Located just outside the Palvan Darvasa, the Sayid Niaz Shekilarbeg ensemble boasts Khiva's only working mosque where a dwindling congregation comes to pray 'namoz' (prayer facing Mecca) five times a day and gather for special prayers on Fridays. Like all Khiva mosques there is an aywan for prayers during the summer and an indoor chamber for wintertime. There is also a minaret, a small madrassah and a mausoleum.
After a decade of independence, the mosque is still the only officially permitted mosque in Khiva, the others being used as museums, workshops and bars. During the Soviet era the mosque was allowed to function but all attendees were registered and closely monitored. The call to prayer was also permitted although it could not be magnified. However a few years ago the mullah had a speaker system rigged up and he can now sing the call to prayer from the comfort of ground level.
Today up to three hundred men come to Friday prayers while only a handful pray their 'namoz' daily within the mosque. After an initial renewal of interest in Islam after independence, it has become politically incorrect to be a devout Muslim due to the fear of being branded an extremist. Inside the mosque a photo billboard of wanted Islamic fundamentalists still at large hangs next to the clocks that show the times for prayer.
Visitors to the mosque should not wear shorts or sleeveless tops and women should have their heads covered. The mullah is usually happy to show tourists around although access to the minaret is rarely granted