Islam, October 1996
KOTKU ROADSIDE PROJECT
Praise be to Allah for all He has given to us. We have been traveling often just like Awliya Chelebi, the renown traveler who had seen Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in his dream and wanted to say "Shafa'at Ya Rasoolullah" but said "Seyahat Ya Rasoolullah!" We love our brothers, miss them, appreciate their good deeds, cannot refuse their invitations. Half of our days pass on the road, in the various parts of the country. We are pleased, content, thankful and praiseful, and we do not complain.
In Islam, roads are very important, and serving to travelers is very rewarding. A traveler has needs: He has to prepare for prayer, perform the prayer, eat food, get rest, purchase food and refreshments for the road, get fuel for his vehicle, and have the oil changed.
We stop by some mosques: the doors are locked, the restrooms are closed, there is no running water. We stop to buy gasoline at some "gas stations" which are not really "stations" and get disappointed with the fact that there is no masjid, the restrooms are filthy, there are no proper places for ladies to make wudu, and that they do not mind selling all kinds if liquor. The new highways are real good, but the rest areas along them are not as orderly as though they were invaded by opportunist vendors. They are not well maintained.
I would like to request from my hardworking and zealous brothers in every town and city to establish exemplary rest areas along the highways. Let us name these rest areas after our late master Mehmed Zahid Kotku and call them "Kotku Dinlenme Tesisleri." Let us make this name a symbol of beauty, cleanliness, and perfection in a way that a joy would overcome the travelers who see its sign post from a distance. They would say, "Here is a rest area the way we like. We can stop here and get rest in serenity and security. We can get here all we need, refresh ourselves and continue our trip."
In each "Kotku Dinlenme Tesisleri," let there be a beautiful mosque, clean facilities for wudu and showers, sections to stay overnight or to sleep, playgrounds for children, places for picnic, a restaurant for wholesome and delicious meals, a place for halal refreshments, tea and coffee, a large lawn with many trees, flower beds, a pool and fountain, excellent view, clean and fresh air, clean vegetable, fruit and nut stands, a gift store, a home-made food and clothing section, and alike. Let there be everything useful and needed for the travelers. Let there be service and business. Let these places be useful to get to know one another, to strengthen the love, affection, and brotherly feelings. Let these places be important places for earning rewards.
In the past, tekkes and dervishes would consider serving travelers and providing them shelter as an honorable and rewarding duty. They tend to this duty with great zeal. Throughout the history, it was like this in Anatolia, Balkans, Middle Asia, Andulusia, and other Muslim lands. Now it is our turn. Let's turn to our good traditions and maintain them. Let us prove by our actions how Muslims are unselfish, providing, and thoughtful.
Let us see which province would initiate such a good project.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala bless you all. May He give you opportunities to do good deeds. Amen.