Posts Tagged ‘Islam’

It’s been four months since I left Istanbul to return home to Los Angeles. I can’t say that it was a happy departure. Returning to Los Angeles was difficult to say the least. It took me weeks to get used to not hearing the Call to Prayer ring out across the city five times a day and I missed the clinking of tea glasses, the smell of spices and the damp air coming in off the Bosphorus.

Istanbul was my home for 7 weeks, although when I first arrived there, I had no idea that the city would come to signify home for me. Now, four months later, I have journeyed back to Istanbul and discovered that I am still in awe of this city, I am still enthralled with its vibrance and its livelihood, and it still feels like home. My time here, once again, is limited and in a few short weeks I will be back in Los Angeles, but for now I intend to enjoy the dream that I hope to someday be my reality.

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Eyüp Cemetary. Eyüp is a district located outside of the original city walls and actually predates Istanbul proper. It is home to the Eyüp Sultan Mosque which is a pilgrimage sight in the Muslim faith.

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View from the top of Eyüp Cemetary.

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Walking through the Cemetery.

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View from the Eyüp Cemetery.

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Headstones.

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As we were walking out of the cemetery, we were greeted by hundreds of crows in the trees. It was sort of creepy.

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Rose.

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Eyüp Sultan Mosque.

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Storm Trooper.

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Somewhere in Çihangir.

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Çihangir.

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Galata.

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Galata Bridge. Fishermen on top. Fish restaurants on the bottom. Merely a coincidence.

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Google translate was not exactly helpful when attempting to translate the bottom word. “Bu” means “this”, but Budur???

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“Second Thoughts, Vision, Hearing, Speech” (don’t quote me on this)…

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View from Çihangir.

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Snowflake.

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Let there be light.

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Art.

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Sunset on the Golden Horn.

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Sidewalk.

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No clue.

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Child’s play.

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Street Art.

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Vintage.

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Modern Art.

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I’d happily live there.

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Sheep.

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Istikal Caddesi

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I have no idea…

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Going places.

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I bought 5 of these. Actually, I think I bought those ones…

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I only took a picture of this one. No purchase necessary.

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I still haven’t figured out which mosque this is, but I think it’s beautiful.

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One day I hope to be able to read this.

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A very small cemetery in Sultanahmet.

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Blue Mosque.

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Ottoman candy.

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Decor.

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Lanterns.

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Tiles in the Tokapı Saray

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I just love the way the script looks.

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I had a lot of fun playing with depth of field and geometrical shapes.

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More words I can’t read.

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Now this is a record player (phonograph really).

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Galata Kulesi

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Nescafe and Backgammon = Necessities

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View from the Galata Tower.

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Inside a Synagogue.

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Irresistible Cuteness

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View from Galata Tower.

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Weirdest graffiti I have ever seen…

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Legs for Days…

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Mosque goers.

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Fatıh Camii’nde

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I heart Nescafe.

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Last time I was in Istanbul I flew to Jerusalem to visit my bestie. He has been living there for the past year while studying to be a rabbi. This time he flew to Istanbul to visit me.

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I have no idea what this is, but it looks cool.

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Slightly Disturbing. The red square at the top says “Tahir Square” and at the child’s waist it says “your child.”

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Roses.

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I am pretty sure this says “this is not a butt.” Those Turkish lessons I’ve been taking are paying off.

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What is it with Turkey and disembodied legs?

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Prayers.

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It is customary for muslim men and women to wash their hands, feet and head before entering the mosque. But I think this water spout doubled as a drinking fountain.

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Cheese anyone?

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Such a beautiful city.

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Lollipops.

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This was my hood for this trip.

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Wood paneling.

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One of the pillars that is not like the other in the Cistern.

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Topkapı Saray

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This is not a Canon ad, but sort of is.

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Sardines?

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Awestruck.

‘Til Next Time Istanbul.

Peace and Love.

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I am staying in a hostel in Taksim for my last few days here. I have taken to sitting in my window with my camera and snapping candid snapshots of the people in my new hood. I am so loving this city. Below are some of the images I have shot during my last week. Some are from my window, some are not. All are little tastes of the things I love about this city.

There is an enormous stray cat population in Istanbul. This little guy was sitting in the doorway of the underground mosque in Karaköy.

Shot from the window of my hostel. This woman was basically doing what I was doing – watching the neighborhood go by from her window.

A couple of days ago, I took a boat ride up the Bosphorus. It was the first touristy thing I had done since my first week here. It was nice to be on the water, to see the landscapes and to watch the people relaxing.

This mother was showing her son how to feed pigeons. Feeding flocks of pigeons seems to be something that is common in every city I travel too.

One of the things that I love the most about this city are the community areas. All throughout the city are parks, squares and waterfronts where people gather, sit, drink. eat, and socialize together. Cheap outdoor entertainment that promotes community wellbeing. Love it.

Another shot from my boat ride. I love the reddish brown building.

I see this woman sitting on her balcony and watching the people below almost everyday. Her balcony is just across from my window.

There was something about this grandfather and granddaughter that I loved. I think it was the older generation caring for and guiding the younger one.

Being a predominantly Muslim country, women in head scarves are not an unusual sight. I just finally snapped a picture of one.

I find this city to be so enticing. Not just visually but in every sense. The sights, the smells, the sounds, the feel… I am deeply, madly in love with Istanbul. I can’t wait to live here.

Peace and Love.

God is Great.

