A R C H I V E S
Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|06/22/05 at 09:00:06|
|I arrived in Istanbul in early afternoon by a long flight from Chicago. Just like any semi-crazy, "somewhat looking for adventure -on his way to pak" desi, I decided to stopover in Istanbul for 2 nights. I never get jet lag (the only thing lagging is the state of mind), so I decided to explore the city right away. My motto is explore till you drop. As long as the sun is out, you should be out and never waste a minute of sunshine. My hotel was 2 minutes from the Blue Mosque. So naturally it was my first destination. I had not been to a mosque this magnificent in 11 years and it was a breathtaking sight. I was a bit taken back by the tourist nature of the mosque by I was able to ignore that part. I enter the prayer hall and was just looking around. I saw two guys getting some indoor photography tips from some other tourist. One guy looked like Spanish the other a bit Latino with long hair. I just briefly glanced at them as I was being mesmerized by the shear beauty of the mosque. Someone really put a lot of effort behind this. As I was just trying to capture the moment in my mind and camera, I heard Urdu. Now it would be absolutely normal to hear that in Chicago or NY but it made me turn around and I saw the same two guys speaking in Urdu. Obviously I realized that my estimation of nationalities is totally off. So I just went to them and said salaam and asked them where they are from. Once they found that Iím originally from Pakistan as well, they realized that their estimation of nationalities is more off than mine. Well I found two friendly faces in Istanbul to hangout with and they are my best friends to date.|
So anyway, I went to this restaurant with Fuad (the Spanish looking guy) and ordered food. As we are waiting for the food, we heard the maghrib azan. We are both feeling guilty about being right next to a mosque and not going, so we decided to tell the waiter to hold our food until we get back. We quickly went to the nearby mosque which was happened to be called Fuad Mosque. It was my first Salat in Istanbul and the Qirat was one of the most beautiful I have ever heard. We were so impressed that we invited the imam (a young guy of nearly 24 years old) to dinner. We ate our lamb kabobs and something something that I donít remember. The imam took us to the mosque his father is Imam at. It was another small but really beautiful mosque and something that a normal visitor will never get to see. We met kids from all over the world learning Quran at that Madrasa. It was Isha time and we wanted to hear his Qirat again so went back to his mosque. As Iím entering the mosque after doing the Wudu, I was asked by that Imam to say the Azan. From the corner of the eye I saw Fuad smirking. I realized that he set me up for this. Iím trying to tell him, ďbrother you donít want me to say the azanĒ. ďoh no its ok, okÖ. (and something that I didnít quite understand)Ē well so anyway, here I am going to the loud speaker, giving the azan. Now I am by no means a Muazzin. I mean I have never said azan before in the local mosque in Chicago or anywhere else. And here Iím asked to give azan in Istanbul on loudspeaker and everyone outside in the market, restaurants and everywhere else is going to listen to it. So Iím a little nervous. The loudspeaker section of the mosque was outside the prayer hall so no one in the mosque could see who was giving the azan. As I get done with this azan and enter the prayer hall, I noticed that everyone was looking at me. I looked around and I saw Fuad trying to hold his burst of laughter as good as he can. Right after the namaz he told me that it was the most horrible azan he had ever heard. It was reassuring for my vocal capabilities. After that I started singing even more as I realized how annoying I can get when I sing. Just one way to get back at people. So we leave the Masjid and met with our guide lady who was going to show us some other more modern parts of Istanbul. As we are leaving for Taksim square, she said, ďI just heard the most weird azan ever. I usually never pay attention to it (as it was obvious from the way she was dressed), but this one definitely made me listen. It was rather ĎdifferentíĒ. Of course by that time Fuad was rolling on the floor laughing.
Those two and a half days in Istanbul were quite amazing. Besides all the westernization, there was still some spiritual aspect left in its streets, bazaars and of course the mosques. You still see girls in miniskirts walking besides the one in Hijab. I didnít know what to think of it. Most people I talked with were generally good natured, welcoming people. Of course they would think of me as an American but when I tell them that Iím Muslim and from Pakistan I could feel a sense of brotherhood in their eyes. How much of that is sincere, well I wont judge that. Iíll take it for its face value. We spent plenty of time smoking nargilli (huqa) and drinking tea till the early hours in the morning. I slept for 4 hours combined in the two nights there and perhaps it was all that tea keeping me up. The most amazing experience was being woken up by Fajir azan coming from the Blue Mosque. It was a true prayer call as it was good enough to call me (as Iím not a true fajir type person). That Fajir prayer in Blue Mosque was the most spiritual experience of the entire trip.
I was off to Karachi that afternoon and I slept very well during that flight.
|06/22/05 at 09:02:08|
|here are a few more pictures of Istanbul...|
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