Turkey: Cradle of Civilization

Vol 1-Issue 2  TurkeyTurkey is a unique republic located on the eastern end of the Mediterranean. The friendly, courteous Turkish people have been hosting visitors in one form or another for centuries. Driving is surprisingly safe, scenery ranges from dull to mind-boggling, beaches are fair, prices are low and shopping is excellent, especially leather ware in Istanbul.

“Go for the history, but stay for the food,” is often said of Turkey

Asitane Restaurant
The stylish eating-place at the garden level offers gourmet specialties dating back to the Ottoman age along with contemporary dishes.

Bosphorus Hotel Restaurant
It is converted into a fine restaurant, which was formerly a boathouse of a historical resident. The restaurant’s site is directly on the Bosphorus river.

Buzz Bar Restaurant
The breakfast, snacks, dessert and meals through the day are served in a shady vineyard garden. A selection of mezes is accompanied by a glass of Raki or “lion’s milk”.

Breads, pastries and pancakes

Among the simple pleasures in Turkish food are the Simit, a ring-shaped bread covered by sesame seeds. Gözleme, a kind of pancake, is often the basis for light dinners. Tea (çay) is the national drink. Turkish coffee, the Kahve is served in a small cup, optionally with a glass of cold water.

Variety of eateries

The Kebab is grilled meat. Then we have the Sis kebap and the Döner kebap (stacks of meat that are kept in a vertical stick, rotating to keep warm and roasting, are surface-cut to tiny flakes that fall into a piece of bread). Several types of cheese are eaten but the soft, slightly salty and whitish Tulum tops all. The Bklava, is a small rectangular pastry made of dozens of layers with either pistachio or walnut, imbibed in sugar syrup.

Historical Places

Blue Mosque

This mosque was built during the reign of Sultan Ahmet in the early 1600s. Even today it is the centre of religious demonstrations. As this mosque has numerous blue Iznik tiles in the interiors, which illuminate from the light of the two hundred and sixty windows, it was given the nickname of blue mosque. This is the only mosque in the world, which has six minarets.

Topkapi Palace

Fatih Sultan Mehmet built this palace in the fifteenth century, and it served as an Ottoman residence from the 1500’s to the 1800’s. It is located at the junction of the Bosphorus,

Marmara Sea, and the Golden Horn. There are several gardens, courtyards and beautiful trees. Inside, you will find a display of oriental porcelain, crystal and silver, jewels and clothing worn during the Ottoman reign.

Beylerbeyi Palace

In recent years, it has been used as a guesthouse for visiting foreign dignitaries. The palace has a pool and fountain leading up to a magnificent staircase. Kiosks and pavilions are the decorations on the grounds. One of the highlights is the terraced garden of magnolias at the base of the Bosphorus Bridge.

Dolmabahce Palace

It is located on the European shore of the Bosphorus and was built as a showplace by the Ottomans. One gets to see exquisite crystal items here, even a piano! This three-story building has two hundred and eighty five rooms, four large salons, six galleries and six bathrooms.

Rumeli Fortress

The purpose of the fortress was to block ships from going in and out of Istanbul.

Yerebatan Palace Inside the huge building, there is a few feet of water but wooden walkways have been built for visitors. The interior of the building has special dim lighting to create an eerie atmosphere.

Eyüp Sultan Mosque

Built by Mehmet the Conqueror, this is one of the most sacred places in the Islamic world. This mosque covers the tomb of Halid bin Zeyd Ebu Eyyûb (known as Eyüp Sultan) who was the standard bearer for the Prophet Mohammad (saw).

Yildiz Palace and Park

The Sultan’s carpentry workshop, Marangozhane, is now a museum where you can see some of his woodwork projects. The park is a popular spot for the locals who want to enjoy the gardens and get away from the bustle of the city.


Kariye Museum

The original church was named Church of St Saviour in Chora, which means the church in the countryside. Built in the 11th century, it was converted to a mosque in 1453. It is used as a museum now, containing the finest display of Byzantine mosaics in the city.


