Ask Mehmet: Are there rules that should be observed while visiting a mosque?

  • Published
  • By Mehmet Birbiri
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Ask Mehmet: I heard there is a mosque on base. Are there any rules that should be observed while visiting a mosque in Turkey?

As you know mosques are the worship places for Muslims. There are approximately 85 thousand mosques in Turkey and approximately 300 of them are in Adana. In fact, the largest mosque of Turkey is in Adana. It is the Sabanci Mosque, which can hold 28,500 worshippers at once.

In Turkey, every village and residential area has at least one mosque and we even have a mosque for Muslim services here on base. With so many options, if you want to visit one, I highly recommend the Sabanci Mosque in Adana because, as mentioned earlier, it is the largest mosque in all of Turkey and it is quite beautiful.

Whether you visit the mosque on base (which can be visited by all personnel during normal prayer times) or a different mosque in Turkey, it is important to know that mosques are holy places for Muslims. Naturally, this means we should show full respect and observe some unwritten rules.

You should dress appropriately while visiting a mosque. Visitors shouldn't enter a mosque with shorts, sleeveless shirts or tight clothing. Also, women should cover their heads with a scarf. You should also take off your shoes before entering. In addition, you should turn off your cell phones or put them in 'silent' mode.

While it is most common to see people during the various scheduled prayer times, you may see people pray in the mosque other times as well. Be careful not to disturb or walk in front of people at prayer. Of course, I do not need to tell you that you should be quiet during your visit. If you must talk, do so quietly.

Pictures can be taken inside and outside of a mosque. Also, you can sit on the floor, but do not sit or climb on the stairs or stools in a mosque.

There is a call to prayer five times a day that can be heard, via the loud speakers mounted on the minarets (towers) of most of the mosques. Prayer times vary depending on solar time. At this time of the year, morning prayer is held at approximately 5 a.m. while the night prayer is at approximately 6:40 p.m. in Adana.

Mosques are open seven days a week and you can visit them during daylight hours. Whenever visiting a mosque, always remember that we should be respectful and follow the expected protocol.

In addition to the things I already mentioned, if you visit the mosque on base, outside normal prayer times, there must be coordination with the Imam (religious leader of a mosque) before entering. Here on Incirlik, a Turkish air force member is assigned as the Imam. He is in charge of leading the prayers and of the maintenance of the mosque. A room in the facility is designated for him to stay and sleep. For the details on coordination contact the 39th Air Base Wing chapel at 676-6441 and they will assist.

If at all possible, when you do visit the mosque it is best to be accompanied by a local national in order to eliminate the language barrier. If you cannot find a local national to accompany you, go to the mosque during the noon prayer as you will find many Turkish nationals from base there at that time and a number of them speak English. They will be glad to help and show you around the mosque.