Just landed at Istanbul Atartuk International Airport with ISDEV Deputy Director Dr Zakaria Bahari yesterday morning at about 0545. Observed fajr prayer at a corner of the airport's baggage claim area. There were 3 prayer mats. Ablution was done at the rest room nearby. There is no proper praying room at the airport.
Fetched by a travel agent provided by the organiser of the Conference we are participating, safely check-in at Green Park Hotel in Merter, have a little rest, observed zuhr prayer at a mosque nearby and had a lunch with Turkish Kebab at a stall outside the mosque.
Today we were guided by Mervan, a third year Islamic economics student of Istanbul University appointed by the conference organiser, to the historic Blue Mosque (where we observed our Zuhur prayer), Aya Sophia, Space Market and the tomb of the Companion of Rasulullah SAW, Abu Ayub al-Ansari. We took tramp and buses to the destinations, as well as walking quite a distance. The temperature was 6'C. It is winter now in Turkey.
Istanbul is just like other cities in other parts of Europe. It is a modern city with urban facilities and population divided generally into two, firstly those who are already conscious of Islam, and secondly, the other with secular lifestyle. At the prayer place at the Airport, for instance, we encountered two young men belonging to Said Nursi Bediozzaman movement, while outside the airport we witnessed quite a number of women smoking (may be Turks, or may be others from other countries). While on the tramp on our way to the Blue Mosque today, a guy sitting beside me was reading the Qur'an. He is an Hafiz - memorising the whole Qur'an from a madrasah in Istanbul itself, and now working as a graphic designer. On our way back to Merter, there was a couple kissing in front of us in the tramp, reminding me of similar lifestyle of young couples in England and Europe. Our Islamic conscious guide Mervan leaves it to his parents to choose a wife, for to him, it is haram to have a free social life before marriage, while other youngsters, according to him, are having lovers before marriage.
However, Islam seems to be reviving in Turkey, and the authority, I was told, is keen of it, Ahamdulillah.