Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Eyup Sultan Camii, Istanbul, Turkey

My guide, Mehmet Tetik (\tetik) told me that we would be visiting one of the holiest sites in Istanbul.  I confess I may have the details wrong because the remarkable story unfolds over a centuries. I’m not connected to Internet here so can’t source it. Naturally I’d recommend if you’re interested to hunt down the details as I will eventually.  Apparently a closest friend  Mohammed and family had travelled to Constantinople in the first of a series of attempts at conquest. He’d died here.  When Mehmet II conquered Constantinople in in the 15th century, someone remembered he’d been buried here. By the descriptions of the time they were able to locate his grave.  The special trees he was buried under were a key clue as well as being at the base of a hill.
(Aha, I've had time to get to internet and review the story again.  Eyup Sultan was the standard bearer of the prophet Muhammad.  He was buried during the First Arab Seige of Constantinople in the 670's.)
Because he was so revered for his loyalty and friendship with Muhammed his tomb became a holy shrine with the local square being filled will worshippers overflowing from the Mosque erected by the tomb.  It also became a holy place of burial so that as far as the eye can see there are tombs, it being considered especially auspicious in Islam to be buried near the revered.
This was particularly a place where women came to seek blessings. It was also a place where boys came after their circumcision usually age 7 to 10 but may be as late as puberty.  It is called Khitan.  Circumcision was an important ritual for boys and they received gifts and were treated like a prince at this special time.
(I found it interesting that in the propaganda of the west no one complains about the ‘genital mutilation of boys’ whereas the feminists go on at length about the genital mutilation of women. My Muslim doctor friend described her ‘circumcision’ as no different than the circumcision of the ‘foreskin’, since ‘they just remove the outer edge of the labia majora in the ritual." Knowing this I figured the radical feminists would be demanding equality and circumcisions for themselves in the west if circumcision (genital mutilation of males) was universal. I certainly will never forget the horror I felt at a botch circumcision by a Jewish female paediatrician which left me preferring the Rabbi's skill at the brisques I attended where the whole family and community were watching the surgery.  There was no room for a botch up and cover up there.)
Throughout history adults have had rites of passage for their children including genital mutilations (circumcisions of boys and girls), scarring, tattooing, feet binding, lip extensions and in America today it’s ear piercing, breast enhancements and cosmetic surgery.
As a physician I think attention should be focussed on the quality of care and the certainty of high standards of results.  Frankly I think the world over it might be best handled by plastic surgeons with the community watching or by priests or imans who do six months  training in advanced surgery and septic technique.
There is obvious no place for ‘clitorectomy’ in modern civilization. Clitorectomy is like making boys eunuchs.  It’s barbaric.  We might all agree that certain others should be denied pleasure or the chance to reproduce (some ignorant journalists and particularly stupid politicians, never ourselves, mind you) but that doesn’t mean we should continue or accept such practices. These should not be lumped for political reasons into a term such as ‘circumcision’ and even “genital mutilation’. By these terms all cosmetic and plastic surgery stands the risk of being described as ‘mutilation’.
Frankly given my increasing girth with Christmas chocolate no one would consider liposuction “mutilation” in my personal case. My back and feet frankly would be thankful that I lessened the load by any means.
The sarcophagus above the grave is for ‘ornamentation’. The body is buried in the ground. The Moslem religion requires keeping the body of the dead in tact. Cremation is not accepted.

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