • On the minarets and domes there is a symbolic sign of the crescent - the roots of its origin go back to the Ottoman Empire.
  • Walls encircling the entire mosque along the perimeter.
  • Vaulted halls (ayvans) with three walls with a roof. Volumetric wall niches are also called.
  • In a typical mosque there is a main hall, necessarily overlooking Mecca, 3 auxiliary halls and 4 ayvans.
  • Prayer niche (mihrab), where the direction to Mecca is indicated on the inner wall.
  • The inner courtyard is sahn (Arabic), around which all kinds of rooms are located, and in the center, as a rule, there is a small fountain.
  • The Koran prohibits the use of images of humans and animals, therefore the walls of mosques are covered with intricate script - arabesques. They inspire admiration for their harmonious beauty and painstaking work of the artist who created them.
  • The presence of large and small domes. Large domes are located above the main prayer hall and above the main trading floor, while smaller domes cover small retail spaces.
  • Great importance is attached to the appearance of the mosque. All kinds of balconies, arches and windows of various shapes, ramps, columns and other architectural delights are present in huge numbers in all more or less significant mosques in the world. However, this is not a senseless decoration, but a well-thought-out structure of a religious building - each, even the smallest detail, carries a symbolic-semantic or useful load.
  • In the halls where prayer is performed, there are no pieces of furniture, everything looks, so to speak, Spartan, although thanks to the interior decoration, the arabesques on the walls of the room look quite elegant and not poor. Still, simplicity is emphasized and comes first.

Now let's talk about how one should behave in a mosque and how a service is conducted there.


General rules of conduct in Muslim prayer places are similar to those in Christian churches:

  • not defiant;
  • one must not make noise, scandal, talk loudly;
  • clothing must be covered;
  • you must not smoke, come drunk or under the influence of drugs;
  • One should be in a calm, peaceful state.

However, there are differences, and quite significant ones:

  • One should come to prayer clean. There are two types of ablution - full (gusul) and small (taharat). Any mosque has a special room for a taharat. If you need to commit a gusul, you should go to the bathhouse or take a full bath before visiting the mosque.
  • Crossing the threshold of the mosque is allowed only with the right foot. In this case, it is necessary to pronounce certain words.
  • Entering the mosque, the believer should say hello: "As-salamu alaykum (Peace be upon you!)". Even if there is no one in it, a greeting is mandatory - it is believed that angels are always present here.
  • Parishioners of Muslim temples take off their shoes before prayer, leaving them in special places or lockers, the floor in the mosque is covered with carpets.
  • Alms are given with the right hand and accompanied by a wish spoken to oneself. The one who accepts alms also does it with his right hand, saying in his soul: "Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim (in the name of Allah the Merciful and the Most Merciful)."
  • Women cannot come to the mosque when they are “unclean” (critical days).
  • A person who is going to go to a mosque should not emit a strong smell, such as strong perfume, onions or garlic. You can come only when there is no smell. This is what the Prophet Muhammad said.
  • People with mental disorders are not allowed to visit Muslim temples.
  • They leave the mosque with their left foot, saying the phrase: "Allah, forgive my sins."
  • The above rules must be adhered to by all visitors to a Muslim temple - regardless of their religion and purpose of visit.


Departure of service in the Muslim world is also very different from Christian rituals:

  • Namaz (prayer) among Muslims is carried out 5 times a day at the exact time allotted for this. Namaz lasts 5-10 minutes, during which any extraneous movements not related to prayer are prohibited. The beginning of the prayer, or rather the invitation to it, is reported from the minaret by a special minister - a muezzin. An obligatory prayer is Friday prayer (Juma prayer), at noon. All adult men are required to attend it, in order to miss it, a very good reason is needed.
  • Prayer consists of pronouncing certain suras (chapters) from the Quran. Such a prayer is read in Arabic.
  • Poses during prayer are strictly defined and regulated by raakat (a structural unit of namaz), there are six of them, starting with standing up and ending with bowing to the ground. In addition to spiritual renewal, these postures have physical health benefits. For each of the 5 daily prayers, there is a certain amount of raakat.
  • As a rule, Muslims bring with them to prayer a clean "sajjad" rug, on which they sit while reading the sacred lines of the Koran.
  • During prayer, men and women stand separately and fenced off from each other, or women are in a different room (in large mosques). Moreover, a visit to a mosque is not necessary for a woman - she can perform namaz at home or in any place suitable for this.
  • Before prayer, believers line up behind the imam (priest) in strict rows. All faces should be turned towards the Muslim shrine - Mecca, where the heart of Islam is located, its main sanctuary, the Kaaba. In the mosque, this direction is given by the mihrab (see above), near which is located (on the right) the minbar - the place, the tribune, from where the sermon is conducted.


