Greetings from Istanbul! I decided to tag-a-long with my husband on his latest business trip to Turkey. It has been incredible on so many levels. One of the best things about this trip (besides the Turkish delight) has been learning more about Islam. Istanbul is over 90% Muslim and it doesn’t take long in this city to get first hand experience with this beautiful religion and it’s followers.
We were lucky enough to be here during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, a time marked by fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. The restaurants are almost empty during the day, but fill up after dark when eating is permitted in moderation. One thing I learned is that Ramadan is at a different time each year based on the lunar calendar. This means sometimes it is in the winter, but this year it falls in the summer. And today with temps over 85 Β° F here in Istanbul, going without food and water during daylight hours takes serious commitment and faith. Remind me not to complain next fast Sunday.
Another thing I learned about Islam while visiting the Topkapi palace is just how much Christianity has in common with Islam. After viewing the sultan’s collection of relics such as the sword of David, the staff of Moses, and the skeletal arm of John the Baptist, it really hit home how much common ground we share. (Not that I am into holy relics, but you get the idea) They revere so many of the same prophets and adhere to their same teachings.
I think the observation about Islam that has impressed me the most since arriving in Istanbul is how integral religion is in the life of everyday people. From watching fingers flick through prayer beads on the bus ride into town or the call to prayer emanating from the minarets and echoing through the city, it is clear that religion matters to these people. I loved the symbolism of washing feet, putting on a skirt and head scarf to join the others praying in the Blue Mosque. Despite the tourists and the cameras, the commitment and faith of those who came to worship God in that place made the experience sacred.
I have loved my time gathering faith here in Istanbul!

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