When I told my close friends Miassar and Christina that I’ll be travelling to Istanbul for 3 days, they immediately started recommending places to visit; Christina even lent me her book about Istanbul and highlighted the main attractions and restaurants. My friends are pretty serious travellers and always give excellent advices. While discussing Istanbul, I could see the excitement in their eyes and feel their admiration for the city.
I’ve watched numerous Turkish series and American movies that were filmed in Istanbul and also saw tons of pictures posted by my friends on their facebook accounts and just by looking at those images, I found it incredible.
I remember landing in Istanbul-Asia at 1 AM and took a taxi to Istanbul-Europe, the first thing I got to see was the Bosporus Bridge late night and the lights lighting up the Blue Mosque. The city looked so magical. I want to call it the ‘magical city’, because of the mixture of history and modern being blended together. Like the old street with modern transport, the old buildings with the modern lifestyle.
I love Istanbul, besides the fact that Tim and I got engaged there, I love it because of its food LOL the Kebabs, Izkandar and of course their famous Shawarma sandwiches. We also had fresh cooked fish sandwiches in Eminonu with a pickled drink. Speaking of drinks, are you a coffee lover??? A Turkish coffee is a must. Yes, it is strong coffee but tasty. We had Turkish coffee 3 times a day in Istanbul.
Tim and I are planning on visiting Turkey again however next time would be in another city but I have a feeling nothing is comparable to Istanbul.
Being born and raised in the Middle East, I’m accustomed to hearing the ‘Athan’, which is the call for prayer. The Athan started when the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) choose a freed slave named Bilal as the first Muaathen. Muaathen is someone who calls for prayer, Bilal was chosen by the prophet because of his beautiful soothing voice. He was the winner of ‘the Voice/ Middle East Idol’ during that era.
We were taught in school that a Muaathen must have a calming voice to call on the believers to pray. As mentioned before I’ve adapted to hearing the Athan but I never thought of concentrating on the voice and never understood how an Athan must be chanted gracefully, until Tim and I visited Istanbul.
We both heard the Athan in many parts of the Arab world like Morocco, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Syria, Oman and of course UAE. Some were nice to hear and others were loud and displeasing. Amusingly, I personally enjoyed listening to the Athan in Turkey, it sounded like soft music that soothed my ear and heart.
While there, we managed to visit two famous mosques the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia which is also a church. HOW AMAZING RIGHT??!!! Hagia Sophia was a church which later was transformed into a mosque but kept parts of the churches’ interiors. Both religions are considered the same as we are all descended from the same prophet.
I hope someday the world will come to an understanding on not using religion as power, and realise all religions teach and share the same moralities and standards. Everyone should respect one another and ignore the extremists of any religion. I consider myself very lucky to be exposed to many religions which taught me a lot.
As the Quran says:
لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ
Lakum Dinakum Waliya Deen
“To you your religion and to me mine”