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. 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 “connection” with the mosque was already three days before the beginning of the exchange. When we went to the city a Muezzin started to call and pray from the minaret. For me, it felt really strange at first. We started to scream a little bit against the calls from the Muezzin to continue our small talk. But maybe you can compare it with 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, you have to wash before you are allowed to enter the mosque. There are different water taps outside, one side for men, the other for women. They have kind of a fixed process of how to wash and when. One of the five pillars is praying, so Muslims should pray five times a day. But the most important prayer is Fridays.
After washing face, head, and feet (actually, most of our group just watched like the others did), we enter a line of people. 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 the blue scarves and wear 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 entry said to us our legs are 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.
With selfie sticks in the mosque
Finally, we were allowed to went into the mosque. The Hagia Sophia is really big, beautiful and has – I believe as every mosque- many domes. The whole mosque has carpet. One of our German exchange students meant walking without shoes on this carpet feels a little bit more home. We should perhaps do the same in our 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. In the Hagiga Sophia are many tourists. It looks a little bit strange, the women with their scarves on their heads, posing for a photo with their selfie sticks.
It was really interesting to be in a mosque for the first time and hear something about the second biggest religion in the world.