“If the God of revelation is most appropriately worshipped in the temple of religion, the God of nature may be equally honored in the temple of science. Even from its lofty minarets the philosopher may summon the faithful to prayer, and the priest and sage exchange altars without the compromise of faith or knowledge.” Sir David Brewster
Minarets are slender towers and are a significant feature of mosques. The minaret is surrounded by one or more galleries from where the muezzin, the one who calls for prayer, announces the prayer. This practice called adhan dates back to the second year of the Hijra (623-624 AD). Minarets differ in shape, size and form and its styles that are influenced by the region´s society, culture and context.
Scholars trace the origin of minarets to the Umayyad era (7th century AD) and say they were a copy of church towers found in Syria. However, others propose that minarets come from the ziggurats (massive structures shaped like terraced step pyramids) of Babylonian and Assyrian shrines in Mesopotamia. Before this time mosques didn´t have minarets and the call to prayer was done from any high point near the mosque. The call to prayer is done five times a day and is nowadays done through microphones and loudspeakers.
In some older mosques, minarets originally acted as illuminated watchtowers, the reason why the word comes from the Arabic word nur, meaning light. The oldest still standing minaret is the big square minaret of the Great Mosque of Kairouan in Tunisia, which was completed in 836 and reaches a height of 31.5 meters. The tallest minaret can be found at the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco and has a height of 210 meters.
a tall, thin tower of a mosque with a balcony from which the people are called to prayer (source: Merriam Webster).
The English minaret, Dutch minaret, Spanish minarete and Italian minareto come from French minaret, from Turkish minaret, a minaret, from Arabic منارة manarah, lamp/lighthouse/minaret, related to manar, candlestick, from nur, light.
Minaret in other languages:
Spanish: el minarete
Italian: il minareto