Istanbul, 16 Rabi’ul Akhir 1437/26 January 2016 (MINA) – Turkey’s first female mosque guide Elif Zeynep Yılmaz, delivers presentations on Islam to foreign tourists visiting the information center adjacent to Sultanahmet Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, according to media reports.
Yılmaz said that they have been providing tourists with information about Islam by the dozens on a daily basis. “Every day, a large number of tourists knock on our door to learn about Islam and rid themselves of false perceptions which have been based on prejudices,” said Yılmaz.
The female guide also stated that most of the tourists who visit the mosque to receive information are from the U.S., the U.K. and several Latin American countries, International Islamic News Agency (IINA) quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
“Especially in the U.S. and the U.K., people are generally misinformed about Islam. However, at the mosque we guide them by providing accurate information and teaching them how to pray, if they prefer to learn,” the guide said.
“Many of the visitors are shocked to see that I am, as a woman, a responsible person because they have the wrong perception of Muslim women; namely, that we don’t participate in daily life and just stay at home,” she added.
Yılmaz underlined that “Our visitors confess that their minds were full of prejudices. However, we are happy about their desire to seek the truth.”
Recalling an encounter she once had with a French national, Yılmaz said that “Once, a French tourist told me that he wanted to convert to Islam all of a sudden which touched us and made us really surprised.”
The information sessions are being held in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district, where a suicide attack blamed on Daesh recently claimed the lives of 10 foreigners.The recent bombing did not have an effect on Yılmaz’s informative sessions; on the contrary, a higher number of tourists are attending the sessions daily.
The Turkish Presidency for Religious Affairs (DİB) has assigned mosque guides to Turkey’s prominent mosques to inform local and foreign tourists regarding Islamic culture. For the last two years, Yılmaz has been delivering information sessions at the mosque.
Yılmaz told an Anadolu Agency (AA) that she receives good feedback from foreign visitors. They are pleased to see a woman, she says. The information sessions at Sultanahmet take place at noon and in the afternoon. (T/P011/R03)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)