As well as providing a visual
cue to a Muslim community, the main function of
the minaret is to provide a vantage point from which the call to
prayer is made. The call to prayer is issued five times each day:
dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and night. In most modern mosques,
the adhan is called from the musallah, or prayer
hall, via microphone to a speaker system on the minaret. (Wiki)
"When Islam was
revealed in the early seventh century, Jews called the
faithful to prayer with the shofar (ram’s horn) and Christians
used a bell or a wooden gong or clacker. Indeed, the sound of a
bell wafting in the breeze from a distant monastery is a frequent
image in pre-Islamic and early Islamic poetry. In this context,
we can well understand how ‘Abd Allah ibn Zayd, one
of the Prophet’s companions, dreamt that he saw someone calling
the Muslims to prayer from the roof of the mosque. After he told
the Prophet about his dream, Muhammad recognized it as
a vision from God and instructed Bilal, an Abyssinian
freedman and early convert to Islam, "Rise, Bilal, and summon
all to prayer!" Bilal, who was known for his beautiful voice,
did so, thereby becoming the first muezzin. (The
word muezzin comes from the Arabic mu’adhdhin,
or "one who gives the adhan.")"
The Minaret Symbol of Faith & Power Written
by Jonathan M. Bloom
March/April 2002 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.
Read more about Bilal
in The Culture of Gnaoua
The Gnoua Brotherhood (Sidna
Bilal) reside in the Zaouia, which
is located in the west part of the medina, Bni Antar.
Locate all the
Zaouias in the Medina
Balls on the minaret
The spire of the minaret ( a Yamur*) includes gilded copper balls, decreasing in size towards the top, which is a traditional style of Morocco.
If you ask people a common explanation is that 3 balls on top means that
there is a Friday prayers service, but .......
The origin of the balls on the minaret have different explanations and meanings which the oldest is from the Giralda mosque in Seville Spain, AD 1184–98.
In 1195, al-Mansur won a great victory against the forces of King Alfonso VIII in the Battle of Alarcos. To celebrate his triumph, he ordered four enormous gilded bronze balls – called “apples” – to be placed on the very top of the minaret. The metal balls were graduated in size, with the smallest at the top and the largest at the bottom. Their precise significance is not known, but three similar balls sit atop the minaret of the Kutubiyyah mosque in Marrakech, the largest of them two meters (six and a half feet) in diameter. The ones on the Giralda were much larger, but the exact dimensions are unknown, for they fell to the ground during an earthquake in 1356 and were smashed. King Alfonso the Wise, writing in the 13th century, says that the largest one, whose surface was divided into twelve deep “channels,” was so immense that a gate had to be widened when it was brought into the city. All four were plated with gold under the supervision of the chief treasurer and in the presence of the caliph. They were then wrapped in soft cotton bast to protect them during handling.
Normally mosques have only three balls, representing Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, from smallest to largest, from earliest to latest or the most important prophets of Islam: Moses, Jesus Christ and Muhammad.
Another legend says they represent the different worlds in which the islamic divinity is made known (terrestrial, celestial and spiritual).
The existence of ÿâmûr responded not only to reasons of a spiritual nature, since with the different spheres that ascended to heaven and according to their size in decreasing sense, the different worlds in which Allah makes himself known (dunia, mulk) , yabarut).
Other explanations are that they represent the three major Arab mosques (holy sites of Islam) – Kaaba,The Al Haram Mosque in Mecca, the Prophet Mosque in Medina and the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem (Al Quds), while for others, they honour the three elements of life ig. Water, Air and Fire or that the three golden balls, guarded in the town was to protect it from any upcoming army, with their mysterious and immense power.
Another saying is that the golden balls would be under the power of different genies to protect them from theft.
Also, they were sometimes used as talismans: this was said to be that the one in the al-Qarawiyyin mosque in Fez was made of brass, in which there were apples, and which was said to prevent snakes from entering. Leon the African refers to the magical atmosphere that existed around the balls of the yâmûr, when describing the minaret of the mosque in the Alcazaba of Marrakesh, which the people did not consent to remove, for estimating their suppression of evil omen.
The Koutoubia mosque in Marrakech
There are multiple legends about the four balls in gilded copper on top of the Koutounia mosque. One such legend states that the globes were originally made of pure gold, and there were at one time only three of them, the fourth having been donated by the wife of Yaqub al-Mansur as penance for breaking her fast for three hours one day during Ramadan(or ...in penance for eating three grapes before sundown during Ramadan). She had her golden jewelry melted down to form the fourth globe. Another version of the legend is that the balls were originally made entirely of gold fashioned from the jewellery of the wife of Saadian Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur. When the gold balls was replaced with brass balls nobody seems to now.
of the Ben Youssef mosque.
The minaret is topped with 3
copper balls of decreasing size,
a traditional design in Morocco.
But there are also minarets with 4 balls as
The Mosque Haha Rahala (6)
There is a flag pole next to the copper balls forming the spire, which is used for hoisting the religious green flag of the Prophet, which the muezzin does every Friday and on religious occasions.
Yamur* (a jamur)
A yamur, in Islamic architecture, is the auction in which the minaret of a mosque usually ends, composed of a vertical metal bar where some balls or apples were inserted, usually of gilt bronze and in a decreasing size from bottom to top, finished in a half moon.
The most common number of balls is three, although there are also two or four and can be bronze, copper or brass. The yamur serves at the same time as a decorative element and as an apotropaic element to protect the mosque.
yâmûr (according to the Moroccan dialectal Arabic, yâmûr means "end of the ship's mast", an expression on the other hand disapproved by the Arabists who find the word al-qabb as correct).
The yâmûr consisted of a vertical iron bar, well secured in the dome that covered the pavilion or edicule raised on the terrace of the minaret, in which one, two, three or four spheres of copper, bronze or brass, of decreasing size from bottom to top, gold and silver. Between them were placed sleeves of the same metal, the bar or mast used to end in another metallic ornament.