Above we have collected a fairly extensive material about the temples of the Islamic and Christian religions. Naturally, there is no need to talk about a full-fledged analysis of this issue due to the limited volume of the article and the vastness of the topic described. We have briefly covered the main facts, and even then not all of them. However, even this little knowledge will be quite enough to not get into a mess and feel confident both in the church and in the mosque.

In order to finally consolidate what we have read, we will create a comparative table in which we will arrange the information in a logical series.

Temple Mosque
Place for prayer and other rituals related to faithA place for prayer plus serves as a social and social center
of at least three connected rooms: a temple, a narthex, an altarIn a typical mosque there are more rooms: the main hall, 3 auxiliary halls and 4 ayvans
The upper sign of any church, temple - a crossThe mosques also have their own sign - a crescent
Holidays, illnesses, wars, natural disasters, solemn and sad events - the bell of a Christian church can tell about all thisThere are no bell towers in the mosque. There is a minaret. He does not have any special devices for addressing believers. This is done by the muezzin, having climbed to its upper platform. Its main purpose is to inform about the imminent beginning of prayer. Today, in many mosques of the world, the voice of the muezzin is recorded on a tape recorder and voice acting through amplifiers
The altar in the temple looks strictly to the eastMecca, that is, not on the side of the world
Rich decoration inside the temple. In many churches, the main church premises are richly decorated with gold and silver decorationsSimplicity, minimalism are the primary signs of the interior furnishings of mosques
Many icons depicting Christ, angels, apostles, etc. There are images of mythical and real animalsThe complete absence of any images of human faces or bodies, as well as animals. It is prohibited
Painting the walls and ceilings of the temple with scenes from various biblical scenesOnly Arabic script and calligraphy with excerpts from the Koran
All rooms in the temple are standard (4 walls and a ceiling)Three-walled ayvans with or without a roof are important elements of the mosque
Some temples have decorative fountains designed mainly for beauty or maximum to quench your thirst and rinse your facePatio with a fountain, the presence of special rooms for ablution, where you can fully wash before prayer
Requirements for believers
Women stand separately from men, but are not separated by anythingHere women are separated from men by a partition (screen) or even are in a different room
Women and men come to the service with equal rights clearly - in this regard, there are no gender differences among ChristiansThe requirements for men are stricter than for women. A man should, if possible, attend a mosque (especially for Friday prayer). There are a number of restrictions for women, for example, on critical days it is generally forbidden to come to the mosque
A believer can eat garlic and go to services. Of course, this is not entirely cultural, but it is not forbidden. A strong-smelling perfume is also not welcome, but it is quite acceptableYou cannot go to prayer with a strong or unpleasant odor. And by the way, this is one of the legitimate reasons why you can even skip the obligatory Friday prayer
Come in and pray immediately after hard work, rinsing only your hands (and even then not always), not considered shameful or blatant. Although it cannot be said that this is approvedOnly clean people are allowed to enter the mosque. If there is no way to wash outside its walls, then in every typical Muslim temple there is at least a fountain where this necessary ritual should be performed
The Christian Church is quite loyal to mentally unhealthy people when they visit the templeBelievers with mental disabilities are prohibited from entering the mosque
The church does not pay attention to whether you have shoes on or not. The main thing is that it should be more or less cleanMuslims must take off their shoes in the mosque
Conducting the clergy
The beginning of the liturgy (divine service, priestly service, service) is announced by a bellInstead of a bell, Muslims are invited to prayer by a muezzin from the top of the minaret
Christian services are held 3 times a day, and the countdown begins at 18:00 and lasts, as a rule, 1.5-2 hours. The time can significantly increase when celebratory prayers are celebratedPrayer (namaz) among Muslims is performed 5 times a day. The duration of prayer is on average 5-10 minutes. An exception is the Juma Namaz, which is mandatory for men, which takes place on Fridays. It goes about 1 hour or a little more
During the service, Christians generally stand and / or sit. There are other poses for worshipers, but here a lot depends on the belonging of the temple to a particular branch of the Christian religion, as well as on the type of worship. There are many differences in this matterIn mosques, the postures of the worshipers are strictly regulated by prayer and all body positions are applied. These rules are the same for all Muslims. By the way, there is no sitting on benches, as is customary in many Christian churches, at all
When the service is going on, the parishioners are in front of the priest. The face of worshipers is turned to the eastBelievers pray, sitting behind the back of the imam, facing towards Mecca

The unity of opposites

We have given the main architectural the peculiarities of these "houses of prayer" and the differences between them (sometimes global), and also tried to give a brief description of their non-material content, so to speak. However, as we already mentioned at the very beginning of the article, it is not important what is the difference between a mosque and a temple - what is important is their spiritual essence. And she, in the end, is the same and encourages us to go to the light and pure, and even if this path is long and thorny, the main thing is not to retreat and not turn, and then we will definitely reach.