Women are not allowed in the Sultan mosque in Ternate.
Women & Their Unholy Voices
While almost all mosques in Indonesia allow women to come inside and pray, although they have to sit behind the men, the Sultan mosque in Ternate, North Maluku (Maluku Utara, Malut) (map) is unique in forbidding women from entering.
Djafar, a local figure, explains:
Only men can pray in this mosque, women are not allowed. This is an old tradition and has never been broken.
The mosque's cleric, Ridwan Dero, says the reason for the banning of women is to protect the holiness of the place:
If women pray here then their menstruation might suddenly start. Apart from that the men who come to pray here might be bothered by seeing women or hearing their voices.
There are no exceptions to the rule at any time.
Men & Their Holy Trousers
The men who come are required to wear long trousers - wearing of sarongs only is not sufficient - and they must also have the top of their heads covered by a kopiah or sorban.
Ridwan Dero explains that by wearing trousers the men show that they have truly prepared themselves to face God. Dero says that when men are standing up while praying, and wearing trousers, the position of their legs forms the words "lam alif". Lam alif represents the two statements of the Muslim confession of faith, "there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet". In this way men who wear trousers show in physical, visible form that they believe in the confession of faith.
Guards are on hand, perhaps similarly to those at the Baiturrahman mosque in Aceh, who advise men who arrive in only sarongs to go home and get changed, or just go to another mosque.