Anatolia’s flying carpets and the Turkish ancient traditions

If there is one more thing that should be known about Turkey, beside its impressive history and tasty cuisine, is that here you can find some of the most beautiful carpets in the world, with vibrant colours, designs and great quality. Turkish carpets have always played a major role inside country’s culture and lifestyle. In fact, some sources claim that the carpet was firstly introduced inside Middle East and Islamic world by the Turks, who were very familiar with weaving and fabric materials, as they were living inside the regions dominating the Silk Road. Carpets and rugs were needed by the humanity since Ancient times and was historically proven that they were woven by Turks, for the first time, who were using raw materials such as the sheep fleece, to get these beautiful pieces of art. The fact that Turks were the first carpet weavers was discovered in 1948, and the “Pazyryk Carpet” (Pazırık Carpet in Turkish) became famous as the world’s first known carpet. The one who found this carpet was Russian Archaeologist Sergei Rudenko in 1948, and according to his research the masterpiece dates back to the 5th century BC. The Pazyryk Carpet has been proven to belong to the Central Asian Turks and then it was decided to be introduced to everyone in Russia, since 1950, inside the Petersburg Hermitage Museum.

The passion and tradition for beautiful rugs is still there!

Welcome to Anatolia, the land of beauty! Nowadays, Turkish people still have the love for beautiful rugs and they are willing to share with everybody who wants to purchase handmade kilims and carpets, no matter where their location is. One of them is Ahmet Peçen, a small businessman from Malatya, who says that inside his family, creating beautiful carpets is a tradition. „My mother used to be a rugs weaver since she was 15 years old. She was very talented!” Nowadays because of Coronavirus pandemic, life became more difficult for people trying to sale carpets, even if in Anatolya you still can find the best examples of vibrant rugs with oriental motifs. Ahmed Peçen is trying to sell his beautiful kilims, most of the time, online, as he cannot afford the traditional way of displaying them in bazaar, like most of regional businessmen are used to do. The good news is that Western clients are still interested in purchasing carpets, so the demand for kilims still exists inside Europe and not only there. Here you have some beautiful examples of what you can find at his virtual shop, carpets that can bring the beauty of Middle East inside your home.

For orders check the following link.

Shall we visit Syria in 2022?

Is it Syria a safe place to be visited in 2022? According to travelling sites, these Government-controlled territories which practically means all Western Syria, including famous destinations such as Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Krak de Chevaliers, and all the region near Mediterranean coast and beautiful Palmyra are considered safe to visit these days for all Middle East lovers in the search of culture and beautiful experiences to share. At this point media sources report that we can safely call Damascus a balanced and still vibrant capital, in terms of daily life, just like any other big city across Middle East.

After the fairytale ends: How divorced women rebuild their lives inside the Muslim world.

No doubt that divorce is not that type of event we would like to experience in our lives once we decide to say „yes” and build a life with the one we believe is the right person for our future. It’s in our human nature to experience the desire of having a family in this world, and Muslim societies support this aspect even more than other type of communities, showing a strong understanding when it comes to marriage and traditions that a man and wife should follow. From a very young age, Muslim girls are being educated by their elder female family members to become rightful brides, sisters and mothers, so things should go perfectly fine when the marriage time comes for each of them. But what happens if the fairytale turns into a nightmare? How these traditional young women manage to rebuild their lives once their partners dissapoint them in a society where the man is seen as women’s protector?

I had the chance to speak to some of these broken heart ladies and their confessions surprised me in a pleasant way, when I saw how strong they can be. The conclusion? Women nowadays are decided to fight and win no matter where they are born and what culture they embrace. The divorce is no longer considered a black dot in their social profiles, but a reason to show the world that in each of them there is a leader or a mother ready to stand against the world for her children’s wellbeing. Here is a relevant story to be mentioned in our today’s article.

