mosque

11Apr09

i had never been in a mosque before this week.  at sunset on tuesday, after tea + hookah with the turkish students, we explored this hilly area in beyoğlu, on the european side of istanbul, north of the golden horn harbor.  in our typical itinerant style, roger and i stumbled around for a bit…and ended up in this mosque [it was bound to happen in a city of 3000 of them]

a welcoming nod from an elderly local was all we needed — we creaked open the heavy stone door, took off our shoes, and tiptoed onto the soft [and somehow luscious?] green carpet.  my thoughts, from a highly non-divine perspective:

-there is something about the physical feeling of carpet being gingerly squished underneath toes that conjures in me a feeling of protection and homeyness.

-mosque architecture – the space underneath the domed roof, the bright colors of the walls, the absence of statures/figures/icons, and others praying in silence – gives me an incredible sense of serenity.

-this physical feeling + spiritual feeling added together makes me want to duck inside every single mosque i pass here in istanbul. [there are many.]

-however, it is not unaccompanied by an unbalancing feeling of ignorant unfamiliarity…what do i do with my hands?  how should i sit?  is my uncovered head disrespectful?  should i try to pray along with everyone else?

praying at the windows of the blue mosque

praying at the windows of the blue mosque

inside the hagia sophia

inside the hagia sophia, now a museum (thanks to ataturk)

being in istanbul and seeing all of the layers of christianity/islam, old/new, east/west, this/that all piled on top of each other, shaken around, and expected to play nicely together throughout the course of history has opened up my spirituality perspective a great deal.  at this point in my life, i don’t think i want to be a fully religious person, but i want to experience other religions.  i want to see what they see, feel what they feel…without commitment, without a lasting label, just to get a tasty learning morsel without being forced to call it my own.  i realized that this mentality is how i deal with many things — major of study, scheduling too many appointments, dating habits, menu choices…

is this selfish?

blue-and-hagia

hagia sophia and the blue mosque - they face each other as peers, but while blue has six minarets to sophia's four, she is a millennium older

Patriarchal Cathedral Church of St. George (Aya Yorgi) - aka the the worldwide headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Church (a rather unassuming building from the outside, but unlike any other church interior ive been to)

patriarchal cathedral church of st. george (pronounced 'Yorgi') - the worldwide headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Church. a rather unassuming building from the outside, but definitely makes up for it in splendor and interior gildedness

looking up and listening to the entire history of christianity at this one of many church-turned-mosque

looking up and listening to the entire history of christianity at this (one of many) church-turned-mosque

amsterdam's got nothin on turkey's tulips

amsterdam's got nothin on turkey's tulips

on-the-streets

how many abandoned cats do you see here at the topkapi palace?  hint: you may or may not be able to count them on one hand

how many abandoned cats do you see here at the topkapi palace? (hint: you may or may not be able to count them on one hand.) it was said that while obama was in istanbul on tuesday (during which all of the roads were closed, forcing us to change our schedule around his), he pet a cross-eyed cat. i may have pet the same cat that obama did.

sunset on asia minor, looking out from anatolia

after riding a ferry from the european side....sunset greets us on asia minor, while looking out from the anatolian side

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4 Responses to “mosque”

  1. 1 J.Kang chu

    I am interesting in the church-turned-mosque buildings. The paintings on the wall look like christianity, but the architecture is mosque. Did it turn to church and mosque back and forth during crusades? what is the bar for between the walls?

  2. Why do I even bother reading your blog – all it makes me do is want to write the world “jealous” since I think you know all too well just how jealous I really am.

    When it comes to spirituality – I think it’s just natural for you to feel that way at this point in your life.

    One of the biggest comforts to is of course my faith – which I am nothing but blessed to say makes getting through the day to day so much easier.

    Of course no comment would be complete without the – MISS YOU COME BACK SOON.

  3. 3 inmexico

    que bella. .

    i love the feeling of being in a spiritual place… the tranquility, serenity, and timelessness. i would say that i feel like a spiritual person but not a particularly religious one. religion is just a way to experience spirituality….

  4. 4 American Orthodox

    This place was a church one day, it was turned into a mosque after a bloody masacare, by (Mohammed el-Fatih)’s Army, but tthanks to Mustafa Kamal Ataturk.


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