The word džamija (mosque) comes from the Arabic verb jamiyah, which means to gather. With the advent of Islam, the mosque was the central gathering place for practising namaz (daytime and night-time prayers), as well as the epicentre of overall life, where numerous issues of social importance were discussed and resolved. Its purpose was to build a people of integrity – decent and worthy – out of the believers who were coming into the mosque, praying and obeying Allah. Therefore, a saying stating that in the mosque a believer should feel better than in his own house, because the mosque has the status of Allah’s house, has been passed down from generation to generation for centuries.
The primary schools “sibjam mektebi” or “kutabi” were also often organised within the mosques. Children used to study reading, writing, mathematics, some chapters from the Qur’an and the essentials of ibadah (Islamic ritual) there. The Town (Jusuf) Mosque in Bijelo Polje, the only one within the very town centre, has been situated at the present location since 1741. It was transferred there from the village of Jabučino, 5 km from the town, in order not to be left to fall into disrepair after the retreat of the Ottoman Army. Stone by stone, in the hands of the local people, in a line some 10 kilometres long, it is said to have been moved in 48 hours. Although it underwent numerous reconstructions and restorations, which in a certain degree impaired its authentic appearance, for its significance the mosque has been put under the protection of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments.
In the harem (courtyard) of the mosque there are also several graves among which is the grave of Imam Hafiz Mustafa Gušmirović, so this mosque is also often called the Gušmir Mosque. One of the first and most beautiful mosques in the region of Bijelo Polje was the Hajdar-paša Mosque in the village of Radulići. Having arrived from Anatolia at the end of 17th century, Hajdar-paša Selim, apart from the mosque, also built a saray (palace), a hammam (Turkish bath) and a turbe (mausoleum) there. Unusually beautiful for a village mosque, this monumental construction was razed in World War II, therefore today there are only remains of its walls, minarets and tombs.
THE MOSQUE CODE OF CONDUCT FOR VISITORS
• Visitors may enter mosque at any time, both at the time of the prayer (i.e. namaz), and at another time
• When entering the mosque while prayer is in progress, it is not permitted to pass in front of the men/women who are praying since that disturbs their prayers
• Within the mosque one is not permitted to raise one’s voice, especially during prayer time
• It is desirable for visitors, women in particular, to wear appropriate clothes covering their arms and legs
• It is desirable for women to cover their head with a scarf, if possible before entering the mosque
• Visitors may freely enter and explore any part of the mosque
• It is permitted to take photographs of any detail both inside and outside the mosque
• Women visiting the mosque are permitted in every section of the mosque, both in the central section intended for men, and the raised section (sofa) intended for women.