Nadia, 28 from Syria: „At the beginning I was scared thinking that I will no longer have food or clothes for my 5 years old boy. My husband used to beat me and wait for my money that I was earning as a maid, working for some wealthy ladies from our neighbourhood. He usually used to spend my money at his regular coffeeshop with friends. Always smoking shisha and never thinking to find a job that would make his son live better. Once, after having a conversation with my father who passed away last spring, I’ve decided that I would no longer allow him to spend my earnings on his outgoings. He got angry and extremely violent with me, in front of our son. The divorce process was long and difficult, but that was not the worst part. The most difficult side of the story for me, as an Arab woman, was to introduce myself in front of people, as a single mother. They are used to blame you without actually knowing anything about your story. By time, things got better and I started to earn even more money than before. Now I sell handmade bags, too. Is not alot, but it helps me feed Youssef”. After finishing her confession, Nadia tries to hide her tears behind the blue hijab that covers her hair. She’s so beautiful and young. And brave too, I would say. Of course, inside the Arab world Nadia is just one of so many divorced women cases, but she is the hope that in the future, young mothers won’t be that scared to let behind toxic marriages. She was lucky too, because in some other cases, divorce means also a separation between a mother and child. This action comes usually from father’s family side or from the ex husband, himself, angry for being left by his wife. And even if Qur’aan, the holy book of Islam, blames whoever separates a mother from her baby, some Muslims men choose to adjust the religion according to their personal ego, and in this way they leave behind the true teachings of Allah. I hope that in the future less and less mothers will experience the pain of child separation, and wives will be brave to end a marriage when they’ll see the red flags of abuse. God bless humanity!

Health care and hospitals in Medieval Islamic world

The first „bimaristan” was founded in the late ninth century, by leading physician and polymath Muhammad Ibn Zakarya al-Razi, in the city of Baghdad. „Bimaristan” is a word of Persian origins, meaning „hospital”. The Baghdadian bimaristan was staffed with twenty five doctors, optometrists, surgeons and bonesetters. For a deeper understanding of how health care services were provided inside Medieval Islamic settlements, let’s check a policy statement of the bimaristan of al-Mansur Qalawun in Cairo, c.1284 CE: „The hospitals shall keep all patients, men and women, until they are completely recovered. All costs are to be borne by the hospital, whether the people come from far or near, whether they are residents or foreigners, strong or weak, low or high, rich or poor, employed or unemployed, blind or signed, physically or mentally ill, learned or illiterate. There are no conditions of consideration and payment; none is objected to or even indirectly hinted at for non-payment. The entire service is through the magnificence of God, the generous One”.

An impressive example of bimaristan inside the Islamic world is „The Nur al-Din Bimaristan”, a hospital and medical school in Damascus, founded in the 12th century. Today the building is the Museum of Medicine and Science in the Arab world.

Cities of Persian tales: Bukhara and Samarkand

There are so many Persian culture lovers around the world that there is no wonder why even in times of pandemic people are trying to find ways to travel in the search of history. Persian culture’s map doesn’t stop at today’s Iran borders and the best proof of it are ones of the most beautiful Central Asian cities which keep nowadays the Persian architecture in their structure: Bukhara and Samarkand. Welcome to vibrant and ancient Uzbekistan! Even if the historical sources mention how these cities have been long last to initially the Russian Empire and the now independent republics, here locals still speak Persian and inside their hearts, many of the inhabitants still feel attached to Persian culture, wearing typical folk costumes, cooking the Persian way and celebrating festivals according to Persian calendar (Nowruz- Spring festival). Their traditions are full of joy and hospitality, their homes beautifully decorated with handmade „suzani” and colourful rugs, their tea is always ready for unexpected guests and their food blessed with oriental flavours. That’s why once you read about Persia you must come and see with your eyes the beauty of these lands.

Life before „the fall of Baghdad”- Darb Zuybada.

The history of Islam mentions a fascinating road which helped for many years the believers to perform the mandatory pilgrimage, a religious duty for each Muslim who can afford it: the Hajj. We’re talking about Darb Zuybada, the most famous pilgrimage trail in the islamic history, beginning from Iraq’s Kufa to Hejaz, nowadays part of modern Saudi Arabia. The road was named after Zuybada, the wife of famous caliph Harun Al Rashid. It is important to be mentioned that the road wasn’t just a way to reach the holy Islamic city of Mecca, was helping as well in creating opportunities for trading and networking between Muslims around the entire region. Like this, we can see that Baghdad-Kufa-Mecca was a significant route for exchanging spiritual ideas, socialising, finding more about other cultures and business making. Another city to be mentioned as being crossed by Darb Zuybada is the city of Najaf, a notable destination for Muslims, especially for the Shi’as. Queen Zubayda invested and supported the infrastructure of the road, realizing its potential of connecting nations. Even so, according to history, Darb Zuybada lost its glory days and status after the fall of Baghdad, today only the books describing what was once the most important route inside the Arab world to the holy city of Mecca. In 2015, the remainings of Darb Zuybada were proposed to be included on the Unesco World Heritage list.