I bear witness that there is no God except the one God.

I bear witness that Muhammad is God’s messenger.

Come to prayer.

God is Great.

There is no God except the one God.

The Call to Prayer. Five times a day this call rings out from the minarets of  mosques all over Istanbul and five times a day I am reminded to pause, take a breath and just be.  This beautiful ritual is the thing about this city that I have come to grow the fondest of. Every time I hear it my hear it my heart fills and I am reminded of how blessed I am to be here, how blessed I am to have this experience, and how blessed I am to take a minute to relish in the beauty of devotion.

In the Islamic faith, the call to prayer calls muslims to the mosque for prayer. Each call to prayer is unique to the mosque it comes from and to the muezzin who sings it. From where I stay in Beşiktas, I can hear the calls of three different mosques. It seemed strange to me at first, but during my time here, I have come to love it. It has become a beautiful symbol, to me, of faith and devotion.

I know very little, practically nothing, of the Islamic faith but from what I do understand, the various calls offer up a comprehensible summary of the Islamic beliefs. The calls ring out close to the same times every day: first one around dawn, second one midday, third one around the middle of the afternoon, fourth one just after sunset and the last one at nightfall. Here in Istanbul, at this time of the year, that breaks down to: 4:30am, 11am, 5pm, 8pm, and 11:30pm (these are approximate times).

If you happen to be near a mosque at the time of the call, you can see devotees taking their shoes off, washing their feet and hands and entering the mosque for prayer. The men enter through one door and the women enter through another and from what I can tell they pray separately as well.

The call to prayer recites the first chapter – or sura – of the Qur’an, which is the oath that one has to recite in order to become a muslim (the first pillar). The other four pillars of Islam include Ramadan (a month of fasting from sunup to sundown), Zakat (charitable acts), 5 prayers a day, and a pilgrimage to Mecca. I was talking to a friend of mine who is an Islamic Studies major and it was interesting to hear her take on the Islamic faith because it bore distinct similarities to my own belief. According to her, the most important thing is your own personal relationship with God.  I am not a religious person at all. But I understand this because of my own relationship with some force that is greater than I. I just choose to not define my beliefs with a name.

It has been a truly enlightening experience being here. Coming from where I live, where I am surrounded by strong opinions about the Islamic faith, I can’t say that those ideas haven’t become my own thoughts to some extent. Being here has been an opportunity to open my eyes in a way that they may never have been opened.

My love for this city, and especially my love for the call, are things that I will always carry with me and are experiences that I will always be grateful for. Istanbul has opened my eyes, my mind and my heart.

Peace and Love.

http://www.islamcan.com/audio/adhan/index.shtml – Go to this link if you want to hear what I am talking about. Although, it won’t be the same as hearing it ring across the city, it will still be beautiful.

Tattoos. In my hometown, Los Angeles, tattoos are the favorite accessory. Once thought to be something reserved for the rebellious, the criminal, or the addict, tattoos have become as common in Los Angeles as the “wife-beater” tank top. Although each piece and the reasoning for getting said tattoo remain unique to the owner, tattoos are no longer the taboo thing to do.

Photo Credit: Merel van Beeren

Since I have been here in Istanbul, I have received “special attention” due to my own myriad of tattoos. However “special attention” in this case is not necessarily a positive thing. Dirty looks are the most common of reactions that I receive when someone sees my ink. I have also received looks of curiosity and the occasional jaw-drop. My favorite reactions are those of the children who either stare at me wide-eyed or who are sheepishly intrigued by my “unusual” appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I expected these reactions before I arrived in Istanbul. I have traveled the world enough to know that I can be a bit of an oddity. And I am not complaining by any means… I just find it interesting.

Coming from a culture where body modification has become all the rage, I am struck by how differently it is viewed here and curious as to what inspires such disapproval.

Istanbul, although secular, is a predominantly Muslim city. According to the Islamic faith, tattoos and other body modifications are considered to be Haraam, or forbidden. From what I understand (which isn’t much), because they involve changing the creation of Allah Taa’la, tattoos are something that is not permitted within the Islamic faith. Upon researching the subject, I discovered that the prophet Muhammad cursed those who did tattoos and those who got them. This might explain why I have seen so few tattoos here in Istanbul.

One of my classmates here in Istanbul mentioned to me that she had asked her Kurdish friend about the views on tattoos here in Istanbul. She amusedly reported to me that he had said that people with tattoos are believed to be Satanists. So apparently I am a Satanist… We all had a good laugh about that. But it left me wondering, am I really thought to be a Satanist?  Well, according to The Holy Qur’an, such alterations are considered to be inspired by Satan (shaytaan) who commands his devotees to change what Allah has created. Since I am far from an expert on Islam, in fact I claim to know nothing at all about the faith, I cannot be sure if this is an accurate account of the belief. However, it does make me wonder are tattoos really considered to be so bad as to be inspired by Satan? If so, no wonder I get the looks that I do!

So I then wonder: what about the people here in Turkey that do have tattoos? I know I have seen a few during my time here. Are they ex-pats? Are they not Muslims? Are they simply young and rebellious? What are the consequences, if any, that those who have tattoos face? Are they considered to be social deviants? Do they become outcasts? Are there repercussions within their families? Or do they simply receive the same looks that I get?  I do not have the answers to these questions, but I hope to get them answered before the end of my time here.

Whatever the outlook here is, in regards to tattoos, I will continue to wear my ink with pride 🙂

Peace and Love