Istanbul

Assalamu alaikum, peace be with you

 

Dear readers, it has been many days since I returned from my journey and many more since I left Turkey. I still miss it very much. I miss the pre-dawn walks we took to either the blue mosque, or the Beyazid mosque or the Sulaimaniya (which I missed unfortunately) to get there just as the sounds of the call to the dawn prayer began to float on the hushed stillness of the ending night. I miss entering those great spaces of peace and sitting in silence until the prayer is begun and then the magnificent recitation. I miss sitting there after, each of us lost in our own thoughts, contemplations, in our ‘dhikr’ (=remembrance, of God, of where we came from and where we are going, of our prophet) until the rays of the sun fell on the carpet through the stained glass windows brightly enough to signal the day has broken. And then we would stand to offer two more units of voluntary prayer before walking back to our hotel for breakfast. The city magically transformed in that short time so that quiet deserted streets were then full of vendors, the fragrances of tea and ‘simit’, busy students hustling to school and busier folks on their way to work, the trams going past ‘jam-packed’ and the shops open to new delights to tempt one as one passes by. I miss this also, this cacophony of life, good busy simple life. All things should have their place and their is a time for prayer and a time for the daily duties of life. I love that about Islam that these things are ordered, but never let one take too much of the mind-heart space to the detriment of the other. Ah, balance is a hard skill to achieve. But the middle way is the best way, and so taught our prophet, peace and blessing be upon him. And yet while we maintain that balance it is not to stay stagnant but gently rise each day and year of our lives through our perseverance and training of the soul, so that we wipe away the grime from our hearts and can feel again our true center…that is so far elevated from the mundane! Those who have experienced this will know what I mean. Subhahanallah (glory be to God)

I could go on and on about each of the masajid (plural of masjid=mosque) we visited, but no doubt you will find better and more ample descriptions of these online in other places. So I will post some pictures for you below. Please read the captions for more information.

May God’s peace and blessing be with you all

 

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The Sulaimaniya Camii – we arrived in time for one of the prayers, it was very quiet
Sulaimaniya camii - dome
Built for Sulaiman the Magnificent by the great Mimar Sinan (see my post on Ederne for his masterpiece). Every Ottoman Sultan was expected to have a trade, and Sulaiman was a gifted jeweller – hence the jewel-theme artwork. The walls also had many marble elements inspired by fine jewel settings.

 

I think this is the Yeni (=new, its 400+ yrs old!) camii. Built by one of the mother of one of the Sultans. Amazing iznik tile work.

 

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Listening to a reciter or ‘qaari’ after the end of the salah
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Detail. Subhanallah!
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The Rustom Pasha camii – a little know camii tucked away on the top story above the busy shops of the spice bazar. Absolutely stunning, I have many photographs of the tile designs unfortunately I can’t post here. Each tile hand painted and each will have a small defect that allows the artist to recognize it as their work. And also according to the Muslim ethos in art, that perfection belongs to God alone.
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the dome from the ‘kucik ayah sofia’ (little aya sofia)
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The Sultan Ahmet camii or Blue mosque. A poorly taken picture of the early dawn light coming in.

 

Istanbul and Abu Ayyub al Ansari (rad)

Assalamu alaikum (peace be with you) dear readers,

Alhamdulillah (thanks and praise be to God), finally back to posting and continuing with the rihla to Turkey posts. We visited many sites in Istanbul and spent the majority of our time in that great city. What can I say? there is so much to share that I am do not know where to begin. Let me then, begin at the beginning!

We arrived in Istanbul on the day of the great Istanbul marathon, I believe over ten thousand runners were on a route that included the Bosphorus bridge, thereby crossing Asia-Europe, which I thought was rather cool. The bottom line was that traffic though was a mess, as this meant one of the two bridges across the Bosphorus was closed to vehicles. After a short time in our hotel we then headed to the Abu Ayyub al Ansari mosque, or the Ayyup camii as the Turks call it. We did this as good etiquette upon our rihla. The turks call Abu Ayyub al Ansari (radhiallahu ta’ala anhu = may God the most High, be pleased with him) the ‘first Sultan’. Here is a website from Turkey on him. He was a companion of the prophet (peace be upon him) and a man beloved to all Muslims. He was an ‘ansari’ meaning, one of the ‘ansar’ (ansar= helpers). The ansar is the name given to the people of Yathrib, a city north of Medina, that the beloved prophet (peace be upon him) migrated to to escape immense persecution from him own tribe in Mecca and also at the request of the people of that city who pledged allegiance to him and asked him to come and govern it. On his arrival there, the city came to be called ‘Medina’ meaning ‘city’. A shortened form of ‘medinatun-nabi’ (=city of the prophet). There is much to relate of this migration, called the ‘hijrah’ which begins the Muslim calander and of the prophet (peace be upon him)’s first actions when he got there, among which was to draft a constitution.

To continue, when our beloved messenger (peace be upon him) entered Medina, he stayed at the home of Abu Ayyub al Ansari for several months until his own modest dwelling was built along side a mosque simultaneously constructed. There is a beautiful story about how the site was chosen for the mosque of the prophet (peace be upon him) which exists to this day and is the second most important mosque in the Muslim world (after the Ka’aba in Mecca). It was actually the prophet’s (peace be upon him) camel that chose the site. But this post will be very long were I to relate it. Abu Ayyub al Ansari showed the prophet (peace be upon him) an immense amount of love and respect on having him as his guest. Many stories are told about his honoring of his guest and the prophet’s immense love for him and his family. He lived a long time after the prophet’s death. In his eighties he went on a campaign to what was then constantinopole and died there. Several centuries later when Muhammed al fatih located where he was buried he built a mosque, the first he built in that city. The mosque exists to this day and the locals loving visit there to celebrate marriages, circumcision ceremonies for boys and etc. It was as if they were seeking the blessings of this great man. There was a feeling of peace and serenity in that mosque hard to rival among the other many fabulous mosques in Istanbul. Also one felt the genuine love of the local people for the place, and surrounding it many restaurants, plazas and places for people to hang-out are there, and they are always full. So we began our tour with a traditional etiquette of paying our respects to this beloved soul who did so much for Islam, and who had the honour and blessing of being among the companions of our beloved messenger (peace be upon him). I have no pictures of that place, it was not a place to take pictures in, at least not for me. I will however post below a video I found on youtube, of some brothers who gathered in the mosque, following the ritual prayer or salah, to sing in praise and love of the prophet and his companion.

And then out of respect and etiquette, I will post about other aspects of the Istanbul leg of our rihla later on inshaAllah (God willing). May the peace and blessing of God always around you, be closer and closer and ever more apparent to your hearts!

Recitation from the blue mosque and celebration of our beloved

Dear readers, peace be upon you all!

I have been wanting to continue with my posts on our rihla to Turkey, but several things do with returning and settling into the work routine have kept me busy. By Allah’s grace may I continue in the coming days. In the meantime I found this recording of the profound recitation following the salah (please see in my post on Ankara for an explanation of why I prefer using the term ‘salah’ rather than prayer for our obligatory daily ritual worship) in the Sultan Ahmed mosque (or Blue mosque as it is more commonly called) in Istanbul. How I miss sitting there listening to the recitation. These are the last two ayaat (=signs, or translated loosely as verses) of Surah Baqarah I believe, the second chapter in the Quran. The recitation following the salah is optional, so you will see some people walking about/leaving. Usually in the masajid (plural of masjid=mosque), the congregational prayer is followed by a du’a (supplication or prayer) or by recitation of verses from the Quran and by sending peace and blessings upon our beloved, Muhammed, the seal of the prophets (may Allah exalt him and grant him peace and all his family, may He elevate them).

On that note, today is a special day, the 12th of the ‘spring month’ of Rabbi ul-Awwal, the birthdate of our beloved messenger. Our prophet taught us that we have only two festivals as Muslims, the one following the end of the fasting month and the one concluding the Hajj pilgrimage. But many Muslims have special gatherings to sing praises of the prophet and send peace upon him, to honour him and remember him on this special day. Something that should not be confined to just one day, and then the best honour of him is to follow his example, may peace and blessings be upon the last messenger, a mercy to the worlds. So the second video is to a beautiful poem praising him, many exist in the Muslim world and some are long some are short. This one is not too long so you can listen to the whole inshaAllah.

May peace be with you all,

Recitation from blue mosque, the acoustics of the masjid are amazing! Subhahanallah (=glory be to God, most exalted)

Qasida Muhammadiya, (qasida is a style or type of poem, its a technical term) a very famous ancient poem in praise of the prophet (peace be upon him) written by a great scholar of our past, Imam Busari (raheemahullah alai, Allah shower mercy upon him). The translation in the youtube is not the most graceful, for a better one, please see here