Tuesday, August 16, 2022
Uncategorized8 Etiquette Tips for Non-Muslims Visiting a Mosque

8 Etiquette Tips for Non-Muslims Visiting a Mosque

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Mosques have a special significance to Muslim communities around the world. While they are primarily known as places of worship, mosques also act as community and education centers, where Muslims can gather and hold different kinds of events. They also feature many of the most beautiful examples of Islamic architecture, which attracts many visitors each year.

Photo by Julia Volk from Pexels
Photo by Julia Volk from Pexels

Many mosques allow visitors on the premises all year round, which is an excellent opportunity for non-Muslims to see these spaces up close. However, whether you’re visiting to admire the architecture or learn more about the Muslim community, there are a couple of do’s and don’ts visitors need to adhere to while on the premises. To elaborate, here are some etiquette tips to keep in mind.

Contact the Mosque Beforehand

While many mosques are open to non-Muslims, the rules for visitors can vary from one mosque to another. Some mosques may have additional visiting hours outside of prayer times. Others may require visitors to have a Muslim companion, who can properly show them around the premises.

One of the most practical courses of action is to contact the mosque beforehand and learn more about visiting guidelines. Several mosques have pages on social media, where they list down prayer times and other events. To make it easier to remember this schedule, visitors can download apps such as Muslim pro, which notes down this prayer schedule.

Follow the Dress Code

All attendees and visitors, male and female, are required to dress modestly within the premises. Shorts, sleeveless shirts, and other apparel that show too much skin are not considered appropriate.

For women, some mosques don’t require them to cover their hair, especially if they’re visitors. Mosques in the Middle East and other Islamic countries, however, are typically stricter, so they may have headscarves on hand that visitors can use. That said, the best course of action is to always have a headscarf ready and wear it in the mosque, even if it’s not required. It’s considered a sign of respect, which will always be appreciated.

Remove Your Shoes Before Entering

As houses of worship, mosques are treated as holy places. Hence, out of respect and to help keep the premises clean, Muslims take off their footwear before entering the mosque. Visitors are expected to follow suit. If you’re uncomfortable with going barefoot, make sure that you’re wearing a clean pair of socks before heading to the mosque.

Learn Greeting Etiquette

There are a couple of standard practices to remember when it comes to greetings. When meeting Muslims for the first time, offer a handshake only to those of the same gender. If the person you’re greeting is of the opposite gender, a customary nod or hand over the heart will do. The most advisable thing to do, however, is to wait and simply mirror the other person’s greeting.

Avoid Talking or Laughing Loudly

As visitors, it’s easy to get carried away by an interesting conversation and accidentally speak or laugh out loud. However, it’s important to remember that mosques are supposed to be peaceful spaces. Muslims attend each day, expecting a quiet place where they can focus on their prayers or calmly interact with other community members. As such, make sure to keep your voice modulated and be mindful of how you speak when inside the premises.

Turn Off Your Mobile Phones

The last thing you want during quiet prayer time is your phone suddenly ringing out loud. Not only does it interrupt the focus of people praying, but it also feels incredibly intrusive in the space where Muslims go to worship. For that reason, attendees and visitors alike turn off their phones.

That said, some visitors and attendees may wish to keep their phones on for multiple reasons. They may wish to take pictures of the mosque interior or use the Muslim pro app as a reference for Islamic teachings. In this scenario, make sure to put the phone on silent mode before entering the vicinity.

Do Not Walk In Front of Someone Praying

Unknown to many non-Muslims, walking in front of somebody who is praying is not permissible in Islam. Whether Muslims pray in a large mosque or a smaller space, they shouldn’t let anybody walk in front of them while in prayer. Thus, visitors typically stay at the back of the room while Muslims attendees pray.

Do Not Take Pictures Without Permission

Tourists love taking pictures, especially of places with beautiful interiors. Mosques are some of these places. Some mosques feature ornate windows, intricate wall designs, and grand architecture. Some people wish to take pictures of the community practicing their customs, like prayers and gatherings.

While it’s easy to get carried away by the glamor, visitors should remember that mosques are, first and foremost, places of worship. Hence, they should always ask permission from their guides or premises authorities if they would be permitted to take pictures.

Mosques have an important place in the hearts of Muslims, and visitors need to respect that fact. They must adhere to the rules and guidelines set by the place. If you ever wish to visit one, make sure to keep the tips above in mind. By doing so, not only will you have a deeper insight into Islam and its community, but you will also have a more pleasant visit.

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