When a West European girl visits a mosque for the first time …
Visit the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul
Most immigrants in my home country Germany are from Turkey. Nonetheless, I never knew much about Islam. A really good friend told me once something about the five pillars of religion. His mother is from Turkey, so he knows a lot more about Islam than I do. Actually, I really had the wish to visit a mosque a long time ago. I got this chance when my university in Berlin had an exchange with Istanbul. This should be the first time I would see a mosque from inside. It was really exciting for me.
Actually, my first contact with the mosque was already on the first day of my arrival in Turkey. When we went through the city a Muezzin started to call and pray from the minaret. For me, this was really new and unexpected. But I guess you could compare it to the bells from Christian churches, they also call the believers into the church.
Washing rules and blue scarves
I really like the architecture of the big mosques in Istanbul. We visited the Hagia Sophia. First of all, we had to wash before we were allowed to enter the mosque. There are different water taps outside, one side for men, the other for women. They have a fixed process of how to wash and when.
After washing the face, the head, and the feet, we entered a line of people to enter the mosque. In front of the mosque, they distribute blue scarves for women. Because when a woman wants to enter the mosque she has to cover her legs, arms, and hair. So we all tried to hide our hair with blue scarves and wore long blue skirts (actually, I don’t know why we had to wear these skirts because all of us had long pants, but the men at the entrance said to us our legs were too skinny). The last stop before entering the mosque is a floor where you have to take off your shoes. Everyone gets a plastic bag for his shoes.
A FEELING LIKE HOME
Finally, we were allowed to go into the mosque. The Hagia Sophia is really big, beautiful and has – I believe like every mosque – many domes. The whole mosque has carpeted floors. One of our German exchange students said that walking without shoes on this carpet feels a little bit more like home. We should perhaps do the same in our Christian churches.
The mosque seemed very bright and colourful with its beautiful windows, painted domes and pillars. The lamps hung really deep, this was special for me.
It was really interesting to be in a mosque for the first time and hear something about the second-biggest religion in the world.
First written on Thursday, May 05th, 2016, you have read the blog post First time in a mosque – Visiting Hagia Sophia in Istanbul on My Travel Journal-Blog.