How to Visit Religious Sites in Jordan

Jordanians take great pride in being religiously tolerant and culturally open, so many of the country's mosques are open to travelers. Here's how to ensure your visit is meaningful and respectful.

The kingdom and people of Jordan take great pride in their culture of religious tolerance, codified by the Amman Message, which states that “Islam honors every human being,” regardless of color, race, or religion.

To that end, non-Muslims are welcome at many mosques in Jordan. Use the visitor entrance and purchase a ticket before entering the exquisite, blue-domed King Abdullah I Mosque in Amman. Remove your shoes and leave them at the doorway. Remember that this is a place of worship; there are separate areas for men and women.

<p>Constructed during the early 17th century, Istanbul's most photogenic building gets its nickname from the blue tiles adorning the interior.</p>

Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque)

Constructed during the early 17th century, Istanbul's most photogenic building gets its nickname from the blue tiles adorning the interior.

Photograph by Keith Arnold, Getty Images

“We politely ask all women to wear a scarf on their heads,” explains Hitham Jannoun, imam of the Al Sharif Al Hussein bin Ali Mosque in Aqaba, built in 1975. “And we prefer visitors in the afternoon, outside of prayer time, from 4:30 p.m. until around 9 p.m., though of course you are welcome to watch us pray.”

Worshippers face toward the holy city of Mecca, situated some 700 miles south of Aqaba. Decorations typically include the carved olive wood minbar (pulpit), calligraphic quotes from the Quran, and ornate arabesque designs on the ceiling.

Mosques usually open an hour before each prayer. The adhan, or call to prayer, is chanted five times a day, beginning with Allah akbar (“God is great”) and continuing with the shahadah, or profession of faith, stating that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.

“Islam, Christianity, and Judaism—we all believe in one God,” explains Imam Jannoun. “We must all work together; it is the only way.”

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