Normally we say,

I go to church.
I go to school.

We don't put any article before "church" or "school". I got 2 questions.

(a) If I put articles before them, do we accept?
(b) what about temples and mosques?
- go to temple/go to the temple?
- go to mosque/go to the mosque?
Original Post

Normally we don't use the before names of places such as school , church , mosque , hospital .. etc. when we go to them as regular visitors i.e students, prayers, workers.

I (as a student) go to school .
I (as a father) go to the school . (To meet the headmaster or the teachers of my son)
I've heard Jews say "go to synagogue" or "go to temple" and I've heard Christians say "go to church". Both groups are referring to attending some sort of ritual.

But I've never heard Muslims say (and I've never said) "go to mosque" when referring to the congregational prayers. I have heard Muslims say "go to prayers" without "the".

Without "the" does indeed refer to more than just the building. It refers to the whole ritual, so that I wouldn't say "go to church" if I were going to the building for some other purpose, and if I were attending the church rituals held somewhere else for some reason, I might say "go to church" (like "go to prayer meeting" which might be held somewhere other than in the church proper).

But in the case of church and synagogue, the rituals are led by a person and the congregation all do more or less the same thing. If we are talking about visiting a Hindu or Buddhist or other temple where (I think) each person does his or her own rituals, not as a group, would we still say "go to temple"??

I don't have an answer to this, nor do I have an answer to why Muslims don't say "go to mosque".
bear_bear, if I may...

I can't imagine saying, "I am going to mosque" or "I am going to temple". While the rule stands for church, etc., it just doesn't work with these two places of worship if the article 'the' is ommited.

While it's correct to say "He's in church", I would find it pretty difficult to say, "He's in mosque"!

My two cents worth...

I think that the reason non-Muslims might say -- and we often do -- 'go to mosque -- is that we equate it with going to church or going to temple or going to synagogue.

As we learn more about other religions, we will probably pick up 'go to prayers' or 'go to the mosque' and say it naturally. My students have said, on Fridays, that they were 'going to prayers' OR 'going to prayer' (singular), OR just 'going to pray.' And I've used the same expressions with these students.
In my previous job I edited a lot of Islamic materials and I must admit that there were times when we (I and other editors) struggled with how to express certain things in English. I can't think of specific examples now. Sometimes it was an Arabic term that has no real equivalent in English, or that has very specific meaning for Muslims that in translation has to be expressed by phrases or sentences rather than a single word. Sometimes the English word had such Christian connotations for us that we weren't sure it could really express what we wanted to say.

"Going to (the) mosque" is only one of many times when Muslims might have to struggle with how to express something in English. I don't have all the answers. I guess no one does.
"Going to (the) mosque" is only one of many times when Muslims might have to struggle with how to express something in English. I don't have all the answers. I guess no one does.

I couldn't agree with you more, Okaasan. This is exactly the same problem we have in Iran. Here we have two university courses named "A Survey of Translated Islamic Texts." The translations are indeed far from the original texts in every sense, and it seems no one can come up with better translations, as many Islamic concepts just do not exist in English. Sometimes, the translations sound even funny!

According to AS Hornby, who first compiled the famouse Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, it is wrong to say “ I am going to temple”. He says that we must use THE before mosque, synagogue and temple whether we are going there for prayers or not. We should say “I am going to the temple to pray” or “I am going to the temple to whitewash it”. Likewise, we should not omit THE before cathedral unlike CHURCH. It is before CHURCH that we omit “the” if we are going there for prayers.

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