The religion and how it effects social life provide important clues about a culture. When I go abroad, I spare time to discover local religion and its practices. Observing how faith works in a different culture is like a mystical experience to me. I have seen the same curiosity on the international travellers visiting the mosques in Bodrum as well.
Understanding a society requires a multi-dimensional evaluation. Processing the information about the faith and belief matters a lot if you are looking for cultural experience. Visiting one or two mosques in Bodrum may tell you a lot about Bodrum and Turkey.
Officially, 99% of the population in Turkey are Muslims. However, the percentage of the people who claims that they follow all the rules of Islam is around 30%. That does not mean the religion is not important for the rest, though. They just do not go to mosques or fast in Ramadan. Still, the Quran and the Prophet Mohammed are the common values for most of the people.
The religious values of the pure-minded citizens are gold mines for politicians. For more than half a century, building mosques has been one of the most popular practices of the governments in Turkey, even if they were not needed. For example, a mosque with a 3,000 people capacity was recently built in a deserted island. Necessary or not, the mosques are important part of the local culture.
There are several mosques in the Bodrum Peninsula. However, I am going to talk about only three of them which are in the town centre.
I will also talk about the adhan which you will be listening 5 times a day in Turkey. Finally, I will cover some tips which you may find useful for visiting a mosque while you are in Bodrum.
Mosques in Bodrum
The three mosques which will be covered here are in the town centre in 300 meters peripheral. Those are the ones you will come across several times when walking by the seaside in Bodrum. They are also the oldest mosques and worth visiting as a part of the history.
Kizilhisarli Mustafa Pasha Mosque
One of the oldest mosques in Bodrum is the Kizilhisarli Mustafa Pasha Mosque. Locals call it “Eski Cami” which means old mosque in Turkish. It was built by an Ottoman admiral, Mustafa Pasha, in 1724.
Mustafa Pasha was from Egriboz Island, today’s Euboea, which is the second largest island of Greece. After joining the Ottoman army as an officer, he climbed up the ladders and became the admiral in chief in the Ottoman Fleet.
Ottomans had a large military port in Izmir, it was called Smyrna back on those days. However, the port and the fleet were destroyed by the Russian fleet. Kizilhisarli Mustafa Pasha received an order. He was to build a new shipyard in Bodrum immediately and start building new ships to compensate the losses after Smyrna attack.
Being an admiral in chief in a small fishing town like Bodrum was huge, overruling the local authorities. As the shipyard construction continued, he was also making some improvements in the town, including the mosque named after him.
Unfortunately, we do not know much about him today. The Ottoman Shipyard which he built is also where he and his son still rest today.
Adliye Mosque, which means “Courthouse Mosque” in Turkish, is just 50-60 metres away from the Old Mosque, adjacent to the municipality square. It is also called “Yeni Cami”, or “New Mosque” because it was the last mosque built in pre-republic period, in 1902.
The location of the Adliye Mosque is interesting. It is in the centre of the action. Each year, dozens of public concerts and touristic activities are held just in front of the mosque. Mosques are very serious places and I cannot imagine that there are many mosques allowing so many attractions right before them.
Tepecik is the last mosque which will be covered here. It was built in 1737 by Hasan Aga who was the steward of Kizilhisarli Mustafa Pasha.
Following the lead of his commander’s footsteps, Hasan Aga wanted to leave a heritage in the town which he spent years. He looked for a suitable location by the seaside and finally found a place in today’s Tepecik neighbourhood. Today, his mosque is still serving the believers.
I like small, yet beautiful mosques in Bodrum. These three have been resisting to greedy investors trying to buy up valuable lands for years. They stand right next to the sea, reminding us that the Aegean has always been a special place where different cultures lived together in peace.
Call to Prayer: Adhan
Each Muslim should follow some certain rules and rituals known as Five Pillars of Islam. Salaat is the second pillar and it is a praying ritual which should be performed five times a day: at dawn, noon, afternoon, evening, and night.
Adhan, on the other hand, is a call for the salaat. A muezzin of a mosque recites the adhan five times a day to inform the public that it is time for the salaat.
Although the salaat is one of the five pillars of Islam, where to pray is up to the individual. It does not need to be in a mosque. Praying in a mosque with others is a way of socializing of the Muslim community and especially important on Friday noon salaats – Fridays are important because it is the Islamic holiday – and bairam salaats.
The salaat times recited by a muezzin change based on the sun’s position. When you hear the adhan, it means it is the salaat time. You can perform your praying at home, at the office, or wherever you are.
If a Muslim wants to be in a mosque for the salaat, he follows the lead of the imam. He is the one in charge of the mosque, performing the rituals, including burials and salaats.
Muezzin and Imam are different titles. Muezzin recites the adhan. Guiding the community and performing the rituals are the imam’s responsibility.
Visiting A Mosque in Bodrum
Visiting a mosque requires a few simple rules to follow. All you need is to pay attention to your clothing and acting respectfully in a mosque.
The first thing you should do is to take your shoes off in a mosque. You can leave them on the shelves at the mosque entrance, put them in your bag or carry in your hands. I would take them with me in a backpack or plastic bag.
I have received questions from you, asking if women can visit mosques in Bodrum. Sure! They can visit any mosque if the clothing is appropriate.
Women are expected to wear long skirts (below the knee) or trousers. The idea is covering the legs in a mosque so even a long shawl wrapped around waist can do the trick.
Another dress code for women is covering the head with a scarf or something similar. The idea is to cover the hair with a cloth but not with accessories like hats or caps. And no, even if you are bald, you need a cover!
Many big mosques in touristic regions like Istanbul and Ankara have scarfs and long skirts which can be lent at the mosque entrance. Unfortunately, I am not sure if they do that in the mosques in Bodrum.
When it comes to men, a trouser and a t-shirt would be enough to get in a mosque. In touristic destinations like Bodrum, wearing shorts instead of trousers or jeans are also okay. However, please keep in mind that shorts can be a problem in small, non-touristic urban areas, especially in Mid-Anatolia, Black Sea and Eastern Anatolia regions of Turkey.
There is nothing else about the clothing in a mosque. Let us talk about a little what to do in a mosque.
As in other places of worship, keeping your voice down and behaving respectfully are important.
When the community is at the salaat, standing or walking in front of them are considered very rude. You should wait behind them until the salaat is over.
You can take photos outside of the praying times in the mosques in Bodrum. However, asking the imam for his for permission would be a kind move and can even start a conversation. One last thing: if the language is not a barrier, you can ask Imams any question regarding their mosques or Islam religion. It is their duty to introduce Islam to whoever willing to learn.
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