Have divine question? Ask an English-speaking imam in Istanbul

Have divine question? Ask an English-speaking imam in Istanbul

ISTANBUL - Doğan News Agency
Have divine question Ask an English-speaking imam in Istanbul

As part of a new project from Istanbul’s Fatih Municipality, imams are set to receive English courses so as to better communicate with foreign tourists. DHA

Istanbul’s Fatih Municipality and Religious Affairs Office have begun a new project to teach imams (Islamic clergymen) English. The project mainly aims to enable imams to communicate with tourists visiting mosques.

Yesterday, a test measuring English skills was given to the imams. After a written exam, the first English lesson was held. The imams had the most difficulty with the oral exam. Beyazıt Mosque’s muezzin (caller of daily prayers for Muslims), Mahir Sarıkaya, said they really needed such training. “One wants to communicate with the tourists that come around,” he said.

Istanbul Mufti Rahmi Yaran, who also contributed to the project, called imams to use their body language along with spoken language. “In order to express yourselves, your religion and country, you need both body language and spoken language. You should place emphasis on both of them,” Yaran said, addressing the imams.

Also, Fatih Mayor Mustafa Demir said they aimed to please tourists and provide them first-hand information with the project. Demir said learning a new language was a very challenging process. “It is like cycling up a hill on a bike. If you stop, you will fall,” he said.

Demir also said teaching English to imams would enable them to give religious sermons in English. “One of our aims is to enable [imams] to recite religious sermons in English at mosques, especially at the ones such as Sultanahmet and Yeni Camii, which attract many tourists. English sermons are recited after the ones in native languages in all over the world. I think giving English sermons in Fatih is necessary.”