Jāmi' Mosque (Arabic: المَسْجِد الجامِع) is a mosque usually constructed by Muslims in the central parts of towns in which ritual ceremonies and worships—particular, the Friday Prayer—as well as political, social, and educational assemblies are held. According to hadiths, a Jami' Mosque is more virtuous and more sacred than other mosques. Thus, it is more rewarding to worship and say prayers there and it is more blameworthy to do wrong-doings there. According to some Shiite fuqaha (jurisprudents), in addition to the Four Mosques, it is permissible to practice I'tikaf only in a Jami' Mosque, and so it is not permissible to practice it in other mosques.
Reason for Appellation
The word, "jami' ", literally means one that assembles the parts and gathers them together. In Arabic, the adjectival phrase, "al-Masjid al-Jami' ", is used in which "al-Jami'" is an adjective for "al-Masjid" (mosque), as well as the genitive phrase of "Masjid al-Jami' " (mosque of jami' or assembly). The adjectival phrase means a mosque that assembles or gathers people for a ritual, such as congregational prayer or Friday Prayer. But the genitive phrase means a place for the assembly of Muslims at a certain time (for example, on Friday) or for a certain purpose. Some philologists, such as al-Farahidi, take the genitive phrase, "Masjid al-Jami' ", to be incorrect.
Also, a Jami' Mosque is referred to as "Jami' ", "Masjid al-Jama'a", "al-Masjid al-A'zam", and "Mosque of Friday". However, it should be noted that a Jami' Mosque is different from Musalla (a place around the town to perform the prayer of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr), "Masjid Kabir" (Great Mosque), and "Masjid A'zam" (The Greatest Mosque).
The construction of Jami' Mosques dates back to the construction of Masjid al-Nabi by the Prophet (s). When the city of Medina was developed and expanded, the Prophet (s) permitted the construction of other mosques in the city at the request of Muslims. They were known as local or tribal mosques. However, the main center of worships as well as political and social activities was Masjid al-Nabi.
The term, "al-Masjid al-Jami'", was used since the period of the second caliph. 'Umar ordered his rulers to construct only one mosque in areas under their rulership, preventing the performance of Friday Prayers in villages in order to preserve the unity of Muslims. In remarks transmitted from 'Umar as well as Imam al-Sadiq (a), the term, "al-Masjid al-Jami'", has been used. In the period of Imam 'Ali (a), the Mosque of Kufa was known as a Jami' Mosque.
Early Jami' Mosques
Early mosques which were known as Jami' Mosques were constructed in Basra and Kufa. In 14/635, 'Utba b. Ghazwan constructed the Jami' Mosque of Basra with straws and stems of plants. The Mosque of Kufa was built in 15/636 or 18/639. Also, in the 1st/7th century, Jami' Mosques of Mosul (20/640), Tikrit, Damascus, Homs (around 14/635), Egypt (21/641), North Africa, and Morocco (55/674), were founded. Some mosques were also built in Iran, including the Jami' Mosque of Tuj near to Kazerun at the command of 'Uthman b. Abi l-'As, an 'Umar-appointed ruler.
In early centuries, every town usually had its own Jami' Mosque in order to be a manifestation of the unity among people and their connection to the government. When the populations grew and there was not enough space in mosques, the rulers developed the main mosques in towns, and until the middle of the 2nd/8th century, one Friday Prayer was held in every town, such as Medina, Mecca, Kufa, Baghdad, Basra, Fustat, and Damascus. From the 2nd/8th century onwards, two or more Jami' Mosques were built in some cities, such as Merv, Baghdad, and Cairo.
Virtues and Rulings
According to some sources, it is more rewarding and virtuous to say one's prayer in a Jami' Mosque than in a local or a market mosque. In the manners of reciting supplications, a Jami' Mosque is ranked after 'Arafat, the Ka'ba, and the shrines of Ahl al-Bayt (a).
From a jurisprudential point of view, there are differences between the rulings of a Jami' Mosque and those of usual mosques. For example, the consequences of swearing in a Jami' Mosque are more remarkable, and actions leading to ta'zir (discretionary punishment) are more strongly punished if they are done in a Jami' Mosque. However, the most important jurisprudential difference between a Jami' Mosque and a usual one is with respect to I'tikaf. Some Shiite jurisprudents believe that I'tikaf is only permissible in the Four Mosques as well as a Jami' Mosque, maintaining that it is not permissible to perform I'tikaf in a usual non-Jami' mosque. Such jurisprudents include al-Muhaqqiq al-Karaki, al-Muqaddas al-Ardabili, al-Muhaqqiq al-Sabzawari, Sahib al-Jawahir, and Sayyid Kazim al-Yazdi. They appeal to hadiths according to which I'tikaf is only permissible in the Four Mosques and Jami' Mosques.
