Friday, September 3, 2010

Secular Turkey

While in Turkey it was like being in one great big open air museum. The people are friendly, the food was good and the most amazing thing I learned from our guides. Modern Turkey was founded as a secular republic by Kamil Ataturk in 1922. He wanted to be western. The people of Turkey are more related to Europeans than middle eastern people. The Turkish people came out of the steppes of Siberia and are genetically and linguistically related to the Hungarians, Estonians and Finnish. True Turkey is a Muslim country, but it is written into their Constitution that religious freedom be the norm. The immans are chosen by the government and given a secular education. They preach to pay ones taxes, to help the poor etc. Fundamentalist and extreme Islam is not allowed. Polygamy is not allowed. Turkey was ahead of other European countries in giving women the vote. Marriages are civil marriages. If the couple wants a religious one they can have that, but after the civil one. There is by law no persecution of other religions allowed, and all have an equal vote. Our guides said they haven't prayed in months to years. Remember, one of the five pillars of Islam is pray five times a day facing Mecca. Turkish is based on an alphabet that we all would recognize. Arabic is no longer understood, except by the grandparents or great grandparents. Our guides had an excellent appreciation of the ironic in history and religion. For example in the Sultan palace, now a museum, there is a room of the relics. After the Ottoman empire conquered Egypt they brought back religious relics. Swords from prophets and various things including the staff of Moses. I went to see it. As the guide pointed out the staff is made out bronze. But this is chronological inconsistent with the myth of Moses. He existed before the bronze age, and wasn't the staff suppose to be a tree branch? Which it does, but is clearly made of metal, bronze. Since we visited during Ramadan many Muslims from other Muslim countries were there visiting also and things like the relics is what excites them, not the Turks. While going through the relic room an Imman is reciting the Koran. During Ramadan all good Muslims are suppose to fast from sun rise to sun set. The Turks did not, and they have their own locally produce alcohol products, beer, wine and something akin to the Greek Uzo. So Turkey, being a developing country, is clearly an example of what a Muslim country can be like if it is secularized. I liked it a lot.

Skeptical DoDo

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