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December 16, 2018 | Rabi` Al-Thani 8, 1440
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IslamiCity > Travel > Program to Turkey


The following cultural activities are part of the tour, making it educational as well as immensely enjoyable.



Whirling Dervish Ceromony in Istanbul .....

Known to the west as Whirling Dervishes, the Mevlevi Order was founded by Mevlana Rumi in the 13th century. The Order wrote of tolerance, forgiveness, and enlightenment. They survive today as a cultural brotherhood. They are not theatrical spectacles but sacred rituals. The ritual of the Mevlevi sect, known as the sema, is a serious religious ritual performed by Muslim priests in a prayer trance to Allah. Mevlevi believed that during the sema the soul was released from earthly ties, and able to freely and jubilantly commune with the divine. Dervish literally means "doorway" and is thought to be an entrance from this material world to the spiritual, heavenly world. The Whirling Dervishes played an important part in the evolution of Ottoman high culture. From the fourteenth to the twentieth century, their impact on classical poetry, calligraphy and visual arts was profound. Rumi and his followers integrated music into their rituals as an article of faith. Rumi emphasized that music uplifts our spirit to realms above, and we hear the tunes of the Gates of Paradise.




The band, which originated in 1289, became an institution which came to symbolise the power and independence of the Ottoman empire, and these musicians, who were janissaries, always accompanied the Sultans into battle. But quite apart from their benefit on the battlefield, they came to create new musical styles in Europe, and even influencing Mozart and Beethoven. 

Mehter bands were primarily military bands, and those under the command of generals included war drums over one metre in height known as harbî kûs or kös. These were carried on camels, and playing them with sticks demanded great skill. The 17th century writer Evliya Çelebi wrote, ‘Each kûs is the size of a bathhouse dome. They are played on feastday nights and days and their sound is like thunder.’ During performances the kös drums were placed in a line on the ground in the centre of the circle of musicians, and when marching they were loaded in pairs onto camels. The drummer rode and struck the drums to his right and left by turn. The kös was only ever played by royal mehter bands, or in that of the commander-in-chief leading the army in lieu of the sultan when on campaign. Each set of players had a leader known as aga. The leader of the bass drum players was called the basmehter aga, and the master of the entire band was called the mehterbasi aga. All the agas and the çevgân players wore white turbans wound around a kavuk (cap), a red coat over a yellow robe and red trousers, a shawl wound around the waist and yellow leather shoes. The other musicians were similarly dressed, except that their kavuks and coats were dark blue.

As the Ottomans advanced westwards into Europe, many elements of mehter music influenced western composers, particularly in the 17th century. Later Mozart and Haydn composed music inspired by mehter music, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony’s use of the kös, bass drum and zurna in the last movement is another striking example. Mozart, Bizet and many other composers produced ‘alla Turca’ pieces. The military mehter bands symbolised the sovereignty of the Ottoman state, and their powerful stirring music had a spirit which we can still appreciate today when listening to the Museum's mehter band playing this sound out of the past.


:: play :: 

Allahu Ekber !..      


Ey şanlı ordu,ey şanlı asker
Haydi gazanfer, umman-ı safter
Bir elde kalkan, bir elde hançer
Serhadde doğru ey şanlı asker.

Deryada olsa herşey muzaffer
Dillerde tekbir, Allahü ekber

Allahü ekber, Allahü ekber
Ordumuz olsun daim muzaffer.


:: play ::

Mehter Marsi        


Gâfil ne bilir neş’ve-i pür-şevk-i vegâyı
Meydân-ı celâdetteki envar-ı sefâyı
Merdân-ı gazâ aşk ile tekbir tekbirler alınca
Titretti yine, rû-yı zemin arş-ı semâyı.

Allah yolunda cenk edelim şân alalım şan
Kur’an’da vaadediyor Hazret’iYezdan.


:: play ::

Genc Osman


Of of Genç Osman dediğin bir küçük uşak
Beline bağlamış ibrişim kuşak of of.

Aman Askerin içinde birinci uşak
Allah Allah deyip geçti Genç Osman of of.

Of of Genç Osman dediğin bir küçük aslan
Bağdat’ın içime girilmez yastan of of.

Aman her ana doğurmaz böyle bir aslan
Allah Allah deyip geçti Genç Osman of of.

Of of Bağdat’ın kapısını Genç Osman açtı
Düşmanın cümlesi önünden kaçtı of of.

Aman kelle koltuğunda üç gün savaştı
Allah Allah deyip geçti Genç Osman of of.




