Muslims worship in buildings known as mosques, which vary in size and design and often broadcast the call to prayer from a tower known as a minaret. Most mosques welcome non-Muslims to visit and learn about the Islamic faith or to enjoy the architecture and design of historic buildings. However, you'll need to dress appropriately and respectfully to do so.
Women visiting a mosque should take special care to wear modest clothing. Avoid anything sheer, tight or clingy, like leggings or a miniskirt. If you are visiting a mosque in a conservative area wear a long-sleeved top as well. Though not all mosques require female visitors to don a headscarf, some do, so consider bringing one along in case it's required.
Like women, men also need to dress modestly when visiting a mosque. The Islamic Center of Raleigh recommends men entering a mosque to wear long pants and to avoid anything that makes the shape of the body evident. On top, a long-sleeved shirt is best, though one with short sleeves is acceptable, while low-cut shirts and tanktops should not be worn. To show respect, wear nice clothes and nothing old, ratty or worn out.
Shoes are not allowed to be worn in mosques as a means of keeping them clean, though most have a rack outside to store your shoes on when you go inside. To make things easy, choose footwear that can be easily slipped on and off when coming and going. If you don't wish to walk around barefoot inside the mosque bring a pair of clean, presentable socks.
Other Things to Consider
Some mosques, like the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center in Abu Dhabi, loan women visitors special garments, so check ahead to see if something is available. Some mosques have separate entrances for men and women, so before going inside, make sure you're in the right place. Behave in a quiet, respectful manner once inside the mosque, taking care not to disturb people who are there to worship. Before taking pictures, ask if you're allowed to do so and don't photograph anyone performing prayers.
- Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images