Be Respectful in Places of Worship
It should go without saying that you would be respectful in places of worship. Well you would think so. Unfortunately that isn’t always the case.
Let me give you an example. We visited the Sultan Hassan Mosque in Cairo. As is usual in Cairo, it was hot when we were there. But I knew we would be visiting this and other mosques on the day. We both dressed in long pants, my shirt had 3/4 length sleeves and my husband wore a short sleeve button up shirt. I also took a scarf with me but didn’t actually need it.
A group of tourists who were visiting the mosque at the same time we were, included two females (probably in their mid 20s). They were wearing bikini tops and short denim shorts (the ones where you can see the pockets hanging out the bottom). Seriously? You shouldn’t go into any place of worship dressed like that, it’s disrespectful whether you are religious or not!
Tip 1: Shhhhh
Be quiet! Well keep noise to a minimum. This includes turning your phone to silent. Many of the places you visit are still being used as places of worship and there are often people there praying or looking for solitude. Keeping quiet is respectful.
Tip 2: Taking Photos
Look for any signs about whether photography is allowed or not. If in doubt, ask. Some churches do not allow photography inside at all, while others allow photography without a flash. If photography is allowed without a flash, make sure you turn the flash off on your camera or phone! And no selfie sticks (I have seen a number of churches where selfie sticks are not allowed). If you want a photo of yourself, ask someone quietly or take a selfie without using the selfie stick.
Tip 3: No food or drinks
Don’t eat or drink once inside – opening that packet of crisps / chips or that bottle of fizzing drink isn’t appropriate and is no respectful!
Tip 4: Clothing
Wear clothes that cover your shoulders and midriff and are at least close to knee length. This is for both males and females. Long shorts that come close to your knees or even cover your knees are usually acceptable. If in doubt jeans or long pants are the best option. Also a t-shirt is usually an acceptable way of covering your shoulders. If wearing a singlet, have a jacket or shawl to put over your shoulders. Ladies, a shawl can also be used to cover cleavage if you are wearing a low cut top or cover your head if you need to. If wearing a skirt or dress, just make sure it is not too short. Usually to the knee skirts and dresses are acceptable in most places but there are some that you need your knees covered (both men and women). Footwear is needed (unless in temples where you may be asked to remove your shoes) and usually sandals are ok. Hats (including caps and beanies) are usually removed when entering also. If in doubt check the website of the place of worship you are visiting before you go.
It really should be common sense but unfortunately I have seen so many people being disrespectful in places of worship.
It’s such a shame that this needs to be said, but you’re right – it does. Just because something is okay in your culture, doesn’t mean it’s okay in someone else’s! Great tips 🙂
Totally agree Pamela. I had a few annoying experiences so had to write this post.
Ugh one of my biggest pet peeves is people who speak loudly when visiting mosques/churches/temples — even when there are locals trying to pray! Thanks for calling attention to this issue.
It’s one of my pet peeves too Carrie. I just find it so disrespectful.