The Muslim house of worship is called a mosque, a term that comes from the Arabic word masjed. This word is based on the Arabic root S-J-D, which conveys the sense of “bowing down” or “prostration,” so the mosque is a place where one bows down and prostrates in prayer.
Most mosques are open for the five daily prayers, as well as at other times for administrative or community needs. While it is not required to perform every prayer in a mosque, many Muslims prefer to gain the benefit and reward of worshiping in a congregation whenever possible. Muslims may also choose to pray at home, in their office, outdoors, or in any other clean location.
When entering a mosque, worshipers and visitors alike are expected to remove their shoes. This is to keep the prayer area clean of soil and dirt that may be tracked in. In both mosques and homes, Muslims often designate an area for prayer and cover the floor with a small decorative prayer rug to ensure cleanliness.
Due to the strict prohibition against any form of idolatry or anything that might lead to it, one will never find pictures or statues at a Muslim place of worship. The room used for prayer (called a musalla) is often empty and spacious, with carpets on the floor.
If it is decorated, one will find only calligraphy inscriptions or arabesque designs on the walls or ceiling. The Muslim injunction against certain forms of art and the development of its unique artistry is discussed further later.