For those with a passion for culture, religion and architecture, visiting a mosque can be a profound experience; however, if you are unfamiliar with mosque rules, it is a good idea to know how you should behave before your visit. A few simple tips can ensure that you visit a mosque without disrespecting the rules of etiquette.
Remember that the rules of a mosque do not vary from temple to temple, rather they are written directly into the Qur'an. In order to respect the religion and culture of the mosque, it is important to follow the guidelines which is thought to be holy, whether you believe or not.
Visit a mosque anytime when regular group prayers or sermons are not taking place. Regular prayer time occurs within the half hour following the prayer call, which can be heard throughout the city. If you are unsure of regular prayer times, do not enter if there are many people gathered inside. Regular prayers or sermons are generally short, so you might wait outside for prayer time to end.
Dress appropriately as to not disrespect worshipers. Men should wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, while women should wear dresses or skirts which cover the knees and tops with sleeves that cover the elbows at least. Women should also wear a headscarf; however, if you do not have one, most large mosques will have head scarfs at the entrance which you can borrow. Additionally, some mosques may have robes that you can wear if they feel your dress is inappropriate.
Remove your shoes before you enter the mosque. As you pass the threshold, it is tradition to say "Assalam-o-Alaikum," or "Peace be on you;" however, this is not always expected of tourists. As you enter, take note of where worshippers are saying prayers, and walk silently behind them, finding a quiet place to sit at the back. Remember that in a mosque, women must remain near the back of the mosque, a rule that is generally extended to tourists as well.
Sit down and take a moment for quiet meditation. Once you enter a mosque, it is obligatory that you respect the temple by offering prayers; however, as a non-member of the religion, this can take any form you see fit. Remain in silence, do not take flash photos or photos of people and do not simply walk straight through the mosque without first sitting for prayer.
Take children to a mosque only if they are old enough to be able to respect the rules as well. Just as adults, children must move slowly, remain in silence, sit and participate in prayer.