May 24, 2012

Visiting a mosque for the first time

Many non-Muslims who come to the mosque are there because they are interested in what takes place in a mosque, how a sermon is conducted, what people do in between prayers and just want a general feel to someone else’s religion. There is bathroom and mosque etiquette which is easily observable and while Muslims welcome people of other faiths to visit, the visitors nevertheless have to show decorum and abide by certain rules when they enter the mosque.

Decorum and etiquette in the mosque

• Take off your shoes when you enter a mosque. You will not be asked to wash your face and your hands, but your shoes must come off.

• The imam stands and people are seated on the floor. He conducts the sermon from the mimbar which has three steps. The mosque is silent except for the imam’s voice. There is no talking and laughing when the sermon starts.

• A non-Muslim can enter if the man is wearing long pants, and women are required to cover up and wear a scarf. You cannot be bareheaded inside the mosque and you must not draw attention to yourself.

• When prayers start everyone stands in rows and the women are either segregated upstairs or standing on the other side of the rope so that there is no accidental touching.

• The mosque is a sacred place and your clothes must be neat and free of animal hair or animal dander. If a dog licks your pants, you must change it before you enter the mosque. This is one of the reasons Muslims do not allow animals in the house as their clothes are clean; meaning it is free of dust and dirt and other contaminants.

• The carpets are clean and often when people give to the mosques it is carpeting as some mosques have fewer donations than others.

• When in the mosque after prayers you can mingle and talk to people but one should be quiet on the whole as the mosque is a place of worship and contemplation and not frivolity.

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