Ramadan 2013!!

Bismillah,

Yesterday was the first day of Ramadan in Turkey, and the second time I’m here during Ramadan. I’m very grateful that I’m here because there’s so much more spirituality in the air, waking up with the trumpet and having suhoor until you hear the adhaan, and having iftaar when you hear the adhaan again. Everybody is fasting, even those who are not very practising, and people around you are reciting the Quran.. the whole country is simply in another mood.
On the other hand I do feel guilty for not spending enough time on ibadah, as we go out and meet other family, although that’s also a good deed. This is my last day in Istanbul, I will be spending the next 2,5 weeks in our village in Giresun, perfect place for Ramadan.

On saturday the rest of my family arrived in Turkey, alhamdulillah it was really good to be reunited again. Along with them my Dutch/Indonesian friend came to visit Turkey. It’s the first time that I brought a non-Turkish friend with me to Turkey. As I expected everybody welcomed her and she feels accepted too, although communication is not very effective 😀

On monday we went to the European side of Istanbul, where most of the beautiful places are located (my family mostly lives on the Asian side). We visited several mosques (Fatih mosque, Suleymaniye mosque, Sultan Ahmet/Blue mosque, Yavuz Selim mosque) and the Topkapi Palace. I’ve been to these places many times, except for the Topkapi Palace, so it wasn’t anything new for me. But in the Sultan Ahmet mosque I became very emotional. I prayed dhuhr there and looked at the mosque and the people in front of me. The view was simply amazing, the enormous building and beauty everywhere. But the visitors… I would have much more preferred to see people in islamic attire, reciting Qur’an, praying and remembering Allah. Instead of people having fun and taking thousands of pictures. The primary purpose of this building was not to facilitate the worship of the Creator but to serve as a tourist attraction. This made me very sad, especially as I thought about the great people who built it and put so much effort in it. But at the end only Allah knows their intention. And it’s a great way of showing what Islam is about to people who have maybe never even met one muslim in their lives, and now they can see muslims praying in such a beautiful places with their own eyes.

The Topkapi Palace also stirred up many emotions inside me. We had less than an hour to explore the place because we had to meet my brother at a certain place, and so we had to hurry a lot. I would suggest to spend a whole day at this palace as it’s huge and almost endless. It is very strange to see objects from a different time, centuries old things right there in front of you, while now we can only read about those times and try to imagine how it must have been. There were several collections but the one that caught my attention was the collection of armour. It was SO beautiful! It’s obviously not necessary to make such beautiful things to use in war, but wow if I were to be the enemy I would be amazed by the splendour of these materials and get scared. It was a very strange thought that my forefathers used these materials to conquer and protect the places where my family now lives, the place I come from. And how strong must they have been to carry such big things and also fight using them. How strange is it that they are now gone and we display their stuff in a museum.. indeed every nation has an appointed time when they have to leave this temporary world. And alhamdulillah as much as the thought of dying causes fear inside us it is a comfort to know that we will not live here forever, there will not always be imperfection, this place is not endless. But until that time we will might have to wait for such a long time in our graves.. we should be wise and make it a good wait while we still can.

At around 7 pm we took the ferry back to the Asian side (after the SCARIEST taxi-drive ever, I seriously thought the driver would kill someone accidentally). At this point the sun was very low in the sky. And the view was… beyond any words.. I will show the pictures, but seriously everybody should see this once. Yesterday after iftar my cousin brought us to the Bosphorus again. This time it was dark outside and subhanAllah! So so so so so beautiful.. I just don’t know what to say about it. The water, mountains, lights, bridges… I fell in love with it.
After that we also went to a hill called Camlica, from where you can see both the Asian and European side of Istanbul, and the Bosphorus.. It’s almost magical haha 🙂

I will try to finally upload some pictures!

Day eight – eleven

6 June 2013
Bismillah
Yesterday we left Karasu in the morning. We headed towards a nearby village called Elmalisu (water with apple :p) and on the way we passed by a place called Acarlar Longozu, google image it and you will see beautiful pictures of nature. I didn’t really enjoy it that much as I was very thirsty and the midday sun and long walk on a wooden bridge through the forest made it even worse. But alhamdulillah it’s always good to be in nature and the place reminded me of Holland, just a lot of water and trees in abundance. It didn’t cause me to feel that kind of desperation that I felt when I was in the village. But too soon things changed :p for the good or the bad.. you judge.
So we made our way through the typical villages of Turkey… long, curvy and mountainous roads. I just sat in the car enjoying the beautiful scenery and hoping that my uncle’s crazy driving wouldn’t give this journey a bad ending. Then we safely arrived in the village and found our acquiantances from Holland. They showed us around in the village and this by now all too familiar feeling got control over me again.
I watched the huge and endless fields and mountains of the village, that reached as far as my eyes could behold. I felt so much awe for the one who had created it. After two years I could witness the vastness of the earth, which we often seem to forget with our walls and laptops being our most common view. It’s such an eye opener.. to think that I’m looking at a mountain or watching the waves of the blacksea, while if you were to show me on a map on the world I wouldn’t even be the size of a black dot. Such a crazy and scary thought. I simple can’t comprehend the vastness of this earth, let alone the universe or what is beyond the heavens… subhanAllah! We our minisculous beings, hardly anything at all. The only thing that gives us worth is our ability to carry tawheed in our hearts.
One thing I learned in the past days is that nobody will care about your happiness but you should. And even less people will care about your hereafter, but you definitely should. On the day of judgment everyone will forget about their love or hate for you in this world, you will be left all alone with your deeds and body to testify for or against you.
Another thing I reminded myself of is that those who truly believe will not have fear or sadness. But this is when you fear the hereafter and become sad about your misdeeds. Then Allah will reward you by giving you hope and peace with His remembrance. As a muslimah I shouldn’t just have these feelings of fear when I think about how big and scary everything is but I should use this fear to remind me of the hereafter and strive to be a better person.
We arrived at maghrib yesterday in Istanbul, and it was as always welcoming me with warmth and love. Here I don’t have those feelings as I do outside the city, because Istanbul really feels like a home to me. But still it’s not the same as in Holland where I feel safest as there’s nothing as huge as there is here. It’s funny how none of the locals has these thoughts (I guess..). For them they are so used to this place that they can’t imagine anything different, if they but knew what kind of place they’re living in..!
Tomorrow my dad, sisters and friend are coming in sha Allah. I just can’t wait to see people who are like me!! And my beloved family and friend..
One day we will part forever, from all those whom we know and from this worldy life.. next comes the hereafter with its vastness..

