My way to Istanbul

Finally I made it. It was my dream since 2008 to visit Turkey for many reasons. And as you will go along this page you will see what the reasons were.  It was the beginning of June when I left Dhaka for Istanbul. Actually I was invited for an exchange program for youth. It took around 14 hours to reach Istanbul including 2 hours transit at Doha in Qatar. Or else it will take 9 hours straightway from Dhaka to Istanbul without any break.

No sooner I arrived at Istanbul Airport I felt the shivering feeling at my first glance at the first Minar of a Masjid I saw. All the Masjids’ in Istanbul looks like exactly the same. All are built on following the Ottoman architectural model. Nearly all Masjids have two Minars and the main body contains a huge dome. When I saw the first Minar at a moment I went on the pages of history and I was surrounded by an all encompassing nostalgic feeling. The old good days of Khilafah was become so vivid in front of my subconscious eyes.

At the Immigration in Ataturk International Airport something very amazing was awaiting for me. Unlike Bangladeshi immigration authority they just look over the passport of mine and ask “Bangladesh right?” and gave a seal over the visa page and allow me to enter. I’ve never been to Europe before but I can bet it would not be so easy to enter into almost all European countries for me being a South East Asian Muslim. Since the take over of Power by Justice and Development Party in Turkey one of wonderful things Turkey did is the openings of relation with the world. And now Turkey has made visa free entrance available for around thirty countries. Outside the airport our friend Murat was waiting with the banner of our program. Along with some other friends of this program we took the minibus for the hotel in Laleli.

Istanbul is a very clean city. I asked some European friends in the program about their city and they say that Istanbul will be in the top few cities in Europe when it comes to cleanliness. City roads are very often surrounded by open parks and as the afternoon approaches many family come here to have some family time. I saw most of the cases they celebrate it with Bar Bq. Along with Bar Bq there are some special foods that I must tell. Turkish Adana Kebap is very famous and special. Just like our Shik Kabab they have Shish Kebap. There are lots of other items and I don’t want to make my reader so uncomfortable that she/he can’t continue reading. I will just end the food part by saying that our Polao is called Pilao in Trukey.

At the beginning part of our program we went to a place called Kazlıçeşme to participate in the “one million man meeting”. It’s a place in the shore Marmara Sea. Its just an amazing place and the weather was fantastic. Here I saw the zeal of people for their leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey. All the people regardless of age, sex or cultural or ethnic identity were chanting slogan for him. I found huge group of volunteers distributing water and sandwiches’ literally to the millions.

We used to live in the European part of Istanbul. This part contains most of the historical places like Sultan Ahmet Masjid the called as Blue Mosque in the west or Hagia Sophia museum or the Topkapi Palace are in the European part. So this is no wonder that the European part is so crowded by tourists. In the tourist hotspots of Istanbul the tourist largely from western countries will make you really feel like you are in Europe. The Asian part consists basically Industrial and commercial buildings. Regardless of be it in the European part or in the Asian part the thing that overwhelmed me is the number of Masjids in the city. I tried it many times and I came to the conclusion that it’s nearly impossible for you to not be able to get rid off the sight of at least Minar of one Masjid. Masjid is everywhere and it is very vivid to notice.

We went to the district visits in Istanbul. There is a bit differences in the culture and lifestyle in different districts of Istanbul. The districts of Istanbul are almost similarly developed like that of the capital areas of Istanbul. The areas like Beşiktaş are much more westernized. The city life is faster than the other areas. People from this kind of area are less religiously devoted than that of the places like Fatih where the Sultan Ahmet Masjid is located.

Turkey is rising. It is rising economically, politically, militarily and academically. The economic strength which increased the per capita income and decreased the inflation has made the life easier. Recently Turkey has become a regional power and key player in geo strategic decision making. I saw the fervor and zeal of the people in the streets of Istanbul for oppressed people of Palestine. I went to the office of İnsani Yardım Vakfı (IHH) the volunteer NGO that sent the first flotilla to Palestine and many of their members was martyred by Israelite occupant forces.  I talked to the officials of the NGO about their activities and I come to know about the details of their works in Bangladesh. People of Istanbul and Turkey as a whole have deep love and sympathy for Palestine. It is obvious and manifested.

I forgot to say about the Topkapi palace. It’s a place where you can feel your past present and future at the same time. Actually I was lost in deep contemplation when I was visiting it. Apart from the furniture and essentials of Sultans’ there are some real treasures. There is a Turban of Prophet Yusuf (PBUH). Are you shocked or something? And there is the famous stick of Prophet Musa (PBUH). There are some essentials of our holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) like his plate in which he used to take food. There are swords of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Swords’ of Khulafaye Rasheda. There are also the cloths of Fatimah (Ra) and Ali (Ra). So there are enough reasons to be lost in Topkapi.

I saw the election in Turkey. It’s festive in Istanbul but less noisy than that of Dhaka. All the roads are bannered and festooned by the different party and the Micro and Mini buses covered with Party banners are always on patrol to make propaganda. On the Election Day I saw no special security arrangement and the vote went on without too much special attentions.  At the evening I was observing the results in AKP Headquarters. When the victory results started to come then the whole complex burst into celebration. Flags were everywhere and the music was so live. Everyone was singing and dancing. In the streets the car rally started already. Cars made queue and hit the horn with some sort of bit or harmony. The celebration was fabulous.

After about two weeks in Istanbul when I landed Dhaka I was sure that I brought some part of Istanbul with me. The part I and you belong to the heritage of being the part of the Ottoman Khilafah. When I see the pictures or videos of Istanbul or when I contact with my friends in Istanbul thorough Facebook it’s very frequent that I feel a very deep shivering inside. For some moments I get lost in myself. The pages from history comes back through my mind and through the window of future I look forward to the another episode of Turkey which is yet to be written but already is being called by many as “the New Ottomans’ “.

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