Insaan Fani – Waqif Abad i

The Turkish Odyssey Part 1
May10 to May 19, 2005

It is difficult for me to express what I feel, see and absorb here. During the crusades when Salahuddin Ayyubi was fighting the combined Christian armies, his opponent Richard the lion heart the combined commander of Christian armies was assembling his forces in this city. The entire Christian world had sent their forces and from this very edge of Europe they entered into Asia and Middle East to attack Muslims in Syria and Palestine.

(Hadees giving Bisharat to that army and its Amir who capture Constantinople) Imagine the importance of this city that Huzoor Sallaah alaihe wassalam had given bisharat that whoever Muslim army would capture this city, would be jannati and so would be his commander. The host of Rasool Allah (saw) sayyaedna Abu Ayub Ansari (ra) was among the first Sahabis to lead the army which set to conquer this city. He died just outside the city walls and was buried there. For one thousand years, he remained there waiting the commander and the army which would fit the Bisharat of Huzoor (saw). Till Allah sent Sultan Fatih, the Usmani sultan who saw Huzoor in dream and was given the Bisharat. He was so confident that he pulled his entire naval fleet on ground for six miles to cross a piece of land which stood between him and the Constantinople, the greatest city in Christian world. Hagia Sophia, the greatest monastery and church of that time was here and still stands.

Hagia Sophia (Aya Sophia Masjid) the lost pride of Christian world) It was Fatih who captured this city. Easier said than done. If you see the walls of the city, they are many meters thick, stretching for miles along the sea all across the city and with many layers of defense, the city could not be captured by anyone before, except by our beloved Jannati Sultan Fatih.

(Fatih Sultan rests in peace here)

(Fatih’s banner -- That was the time when banner of Usmani armies fluttered high in Europe in the greatest Muslim empire ever) That was the beginning of the greatest Muslim empire which kept expanding all across form Russia to Austria and from Yemen to North Africa. Draw this on the map and see how big this empire would be. Istanbul was called "Islambol", the city which spreads Islam. Then somewhere it got changed to Istanbul by later Turks, who obviously did not want to spread Islam. Then started the greatest period in history of this Islambol. Every Sultan built a huge mosque, all on same design. They are things of unmatched beauty and power and grandeur. Sultan Ahmed masjid, called famous blue mosque and Sulaimanya masjid and so many smaller but like them dot the seven great hills of the city. The city is called city of seven hills and each masjid is most dazzlingly visible from the sea and from the land.

Naturally, when Constantinople became Islambol and came under Muslim control, Sultan Fatih built a mausoleum on the Rauza of Sayyedna Abu Ayub Ansari and it stands today with all his greatness, grandness and adb.

Alhamdolillah, went to say Fatiha to sayyedna Ayub every day and it was beautiful. Went to say fatiha for Sultan Fatih, jannati King, and paid my respects. He is the Salahuddin of that era. Prayed in masjids of sultan Ahmed and Fatih and Sulaimania and on so many places. This city came under severe attack from Christians in First World War but Allah kept it in the hands of the Muslims. Like we Muslims mourn loss of Bait-ul-Maqdas, Christians mourn the loss of this city and come in thousands to see what they have lost. In their hearts, they hate Turks despite the fact that Turks are more Europeans then Europeans these days. It hurts to see the leaders of the Muslims world for centuries and most powerful empire begging Europe for concessions. It hurts a lot. Still, the Turks here are waking up after years of slumber. Where there are totally western Turks, there are men and women and young children who are deeply religious and love Allah and Huzoor. So cute Hayyu and Fati like girls take such dignified Hijab that one feels honored just to see them. I bought today Turkish Mehtar music and listening to it right now. I am not in this world when I am writing.

(Arasta Bazaar – the place is sure to blow you away especially with “Raqs-e-Darwesh” and mystic music floating in air)

Inshallah, leaving for Konya today to visit Mavlana as he is called here. That would be another domain. All spiritual, but no worldly grandeur or empire. Till then………… (end of part 1)

Insaan Fani – AbadiThe Turkish Odyssey Part 2


(Narration about Sayyadna Ayub Ansari at his Maqam in Istanbul) After soaking ourselves in cool Istanbul air for three days and mystifying our inner self with the grandeur of Usmani Empire as well as with the Jamal of Sayyaedna Ayub Ansari’s Maqam, we took a night flight to Konya. There at the airport was Baba Hussain aai to receive us.

