Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Islam A niche in the wall of a mosque or a room in the mosque that indicates the direction of Mecca.
  • n. Islam A niche design in the middle of a Muslim prayer rug, pointed toward Mecca during worship.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a niche in a mosque, that indicates the qibla (direction of Mecca), and into which the imam prays
  • n. a design in a Muslim prayer mat with the same function

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • A niche, or sometimes merely a decorated slab, in one of the interior walls of a mosque, marking the direction of Mecca, to which the faithful ought to turn in prayer, In the niche a copy of the Koran is usually, kept, and in front of it the imam stands when he leads the congregation in prayer.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (Islam) a niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the direction of Mecca
  • n. (Islam) a design in the shape of niche in a Muslim prayer rug; during worship the niche must be pointed toward Mecca

Etymologies

Arabic miḥrāb, probably from Old South Arabian mḥrb, part of a temple, from ḥrb, to fight, perform a certain ritual in a temple; see ḥrb in Semitic roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Arabic محراب (miḥrāb) (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Though he was so ignorant still of eastern lore, that he hardly knew the meaning of the word mihrab, the arched recess looking towards Mecca, in the Mosque of the lawyer-saint Aboul

    The Golden Silence

  • What a mihrab means to the Wahhabists, the Khomeini-ists and the other Salafists explained the meaning of a Mecca-direction indicator (called a mihrab), like the one now being planted on the Flight 93 crash site:

    Error Theory

  • In the last moments of his life he put on a girdle and seated himself in the "mihrab" [19] of the mosque.

    Mystics and Saints of Islam

  • explained the meaning of a Mecca-direction indicator (called a mihrab), like the one now being planted on the Flight 93 crash site:

    A Defending Crusader...

  • The "mihrab" designed above reflecting pool as a foreground of the inner-wall and yet to give the sense of floating to the "imam".

    Recently Uploaded Slideshows

  • Unfortunately, the orientation of the new Almohad mosque was not quite right - the focal point in a mosque, indicated by the mihrab, or prayer niche, should be in the direction of Mecca, and it was discovered to be off.

    Richard Bangs: Why Would Anyone Bomb Jemaa El F'na Square in Marrakesh?

  • But the ceramics are not far behind, a feast of shimmering lusterware, deep turquoise stonepaste, and a plethora of blue-and-white works that include the 14th-century prayer niche—or mihrab—that visitors to the old galleries will remember.

    The Many Paths Toward an Islamic Aesthetic

  • It's clear that the museum is also aiming for greater sensitivity: A blue-tiled prayer niche, or mihrab, from a 14th-century mosque has been reoriented so it faces roughly east, the direction of Mecca.

    A New Home for Arab Treasures

  • Five years ago, Boston's renowned Massachusetts General Hospital installed a mihrab, or ornately tiled archway, in a prayer room to help Muslims orient themselves toward Mecca during prayer.

    Hospitals Revamp Chapels Into Interfaith Meditation Rooms

  • These are all clustered against a deep red wall that faces Mecca and that bears a representation in angular kufic calligraphy of a mihrab , the arched niche in a mosque that literally means ' place of prayer.

    A Crayon Heir

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