Sunday, March 02, 2008

Istanbul just proves my point

Its high time I actually wrote about some specific travel experiences eh? Maybe not. At any rate, Turkey. They eat a lot of meat over there, just not the pig derivitaves. Despite this I could easily walk around Istanbul and never realise it was an Islamic country.
Why? religious tolerance. Yes I would have to presume ignorance of what the calls to prayer where that blast out but otherwise one would be forgiven in thinking that Turkey's national identity isn't defined by Islam.
And that's because it isn't. Despite having that song 'Istanbul that's Constantinople' in my head even before I arrived their, I had never really clicked that Istanbul is COnstantinople. And all I really know about Constantinople is that it is the place where Constantine in a flash of genius or just an expression of his ultimate power moved the capital from rome to Constantinople.
I can see why now I'm in Rome, for sure Rome is culturally more impressive, even just taking the Roman ruins and not the renaissance flavour but in terms of sheer Geography I doubt there is a single piece of land in the rest of the world as impressive as the Golden Horn of Istanbul.
So that was a sidestep, the point is that Istanbul has been a roman, byzantine and ottoman capital. It is the well run state that Christians were afraid of when they wrote revalations, and the antichrist was probably a preemptive campaign to build a resistance to the superior administration of the original Caliphs.
But that said Istanbul is a leading Islamic state, along with Qatar, Dubai and Jordan according to Thomas Friedman. And the key shared trait of these nations is that they aren't fundamentalist with Islam. They are opened up to a broader community and quite welcoming of foreign and tourist investment.
That said I can't help but draw a line between the correlation between the strength with which beliefs are held and the 'success' of a faith in the global world.
And thats that. The more tolerant or secular a religion is, the better it is it seems.
And that just proves my point. Turkey proves my point, because I would submit to you reader that one of the key reasons for religion is because they supposedly hold universal truths, they are the study of divine. And when they get relaxed, that is why universal truths should be tolerant, I don't see why they should claim to hold universal truths at all.
Unless it is a facade to keep hold of current membership, in which case it is Orwellian doublethink, and religion should be abandoned in droves.
Oh well.
That said Istanbul is great, the mosques are beautiful and the locals are friendly.

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