We had met Baba Hussein aai in Medina on my second last trip last year. 84 years simple Turk was always reading Quran where we sat in the open courtyard of Masjid Sharif under the folding umbrellas. A bit of handshake, a bit of intro and it was love at first sight. Then we met every day. A most soft hearted soul one would ever come across. Always greeting us with wet eyes on little gestures of love which spontaneously flowed both ways. When Suleiman gave him his slippers and walked barefoot himself, our Baba wept like a baby. When we gathered around one meal, he wept again remembering how Rasool Allah had stones tied around his waist. He only spoke Turkish, we not a word of it but we talked for hours and hours till we parted with the promise that we will meet again, inshalah, if not in this world, then in Jannah. He gave us a phone number and introduced his home town as “Mavlana, Konya”. The address was complete enough. There I had made up my mind that I would visit him and Mavlana. Baba was not so sure that we would ever meet. Then he got a call from us when we were in Istanbul. There we realized that he did not have a phone in his house and the number was his neighbours. But still he was ecstatic as we were to get in touch again. Then on night of 12th May, after midnight, same Hussein Baba was on Konya airport with his grand son Saadatain and his wife. Baba Hussein insisted that we go with him and have food first before lodging in his home. But we had our bookings done from Istanbul, so he had to take us to Mavlana Sema hotel, just couple of minutes walk from Maulana Rumi’s Mazaar and museum. Still, he insisted that he should pay the hotel bill. It was difficult to hold him back but since we had already done the payment in Istanbul, it just worked out fine in the end else we would have been really embarrassed.

(Baba Hussain, me and Bilal Bhai at Baba’s farm in Konya suburbs)) Next day, has was with us again and completely took charge as our host, tour guide and indeed friend. Language was always a problem for minor administrative communications but hearts spoke common language. He took us first to Maqam of Hazrat Shams Tabrezi for Fatiha. Saadatain is an electronic shop owner in downtown Konya and have many friends in the market place. He quickly assembled a group of his friends and luckily one of them spoke Arabic too, hence making it easier for us to communicate. In a small Konya book shop, we had a fantastic sitting discussing Mavlana, Iqbal and the spiritual message of Masnavi. One Turk even recited Naat sharif and a Qaseeda in Turkish. This was not the Turkey we had seen in Istanbul. It was time to visit Mavlana.

Mavlana’s Maqam is a most beautiful architecture exploding with masterpieces of love by Turkish Maimars as their architects are called and constructed in Usmani era style. The love for Mavlana was overwhelmingly visible. It was indeed am emotional and spiritual moment for us to be here where they have even made a Maqam for Allama Iqbal for his love of Mavlana and his Masnavi.

(Muqam of Iqbal at Mavlana’s Mazaar) Here I would only leave you to see for yourself the beauty and jamal of the Mavlana’s Maqam. The traditional cap that he wore and the Turban is wrapped around the head of the grave and his flute, Ney, fill the environment making one dizzy into whirling like a Dervesh oneself. For the last 800 years, Mavlana rules this place and far beyond touching deeply the poet philosopher from Sialkot that he called himself “Murid-e-Hindi” of “Pire-Rumi”. The “Murid” was rewarded posthumously by having his name and maqam at the feet of his “Pir-e-Rumi”, a testimony of relationship between the two great men.

(Maqam of Mavlana – Kaaba-e-Ishq for Iqbal)

