The Blue Mosque




offer faithful good/better/best
gather pack (2) understand/understood/understood
motif triumph packs the house
rival practical holy/holier/holiest
grand worship at the same time
crowd interior countless
cover prophet elaborate
scarf human geometric
loan minaret nickname
tile impress turquoise
fill portray draw/drew/drawn (2)
full muezzin calligraphy
excel focus (2) figurative (2)
floral form (2) sculpture
call (2) quote (2) front-and-center
saint exquisite signature (2)
pray niche (2) say/said/said
flank face (2) ceremonial
candle point (2) segregate
gender reserve demeaning
main section courtyard
hall join (2) private (2)
option perform medallion
bell minaret according to
tower tradition lead/led/led
imam excerpt opportunity
climb amplify perform (3)
live (2) witness loudspeaker
rather prophet come/came/come
drop salvation practice (2)
praise drop into resume (2)






As a city which is over 90% Muslim, Istanbul offers a good opportunity to better understand Islam. Visitors are welcome to visit historic mosques and, at the same time, experience a religion that still packs the house.

The Blue Mosque was the 17th-century triumph of Sultan Ahmet I. Architecturally, with its six minarets, it rivaled the great mosque in Mecca, the holiest in all Islam.

Its grand courtyard welcomes the crowd that gathers for worship. As with all mosques, you park your shoes at the door, and women cover their heads. If they don’t have a scarf, there are loaners at the door.

Countless beautiful tiles fill the interior with exquisite floral and geometric motifs. It’s nicknamed the Blue Mosque because of its blue tiles. Blue is a popular color in Turkey. It impressed early French visitors enough for them to call it “the color of the Turks,” or, “turquoise”.

While churches portray people like this, Muslims believe the portrayal of people in places of worship draws attention away from worshiping Allah as the one God. In mosques, rather than saints and prophets, you’ll see calligraphy.

This explains why, historically, the Muslim world excelled at non-figurative art while artists from Christian Europe focused on painting and sculpture of the human form.

Artful Arabic calligraphy generally shows excerpts from the Quran and quotes from Muhammad. As a church would have Jesus and God front-and-center, in a mosque, elaborate signature medallions high above the prayer niche say “Muhammad” and “Allah.”

Large ceremonial candles flank the mihrab, that’s the niche which points southeast to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, where all Muslims face when they worship.

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Services are segregated by gender — the main hall is reserved for men, while the women’s section is in the back. While, to some, it’s demeaning to make women stay in back, Muslims see it as a practical matter. Women would rather have the option of performing the physical act of praying in private.

Muezzin: “Allah hu akbar. Allah hu akbar.”

Like churches have bell towers, mosques have minarets. According to Muslim tradition, the imam, or prayer leader, would climb to the top of a minaret to call the faithful to prayer.

Muezzin: “Hadu anna Muhammadan…” These days, the prayer leader still performs the call to prayer live, but it’s amplified by loudspeakers at the top of the minarets.

Muezzin: “Allah hu akbar,”

The call is always the same — “Allah akbar,” (“God is great. Witness there is only one God, Muhammad is his prophet. Come join the prayer. Come join the salvation”).

When this happens, practicing Muslims drop into a mosque, face Mecca, and pray to God. Then, after a short service praising God, workaday life resumes.

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Sunni Islam. This video took place in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. True or false?

Shia Islam. Did the Byzantine Emperor Justinian build the Blue Mosque?

Paganism, Heathenism. The mosque has a belfry, steeple or bell tower. Is this right or wrong?

Orthodox Christianity. Were the worshipers wearing suits-and-ties, skirts and dresses? What do people do before entering the Blue Mosque?

Catholic Church. Is the inside of the mosque painted completely in blue?

Protestantism. Do the walls and dome feature pictures of people? Are there writings in Latin or Cyrillic? Do they mention Jesus, John, Mary and Paul?

Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witness. In the Blue Mosque, families pray together. The sit on benches. Is this correct or incorrect?

Judaism. When services begin, does the imam ring a bell? After prayers in video, did the worshipers listen to a sermon by the imam?
Hinduism. I have visited or seen mosques. Yes or no?

Buddhism. What places have mosques?

Sikhism. What mosques, churches, cathedrals or temples would you like to visit?

Taoism, Shintoism. What might happen in the future?

Amish, Mennonite, Hutterites. What could or should people do?

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