Sam's Life

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My last day in Istanbul, Wednesday (March 29)

I received my re-issued, extended Saudi visa

One more Turkish apple-tea on the plaza in front of the Blue Mosque while waiting to hear from the Saudi Arabian Consulate.

Today, early morning, I found my way by taxi to the Consulate of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia here in Istanbul. I again pleaded my case for a new visa. I found out that my original re-entry visa had been valid. There had been no reason for Turkish Airlines to have removed me from my flight. The problem appeared to be that my original extended visa given me in Jeddah prior to leaving was in Arabic, and the Turkish Airlines personnel could not read Arabic.

While my friends in Jeddah were working with the Saudi foreign ministry there, I remained in Istanbul for eight days until the matter was straightened out. It was finally decided to give me a new re-entry visa that was both in Arabic and English. While I could have been required to return to the US to get this new visa in English, a special exception was made for me, Alhamdelilah! (Praise God!), and I left the consulate with my English language, multiple-entry, revised and extended, exceptional visa in hand. As I left, the consulate staff were cheering me on! “Go, Sam! Go, Sam!”

Linquistic and cultural misunderstandings

If misunderstandings take place today between modern Islamic republics (Turkey and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) because of language, then I understood more clearly why misunderstandings are taking place between the Abrahamic faiths (Hebrew, Arabic and English and other western languages).

To overcome such misunderstandings it is absolutely imperative that we work hard at overcoming these fears and misapprehensions in religious beliefs through our work in creating a cross-referenced work of the Qur’an (Arabic) and the Bible (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek).

My work here in Jeddah is primarily with our Qur’an Project (“Q-Project”). I’m spending hours every day in editing footnotes and cross-references in this important work.

I think if most Christians in the West understood what I have come to understand through this work, most of the fear and misapprehensions that currently exist would greatly dissipate. The work we are doing has the possibility of changing the course of history.

My time here in Turkey has reminded me of a song we Quakers sometime sing about George Fox whom God used to begin the Society of Friends (Quakers):

What an incredible sight to behold--the Blue Mosque at night from the rooftop tearoom of my hotel. (Click photo to enlarge!)

After receiving my reissued re-entry visa to Saudi Arabia, I took one last walk through the streets of Istanbul. I stopped by the different shops where I had made friends with Turkish and Kurdish Muslims to thank them for their friendship and encouragement.

The Blue Mosque–one more look at night

I made a video of some Turkish street musicians on the plaza in front of the Blue Mosque and then had dinner at the Optimist Cafe where I met some tourists from Tokyo, Japan. I spoke with my new Tokyo friends about the beautiful history and architecture of the Blue Mosque.

After dinner and a couple of glasses of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, my Japanese friends accompanied me to see the mosque from the rooftop tea room of my hotel. At night you can see more clearly the cascading domes in the mosque’s architecture that have made this building so famous.

As we stood there we were absolutely speechless. What words can possibly describe what we saw. There were no words. There were only awe and inspiration.

Later that evening Dr. Safi Kaskas phoned me from Jeddah to tell me he had purchased a return ticket for me to Jeddah—I would be leaving the next morning at 10:00 AM.


March 31, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. A surprise stay in Turkey but it sounds as though it was a good visit in spite of the visa concerns. The Blue Mosque figured prominently. That is going to stay with you. All my best, Marina

    Comment by Marina Bühler-Miko | April 1, 2012 | Reply

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