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The Tale Of Three Cities

By: Fargo Bcn

On September 4, 2022, I set off to travel to Northern Kurdistan (Bakur), in the South-Eastern part of Turkey. This trip has been long wishful thinking and delayed since the Coronavirus outbreak, which prolonged my agony to wait this long. Finally, I'm grateful to make it after more than two years. