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!