Istanbul

Assalamu alaikum, peace be with you

 

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.

May God’s peace and blessing be with you all

 

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The Sulaimaniya Camii – we arrived in time for one of the prayers, it was very quiet

Sulaimaniya camii - dome

Built for Sulaiman the Magnificent by the great Mimar Sinan (see my post on Ederne for his masterpiece). Every Ottoman Sultan was expected to have a trade, and Sulaiman was a gifted jeweller – hence the jewel-theme artwork. The walls also had many marble elements inspired by fine jewel settings.

 

I think this is the Yeni (=new, its 400+ yrs old!) camii. Built by one of the mother of one of the Sultans. Amazing iznik tile work.

 

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Listening to a reciter or ‘qaari’ after the end of the salah

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Detail. Subhanallah!

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The Rustom Pasha camii – a little know camii tucked away on the top story above the busy shops of the spice bazar. Absolutely stunning, I have many photographs of the tile designs unfortunately I can’t post here. Each tile hand painted and each will have a small defect that allows the artist to recognize it as their work. And also according to the Muslim ethos in art, that perfection belongs to God alone.

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the dome from the ‘kucik ayah sofia’ (little aya sofia)

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The Sultan Ahmet camii or Blue mosque. A poorly taken picture of the early dawn light coming in.

 

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