The Naming of Jami' Mosques
Jami' Mosques are usually named after the city or town in which they are located, their founders, well-known scholars, the tribes, and the like. Most Jami' Mosques are named after the cities in which they are located, such as Jami' Mosques of Basra, Kufa, Isfahan, Rey, Damascus, Fustat, and Kairouan. However, in cities where a number of Jami' Mosques were built, each of them has its own name. For example, in Baghdad, the Jami' Mosque built by al-Mansur al-'Abbasi was named "Jami' al-Madina", and the one built by al-Mahdi al-'Abbasi was named "Jami' al-Rassafa". Some of them were named after their founders who were mostly rulers and governmental officials, such as the Jami' Mosques of Ibn Tulun, Hakim, Mansur, and Sultan in Baghdad. Also, some Jami' Mosques are named after a dynasty, a household, or a tribe of people, such as the Umawi Jami' Mosque of Damascus. In some cases, a Jami' Mosque is named after the district, the bazar, the bridge or the court near to them.
Expenses and Sources of Incomes
The construction of a Jami' Mosque required remarkable costs which could not be afforded by ordinary people. Thus, most of the Jami' Mosque were built with the support of Caliphs, members of monarchial courts, Sultans, and governmental officials. Also, the annual expenses of the maintenance of Jami' Mosques were covered by the treasury (bayt al-mal). Abu Nu'aym al-Isfahani reported that the expenses of the Yahudiyya Jami' Mosque as well as the Jami' Mosque of Isfahan were recorded in the bureau of taxes until the caliphate of al-Mahdi al-'Abbasi, and it included the salaries of the supervisor, mu'adhdhins, the expenses of carpets, and lighting.
The financial support of Jami' Mosques by the wealthy and the treasury led to the dependence of these mosques on persons and governments, and thus, they were susceptible to political and economic developments. In later periods, the founders of Jami' Mosques endowed certain properties and money to Jami' Mosque to keep them independent of persons and governments and protect them against political and economic developments.
Administration of Jami' Mosques
A Jami' Mosque was usually administered by the Caliph or his representatives. Early caliphs recited sermons and performed Friday Prayers in Jami' Mosques. In later periods, caliphs usually assigned other people with the supervision of Jami' Mosques and the holding of Friday Prayers, and they only attended certain rituals, such as Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr. Caliphs usually assigned the administration of Jami' Mosques to a religious scholar, a judge, or a vizier. They appointed Imams of Friday Prayers at Jami' Mosque through an order.
During the Abbasid caliphate, the selection and appointment of Imams of Friday Prayers in provinces of the Abbasid realm were undertaken by rulers and emirs. Also, separate orders were issued to judges or religious scholars with respect to the endowments of Jami' Mosques. After the Abbasid caliphate, a king or his deputy undertook the tasks of a caliph in appointing Imams of Friday Prayers in important mosques. In the government of Muhammad 'Ali Pasha, the supervision of Jami' Mosques were left to religious scholars.
The Building and Facilities
Jami' Mosques were hallmarks of Islamic cities and they were usually constructed near Dar al-Imara (House of Emirate) and bazars in city centers. In some cities, such as Damascus, Fustat, Isfahan, and Balkh, Jami' Mosques were built in the middle of bazars. Some authors take the adjacency of Jami' Mosques and bazars to be a symbol for the interaction between the mundane world and the afterlife in ordinary lives of Muslims.
Jami' Mosques have been examples of Islamic architectures, and their architectural parts include ma'dhana, minaret, courtyard, portico, minbar, mihrab, and maqsura (an enclosure). The construction of minarets and maqsuras dates back to 1st/7th century. Some Jami' Mosques had other parts as well; for example, the Jami' Mosque of Ibn Tulun included a pharmacy as well, or the Jami' Mosques of Sana'a, Kairouan, Damascus, and Merv had libraries too.
Distinguishing marks of Jami' Mosques (in comparison to ordinary mosques) have been their political, administrative, social, and educational functions.
