The Blue Mosque

For our class, we each have to analyze something we did based on the key lines that compose our class and then write about it on our class blog. I wrote about the Blue Mosque, so I thought I’d share what I wrote. I will post pictures later as there are currently some technical difficulties going on.

We visited the Blue Mosque a few days ago as a part of our sight-seeing tour around Istanbul. The Blue Mosque is one of the most well-known and popular mosques in the city and has thousands of tourists visit everyday. What makes the Blue Mosque so interesting to me, aside from the fact that it is an enormous building decorated with tons of innate details and designs, is the fact that it is still an active mosque for Muslim worshippers who go there to pray and worship.

In order to get in the mosque, everyone has to take their shoes off, men have to wear long pants, and women have to cover their heads and shoulders. Inside the main room, there is a section that is fenced off that only worshippers may go to, and all others are asked to stay on the other side. While there are these rules that allow for all who enter to respect the culture and the faith of those who use the mosque, I found it interesting that tourists were allowed inside at all.

Walking around the inside of the mosque, I found it weird that there were hundreds of people crammed in there, taking pictures, talking and making noise, and gawking at the beauty of the building, while there were others who were there to use the building for its original purpose, which is to pray and worship. Despite the things we did to get inside the mosque in an effort to “be respectful” I felt that we were being extremely disrespectful by even being there.

I think that it is also very important to note why we have to cover our heads and take our shoes off. People who go inside to look around should at least understand the reasons for what they are doing.

This is an excellent example of the second keyline, how does (local) tradition relate to (global) modernity? Those visiting and touring the mosque, and all areas, should understand and know about the culture into which they are intruding, rather than simply barging in, taking up space, and documenting personal actions such as prayer and worship.

The Blue Mosque provides a great picture of the entire city of Istanbul in one location- East meeting West. Global modernity meeting local tradition. Multiple cultures, religions, experiences, and people are merging in one place and can either clash or blend together.

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