Visit to the Muslim Sample

June 22nd, 2019

Northern Morocco and Western Turkey were both green and lush; both rich in agriculture with a few really big cities.  Southern Morocco, of course, is part of the Sahara Desert but surprisingly quite a lot of agriculture.  Both countries were littered with historical artifacts, more so in Turkey going back to 3,000 BC.  All this to Deborah’s delight for she loves history, flowers and open countryside.  I in turn prefer culture and food.  Not much can be said for the food except lots of fresh bread but the culture, the people and the religion were very interesting.  We had a great trip and lots of adventures.

I knew going in to abandon my foodie/health views so that was not an issue.  All the food was fresh and well prepared; just not food I would dine on at home.  I had three goals and we accomplished them and then some.  I studied with an old Dervish from Turkey for a few months in my late twenties but he was not a dancer.  I wished to see and did a group doing the Whirling Dervish ritual and they let us take some pictures.  Very powerful ceremony.  Second desire was to see how they carved an underground city in rock in Cappadocia.  Tons of ash from volcanoes filled the valley floor thousands of years ago with a thick heavy layer of rock on top.  The compressed ash is solid but you can carve into it even with wooden tools.  Amazing site to see and even better from the hot air balloon.  Hard to imagine people lived underground for over two hundred years to avoid religious persecution.   

 The third point was to look at the practice of the Muslim Religion.  I know from my studies that Muslim is a kind of Arab reformed Christian religion but I’d never seen it in practice outside of a few Mosques that I have been to in the US.  Both countries were 99% Muslim but different levels of devotion.  Morocco was definitely steeped in the traditional meme.  When they got their freedom as a country in 1956 they selected by popular vote a Kingdom for their form of government and their form of Muslim Religion is the most liberal.  Women do not wear veils, they get the same free government sponsored education as men, get the same opportunities for jobs and the same pay and rights.  This country is open to all religions and you see traveling many different types of churches.  In the cities the people are more laissez faire about religious practice; they have liquor stores, they party and show respect for women and non-Muslims.  The villagers are far more traditional and often decline their free education after primary school to develop agricultural skills, sheep and goat tending and start having children early.  Lots of organizations have started up all over the country designed to implement change and improve life opportunities for these village people.

Turkey is more in the Modern Meme, more industry, more population and only 4% attend daily prayer at the Mosques.  I believe that both countries present the statistic that they are 99% Muslim because Religion and Government are not separated.  Government builds the Mosques, pays the Emmons (priests) and controls the content.  One level of corruption that we have avoided in the US so far.         

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