5 Jun /14


The mosque is a place of worship for Muslims. The word appears in English for the first time in travel records of The Travels of Sir John Mandeville. The travel records describe a fair temple called a mosque. The first Englishman who actually saw one was Edmund Harvel, a diplomat to Henry VIII. He was stationed in Venice but in a communique mentions that the Turkish monarch took the unusual step of making “offers in his mosque”.  The next reference, which is not a translation, is in the first major description of the Ottoman Empire in 1603 written by Richard Knolles The general history of the Turks (a book in which many new words in English are mentioned for the first time, e.g. sherbet and herdsman). He states that St. Sophia’s temple is now a Moslem mosque. The book was regarded as excellent. One of the greatest English writers Samuel Johnson tries to find a reason why it was not so successful, declaring that the book was about “enterprises and revolutions of which none desire to be informed”.

This lack of interest and the clear connection with the Moslem world is also shown in the fact that the first mosque in Germany was built in 1924, in the United States in 1922 and France in 1926. Even today, only 3% of all Moslems live in Europe and 0.3% in the Americas.

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