Visiting a few sites and the start of Ramadan
Faryal Khatri provides this report on the sights of Istanbul and the beginning of Ramadan
Greetings everyone! I apologize I haven’t had the chance to write.
My aunt and her kids have spent the past year in Istanbul taking part in Al Madina Institute’s Suhba Fellowship. In addition to starting the month of Ramadan here, my primary purpose of visiting Istanbul is to join my aunt for her classes. Before I get more into that, I want to update you on some of the places I visited over the weekend.
On Saturday, my first full day, I began the day by joining my aunt at a sister’s gathering for dhikr (remembrance of God). The gathering was hosted by the fellowship program. We read selected verses of the Qur’an and did dhikr together. Dhikr is a practice of remembering of God in which one repeats a phrase or an attribute/name of God. Often this is done using a prayer bead to keep count. I was thankful to have begun my stay in Istanbul with prayer and remembrance of God.
Later in the evening, we visited the Fatih neighborhood. We shopped at the boutique stores that lined the street leading up to the Fatih Camii (mosque) where we prayed maghrib, the sunset prayer. All of the mosques are absolutely stunning! Afterwards, we ate dinner a local restaurant as well as kunafa from a famous Syrian restaurant nearby. Everything was delicious! We concluded the day by going to a smaller mosque in the Fatih neighborhood for isha, the final of our five daily prayers, and dhikr.
On Sunday, we took the ferry to visit the Eyüp Sultan Camii which is situated in the Eyüp district of Istanbul. The mosque’s grounds include the tombstone of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (Eyüp Sultan) who was a close companion of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him). After the migration from Mecca to Medina (commonly known as the hijra), Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him) had stayed in Abu Ayyub al-Ansari’s home. It was the Ottoman Turks in Istanbul after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. It was a powerful experience to visit such a historically significant site and reflect on the story of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari.
I was quite tired after 2 full days of visiting sites and stayed home most of the day yesterday. However, I did make a visit to the newly opened Çamlıca Camisi to pray dhuhr, the mid-day prayer.
It is the largest mosque in Turkey. It can hold up to 63,000 people and includes a museum, art gallery, library, conference hall, and underground parking lot for 3,500 vehicles. (It was designed by two female architects!)
It’s an overwhelming site and difficult to put in words. If you’re not able to visit Turkey, I recommend a visit to the Diyanet Center in Maryland which is a mosque built to resemble those in Turkey.
Last night, we welcomed the month of Ramadan and had the first night of taraweeh, the Ramadan nightly prayers. I prayed at Kaptanpaşa Camii, which is literally across the street. I love being able to walk to the masjid. I’m looking forward to the spiritual growth and transformation of Ramadan, particularly here in a Muslim-majority country.
Hope to write again soon with more on Ramadan!Tags: Faryal Khatri, Istanbul, prayer, Ramadan, Turkish culture