Assuming that you know all the rituals of a mosque (from entrance dua to exit dua, from offering two raka’t to adhkar after prayer, from knowing how to pray congregational prayer, to being aware about a funeral prayer etc.), I shall present to you the ultimate cheat sheet of mosque manners.
Your prayer is your own deed. But once your prayer and being in the mosque becomes more than just your deed, it becomes a community issue, and this last fact is often ignored. Even though you may know all of these things, they need to be addressed because they continue to happen nonetheless. I’m not your parent to tell you this (unless my future kids are reading this), but since it’s one of the major issues disrupting the honor, peace, and discipline of a mosque, I can’t help but outline the most common things I have noticed so far.
I can explain what mosque manners are by explaining what they are not. Sometimes the best way to know something is to know its opposite.
1). Taking more space than necessary
You enter the mosque and feel this glory and grandeur of your Lord. And when you ease into it, a golden light may flood the room and a soft, warming hum may fill the air to comfort you. Hence you stretch your legs far apart in some sort of meditation attempt. How long before you start to bend light? I don’t know. But you definitely are bending that warm feeling for everyone else. Hot glue your knees together. This ain’t no place for yoga. Make space for your fellow worshippers, since they are in the corner pushing each other for victory in the first row. If you then become meat in a stampede, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
2). Saving space for friends or family
If you were doing this to save the space for your relative/friend etc., then I just hope they left just to bring you water or Quran or anything like that. But if they haven’t even entered the mosque yet then don’t be that person who needs company in the mosque for gossip. If your friend/relative is late, it’s ok. They will get the space as well, inshaaAllah. Maybe not the first row. The first-comers get that.
But probably they will manage a quarter beside the mosque exit door. They will hate you? Hmm, may be— but you did the right thing. Don’t be too cowardly to do what you know to be right or too cowardly to avoid doing what you know to be wrong.
3) Gossip sessions
Some of you are doing that before the khutbah. But how many of you are like that during the khutbah? It’s not a café. Are you holding a coffee? Still not a café. Oh, so you are talking while having a coffee in a half-sitting, half-lying-down position? It’s still a mosque, where others are getting disturbed by your gossip session, a mosque that you are totally not honoring.
A useful tip: Don’t sit with your loved ones during the khutbah or whenever it is that you enter the mosque. You came here for remembrance of Allah. Stick to the plan.
4) Sleeping or sitting in the way
It’s definitely common sense but also very common. It may happen usually in masjid-al-haram and masjid-al-nabawi, since the mosque itself is so crowded that you usually have to settle outside the mosque somewhere (but inside the vicinity) and people travel miles and miles to get there but apparently give in, right in the middle of a mosque or on the path to it.
I thought sitting in the middle where everyone’s walking, was a problem until I saw someone sleeping. How do they manage to sleep that long with all the kids jumping over them, people walking around them, and wheelchairs hitting them occasionally? I don’t know. But if you are this tired, kindly choose a corner. It will not only help you, but also others.
On a side note, kindly do the ablution again, because sleeping so deeply while lying down nullifies it. You need to walk to the ablution area for that. Praying for rain or thinking of the saddest moment in life won’t help. Your tears won’t be able to wash your limbs. “Cry me a river” is just a rhetorical statement.
Tayammum (dry ablution) isn’t an option either because water is abundantly available there. You will just have to go to the ablution area for your prayer to be valid. I realize your space will be taken when you go, but praying without an ablution may be worse than not getting your first row again. At least you will fulfill the purpose you came here for.
5) Body-liquids, body-sounds
Sorry for all the coffee you spit out on your laptop when you read this, but kindly keep your sputum, air, mucus etc. inside your body.
Burping is very common during taraweeh because of course, heavy iftaar.
I had to fill one third of my stomach only? Are you kidding? I was hungry all day long. I couldn’t resist. Samosas went inside the 1st intestine, then came the kababs, then chana chaat, pakorray, biryani, hummus and the 7th intestine is rooh afza . . .
If the imam is going through this, kindly walk your own talk. You are on a very loud speaker. Youngsters back in the rows may just burst out laughing and have to restart their prayer. For older people, usually these things aren’t funny— they’re just plain gross.
If you’re breaking your fast in a mosque— date, milk, and water etc. should suffice, inshaaAllah. Don’t bring in food that you have to chew like a wood chipper, like crispy chips.
And if your bodily noise involves a loud, long, low back vowel with advanced tongue root and full oral opening, aka “Moose-call yawns,” a sound that deliberately obtrudes and takes over the environs, please try to suppress it as much as possible. Turning it into an announcement, an excuse to dominate everyone within earshot for a moment makes everyone else in the territory yawn as well. People are expected to get over reveling in bodily noises once they become adults.
6) Murmuring loudly
You start the prayer, go into prostration and suddenly your excitement makes you murmur really loudly, making the excitement of your neighbor die down. Do they know what to recite anymore? No, thanks to you. Is your loud whisper with occasional high-pitched notes helping in any way? I don’t think so.
7) Short, tight, translucent clothing
I know it sounds like a personal deed at first but becomes a whole lot more societal when your efforts at pulling your not-so-elastic shirt to cover your awrah is all in vain. Your now-amoeba-shaped shirt is still letting your skin peak through its tentacles during prostration.
Sure, the sagging pants might be in among rappers and gangstas, but no one wants to see the piece of clothing underneath or those parts of your body that you should be keeping covered under those jeans, a big distraction for the fellow behind you.
Solution: Buy yourself a decent belt and hike up those pants, please! And next time don’t wear younger sibling’s clothes.
If you have to lie down and suck in your gut every time you put on your favorite pair of skinny jeans, chances are you won’t be able to bend down for prostration in this sausage attire. Also, it’s a very disturbing view.
Solution: Loosen up.
If you’re wearing full clothes but your body can be seen through your clothes, leaving nothing to the imagination, you fit the “dressed-yet-not” category with your visual pollution in the mosque.
Solution: Put one or two more layers of clothing over that.
8) Crowding the exit area
As soon as the imam finishes the prayer, you rush towards the exit door, trampling over other worshippers, only finding out in the end that others have done the same as well and now the whole exit area is blocked because everyone is pushing each other for the great escape.
Solution: Keep sitting till the crowd diminishes. Recite the adhkaar till then.
You exit the door and there’s a different mob out there. People finding their shoes, wrestling with them while putting them on. If you find yourself in the middle of this mob, I guess you just vibrate and call out for your shoe or you all continue butting at each other like mountain goats trying to establish superiority.
Solution: This is the time to give up your clumsy ways and move quickly. It’s not the time to meet each other. Pick your shoes, move out of the mob, put them on, and then meet your friend or relative.
If you are blocking the way because you want to click this perfect mob-moment or there’s a selfie emergency, please don’t!
If the crowd has this mix-gender scenario, then kindly take care. Women— don’t poke men! Men— don’t poke women! As a matter of fact, don’t poke anyone.
[Remaining article (Do’s of mosque mannerism ) can be found here: understandquran (where it was originally published).]