Which feature of a mosque will make you excited? If you are an architect, you will look at the structure. If you are a decorator than the decorations will entice you. However we know that all mosques are for prostration. What concerns us more is not the color or design but the peace and serenity we feel in our hearts. A dear friend of mine had once said to me regarding a mosque which was a heritage from the Ottomans, 'This mosque was constructed without any money from usury put into it, so you will feel a different kind of serenity there.'
Last week there was an opening ceremony for a mosque in a village of Burkina Faso. In this village there was a mosque constructed most recently for the first time and in this mosque that was constructed, there was to be an opening ceremony so that Friday prayer could be observed. If they do not publicize to the public with a general ceremony, they do not pray their Friday prayers there. As we were invited we hit the roads with a group of friends to take part in the opening ceremony of the mosque. When I said we hit the roads, certainly Idid not mean beautiful highways. After a short trip on asphalt roads, we got used to dirt tracks, streams and hills.
Is this 'a mosque in Istanbul'?
Before Friday prayer there were speeches made and we entered the mosque with a large crowd in order to pray the Friday prayer. When we say mosque, do not imagine of something like Sultanahmet or Suleymaniye. A little village mosque perhaps. however as it was thought that it would be too small to fit everybody inside, they had also made separate sections for men and women outside with shade. Another factor which also makes it insufficient is that people from the surrounding villages will also come to attend.
However the thing that had made me amazed and emotional, was the contents of the sermon. Here the sermons are read in both Arabic and the local language (in more). The Imam who would read the sermon would certainly talk about the mosque, in the opening ceremony of the mosque. Explain the reasons for its existence and the benefits of it. He had used verses from the holy Quran and the Hadith (traditions of the prophet Mohammed Pbuh) to make references. Everything was normal up to this point. However a little while later he started by saying, ' Beloved Muslims! In Turkey, In Istanbul there is a mosque; did you know? Naturally It suddenly drew my attention and, I started to run through the mosques in my mind that he could be referring to. It could be Ayasofya for example... Why could it not be either Sultanahmet or even Suleymaniye for that matter? As these thoughts were running through my mind, the answer came: 'Pretend I Ate Mosque...' Rather than the architectural resemblance, a mosque which was of a reference point for the raising of funds... He explained the story behind the construction of this mosque. Giving the example of the founder who had left this mosque behind even though he pretended he ate without eating.
A seed planted has effects five thousand kilometers away
This mosque was a different example for the people of Africa who do not have a cent in their pockets and are barely able to feed themselves...
This was a prime example of the community's concept of civilization and belief in the after life. A way out even for those who do not have the necessary means to leave something behind as a form of charity... A rare example of achieving through self imposed abstinence, rather than looking for excuses... That example, had even shed light all the way in Africa.
Although I had not yet had the opportunity to observe daily prayers inside, a masterpiece of our hands in Africa, became an example which gave me both feelings of sadness and pride on the inside. The İmam Effendi had started talking about Pretend I Ate Mosque firstly in Arabic and then in the local language. Portraying it as an example of how humans, if they only want to, can shape for themselves a new and different world. He gave the example of how future maintenance of the mosque, which was handed over to the village as a present, could be taken care of self sufficiently within the community.
Most of our brothers who are reading these sentences have some background about this mosque, even if only a little bit. Certainly I will not tell you about this mosque and the story associated with it... However, I witnessed once again that a seed we had planted had branched of five thousand kilometers away.
At the end of the Friday prayer, it felt almost like I had built that mosque.
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