Sunday, 17 January 2016

Mosques, kittens, indifference and stairs

Read two stories recently, having a bit of trouble reconciling them....

Story 1 : Kittens at a Mosque
Imam Mustafa Efe recently started welcoming local stray cats into the Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi mosque in Istanbul, a story which has been covered widely across the world (for example, see here)

Imam and kitten

Story 2 : Treatment of infirm women at a Mosque
Rabia Chaudry describes how, when visiting the Sultan Ayyoub Ansari mosque and shrine in Istambul, she was shooed away from the small womens section in the main prayer hall and told to go upstairs to the balcony section, overlooking the main prayer hall. The stairs were narrow, cramped steep and circular - in short, difficult to climb. Whilst on the balcony section Rabia happened to look back as the stairs. This is what she saw :

"..I looked over and saw a woman emerge out of the stairway door. Except she wasn't standing up. She was crawling. She was the first of a number of very elderly women who crawled up those awful stairs on their hands and knees. One of them dragged her cane with her. They would get to the top, then have to be helped to stand up and wobble over to a place on the carpet to pray. That pretty much broke me. I can't remember the last time I wept, really wept. I had already been shooed away from a number of mosque doors that were the domain of men only, but this really broke me. What has happened to our men? Where is the mercy and compassion of our Prophet (saw)? How many would send their own elderly mothers up such stairs to sit away from...from what? From prayer?..."

Rabia goes on to comment that:

"....I watched my daughter play with one of the elderly women, who gave her candies. Another, seeing me cry for quite a bit, came and gave me sweets and a gift of prayer beads. I felt better knowing that the unkindness of the men didn't strip the kindness from the hearts of the women...."

This woman must have been at least 70 years old,
came up on her hands with her face literally on the steps

Action
Sent an email to the The Presidency of Religious Affairs at diyanet@diyanet.gov.tr but zero expectation of it actually being read by anyone. Email says:

"The way elderly and infirm women are forced to climb the steep stairs at the Eyüp Sultan Mosque is heartless. They should be welcomed on the ground floor."

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