Mosques are an important part of Omani daily life. They serve as places of prayer, schools for the study of religion and as a meeting place for the community.
Mosques which were built in the Ibadhi tradition are simple structures and have no minaret. The simple interiors are occasionally adorned by decorations and calligraphy in the prayer niche and on the wooden ceiling.
Before the act of prayer a ritual washing is necessary, thus mosques were usually built near water sources such as wells or the traditional irrigation system of canals, the aflaj. In this age of municipal water supplies, mosques are located everywhere – often with separate prayer rooms for men and women.
Islam allows believers of other monotheistic religions to visit a mosque for purposes of prayer. However, as tourists are generally more motivated by voyeurism than spirituality, their presence is not welcomed in Islamic houses of God. Spectators disturb the prayer services of believers and can even, under unhappy circumstances, render the prayers invalid; most mosques make this clear with a sign saying “for Muslims only”.
Exceptions are the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat and the Sultan Qaboos Mosques in Salalah and Sohar, which may be visited by non-Muslims, from 8-11 AM, daily except Fridays.