Monday, 17 May 2010

More from Eyup Sultan

An Ottoman-style military band plays in front of Eyup Sultan Masjid on Friday mornings before prayers.

Waiting in line to see what is supposed to be a footprint of the Prophet Mohammed (salallahu alayhe wa sallam) pressed into a polished stone, and the supposed tomb of the companion of the Prophet, Khalid ibn Zayd (radiallahu anhu). He died so long ago, it’s hard to say exactly where his grave actually lies. We saw another reputed footprint of the Prophet at Topkepi Palace, also in Istanbul.

You can see some of the famous Ottoman ceramic tiles on the walls, and Rukiye telling me to hurry up and quit taking pictures of everything. The Thuhr athan had been called, and we thought we were going to pray in the masjid, but we had to wait for the men to finish.

We wandered around looking at tombs for quite a while, and then wandered around the markets near the masjid, and had a look at the beautifully restored old row houses nearby. Some of the women were standing in a circle praying around a deep spring or well of some sort, flush with the paving stones outside a tomb.

By this point we had been waiting for several hours, and Thuhr prayer was almost over. The masjid and the courtyards around it were still packed with men praying on straw mats.

Here we are waiting outside a tomb, just down the path from the men praying. I admit I look a little freaky in that outfit, and my niqab was misbehaving, but that lady on the left blatantly stared at me all afternoon. You would think the novelty would wear off after a few hours.

I voted to find a private spot and pray by ourselves, rather than miss the prayer entirely, but I was overruled. It's not appropriate for ladies to pray outside.

Thuhr wasn’t quite over, so I waited, and we eventually made our way into the masjid and up the tiniest spiral staircase I have ever seen (I wish I had a picture of that), to the women’s balcony – except that there were still men sitting around up there, damnit. There was plenty of room downstairs by that point, I really think the men should have moved down so the women could pray in privacy, while there was still time. I have to take my niqab off to pray, and I didn’t want the men sitting around staring at me, so I stood behind a group of women.

The men file back out of the masjid after prayers. That gold and white bay window on the right is the tomb of Khalid ibn Zayd (radiallahu anhu), and just to the left of it, under the red Turkish flag, is the footprint of the Prophet (salallahu alaye wa sallam).