Turkish and Islamic Art Museum

It contains over forty thousand items and some date back to the 17th century. Included in the collection are textiles, metalwork, calligraphy and woodwork. The feature of this museum is the carpet display that has some exhibits dating back to the 13th century.

Archaeological Museums

The museums were opened in 1891 in Turkey. Osman Hamdi Bey, a 19th century painter and archaeologist fought the government in order to stop the smuggling of antiques out of the country. There are over one million items in this large collection of artifacts from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Lebanon, and Turkey.

Furthermore, there is a diversity of things to do ranging from water sports to mountain trekking, archaeology to river rafting. Whether you leave Turkey with magnificent gifts or an appreciation of its history, you are likely to want to go back for more.


Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar consists of 4,000 shops on a series of covered streets leading to a central avenue. The oldest sections are the Sandal Bedesten (cloth auction) and Cevahir Bedesten (jewellery market). The streets are named according to the trades, such as gold and silver sellers, carpet sellers, slipper sellers, boot sellers, booksellers, purse makers, etc.

Altamira Antiques
Altamira is a bit of an Aladdin’s cave of a place; furniture, bric-a-brac, ornaments, clocks, it is all here. Fascinating bits and pieces are crammed into the little 2-storey shop.

The Best Prescription

Islam considers health to be one of the most important blessings given to human beings by Allah. Good health is something for which we are accountable to Allah. The Prophet (sa) said, “The first thing every servant of Allah will have to account for on the Day of Judgment is that he will be asked by Allah, Have I not given you a healthy constitution and have I not quenched your thirst with cold water?” (At-Tirmidhi)

The Prophet (sa) also said, “No one will be allowed to move from his position on the Day of Judgment until he has been asked how he spent his life; how he used his knowledge; how he earned and spent his money; and in what pursuits he used his health.” (At-Tirmidhi)

The preservation of this blessing can only be achieved through taking good care of one’s health and taking every measure to maintain and enhance it. Moreover, the Quran and the Sunnah contain teachings, which show every Muslim how to protect his health generally and how to take care of each of his organs. Numerous examples can be given. Prominent among these is Wudhu (ablution), which Islam regards as compulsory whenever it is invalidated.


Another act of worship, which also helps to maintain good health, is taking a shower, or Ghusl. This is compulsory when one is in the state of ritual impurity. We read in the Quran, “If you are defiled (following sexual intercourse or a wet dream) then purify yourselves.” (Al-Ma’idah 5:6) The Prophet (sa) also recommended his followers to have a shower on many occasions, such as on Fridays. He said, “He who comes to Friday prayer should first have a shower.” (Agreed upon)

Bathing is also recommended on the two feasts. Taking a shower is also recommended for entering into the state of consecration (Ihram); whether for Hajj (pilgrimage) or Umra (lesser-pilgrimage); after washing the body of a deceased person in preparation for burial; for praying for rain or eclipse of the sun; before secluding oneself for prayer; when body odour becomes too strong; and before attending any social gathering.

Hands, Feet, Nails, etc

Islamic teachings are not confined to general cleanliness, but also take care of local cleanliness, such as washing one’s hands. The Prophet (sa) used to wash his hands before eating. We are also recommended to clip our nails. Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said, “Five practices are part of natural cleanliness: circumcision, shaving the pubic hair, plucking out the armpit hair, cutting the nails and trimming the moustache.” (Agreed upon).