The baths or 'hamams' as they are named, are for many aspects of health, not just for external cleanliness. Before Turkey was established as a separate country, the Romans, Byzantines, and nomadic peoples of the region had their own variations of bathing rituals. These traditions combined, creating a different variation of these ancient bathing habits, The Turkish Bath.
The bather enters the dry heat of a sweating area. Afterwards, the bather begins to perspire heavily because of a wet steam. The skin is then washed with soap and warm water and the muscles massaged. After being scoured and washed, the bather's body temperature returns to normal from swimming in cold water. Closely interweaved with everyday life, as well as the Muslim mandates for cleanliness and respect for the varied functions of water, the hamam will probably survive modernity with many other things in Western Asia.

Idea : Through this tour you can see Turkish baths and optionally you can even take one !..  - some of the baths we visit are active and some baths have been converted into shopping centers and artisans spaces.





The "pestemal" (pesh-te-mahl), a large towel fringed at both ends and wrapped around the torso, from below the armpits to about mid-thigh , as the woman made her way to the "kurna" or marble basin. The pestemal would be striped or checked, a colored mixture of silk and cotton, or pure cotton, or even pure silk.

The "tas", or bowl for pouring water over the body, was always of metal. Weather silver, gilt or tinned copper, or of brass, the tas always had grooved and inlaid ornamentation.

One finds a soap case of metal, usually copper, with a handle on top like a handbag, and perforated at the bottom to allow water to run out. Not only soap goes into such a case, but also a coarse mitt for scouring down the skin, a webbing of date-palm or other fibers for lathering on the soap, and combs both fine and broad-toothed made of horn or ivory.

The "kese" (keh-seh), that rough cloth mitt carried in the soap case, not only scoured the dirt out of the pores, but served to deliver a bracing massage. The soaping web, on the other hand, was specially woven out of hair or plant fibers.



Bringing pleasure and flavor together ...

During the Ottoman Empire, when time passed slowly, smoking a "nargile" or water-pipe was one of the ways of whiling away the time among the elite living in big cities such as İstanbul, İzmir, Bursa and Kutahya. A water-pipe is a Middle Eastern type of pipe to smoke tobacco. It consists of a long flexible stem and a jar of water through which the smoke is sucked in order to cool it. It was devised out of coconut skin for the first time in India. Later on, smoking a water-pipe attracted Egyptians and became a habit of Middle Eastern people.

When the water-pipe was brought to Anatolia in the 17th century, Turkish craftsmen found a new way through which they could display their skills. They engraved beautiful designs such as white or colorful flasks which appear as if they were made out of crystallized ice, or more usual designs like fruit or flowers.

Since it was one of the main pastimes of the male population in the society, the preparation of the water-pipe especially for the eldest male in a family was ceremonious which was deliberately prolonged.

Water-pipes, made in Beykoz and İznik workshops were smokers' favorites because of their decorative appearance. There was a special corner where the water-pipe was placed in order to ornament the old fashion Turkish houses.

A water-pipe consists of various parts: The body, bowl, tube and mouthpiece:

Body: This is the part where the bowl is placed. It looks like a decanter. It is filled with water to cleanse soot belched out by burning tobacco and also to absorb the nicotine. Though the body is usually made of glass or steel, you could find more elegant ones made out of porcelain on which gold, silver or coral were also used to embellish its appearance.

Bowl: Tobacco is put in the bowl which is pierced and covered with a conical cap in order that the flame be sheltered on windy days.

Tube: Air in the body part, is conveyed by means of this tube which is usually made out of amber. There may be more than one tube so that two or more people can smoke together while chatting.

Mouthpiece: At the end kept at the end of the tube to lighten smoke.

Today, Turkish people no longer have the time to sit and smoke a water-pipe as their grandfathers did years ago.

However on occasion one sees old men smoking water-pipes in some of old coffee houses in İstanbul, İzmir and Bursa. Tourists, who visit Turkey, are attracted to the water-pipes and often buy them as souvenirs to take home to their family and friends. Water-pipes also interest the young people in Turkey who are in search of their history and traditions. Despite the decreasing number of consumers of water-pipes, there are still some workshops operating where craftsmen make the traditional nargile.


We will see some Sultan Tombs and old local Tombs and study the significance of the different forms on the grave stones.

Cemeteries in Turkish cities were originally made on the outskirts of the cities, so that as cities expanded, the grave yards became part of the inner city landscape. Some ancient cities are thought of as necropolis, having streets of tombs, though much has been destroyed by time and the progress of people. The head stones are mostly Arabic - many have a shell or flower shape on top for a female burial - while a turban or fez shape is for male.


IslamiCity tour managers will do their best to arrange an evening with a Turkish family. This experience will let you see up close a Muslim family in their own environment.


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