What are specific places of worship for Islam?
The most holy place of worship for Muslims is the city of Mecca. The mosque which houses the Kabba (a large black, stone cube) is the most sacred site in the world for Muslims. The Kabba is said to have been (re)built by Abraham as the very first mosque or house of worship. The Kabba and the city of Mecca are so important that when Muslim people perform their daily prayers, they do so facing the direction of this most holy place. At least once in a lifetime, Muslim people are required to make the hajj or pilgrimage to visit the Kabba.
On a more local level, Muslim people perform worship in a temple called the mosque or masjid. Most Muslims visit their local mosque at least once a week, and some visit for prayer multiple times a day. Worship in the mosque is in addition to prayer by oneself, and becomes especially important during holidays like Ramadan. The mosque itself is not just a religious building, it is also considered a community building. It is a place where the community can get to know and support each other.
When a Muslim person prays, it is typically done on a special rug to ensure that the space for prayer is clean. The use of this rug for prayer temporarily demarcates a sacred space for worship.
It is important to understand what worship means from an Islamic context in order to respond to this question. Often times, the definition of worship has been restricted to acts of prayer or fasting. However, according to Islam, the term worship has a holistic meaning and encompasses all aspects of a person’s life—be it economical, social, or political. The holistic approach means that there is no specific place designated for worship as Muslims are supposed to worship Allah all the time and everywhere in words as well as deeds.
If we analyze worship from a prayer perspective, the mosque is the prescribed place where prayers should be conducted. However, considering that people may not have access to mosques all the time, the mandatory prayers can be conducted from anywhere as long as the environment is clean and peaceful. The individual must first perform ablution (cleansing) then face in the direction of Mecca when conducting the prayer.