A Muslim is also supposed to keep the feet clean, for the Prophet (sa) used to rub in between his toes with his little finger when he performed his ablutions.” (Abu Dawood) He also said, “Woe to heels (from the punishment of Hell if they are not washed). Perform the ritual of ablution properly.”(Abu Dawood)

Mouth and Teeth

Islamic teachings also take care of the cleanliness of one’s mouth. We are required to rinse our mouths, as the Prophet (sa) said, “When you perform ablutions, rinse your mouth.”(Abu Dawood). The Prophet (sa) also said, “Rinse your mouth after drinking milk, because it contains fat.”(Abu Dawood). We are also commanded to keep our gums clean. The Prophet described the process of cleaning one’s teeth as “purification of one’s mouth, and an act that is pleasing to the Lord.” (Al-Nasa’i). The Prophet (sa) also said, “If I were not afraid that it would be too hard for the community, I would have asked Muslims to brush their teeth whenever they prayed.” (Agreed upon)

Eyes, Ears, Nose

Another aspect of health protection is to keep clean one’s ears, eyes, nose, hair and genitals. It has been authentically reported that the Prophet wiped his ears, using his forefingers to clean them from inside and his thumbs on the outside, thus wiping them both inside and out. It is also authentically reported concerning cleanliness of the eyes that the Prophet used to wipe the inner corner of the eye. We are also recommended to clean our noses, for the Prophet said, “When any of you perform the ablutions, introduce water into the nose and then blow it out.” (Ibn-Majah). Science has proven that the act of inhaling water slightly in order to moist the inner top of the nose is beneficial for Sinus patients since it clears away germs.

Hair and Private Parts

With regard to keeping the hair clean, the Prophet said, “He who has hair should take good care of it.” (Abu Dawood). Local cleanliness particularly includes the genitals and private parts. Anas (rta), the Prophet’s servant, said, “When the Prophet defecated, I brought him water to wash with.” (Agreed upon). Aisha (rta), the Prophet’s wife, told Muslim women, “Tell your husbands to wash their private parts with water, for I am too shy to tell them so. The Prophet (sa) used to do that.” (At-Tirmidhi)

It is part of the duty of every Muslim, therefore, to safeguard this blessing and not to allow any change to overcome it through ill usage. Islam put stress on human body’s cleanliness. In summary, our healthy body is a gift from Allah and we are the trustees. We should not misuse it, nor provide wrong raw product for the factory and should keep superb maintenance of this delicate and sensitive machine, in order to enjoy Allah’s blessings. It is after all, the container of our soul.

Learning to Manage Time

Many of us would agree that today time seems to be slipping through our fingers much faster than a year ago. Mehreen Ganny has summarized for you a unique approach to time management that has changed lives.

Do you leave your work to pile up till the very last night before the deadline? Stressed and exhausted, keeping awake by drowning in endless cups of coffee. . . I can surely put myself in this category. But my attitude towards organizing time, changed the day I began attending “Strategic Time Management” course by Suleman Ahmer. His approach to this topic is unique, for it combines worldly and Islamic knowledge.

Mr. Ahmer began the course by making us realize the difference between ‘important’ and ‘urgent’ tasks. In defining ‘urgent’, most of us tend to include ‘important’ with it.  When I was asked to define ‘urgent’, I said: “Something important, which has to be done instantly’. However, the correct definition of ‘urgent’ is: “Any action of ours that cannot wait and, if delayed, will lose its relevance”.

‘Important’ on the other hand is “Any action of ours that takes us towards our goal or objective” Similarly “Any action that takes us away from our goal or does not take us towards our goal is called ‘not important’”.

Time Quadrants

Once we understood the difference between ‘important’ and ‘urgent’, we broke down our activities into four quadrants:

Q1: Urgent and Important Q2: Urgent and Not Important
Q3: Not Urgent and Important Q4: Not Urgent and Not Important

All our activities can be categorized according to these four quadrants.

Q1 Activities

These activities are ‘important’ and ‘urgent’. Breathing, responding to a heart attack, or reaching an airport for a flight – all of these are Q1 activities.

Q1 activities are important, because they lead to an urgent goal. If these activities are not done at their due time, they lose their relevance. If we will not respond immediately to somebody having a heart attack, the person will die, and we will not complete our goal of saving his/her life.

We should avoid creating Q1 activities for ourselves, by leaving our tasks till the very last moment. Suppose, your report is due on the 10th of June and you have the whole month of May for completing it. Nevertheless, you start your work only on the 9th of June. Your report has now become urgent, which has increased the level of your stress unnecessarily. Remember, all activities of Q1 happen under high level of stress.

