Friday, June 13, 2008

Why Fewer Homeless in Istanbul Than in Seattle?

The Rev. Patrick Howell, S.J., in a special report to The Seattle Times, gives us his insight regarding a part of the reason why, as he observed on a recent trip, there are so few homeless people living on the streets of Istanbul:

"We saw a few beggars in Istanbul, but the homeless, if they exist, were not visible to us. Our Turkish hosts, most of whom had completed college degrees in the U.S., said, "Tight family ties and the Muslim faith mean that no one is left out. We don't have homeless like Chicago or San Francisco or Seattle would have." The Prophet Muhammad said, 'One who sleeps while their neighbor is hungry is not one of us.'"

Rev. goes on to say, "Though Turkey is a constitutionally secular society, it supports the Muslim faith by building mosques and paying the salaries of the Imams. Out of a total population of 70 million, it has only 100,000 Christians and 25,000 Jews."

Rev. Howell ends with a saying by Rumi, the great Sufi mystic, scholar, and poet:

"There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled.
You feel it, don't you?"