Haşim Akın - Turkey
Each society has its own unique dynamics. It is these local dynamics that distinguish societies from each other. The difference in the language spoken is not enough to constitute it. Although it may be strange to us and our culture, these unique and integral parts make them a ‘society’.
We have some acquaintances came from Burkina Faso to Turkey for a one-year education. We wanted to visit their families and helped to let up their problems since it is a difficult situation to handle on your own. We took the road to let them know that they are not alone and we are here to share their longing.
Society making no sentence of complain
On the road we learned that a Burkinese never complains. Even if you ask a Burkinese on his deathbed “How are you?”, the answer would be “I am fine!”. Therefore we will not ask them what are their problems. Because the answer for this question is ready: they will say their gratitude to the God. They will not tell any of the troubles to you. If it is possible, you should relieve them without asking their problems. It is their culture; one should be careful in this respect.
We learned that in the house of Yahya, who works as a teacher, his parents lived. Although it was difficult to find the house, finally we managed it. We arrived at a house with a small garden. The elderly mother sitting in front of the entrance door in the garden has been waiting for us. We went inside and sat on the couch. Shortly afterwards, Yahya’s mother came and said “Welcome!” to us over her knees and she prayed earnestly. The happiness of the visit made on behalf of her son, who is away from home, can be seen in the old eyes of her.
“May Allah increase the muhabbah amongst you in your working environment!”
While the mother continued her pray, Ali, who was a guide of us, got up from the couch we sat in and sat down on the floor, telling us to continue sitting. He put his right hand in his chest and said many pray sentences, later we learned that they are traditional prayers in the local dialect. Then we gave the presents we bought for them.
They tried to express their excessive happiness; it truly beggars all description. We said to all the prayers “Ameen!”, although only some of them were translated. The most important and interesting prayer they have made is, “May Allah increase the muhabbah (love) and affection amongst you in your working environment!” (We heard the same prayer in all three houses that we had visited. We understood that here it is worth praying for it). Prayers for our children, for the means bringing us to Burkina Faso, and for Turkey… They are enough to get your fatigue in the scorching heat.
Ali sat down on the floor and greeted her since the mother was very old. This is an expression of respect due to her age… Here people do not kiss hands of the old; however, they have interesting expressions of respect for the elderly. Beyond doubt it is not possible for us to memorize all of the prayers. But I know that the only One, that should hear the prayers, has already heard them.
The tradition of centuries: Talking without looking at the face of the collocutor
When we left the house, immediately we asked our guide Ali about the meaning of this prayer ceremony. In the local custom of this place, a woman does not welcome a male guest while standing. Even if the male guest’s age is smaller than her, she gets down on her knees while greeting. Sometimes she can be sit down on the floor depending on the level of respect shown. In fact, this was not a scene we have seen for the first time.
However, when we first saw it, we considered it as a custom originated from the times of French exploitation. But over time we learned that these are deep-rooted. For example, it was very strange to me that not looking at the face of the person while speaking to. But over time we realized that these are the local dynamics that cannot be changed easily. It is also meaningless to change them, if it is not opposed to the essence of Islam. The young ones talk to the older ones without looking at their faces.
They are happy with these traditions even if we think that they are strange. We have never attempted to change the attitudes of our students as well. The behaviors which are the sign of respect to us are seen differently by them.
However the social structure is competent and the society is peaceful… There is no complain of life. Now the ones, making complains about anything although they are in so many blessings, should feel their ears burning…
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