I am considering converting to Islam at a mosque in my area. I have never been to a mosque before, so this will be my first time. I'm not sure what type of mosque this mosque is

I am not sure wether it is a Sunni mosque or Shiite, and I don't want to be rude by going right up to someone and asking.

So what is the best way to tell?

  • 4
    You can always simply ask them. Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 16:41

5 Answers 5


Actually, the mosque is same in Sunni and Shiite. The prayers are also same; there may be small differences in the body movements in prayers, but more than those differences exist in among Sunni mazhabs.

The difference between Shiite and Sunni is not in the shape of Mosque, or in the practice of prayers. I don't say that there are no differences, there are some small differences but these differences are not a completely related to being Sunni or Shiite.

One of my friends from University was Shiite, am neither Shiite or Sunni, and we were having our prayers in a Sunni Mosque. There was nothing strange for us, it was all natural.

EDIT: About prayer times in a day.
Siites also pray 5 times a day like Sunnis do, but they shorten it to 3 times when they are busy in the day.

  • 1
    According to Quran all Mosques belong to Allah. > وَأَنَّ الْمَسَاجِدَ لِلَّهِ فَلَا تَدْعُوا مَعَ اللَّهِ أَحَدًا ﴿الجن: ١٨﴾ > The places of worship belong to Allah; so call not, along with God, upon anyone.
    – Bhribayli
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 2:15
  • 2
    +1, Agree, but to complete your answer a little bit you can only mention these two main points: 1. three times Adhan in Shia mosques instead of five per day in Sunni mosques / 2. some stones or small soil pieces for prostration (both Sunni and Shia Muslims believe prostration over soil is permitted but Sunni scholars allow prostration over cloths and rugs that Shia scholars do not permit). However, as Bhribayli has commented anyway mosques belong to Allah, and you be Shia or Sunni can pray Allah in any Shia or Sunni mosque, as all of us do the same.
    – owari
    Commented Dec 9, 2012 at 10:11
  • Yeah, it is deemed as a nice answer. Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 8:20
  • Is the "edit" section from Imam Ali or form the user?
    – Quidam
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 8:55

The simplest way to tell is by looking at how they pray. Shi'a typically pray 3 times a day (5 prayers, 3 times) and Sunnis pray 5 (each on their own time). One of the main Shi'a sects prays with little black pebbles near their heads.

In all probability though, the masjid you're talking about is Sunni. For telltale signs of a Shi'a mosque, look at the literature. Post some of the names of the books you find and someone here can quickly tell you the affiliation.

  • FYI, those pebbles are supposed to be from the grave of Ali ibn Abi Talib.
    – ashes999
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 21:04
  • 2
    The pebble are not really significant for prayer, the goal is not to pray on something man made but on something natural. A piece of stone, wood, or anything similar is fine.
    – Kaveh
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 3:14
  • 2
    Somebody told me that these pebbles are from Karbala's soil.
    – Aamir
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 6:47

Shia pray with open hands and Sunni pray with closed hands. But Shia and Sunni may pray at mosque of each other. In fact mosque is not for Shia or Sunni. It depends on local population of Shia or Sunni. Also for converting no need to go mosque. Only changing beliefs are enough.

  • When are the closed hands? Have you got an image?
    – Quidam
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 8:52

The Mosque of both shia and sunni is same. The difference is in prayer and there beleaves. Shia pray prayer different than sunni like shia pray prayer 3times a day but sunni pray prayer 5 times a days. But both have same religon.


What is the difference between Sunni and Shiite mosques? There is no clear difference between Shiite and Sunni mosques. Only in some areas a minaret is built next to the dome, which is also seen in some Shiite mosques.


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