(The inscription on the door in Persian says – this is Kaaba of Ishq. Whoever comes here will not go back empty handed) It was fascinating experience and it is difficult to express these feelings on paper. Here we were, in Konya, with Mavlana, Sahib-e-Masnavi which is “Hast Quran dar Zaban’ePehalvi” and “kaaba-e-Ishq for Iqbal. It was too overwhelming and too intoxicating. I find it difficult to write more. Baba Hussain then invited us to dinner at his house. It was a 10 minute drive into Konya suburbs where we stopped in front of a mud house in a small farm. That’s why he not have a phone. Baba proudly took us first into his farm, showed fruit trees and empty land which he was preparing for farming. One had to bend head to enter into narrow mud door with wooden stairs into his house, where his old simple farmer Turk wife also came out to greet us. Hosh Gildeniz, a Khush Aameded in Turkey was the most common word after Kardesh, brother, when people knew that we were from Pakistan. There are only fee places left on this planet where we Pakistanis are still respected, probably because no one ever reached Konya before. Financially, Baba was a humble man, just as his soul. His children have made big, have shops and businesses and have moved to city centre but not Baba Hussain aai. He stays close to his land which has sustained him for the last 84 years and tills it for his living. In the modern Turkey, these souls exists too.

(Baba with his grand children at dinner in Konya in his mud farmhouse)

Saadatain, was his grand son with very funny and weird English but had very beautiful and Ba-adb children Mashallah. He would call his wife as life and shop as shopping. So when he wanted to take his wife to the shop his sentence would be that “his life is going to shopping!!”. We got use to that pretty quickly. He was not that off between life and wife anyway

(Saadatain, Buraq, Bushra, Noor Bano, Muhemmed and me. His “life” takes hijab and is not in the pic) Konya is a conservative town and one does not find even single women without Hijab or scarf, very unlike Istanbul or Ankara. Kamalist revolution has not yet reached Mavlana’s Maqam in force, in fact, may well be receding as the signs are. Secularism remains a farce on paper only while ordinary Turks remain drenched in love for Allah and His Prophet (saw), despite their many apparent weaknesses. It was very common to see semi clad westernized women to come to Masjib, take hijab and pray or read Quran and then leave back the way she came in. The society is in a state of conflict but definitely in the process of rediscovering itself. West is in for a big surprise in Turkey, just watch and wait. Baba Hussain also took us proudly to the village Masjid, which was made through donations of the locals and his family was the custodian and caretakers of the place. Every Masjid in Turkey is made as exact replica of Blue Masjid and this one was no exception either. Baba offered me the mic for Azaan and I could not refuse. It was emotional to give call for Salat in “secular” Turkey and in the city of Mavlana. May Allah accept our humble offerings, Ameen. Then we met Ummet. On a road side coffee shop, we walked over to us and introduced himself as a Pakistani but immediately apologized “ I cannot speak Urdu”. A fine boy of around 22, he seemed genuine and we were too please to have him with us over “Chai”. His father was a Pakistani diplomat died long time ago and the now the boy lives with his Turkish mother in Ankara with no contacts in Pakistan. Then his mother also joined in. A middle aged decent women but sadness written all over face and her son’s. We hated to think what her Pakistani in-laws must have done to her after the death of her husband that

she has now totally left Pakistan to settle back in Turkey. Umeet was her only hope and she was hanging on to her for any security in future. Umeet was a boy looking for an identity himself. He wanted to own something, associate himself with his origins but was confused between his paternal land which he had abandoned and his maternal home where he remained of alien origins. It was sad, very sad. We promised to stay in touch and he too hugged us as he has found his own family at last. Allah be with you Ummet, we are your family here. Then at airport on our way back, we met Lutfi. A mechanical engineer and MBA whose father was the Imam of Mavlana’s Masjid for 43 years. Lutfi and we instantly became friends as usual. He had plans to drive to Pakistan along with his wife and three under teen kids via Iran and was keen to have info on Pakistan. It took us some while to convince him that he is taking unnecessary risk by doing this and Pakistani highways may be a surprise for him. He comes from a very high profiled and respectable family in Konya and gives a totally different, academic and intellectual insight into Konya’s elite. It is a pleasure knowing you Lutfi but please don’t drive to Pakistan. It was a sad departure from Konya. Saadatain came as usual in his van to take us to airport well before Fajr. Baba had sent us off a night earlier. Baba is 84 and I do not know whether we will meet again or not. That old Turk has held his ground against all odds and under most severe periods of Kamalist repressions. That did not shake him nor his resolve to stay firm. But I guess, time and age is one you cannot fight against. Maybe we do not see him again but there is no doubt that he and his Mavlana and his Konya and his family are now too deeply impregnated in our souls to be taken out. ……..(cont’d)

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