Q2 Activities

Q2 activities include tasks, which are ‘not important’ but ‘urgent’. This is a tricky category. Going to a concert, checking your horoscope, or celebrating a birthday all are Q2 activities. At first, I could not understand, why going to a concert fits in Q2, if it does not concern me at all – since I do not participate in concerts, they do not affect my life. The reason turned out to be that although concerts do not affect my life, they still take place. If a concert is scheduled for the 14th of August, it will happen on this date, no matter if I attend it or not. Therefore, it becomes urgent, but since it does not lead to any goal, it is not important.

Q3 Activities

This is the category, in which true Muslims should spend their whole life. Activities of this quadrant are ‘important’ but not ‘urgent’, and there is no stress involved in carrying out these tasks. If Q3 activities are not done in their due time, they end up becoming Q1 activities. Take, for example, Fajr Salah. The time of the Adhan is 5:15 am, the sun rises at 6:30 am, and the average time needed for the prayer is 10 minutes. If you wake up for prayer at 5:30 am, it is a Q3 activity; however, if you wake up only at 6:25 am, it becomes a Q1 activity.

Doing Q3 activities makes one relaxed. Since you have ample time you focus better, maximize your potential and produce best results. Looking at the Salah example, if I were to leave it for the last second I would rush to finish it and not have any value in my prayer. To avoid urgency, we must complete our activities on time. This can only happen if we do not give priority to wasteful activities that eat up on our valuable time.

Q4 Activities

This quadrant is my favourite one – ‘not important’ and ‘not urgent’. Daydreaming, slouching before the TV, reading comics, and gossiping! By leaving out these activities, we instantly gain lots of extra time for focusing on what is truly important. Remember – Q4 activities are those that have no significance at all. They may be pleasing to our desires and aroused by Satan, since he wants us to be losers, but in reality they only take us far away not only from Allah but also our goal in life.

Keeping a Notebook and a Scheduler

Start out by getting organized. In the morning, wake up 45 minutes early and plan your day. Have a proper scheduler with a detailed time frame. Write down all your appointments, plan the time for studies, and do not forget about the time you wish to spend with your kids. If you will check your scheduler every morning, you will not miss any of your activities.

Also, clear your mind from unnecessary information like recipes, phone numbers or new e-mail addresses. Record all of these in a mini-notebook as soon as you hear them. Later, transfer this information into its proper place, for example, your recipes book or telephone directory etc.

Saying NO!

Learning to say no is a big relief! However, when requested something, most of us face the problem of saying ‘no’. If a friend or a family member needs you when you already are in a Q1 situation with your own responsibilities, it is better to say ‘no’, followed by a brief explanation. If the request is urgent and cannot wait and you obviously are unable to help, guide the person requesting to a dependable source that can help him/her instead. This way you give the person another option and not hurt their feelings.

Similarly the phrase “Insha’Allah” is nowadays being used as an escape from saying ‘no’. Use this expression only with your sincere intentions. If someone invites you for a visit, do not commit, knowing that later you will cancel the plan. Always keep your promises and make honest commitments.

Cure for Tardiness

How can you avoid being late? The answer is simple: ‘Keep a buffer time’. Suppose, you need twenty minutes for reaching the place of your destination. Before setting off, consider all the hurdles that might come in your way – a flat tire, stopping at a gas station, rush time traffic, etc. Calculate the time you might need for these activities (your ‘buffer time’) and add it to your twenty minutes. Leave your house according to your new calculation and you will avoid being late!

What if your ‘hurdle activities’ do not occur and you reach your destination early? Take along a Q3 activity like carrying a book, in case if there is a little time left over here and there. This way, the time does not get wasted.

By attending Mr. Ahmer’s course, many people have made radical changes in their lives. Family relationships have improved and environments within companies have changed. Do YOU want a change in your life too? Start following the above tips and believe it or not you will be a more organized and happier person Insha’Allah!