As it is Friday and the middle of Ramadan, I thought it would be
interesting to attend the local mosque in Fotinovo with my good friend Hussain, who just so happens to be the Hodja (Imam). I
suppose this is like visiting church as a non believer but being brought as a guest of the vicar. I recognised a few of the attendees
from around the my village. All were keen to say hello – and ask for a lift back. It was just me and Hussain on the way out but I would
have a full car going back.
The morning started at 9 o’clock when we set out for Fotinovo. I didn’t know at the time that the service didn’t start until 12:30. This
appears to be a full morning, which had it not been the month of fasting would have been spent in the restaurant, and visiting the many cafes
of Fotinovo. Hussain, was adamant thogh that I would not miss out. Buying me coffee in two cafes, and trying to get me to eat wherever food
was available. I took the coffee but thought it might be a bit insensitive if I started filling my face with food when everyone else would be
waiting until the sun goes down before eating. Although I was quite tempted.
Before the service started there was plenty of time for me to have a guided tour of the mosque, which I was informed had been insitu for the last
450 years, and was still secretly active during Zhivkovs time when religion was not the done thing. He even had time to show me how to write my
name in Arabic. No I won’t be able to it again, too many squiggles no enough vowels. My name Dominic would be spelt D-M-Y-N-K. And I though Welsh
I would have taken some pictures, but I was standing out like a swa thumb as it was with my blonde hair, attaching a camera to my face also I
thought would have been a bit rude. If you want to see the mosque from above though search for Fotinovo in Google earth (41’23’11’N, 21’25’17 E)
and you should be able to find it.
As I was the guest of the Imam I took a seat on the upper floor at the front, right in one corner so I wouldn’t stan out too much.
Until that is my neighbour Ilyas turns up! Ilyas unfortunately has two volume settings, loud and very loud! After announcing to
congregation that I was there (200+), he sits behind me and tells me what is going on. I can here the rest of them mutter ‘…Ingleez….Ingleez…’
It is one of the few Turkish words I can understand ‘ English……..English….’ Ilyas was nearly in hysterics at hearing this. And jokingly told me
that he would be security if needed!
The service which lasts about 35 mins is quite a work out compared to Christian services that I have attended, and thankfully no singing, except
for Hussains prayers, Which for an Octagenarian he certainly still belts out.
I have now been to Mosque twice since I have been here which compares well with my church attendance back in the UK (Weddings, Funerals only).
Being a physists I still don’t believe in supernatural powers and visiting places of worship will not change that. However, I have found with all
religious places of worship that those that do attend seem to get something out of it, and those adminstering the service, be they vicars, Imam’s,
or Buddhist Monks all do the religion proud and are very welcoming to believers and non-believers a like. Anyway it is Saturday tomorrow, so
perhaps I should go to a Synagogue to cover all angles!