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How To Visit a Mosque

Whether it’s your first time or your hundredth, visiting a mosque can be a spiritual event. Knowing and observing the basic dos and don’ts will free you up to concentrate on holier matters.


  • TIP: Muslims entering the mosque can offer two voluntary cycles of ritual prayer.
  • Step 1: Enter the mosque threshold with your right foot, as Muhammad did.
  • Step 2: Greet others, if they are not engaged in prayer. Muhammad said even a smile is charity.
  • TIP: If you’re able and so inclined, slip a little money into the boxes marked for the maintenance of the mosque or other charities.
  • FACT: Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the city of Mecca or its Great Mosque, Islam’s most revered site.
  • Step 3: Enjoy the peace and simplicity of the mosque. Offer whatever prayers you are able to.
  • Step 4: Turn off your cell phone and any other electronic devices that might make noise.
  • Step 5: Near the entrance, locate the rack or other container where you should leave your shoes. Here’s the moment when you’re relieved to be wearing clean socks!
  • TIP: The _jum’ah_ prayer, required for Muslim men, is held at midday every Friday. It involves a sermon from the imam or other prayer leader followed by the noontime ritual prayer, _salat-udh-dhuhr_.
  • Step 6: If you are hoping to visit the mosque at one of the five daily prayer times, call ahead to find out exactly when the prayers take place. If you are non-Muslim, find out if non-Muslims are allowed in the mosque.
  • Step 7: Dress in modest clothes. For men, this means wearing pants that cover the knees. For women, this means, at a minimum, covering up shoulders and knees and avoiding tight or transparent clothes.
  • Step 8: In the U.S., many mosques post their policy on whether hijab, or head covering for women, is required to enter the mosque. If you aren’t sure, bring a scarf along with you.
  • Step 9: When approaching the mosque, look for signs or ask someone if there are separate entrances for women and men. If necessary, use the gender-appropriate entrance.
  • Step 10: Use the Internet or phone directory to find a mosque near you. If you’re in a Muslim-majority country, simply stick your head out the window and look for minarets, the tall towers connected to mosques, or listen for the call to prayer.

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