Jami' Mosques were the only places in which rulers and people gathered together. The first official speech by a caliph or a sultan after coming to the throne was delivered in the city's Jami' Mosque. For example, after people pledged their allegiance to him, Imam al-Hasan (a) went to the Mosque of Kufa and delivered a sermon. And after the Battle of Jamal, Imam 'Ali (a) ordered people to gather in the Jami' Mosque of Basra for three days to hold congregational prayers.
Rulers also delivered their first speeches in Jami' Mosques of cities as soon as they entered centers of their rulership. Also, in critical times, such as times of wars, the caliph went to the Jami' Mosque and delivered a sermon to inflame people's religious emotions and mobilize them.
Governments usually gave public notifications through Jami' Mosques. For example, people were notified of the appointment orders of new rulers, letters of victories, agreements, and governmental charters in Jami' Mosques. Also, the appointment orders of the Head of Judges and official orders of religious policies were announced in Jami' Mosques. Some public ceremonies of the announcement of caliphate or sultanate, such as the giveaway of dirhams and dinars and the wearing of the samite, occurred in Jami' Mosques as well.
In political crises and changes of governmental systems, the first reactions were usually exhibited in Jami' Mosques. Also, many demands from governments, protests, statements, and even some anti-governmental movements as well as political and social riots occurred in Jami' Mosques.
Masjid al-Nabi was the center of the Prophet's (s) government where he dealt with administrative, financial, and judicial affairs of Muslims. Later when Dar al-Imara (House of Emirate), Dar al-Khilafa (House of Caliphate) and bureaus were constructed, many administrative affairs were transferred to them. However, judicial affairs still took place in Jami' Mosques. Imam 'Ali (a) adjudicated cases in the Mosque of Kufa. Judicial meetings were also held in Jami' Mosques of Qurtuba (Córdoba), 'Amr 'As, and Basra.
There was a place in Jami' Mosques where the money and property of orphans, as well as those of the mosque, were kept. The Jami' Mosque of 'Amr 'As was a place to keep the treasury for a while.
Rituals, ceremonies, and religious mourning were held in Jami' Mosques. Sometimes, Eid Prayer, Istisqa' Prayer, and Funeral Prayer for well-known scholars and high-ranking governmental officials were held in Jami' Mosques. Jami' Mosques were centers of the congregation of people on religious occasions, such as the Nights of Qadr.
Other social activities of Jami' Mosques included the handling of the affairs of people in need, catastrophe-stricken people, and destitute travelers.
Jami' Mosques were the oldest educational institutes for Islamic disciplines. Official meetings of teachings and discussions in Jami' Mosques were known as "halqa" (circle) and "majlis" (session). In well-known Jami' Mosques, such as the Mosque of Damascus, every teacher taught in a part of the mosque which was known as "zawiya" (corner). In the Umawi Jami' Mosque of Damascus, academic circles of the Four Sunni Sects were held, with each sect having its own corner of the mosque. There were also circles for teaching the Qur'an. According to Ibn al-Jawzi, Ibn Tahir had held nearly 1000 meetings for the dictation of hadiths in the Jami' Mosque of Nishapur, and Abu l-Qasim al-Talhi held 3000 meetings in the Jami' Mosque of Isfahan.
It was also common to circulate and dictate poems in Jami' Mosques. Di'bil b. 'Ali al-Khuza'i recited his Qasida Ta'iyya in the Jami' Mosque of Qom. In the Jami' Mosque of 'Amr 'As, there was a place for literary meetings known as "Qubbat al-Shu'ara" (the Dome of Poets) or "Qubbat al-Shi'r" (the Dome of Poetry).
Public educations were also held in Jami' Mosques for purposes of propagations or preaching. However, with the development of schools in Islamic territories, educational activities of mosques declined.
Educational Activities of Imamiyya
According to Fayyad, governments supervised the activities of Jami' Mosques, and thus, they prevented serious activities of Imami scholars there. Educational circles were held by Imam 'Ali (a) in the Mosque of Kufa, and by Imam al-Sajjad (a), Imam al-Baqir (a), and Imam al-Sadiq (a) in Masjid al-Nabi. The Shiite held discussion and fatwa meetings in some Jami' Mosques though with fear, tawriya and taqiyya. However, in the Buyid period when the rulers supported the Shiite, some prominent Shiite scholars held educational circles in Jami' Mosques. For example, Ibn 'Uqda held a meeting of hadith-dictation in the Jami' Mosque of Rassafa as well as the Jami' Mosque of Buratha.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from مسجد جامع in Farsi WikiShia.