Day five – seven

30 June 2013
Bismillah
I’m actually writing this on the first of July and I’m so happy that time has passed because the end of this test is near.. today was a special day for me.
I left the home early today so that I would be gone before the music started. I took the bus again and their was a really funny kid but I don’t want to backbite 😀 the kids here are so funny they just scream in the streets and more crazy stuff. I bought something called pide, bread filled with meat, for less than 50 cents and wanted to find a place outside to sit. But there was only one mini park where lots of men and families were sitting together so I didn’t want to go there. I started walking uphill towards the villages in the mountains, no idea why I did it but although it was really tiring and I was sweating all over I just didn’t want to return to the city centre. I walked tirelessly for half an hour or so and it felt as if I was in my own village in Giresun. People were staring at me thinking who is this strange woman, and the sound and smell of animals, clothes hanging outside to dry etc etc. There was also an old woman who asked me who I was and where I come from. It turned out that she’s also from Giresun, and she said it doesn’t matter where you’re from we are all kardesh (one word that means both brother and sister). I thought that was so cute and I was happy that someone like her talked to me because villagers do not always welcome strangers.. especially if they look as weird as I do 🙂
Then I finally turned around and went downhill, there were young men on bicycles and I wished I could have one too and get down that hill in one minute while it took me half an hour to get to the top.
I prayed dhuhr at the masjid and not surprisingly someone talked to me again. This time it was an aunty who wore khimar and she came from Istanbul to visit someone. She asked me whether I had swum in the sea and I said no. She said she hadn’t either and that it’s not something for US to do. Man was I happy to hear that word. Finally someone who doesn’t think I’m weird or that I was raised in a cave! I was so happy that Allah gave me the chance to speak to someone who understands me.
But that wasn’t all 🙂 I went home after buying some oils from a herbal store (my favourite place to shop….. :D) and getting discount without even asking for it..
In the evening my uncle’s sister in law and her friend came to visit us. And she’s a very conscious person whom I have always loved even as a child. We talked about islam and it felt so good.
It feels like Allah sent these people so that I feel less lonely and more motivated, alhamdulillah. The other visitor is going to send her child to me tomorrow so that we can read Qur’an, finally it feels like I can do something useful. Just gotta make the best of it before it’s time to go back to my oh so beloved country :p no seriously, I’m so happy that my parents gave me an islamic upbringing in a non muslim country. I wanted to make it a nice ending but I’m too sleepy……………………
2 June 2013
Yesterday wasn’t such a special day or maybe I was too lazy to write :p anyways, I just wanted to write a bit about today and something I forgot to mention about the village. For the rest it was quite normal and the music was much less alhamdulillah.
When I was in the village I felt something that I feel whenever I’m in any village. And I must say that it’s quite scary. It’s this feeling of total emptiness, quiet, boredom, nothingness. The thought that your every single day consists of doing exact the same things, nothing new happens, no new experiences or lessons.. subhanAllah that’s just so scary..
I guess it’s because I’m so used to living in stress and a very dynamic life. I don’t know if this has to do with village life or villages in Turkey, because I’ve always dreamt of living in a poor place with a very islamic environment..
My uncle says that I will never be able to survive in a poor country because I can’t even stand some things in Turkey. I think it depends on how much you love a country.. because if your determination to stay is strong enough you can conquer any problem and my biggest problem is that I get sick of dirty things but you can create your own clean environment.
The last few days the weather wasn’t very good, the sea was extremely wild and nobody went to the sea. So what did I do…. I went to a walk on the beach and wet my feet. But soon my legs got wet too so I thought I might as well go deeper into the sea. It was more than 6 years ago when I went swimming in the sea. Well I couldn’t really swim because the waves were so big but it felt so good to just let myself go with the flow 😀
Alhamdulillah I feel much more energetic and healthy. Ready to go back to Istanbul in two days in sha Allah.