The mosque where I discovered the planet of the apes

The mosque where I discovered the planet of the apes

I read Pierre Boulle’s novel, planet of the apes in a mosque in one of the forgotten corners of the Central Anatolian town of Kayseri.

I was at the elementary school. It was a magnificent mosque in a big garden. I don’t know who had the idea, who choose the books and put it there. But there was a modest library next to the place where the imam delivered his sermons.

Looking back I am wondering what an imagination provoking books like the planet of apes were doing there?  Books that even today can open up the horizons of many muezzin and imams. I wonder how many of them follow such books, are familiar with that type of publications. I would guess that even the Directorate General of Religious affairs would not give its consent to such books in fear that it might puzzle some minds.

Yet, ı came across the planet of apes in the Sümer mosque located in a neighbourhood in the periphery of a city like Kayseri, almost 40 years ago.

I am talking about a mindset that sees no problem in having libraries and putting books like comics to attrack children to the mosques.

I wonder if it would have survived the scrutiny if there was a meaningless censorship so that the mindset of children don’t polluted. I still recall with high appreciation the one who thought about putting that book over there. It has had a big contribution in the development of my lust for reading. I used to stay after the prayer and spend a long time to get familiar with the books.

We would read together with a few curious ones, exchange books and talk about what we have read.

Making both praying and reading attractive for kids

I am not doing this nostalgia out of blue. The directorate for Religious Affiars is organizing some activities in the framework of the week of the mosques and religious personnel. The essential theme is “mosque and book.”

An instruction has been sent to local branches to form libraries in the mosques and to organize conferences with writers.

There will be some Friday sermons on books. The purpose is to attract the youth and children to mosques and books; made them familiar with both praying and reading.

This news has got me excited.

I would like to congratulate the Directorate.

Yet I have one worry and an advice related to that.

Of course they have be to selective; but they should not be too restrictive on their choices. The shelves should not be just reserved to religious substance, limited to the works of conservative writers.

If they want mosques to be active and dynamic spaces after prayer times, they should appeal to different curiosities of a children’s mind, to the different colours of the children’s world, without contradicting a mosques rituals.
In other words the should keep a large array; have many choices. They should reflect the richness of life so that mosques can be brought in the midts of daily lives through books