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Mihrab (ألمحراب pl. محاريب) is a niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla, i.e. the direction of Kaaba that Muslims should face when praying. The wall is called the qibla wall. The mihrab gives the impression of a door or a passage to Mecca. They vary in size but are usually ornately decorated. Mihrabs first appeared in the reign of the Umayyad khalif al-Walid I (705715).

The etymology of the term is not finally clarified. The root might be حرب, "to fight" or "lead to war". As a noun it might be derived from "war", حرب and حربة , "lance". محراب is defined as a battlefield, in the sense jihād an-nafs (i.e. the fight against your own soul). Some say that it is also a word from Ethiopian or Hebrew חרבה, hurbah (beer) with a vague connection to the purchase to buildings.

See also: minbar

Last updated: 02-08-2005 16:08:11
Last updated: 03-18-2005 11:16:12