Sitting with Sultans: Day 1
After a long hiatus I have decided to come back and renew my efforts on keeping this site fresh God willing. A lot has happened since my last post, and I will hopefully be updating with some of my latest musings.
The most significant thing to have happened in the last four months was my trip to Istanbul. I am thankful to Allah for having provided me the opportunity to visit such a magnificent city. Having some holiday days left over from work I decided to use it as an opportunity to visit the last capital of the Caliphate, I set out in the penultimate week of March and arrived at Attaturk Airport not really sure of what to expect of this city that I have heard so much about.
Having grown up in the UK, my experience of Turkish people, as with all people who know Turks in the UK, was of a nation who seemed to have abandoned their great Islamic past and sold themselves into the ideas and beliefs of “Attaturkism” to benefit from the social and cultural factors of a secular west. However when one begins to read about the current social climate of Turkey today, as well as taking into account the fact that the current ruling party is accused of having an “Islamist” agenda, and then only ends up being reelected democratically by the Turkish people, one begins to have a sense that maybe things aren’t so bad. (From a Muslim’s point of view anyway).
On arriving at the airport we were greeted by our driver from the hotel, who as per usual for any Muslim driver, didn’t really care much for the safety for himself or his fellow passengers, no wonder why he continuously made dhikr on his prayer beads as we traveled, of which he had numerous ones placed around himself. I was back in Dar al-Islam for sure. We arrived at the Best Western Acropolis hotel, a nice decent place to stay which is located in a very touristy road in the Sultanahmet area. It’s greatest feature, as a quick Google will tell you, is its location. Head left out of the hotel and up a few steps and you arrive at the Blue Mosque (aka Sultanahmet Camii), head right and then up a slope and you end up at the Aya Sofia. We arrived at our hotel just before Isha, and on hearing the call to prayer which echoed rhythmically and synchronously throughout the city we decided to go the Blue Mosque for prayer, though we just missed it, one of the greatest experiences you can have of this city is being able to pray in this Mosque.
As soon as you enter any typically grand Turkish Mosque, the first thing that hits you will be the high ceiling, drawing your attention heavenwards towards the source of creation and uplifting the soul to prepare you to meet your Creator. This was only 2 hours into our holiday, and I had a feeling it was going to be good…