The Palestinian women can do it!

Palestinian contemporary art

Women love Palestine and they serve Palestine. They educate children, work in hospitals, cook community meals and keep the traditional embroidery alive. All that with their hands and voice. Women may be the solution for Palestine and sometimes men are afraid to admit it. Same idea may be applied in other male dominated societies as well, where the system doesn’t open its door to expose women’s potential. Where war and politics don’t bring anything good, turn your trust into mothers, sisters and daughters. They won’t leave the country down.

Aleppo’s Old city, still an „Arab-Islamic” cultural treasure

The current look of Syria’s cities and what give them a rare architectural beauty, is the result of over one thousand years of Islamic influence over the country. Although for some it may sound difficult to describe how an „Islamic city” should look like, considering that Islam is a faith and not a style for defining how a settlement or location should be, in some areas we may find key features closely related, architecturally speaking, to the „Arab-Islamic” space. These key features include many types of mosques, starting from larger Friday worship places to smaller size ones, public fountains, Islamic schools known as „madrasah”, where from young ages students learn the principles of Qur’aan, the holy Islamic book, hospitals, public bathhouses, trade agencies known as „khan” in Syrian society, and monumental tombs built for religious and political personalities. Before the war, Aleppo’s old city was considered as being one of the best preserved „Arab-Islamic” cities from the world, and even if today parts of it are slowly being reconstructed, the „medina” was seriously damaged by many military confrontations during severe battles. It may be hard to believe for many of us, but even in such extremely dangerous and insecure times caused by the war, many Syrians refused to leave the city. A city of ruins and sadness, but a place where you can still see the historical beauty on the walls filled with bullets. Great efforts are being done by the locals to revive the past, for bringing Aleppo back to normality, some shops are working full time, some kids dare to play and smile as in any other parts of the world, but there is much more to be done for the Syrians who saw terror and lost their families just few years ago. There are people who need to fill their hearts with hope, again. Gradually, many of the refugees knock at Aleppo’s doors, coming from abroad, missing their land, and hopefully, with the power to bring back city’s beauty and glory.

beautiful architecture of Aleppo.
Muslims praying inside the city affected by War

On the legendary road of Oriental carpets

The Oriental rugs are famous all over the world for its beauty and quality. So many Westerners are ready to pay a huge amount of money just to get into their homes the great Persian handmade carpets, or the Indian ones from the North. The Persian carpets are produced nowadays inside the land of modern Iran, but the area where you can find outstanding rugs is way much larger, and is reffered as „The Belt rug”. It starts from Morocco, it goes all over North Africa, Middle East, Central Asia, and it ends in North of India. Because these rugs are produced inside the region where the majority of population is Muslim, people often call them „Islamic carpets” as well. However, it doesn’t mean that other groups belonging to different religious faiths are not involved in the production of oriental carpets. According to some scientists and their evidences, the art of carpet weaving existed in Iran in ancient times, the 500 B.C. Pazyric carpet dating back to the Achaemenid period. A documented evidence considered as the first, regarding the existence of Persian carpets came from Chinese texts dating back to the Sassanid period (224 – 641 CE).

(An example of Persian carpets)

(A map showing the area known as „The rug belt”)

(Oriental carpets animal motifs and its meaning)

Ram Horns – male fertility
Deer – well being
Bats – happiness
Dogs protector of noble places
Stag – long life
Duck – faithful marriage
Camel – wealth
Crab – invincible knowledge
Elephant – power
Butterfly – happiness
Lion – victory
Crane – longevity
Fish – abundance & prosperity
Phoenix – Empress
Dragon – Emperor
Dove – peace
Tarantula – prevents bad luck
Horse – speed
Peacock – divine protection

(An Uzbek lady weaving a local carpet)

(A beautiful red shades traditional rug from Afghanistan)

(A piece of traditional Uzbek rug)

2020, the year of Hajj cancellation

Hajj is the most important spiritual journey for all Muslims. However, due Coronavirus global issues, this year the most awaited trip, according to Islamic religion, most probably will not be possible to be achieved for those who wanted to visit the holy cities of Makkah and Medina in 2020, as the Saudi authorities adviced the believers to put the trip on hold. But is not the first time when this happens, because according to Hajj was suspended for aproximately 40 times during the last 1400 years, due political changes, territorial conflicts or plagues. 

Muslim pilgrims, during Hajj, surrending Al Ka’bah, in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia.