Can you try a religion for a month?

By Catrin Nye
BBC Asian Network

People usually think of religion in terms of a lifetime of commitment, but could you learn anything from trying one out for a month?

The call to prayer sounds from Eyup Mosque in Istanbul and local Muslims gather on the marble square outside for prayer. Men on one side, women the other, they crowd on mats for the Friday ritual.

Among them this week though are a few faces looking less than confident about what comes next.

Barbra Taylor, from Hawaii, and Terry Goldsmith, from Bury, Greater Manchester, are two of them. They’re not Muslim, but guests for nine days.

This is part of “Muslim for a Month” – a programme from social enterprise group The Blood Foundation where participants get to “test-drive” a religion.

“Coming away to do this process, some of my friends have questioned it and said ‘are you crazy? Aren’t you going to the enemy camp?’,” Taylor says.

For Goldsmith it was his changing surroundings at home that inspired the trip.

“One of the things is that there are a large number of Muslim people in the area I live in,” he explains.

“I don’t really know much about the people and I’d like to learn something of the religion and the culture.”

Participants pray, fast, have lectures from Muslim scholars and spend time with local Turkish families. Most are here for their first taste of Islam, but some for a deeper understanding of the Sufi culture of Turkey.

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Categories: Asia, Islam, Turkey, United States

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