I’m not what you’d call a particularly religious person. I don’t really practice, but I partake in the big things alongside my family. I respect their beliefs and find that the religious holidays bring us all together and bring us closer. So while I have my own beliefs and ideas about right and wrong and how to make life choices, I do know a fair bit about the practice of Islam. I was brought up in a practicing household and am pretty familiar with the everyday aspects of the religion.
Quite recently, I moved away from just about everything I’ve ever known by deciding to take a job in Turkey, where Islam is the prevailing religion. Coming from Australia and adjusting to life here has definitely been a culture shock to say the least. I love most aspects of living here, but it’s all still very new and sometimes jarring. There is no one here who knows me beyond the surface, or I them. The dominant language is one I don’t know how to communicate in. Their societal rules are different to what I know; their cultural norms will take time to adjust to. Before coming here, I anticipated a feeling of otherness arising from being surrounded my Islamic practices; and yet, when the Azaan rings out five times a day at prayer times, I find myself feeling strangely at home in it. It’s something I remember quite vividly from my childhood days of living in Bangladesh. In a country where just about everything feels a little alien right now, I find myself comforted by this one consistent detail that reminds me so much of home and family. How strange it is the things that your mind will forage for in an attempt to find familiarity, when you are removed from the complacency and everyday-ness of your normal life.