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.
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)