I saw a huge mosque, one of the mosques you see in posters about Islam, my heart skips a beat and I ask the person sitting next to me "Is that the infamous blue mosque ?", he smiles and says "no brother, that's just the mosque down the street". It seems that most mosques in Istanbul are built in this grandiose fasion. so after the first three times I mistook the 'mosque down the street' to be a historic land mark, I shut up and waited for the mosque to show me itself.
But we'll get to that later.
I arrive at the hotel at around 8am, where I meet the organisers and the other guests from other countries, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Kyrgystan (yes, Kyrgystan is 60% Muslims). However I didn't have time to meet and greet, the counference was going to start in another half an hour. I needed to get ready, so half an hour later I was all dressed up and on the bus to the conference venue.
As I mentioned previously that customs kept me an extra two hours, so my australian counterpart (Zayed, FAMSY president, Sydney) was panicking, emaling from Australia and fussing about in Istanbul with the organisers about find me, so whoever of the organisers sees me they'd be like "Oh brother ! the other Australian brother was looking for you ! Alhumdulillah you're here". here.
We arrive at a place, not a university venue, not an old run down mosque, not Clayton community center. This place was a full on conference venue ! I was very impressed, this was not muslim standards. so far so good ! This place was a TV station and newspaper printery with adjacent conferencing facilities. Upon walking in you could see just how many people were involved in this, later on it was counted that almost 150 attendants from 55 countries had attended (54 countries, they counted New Zealand as a country, though I was representing Austalia).
Nedede means where is.
Ne Ka da means How much ?
Lutfun means please.
It was then made clear that the confernce was held by Saadat Party, Aka Milli Gorus, the biggest islamic movement in Turkey currently. Saadat Party is also known for winning by popular elections twice in the past 40 years and were forcibly removed by the Army ( for more info on the history of the Ottoman empire, Turkey and the pig Attaturk, have a read here ) .
So there guys aren't an MSA, they're not a "umbrella group", they're the real deal ! a successful contemporary islamic project ! which means what they had to say, I wanted to hear.
Though deep down I thought alot about this, I am not an eastern muslim, I don't live in a muslim majority country, I live in Australia. so what I aim for isn't to apply the Milli Gorus model there because Australia is majority not muslim. How can I apply what I learn then ?
More on that later.
I have to take a moment to complement the translators for the amazing work they did, for the three days we were at the conference there were 4 languages spoken and two men translated instantly (over mikes distributed) for that whole time ! for one thing it was a testament to the unity and variety of Islam, but also these guys did marathon translation sessions mashallah.
There were also speakers from other countries like Pakistan, Morroco's Justice and development party, the president of the imam's association of Malawi ( I think Malawi, or Ghana, I'm sure it was a subsaharan african country).
Most of the ideas and intiatives they shared with us were amazingly insightful, after long years of the tradition of corruption and opression in Arab and Muslim countries it was refreshing to see balanced sucessful moderate minds leading the way to salvation from the black hole Muslims are in now.
One thing that we could not ignore was the consistent attack on the west as a whole and the US specifically, I mean I do agree with some of the ideas they had of the effects of Imperialism and the foriegn policy of the US seems to blindly attack anything that has a connection with Islam, and in the process killing and causing generally alot of harm to Muslims.
These guys however were going on about more than that, they were attacking all of the west uniformally because they (the west) were deemed to hate us (the muslims) and want only to control us and make us exactly like them.
A couple of years ago I would have agreed with these ideas, but now I found them to be immature and a bit blind sighter, I was actually surprised to hear these ideas, what's worse is that no one seemed to have a problem with it.
Near the end of the second day we (I and Zayed, my president) decided to bring this point to light to at least clarify where we stand, and because Zayed already did do a bit of speaking in the begining of the conference, I spoke this time.
I was a bit nervous, thanked them and mentioned for them how important it is to have this conference and to bring together the muslim youth of the world to see these achievements. However !
We as Australians could not in all honesty share thier views of the west, I spoke alot about how there were many Australians were entering Islam because of their love for goodness and truth, and that even if not all of them are entering Islam, it is true that many of them support Muslims for no other reason than the fact that it was the right thing to do, how thousands of people go out rallying against thier government in support of the human rights of Muslims who they've never met in countries they've never been. This was something that the prophet pbuh illucidated himself when he mentioned صلح الفظول (The Fudhool pact) and stated that if it was called for today he was join it. I was a bit fearful of rotten tomatoes being thrown at me by the other attendants, so I was surprised when fresh applause was thrown my way. Alhumdulillah it seems I was not the only one to think like this.
I've written enough today.