Beirut: an emotional visit to the mosque

Day 5

Still feeling very tired and not eating much. Not sure whether my stomach is upset because I am not eating or because I have eaten something bad.

We took a walk in the direction of Hamra in search of a beautiful mosque (I love mosques!) that Bill had showed me on a photo. We must’ve gotten of course a bit because we were getting tired but there was no mosque in sight. We ended up getting a cab.

The mosque was open and brightly lit but I wasn’t sure if we could get in. The ones in Istanbul are all open to the public but I didn’t know whether that was the case here. Didn’t want to offend anyone. I still thought I’d climb the stairs and have a peak. I hadn’t even poked my head inside when a guard handed me a black robe, instructed me on wearing it and told me that we could go in.

All robed up, head covered, we took our shoes off and quietly tip toed towards the shoe rack at the back of the mosque.

It was richly and beautifully decorated, much more luxurious than anything I had seen in Istanbul. Intense reds and golds on the ceiling coupled with crystal chandeliers made for a spectacular view.

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As we walked from one end to the other I knew why many Muslim women chose to cover up. The robe made me feel safe. I found a cozy spot by one of the columns providing views of the whole mosque and sat there. We spent the next hour or so talking, crying, laughing. Bill is like a balm to my soul.

I could have stayed sat there much longer but it was evening prayer time and the mosque was starting to fill up. Bill having studied the Quran (and taken an oath of some sorts) told me we shouldn’t talk during prayer and urged me to leave. We continued with a walk in nighttime Downtown  – a selection of beautifully preserved (or restored) old buildings with a Parisian and Arab feel to them. We took photos of the mosque, the nearby church, the Roman ruins, the well lit street lined with cafes until we reached a small plaza and decided to grab a coffee at a small café.

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After that we took a cab, which is an experience in itself because they do not follow any rules here. They don’t even stop at a red light here. ‘It is more of a suggestion, rather than a fact’ said Bill when our driver rushed across a big junction. I am not easily worried but I have been quite intense sitting in a car (either a taxi or our own) experiencing local traffic.

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