A mosque is a Muslim house of worship. According to salat, one of the five pillars of Islam, devout Muslims are required to pray five times a day. Although this prayer is permitted to be done from anywhere, many Muslims prefer to do so in a mosque.
At the mosque, prayers are usually led by an imam, or prayer leader. Most mosques have separate areas of worship for men and women. There are no pews or seats in a mosque. Instead, people sit and kneel on carpets arranged to face Mecca.
It is customary to wash oneself before prayer. Outside many mosques there is a fountain where the faithful ritually wash their hands, arms, face, and feet in an act known as wudu. This isn't just good hygiene; it also allows worshippers to enter into prayer in a spiritually clean state as well.
Many mosques house books related to Islamic dogma, law, tradition, and philosophy. These books, in addition to copies of the Koran, are available for study. It is common for mosques to host educational programs in which people read and discuss these texts and their ideas. Many mosques are also home to religious schools known as madrasahs.
Muslims can also go to mosques when they host community functions. Just like other houses of worship, mosques serve as community centers and can hold a number of functions for the congregation.