Malaysia, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Indonesia – these are some of the most exotic and beautiful places on the planet. They are also overwhelmingly Muslim. In these days, when there is so much talk of the clash of civilizations, travel is one way to bridge these gaps. Fear exists when there is unfamiliarity. Meeting people of other faiths, even those whose beliefs are diametrically opposite to your own, can open your eyes to the truth of universal humanity.
The vast differences between Islam and other religions make cultural traditions and common taboos in Muslim countries, baffling. Here are just a few things that you’ll have to watch out for to make the most of your vacation.
1. Dress Right
Islamic places of worship are ostentatious, and spectacular pieces of architecture with intricate detailing, and lavish treatments. On a visit to a mosque orshrine, women are expected to cover their heads at all times, when inside the building. Avoid strappy clothes, shorts, and tight tops. Guys too, would be better off covering up bare knees. Remove your footwear, and leave them outside themosque complex. Once inside, speak in soft voices – even if you don’t see hordes of people praying, you might still disturb the peace. Even outside of a religious structure, maintain decorum in your attire. You don’t have to be veiled from head to toe, but remember that in some countries, the only women who are dressed a “certain way” are hookers.
2. Avoid Over Familiarity
Islam maintains a strict segregation of the sexes, and roles for both genders in relation to each other are clearly defined. If you’re a girl, remember what seems like friendliness to you could be misconstrued as an interest in taking things further by the other person. Avoid eye contact with strangers. If you’re a guy, remember, the religion places great importance on the honor of women. Keep a respectful distance from the ladies, and all should be well.
3. Avoid Proselytizing
In Egypt, proselytism is a crime that can lead to a fine and deportation. Whatever you think about Islam, keep your views to yourself.
4. Avoid Taking Pictures Randomly
Don’t just point your camera, and shoot people you find interesting. Islam doesn’t permit the representation of people and animals in pictures. You might offend without meaning to. Also, ask for permission if you want to take pictures inside a mosque or religious shrine.