Mosque Ethos

There are mosques everywhere here. I mentioned that there is one right across the street from us. Here’s a picture of the minaret that I took from the roof of our hotel which is where we have breakfast every morning. Note the loudspeaker on the minaret.

Through loudspeakers like these, at blaring volume, the Adhān or call to prayer is chanted or sung from each and every minaret of each and every mosque each and every day: 2 hours before dawn to awaken the worshipers for prayer; at dawn; at midday; in the afternoon when the shadows cast by objects are equal to their height; at sunset; and, finally, when the last light of day has disappeared. While we’ve been here, that means the call to prayer has been blasted at us from multiple directions at 3:38 a.m., 5:42 a.m., 1:12 p.m., 5:07 p.m., 8:21 p.m. and 10:08 p.m. And, no, it’s not possible to sleep through or ignore it.

Did I mention that’s SIX TIMES EACH AND EVERY DAY?!?

Turkey is a secular country. But you can’t escape the fact that nearly everyone here is a muslim. No, you don’t have to face Mecca and pray with them at the mosque, but you do have to cover your ears.

Here’s a group of men at Adhān in the afternoon, right down the street from where we were having lunch.

Our hotel is just downhill from the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, commonly known as the Blue Mosque. Built in the early 1600s by the Ottomans, it is one of the largest, if not THE largest mosque we’ve seen here. Certainly, it’s the most well known.

We went inside yesterday after the sunset prayer. Everyone is required to take off and carry their shoes and women must cover their heads and arms; men cannot wear shorts.

It’s called the Blue Mosque because the interior of the domes are covered with beautiful blue tiles:

Muslim men all pray out in the open in the main part of the mosque, underneath the big dome:

But Muslim women are relegated to the back row, behind a railing:

Which reminds me, Turkey is a very male-dominated society, and I imagine that’s the norm in Muslim countries. Women seem to be subordinate in everything, everywhere, the only exception being the younger, modern, non-religious student-types we’ve seen near the university or around Taksim Square or on İstiklâl Caddesi, the upscale shopping street.

Another mosque we visited (today) is the Yeni Cami, or “New Mosque,” built in 1663 next to the Spice Market; “New,” of course, being a relative term:

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