Any visitor to İsa Bey mosque in the western Turkish province of Izmir must be familiar with a unique imam who has been using “language of love” for years to spread the message of Islam.
Appointed to the position of the mosque imam seven years ago, Ibrahim Taşdemir gives visitors notes with basic information about Islam in 25 languages.
The notes contain excerpts from the Prophet Muhammad’s hadith and verses from the Qur’an about Islam’s view of other religions. He then guides them to a stand containing Qur’ans in 20 languages, gifting them the holy book of his religion.
“I want to show them how beautiful Islam is,” Taşdemir told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Monday.
“I speak a little English and some Dutch and I noticed how people are pleased when you speak to them in their own language. They are surprised to see an imam speaking their language. When I see them warming up, I give them these notes,” he says.
For those willing to learn more about Islam, Taşdemir guides them to a fountain in the courtyard of the mosque, where he teaches them the basics of ablution.
Taşdemir says his work “pays off” as some write him back and some even converted to Islam. So far, he has given 26,000 copies of the Qur’an to visitors.
Islam is the most practiced religion in Turkey. According to the government, 99% of the Turkish population is Muslim.
According to religiosity poll conducted in Turkey in 2019 by OPTİMAR, 89.5% of the population identifies as Muslim, 4.5% believed in God but did not belong to an organized religion, 2.7% were agnostic, 1.7% were atheist, and 1.7% did not answer.