Assalamu Aleikum dear bloggers, 🙂
How do I describe this 2-week trip for starters? It was amazing, insightful, and refreshing masha’Allah! We visited Istanbul with its thousand plus years history and breathtaking environment. You probably know that Aya Sofia (Saint Sofia) depicted above, used to be a Church, then a Mosque, and now a museum. It is a wonderful piece of art, and one has to think about the advanced knowledge of the people before us that built them with bare hands. They did not have all the Technology we have today but they built amazing sites and things. Allah willed it though. Nothing happens if he does not allow it.
Nowadays, the average lifespan is 60. People are smaller. When we visited Topkapi Palace, the Sultans’ attires depicted in the bulletproof glasses were freaking huge. Earlier people were bigger, taller and lived many years longer. They had the time to worship Allah (Subḥānahu wa ta’āla). That is the reason Allah created holy days like Laylatul Qadr, fasting in the month after Ramadan, etc. so that we, the people of today, can make up for years that we will not live. Because, obviously earlier people had an advantage on us when it comes to living a long life. For that reason, we need to take advantages of specified holy days to us with multiplied rewards. I digress… 😉
Going back to the Palace, it is a fortress if you ask me. Its Museum holds many Muslim and non-Muslim artifacts. Some of the belongings (Clothes, hair, beard, swords, footprint,etc) of our Dear Prophet Muhammad (ṣall Allāhu ʿalay-hi wa-sallam) are there . People bet millions on worthless (People who will not help you get into Jannah) people’s belongings on Ebay. Belongings from our Prophet (ṣall Allāhu ʿalay-hi wa-sallam); I would definitely bid on that! If I had lots of money though because it will not go cheap lol. I saw Fatima (alayhi s-salām)’s Kaftan! 😀 They also have the Ansar’s belongings. Several old keys to the Qaa’ba are kept there as well. The Turks replaced and fixed the House of our father Ibrahim (Abraham-alayhi s-salām) in the past. This knowledge was given to me by my step-mother (a Physician) who every year is on the medical team that helps with the Pilgrimage to Mecca. The Ottoman empire kept all these great treasures with maximum security, and I am fullfilled to have seen the things I saw in that Palace. Talking about security, they have security checkpoints everywhere in Turkey. In fact, in the malls, in the grocery stores, airports, etc. They have camera watching people at all times. If I have thousands of years of history in my country, I would too. I mean you don’t want crazies and anarchists blowing your staff up >:(…
Anyways, we also visited many Mosques (The Blue Mosque, the New Mosque, Beyazit Mosque, Sultan Suleymaniye ‘s Mosque, the Fatih Mosque, Sultan Eyüp’s Mosque, and many other that I can’t remember the names of). The great thing about a Muslim nation is the availability of Mosques at every corner. Hearing Adhan is a blessing before each praying time. I missed that because in my home country in Africa, we lived by a Mosque and that woke us up to pray daily. Having said that, I wish the Turks did not play the first call to the prayer through a microphone. It is not right. That is why Allah (Subḥānahu wa ta’āla) created a Muezzin. That is the job and duty of the Muezzin. Earlier Muslim architects built Mosques in a way that at any corner of the Mosque you stand, you can hear the voice of the Muezzin. This is just the kind of knowledge the Magnificient bestowed on them.
Our trip would not have been meaningful if we did not visit the dead. As a matter of fact, we went to many graveyards of many Ansars and Awliyas (The main one is Abu Ayyub al-Ansari ‘alayhi s-salām‘ known as Sultan Eyüp in Turk), and we made lots of duas. This Ansar was in charged of guarding our beloved Prophet’s life during any military action they underwent back then. If you have seen the movie “The Message” 1977 like I have seen it thousand of times, remember the part where the camel of our Prophet (ṣall Allāhu ʿalay-hi wa-sallam) picked a place to build the mosque? Ok, the camel stopped in the front of the house of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari. For the 7-8 months that they built the Mosque in question, our Prophet (ṣall Allāhu ʿalay-hi wa-sallam) stayed at this Ansar’s house. What an honor masha’Allah! ^_^ I am glad to have went to his Tomb now in a Mosque (Sultan Eyüp’s). He actually migrated to Turkey when he was 90 years old by foot! You have got to admire the level of faith these people had! tskkkk Allah Allah 😉
So, I was saying, it is Sunnah to visit the ones that passed away. So much about Islam’s history I learned on this trip and the Ottomans conserved that history. If you have the chance in your life to visit Turkey, please do. I plan to go back because I am hungry for more historic knowledge ;).
Üsküdar (the Asian side of Turkey) was also fun to see. We crossed with the fairy 😉 yeah! Izmir is another city we visited. I fell in love with the raw side of that town. It reminded of Africa and my village and the holidays with my grand-mother in the country side. We went on top of the hills (all green), it was GORGEOUS! We picked vegetables and lots of edible mushrooms. Our camera defaulted on us, and we could not take many pictures after we left the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul. Noone sells Polaroid picture cameras anymore…Everything is digital now B-) …With that being said, Polaroids are expensive to develop. 5 days to process at Walmart vs. 1 hour at Walgreens, and it is twice as expensive..12 bucks compared to digital prints! It is like $6 or less with a digital camera. After I went through that experience trying to develop my MSA (Master of Sciences in Accounting) graduation pictures a few days ago, I gave up on the idea of trying to blog to re-put Polariod on the market because they can be a life saver when your camera dies. Plus, with no flash the pictures are a waste. Out of 27 pictures, only 2 grad pics were acceptable…Bummer!
So, compared to Istanbul that is crowded (16 + million people lived there), I loved Izmir better. I love cats and there many in the streets of Turkey, I mean tons of them are crawling the streets daily! Cats are clean, so it is an asset to see them everywhere in a Muslim nation. I petted a few of them, and there were cute and friendly. They have dogs (not many) and there are not aggressive like the ones in my country, lol. The Turk government gave them shots to make them harmless to people walking. I was bit by a dog when I was a child…not fun… B-)
Another thing I was amazed with is the size and the presence of shopping malls everywhere. There are bigger than the ones in the US, I promise! I hear Europeans like Germans amongst other nations built all these light blinding mall establishments. Turkish people shop every day! The malls with 5 + levels sometimes have their escalators broke every 5 minutes because of the volume of people going up and down. The elevators are also backed up with lines like the escalators! It is a tourist country so I guess they have the money to shop daily since money is constantly injected in their economy. Also, you will see several malls within a five-mile radius of each others…Insane :P!
Oh! I almost forgot about the food! 🙂 They have a wide and overwhelming variety of desserts, pastries, and Mediterranean dishes! Priceless! I loved it. Turkish delight (Lokum) is a must try if you go there, #SugarComa! haha!
The only thing I did not really like is the fact that the women sections in the Mosques were close to nil…I know women are not supposed to pray with Jamaat (the men crowd) but hmmmm really, what if there is an event and that we have to be in or sit in lol? The only Mosque I saw with a bigger space for female was Sultan Eyüp’s mosque :). There could have been more but that was the 99% trend I noticed. Also, no offense to anyone that does not share the Jamaat point of view.
So that’s it, enjoy your life (the five) before your death like our Prophet (ṣall Allāhu ʿalay-hi wa-sallam) said, “Take benefit of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free-time before your preoccupation, and your life before your death.”
Jazak’Allah Khair for reading,