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Places

Travel Guide to

Muslim Europe With travel writer and European Muslim heritage specialist Tharik Hussain

Romania’s

We were now both stood outside the green fence that surrounded the mosque and its unkempt cemetery. Inside, a dozen or so slim tombstones were in different stages of decay. Many had legible Persian script

the reason I had made my way to Mangalia. It was the claim by Mangalia’s mosque that had brought me here. “During the 16th century, the princess Esma, daughter of Selim II and wife of the high vizier Sokollu-Mehmet Pasha, took refuge in Mangalia,” continued the sign. “Moscheeea! Gooood!” encouraged Lutfi. I peered over at the modest, whitewashed building with its awkward minaret and terracotta tiled roof. All the elderly

and unmistakable Ottoman stone headdresses. Turbans and Fezzes peered over untidy foliage like proud soldiers refusing to wane. Celebi’s claim wasn’t

worshippers were now in the courtyard. Some stood under the veranda engaged in gentle conversation. The others shuffled towards the exit, where the

forgotten royal mosque

T

he bright August sun winked at me every time it caught Lutfi’s large, tinted sunglasses. He gave me a toothless grin, before lifting his walking stick to tap the brown tourist sign above our heads. “Go to Mangalia, which is the Ka‘bahMakkah of the wandering poor people”, read the words. Wow, I thought, quite a claim for an obscure town in a non-Muslim country. A Ka‘bah - Makkah? Really? Here?... The linguistic folly of combining Islam’s holiest sanctuary with its holiest city was doing the claim no favours. The quote was attributed to the celebrated medieval Ottoman traveller, Evliya Celebi. Lutfi - a Romanian Turk - was also an Ottoman product. His ancestors would have arrived in these parts when the Muslim empire began expanding beyond its native Turkey. Lutfi and I had just prayed Jum’a inside the rather modest Esmahan Sultan Mosque - Lutfi’s local - and though we

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islam today

March 2018

had no common language, the elderly gentleman knew why I was here. I was looking for Romanian Muslim heritage.

Islam today issue 57 march 2018  
Islam today issue 57 march 2018