Visiting a Mosque
Most mosques are open to visitors throughout the year, and their congregants are happy to welcome you. Mosques are not only places of worship but are also used for community gatherings and educational events. As with any place of worship, following the faith's customs and traditions will help you have a respectful, enriching, and enjoyable experience.
WHEN TO GO
Mosques are open for the five daily prayers and often offer times for non-Muslims to visit and learn more about the faith. We recommend reaching out to the mosque before you visit to find the best time to go and make sure someone will be there to greet you.
WHAT TO WEAR
Both male and female visitors should dress in simple, modest attire. Either long skirts or trousers. avoid shorts and sleeveless tops. In most U.S. mosques, visiting women are not requested to cover their hair, although the gesture is welcome. In some Muslim countries, head coverings are required and are provided for those who come unprepared. You will remove your shoes before entering the prayer hall, so keep that in mind when dressing for your visit.
WHEN YOU ARRIVE
Most mosques have separate entrances for men and women. In Muslim culture, it is customary to offer a handshake only to those of the same gender. Many Muslims will nod their heads or place their hand over their heart when greeting someone of the opposite gender. It is best to wait and see how the person initiates the greeting.When you enter the prayer area, you should remove your shoes. The mosque prayer hall (musalla) is a bare room covered with carpets or rugs where people will sit on the floor to pray You may hear the congregants greeting each other in Arabic: “Assalamu alaikum” (peace be upon you). If you would like to reply, the return greeting is, “Wa alaikum assalaam” (and upon you be peace).
When it is time for the daily prayers, you will hear the call of the adhan. During prayer, the room will be quiet except for phrases in Arabic that the Imam and congregants recite. During prayer, you will see people standing in rows, bowing, and sitting on the floor in unison, following the lead of an Imam. Daily prayers last between 5-10 minutes, while the Friday noon prayer is longer because it includes a sermon.
You should not talk or laugh during prayer. Mobile phones should be switched to silent or turned off. While photography is permitted inside of mosques, you should never take pictures during prayer. It's best to ask for permission before taking photographs. Since it is disrespectful to walk in front of someone who is praying, it is best for visitors to observe prayer from the back of the room.
Muslims are welcoming people who are honored to share their faith with visitors. As long as you make an effort to show respect during your visit, any missteps will be understood and forgiven, and it will be a very valuable experience for you and the congregation.