Photo By Myra Deford

Religious Turks

Day 12 – Religious Turks

On May 29th, 1453, Constantinople, the capital city of the Byzantine Empire, was conquered by the Ottoman army. Immediately, Sultan Mehmet, the Conqueror, performed namaz (a Persian word describing traditional Islamic prayers) in the Hagia Sophia, the monumental Byzantine church in the center of the city. This act, at a place which represented the heart of the Eastern Church, was a symbol to many Muslims that implied the victory of Islam over Christianity.

The conquest and the prayers have both significantly impacted Turkish identity. Attending the Friday prayers is essential in the life of more than 60{1ef34f8f1cacfdc6c19f5319e487deec2393c82eacea09a13da7feed1a24e305} of Turkish men, while women usually pray at home. Many perform their prayers during the week as well. Keeping the Ramadan fast and religious holidays are as much part of life as circumcising their sons. And anyone who possibly can afford it tries to perform the Mecca pilgrimage once in a lifetime.

However, recent political and societal upheavals within Turkey clearly show that practice of religion and the ideals of Ottoman times are not sufficient to create the strong national identity religious Turks are longing for. Religious freedom is increasingly under threat as secular and religious leaders struggle for power.

It us unclear what the next chapter of Turkey’s history will bring to the people or the region. This is why we must not cease praying.

How to Pray

Pray for peace in Turkey and the preservation of religious freedom.

Turkey faces complex political situations at home and in the surrounding regions. Pray for government leaders to act with wisdom, for the peace and stability of this nation and the surrounding nations.

Very few Turks from a conservative background follow Jesus, perhaps due to a lack of Bible translations in their heart language. Recently, a colloquial language New Testament ( was published. Pray that this will have influence among this group.

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