Religious Influences –
Descriptions of Core Beliefs, Rites and Rituals: Mosque Etiquette
As stated in a previous lesson on the Five Pillars of Islam, Muslims are required to pray five times daily -- after sunrise, mid-morning, noon, afternoon, and at sunset. Muslims typically spend about seven to eight minutes in prayer at each interval and can pray alone or in a group. Praying can be in any clean area but is preferably in a mosque. Mosques play an important role in religious rituals in Afghanistan. You will find at least one mosque (masjid) in every Afghan village. A village mosque serves other purposes. In addition to being a house of prayer, it is used as a school room for traditional Islamic education of young boys prior to their formal education. It may also be used for local meetings and occasionally as a guest house. Travelers often stay overnight in mosques while villagers provide them with food and drink. Foreigners may also be invited into a mosque to meet with local leaders.
Always respect mosque etiquette. Here are some rules to remember when visiting a mosque:
- The first thing foreigners should do when visiting a mosque for the first time is ask permission to enter.
- Wear clothing that portrays modesty according to Islam.
- Remove shoes at the doorway and place in designated area before entering a mosque.
- Avoid using dogs to search within a mosque as their presence is considered sacrilegious.
- Traditionally, Afghan women do not visit mosques. However, on occasions when they do visit the larger mosques in big cities, they can have only their face, hands, and feet showing, and should cover their heads with scarves completely covering the hair.
- Speak quietly to prevent interrupting Muslims in prayer.
- Refrain from using bad language in a mosque.
- Do not smoke within the confines of a mosque.
- Walk around people who are praying; the space immediately in front of a person who is praying is considered sacred.