What a sight to see…The world in solidarity with Palestine… #FreePalestine
Islamic history is filled with genius architects. Some of the greatest monuments on earth are the product of Muslims who wanted to build beautiful structures that would show the greatness of Islam throughout time. The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey are all examples of this cherished and beautiful architectural tradition.
Arguably the greatest and most influential architect of all time, however, was the Ottoman architectural master, Mimar Sinan, who lived from 1489 to 1588. He lived during the zenith of the Ottoman Empire, during the reigns of sultans Selim I, Suleyman, Selim II, and Murad III. During this time, the iconic skyline of Istanbul was changed forever, with the beautiful additions of great sultans via Mimar Sinan.
Mimar was the son of a Greek or Armenian convert to Islam, Abd al-Mannan. He joined the elite corps of the Ottoman army, the Janissaries as a young man, like his father did before him. In the Janissaries, Sinan showed early talent as an engineer. He rose up through the ranks, becoming an officer in the army who participated in numerous military campaigns under sultans Selim and Suleyman. As the Ottoman armies marched to new extents in Europe, Africa, and Persia, Sinan went with them, organizing engineering corps for the military, as well as building mosques and other civil buildings in newly Ottoman cities. In 1538, his talents could no longer be ignored and he was given a position as the head architect of the sultan’s government in Istanbul.
Sinan certainly had a lot of practice in designing buildings. As he began his career, he built smaller mosques across the empire. He built the Khusruwiyah Mosque in Aleppo, Syria in 1547, which remains today as a landmark in that city. He also renovated the mosque of Imam Abu Hanifa in Baghdad, and the mosque of Jalal al-Din al-Rumi in Konya. These projects all gave Sinan a good background in architecture and engineering, and they also provided him with the skills he would need once he started building larger monuments to the glory of Islam.The timeless gem of Istanbul’s architecture has always been the Hagia Sophia. It was built as a Christian church in 537 by the Byzantines and was converted to a mosque to serve the new Muslim population after Mehmed II’s conquest of the city in 1453. Since then, Ottoman architects had used the Hagia Sophia’s giant dome as a template for how to design Muslim mosques. Ottoman mosques were thus based on a premise of having one giant central dome over the main prayer hall that was held up by numerous semi-domes on its sides. This greatly increasing the mosque’s size and capacity. Despite the numerous attempts through the decades to top the Hagia Sophia in size and beauty, no architect was able to accomplish such a feat. Mimar Sinan made it his goal to build a monument to Islam that was more magnificent than the epic Hagia Sophia.
Israel-Gaza conflict: Turkish campaign group to challenge Gaza blockade by sending flotilla full of aid for Palestinians
In order to study in Istanbul Ismael Srour left Gaza (in February 2014, long before Israel became engaged in the recent conflict with Hamas), but his mind is always on his family left behind in Beit Lahiya.
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If you are planning a trip to Istanbul, here are some fun facts about the city you should know:
- Istanbul is the only city in the world that stands in two different continents, Europe and Asia. Most people think of it as an Asian city but actually the historic center is on the European part of town. The Bosphorus River divides the two continents and joins the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara.
- Although it was the capital of some of the most important empires in the world: Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman; Istanbul is not Turkey’s capital. Ankara is the country’s capital since it became the Republic of Turkey in 1923. It is however its largest city with close to 12 million people.
- The Blue Mosque, one of the cities landmarks, is the only mosque in the city with 6 minarets in its façade. Some stories say that when Sultan Ahmed I built it, the Mosque had one minaret more than the Grand Mosque in Mecca and Muslims considered it disrespectful. So the Sultan had to issue an order to build a new minaret for the Grand Mosque to reestablish the peace.
- The city was first known as Byzantium but changed to Constantinople when Roman Emperor Constantine the Great made capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. The named finally changed to Istanbul in 1930 when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk proclaimed the Republic in 1930. To ensure the usage of the new name, Turkish authorities resend all mail and packages that were sent to its previous name.
- When the city was part of the Ottoman Empire there were over 1,400 public toilets all around the city. At the same time, there weren’t any even at palaces in France and the rest of Europe.