THE CHARM OF THE MOSQUES IN TURKEY

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Visiting Turkey, I have come across many majestic mosques with minarets so slender that they seem to want to touch the sky. But what impressed me was the sincere prayers of the Muslims. They pray five times a day, with great zeal.
In my hometown most of the congregation consists of old women, while in the mosques there are many young men that pray zealously.
Seeing them praying with such ardor, I wanted to pray with them. So I entered a mosque and asked a man to teach me how to pray. He said, “Our prayers are in Arabic, even though Arabic is not our mother tongue. All Muslims must pray in Arabic, for the Koran can’t be spoken in a language different from the original.”
“How can I pray?” I asked.
He answered, “Start your prayer by saying Allah Akbar (God is most great). However, if the imam is present, follow him. He will guide you.”
Then he gave me a few booklets about Islam. I accepted his gift gladly. I will read them when I come back to my hometown.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE HAREM OF TOPKAPI PALACE IN ISTANBUL

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Topkapi Palace was the residence of the Ottoman sultans for many centuries. It is said that almost 10.000 people lived in this palace to attend the sultan, who had about five hundred wives and many concubines. Black eunuchs supervised the harem. Every day a huge amount of food was cooked in the very large kitchen for the sultan and his court.

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Visiting Topkapi Palace, I asked myself, ‘Was the sultan happy?’ I don’t think so. A harem, although it is made of the most beautiful women in the world, cannot give happiness. Human desires are insatiable!

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I also asked myself, ‘What was the criterion to select the women for the sultan?’ Of course, it was physical beauty. They didn’t select women according to their wisdom or heart. In my opinion, it was a wrong criterion of selection. An intelligent and wise woman that really loves you is more worth than five hundred beautiful women with no heart!
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE LAST SURAH OF THE KORAN

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“As I kept walking, I caught sight of two armed guards in front of a building. I went in their direction. Pretending indifference, I tried to pass beyond them. But they stopped me. ‘You can’t get in!’ ‘Why not?’ I asked with eyes full of surprise. ‘You can’t enter if you are not Muslim.’ ‘I am Muslim. Including Islam, I follow many religions, therefore, I have the right to pass.’ ‘You must prove us that you are Muslim. Show us your passport, so we can see what your religion is.’ ‘In Italy, where I come from, we don’t declare our religion on our passport, but I’ve read the Holy Koran. I’ve been to the mosque of Catania twice, to the mosque of London once, and I can say the last surah of the Koran entitled ‘The Men.’
“I recited the last surah, which I loved. On listening to me, one of the guards seemed to be convinced. He was about to let me pass. But the other intervened. ‘Show us how Muslims pray.’ At that point I gave up entering because I didn’t know how Muslims pray. ‘If you want, you can come here from seven to eleven o’clock in the morning. You can visit the Esplanade, but you can’t go inside the Dome of the Rock. This is the third holiest place of Islam after Mecca and Medina,’ one of the guards said.”
“Uncle Salvatore, I want to know the last surah of the Koran. It must be very beautiful if one of the armed guards was about to let you in after listening to it.”
“Yes, Benedetto, I learned that surah by heart. Here it is: ‘In the name of compassionate and merciful God, say I seek refuge in the Lord of humans, the King of humans, the God of humans; from the evil of the whisperer, who slinks off, who whispers into the hearts of humans; from jinn and men!’ Can you understand?”
“No. What does it mean?”
“It means, seek refuge in God whenever the devil comes into your heart and pushes you to be a bad man. When the devil blandishes you and pushes you in the wrong direction, invoke God, and then the devil will become smaller and smaller.”

This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Words: second edition by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo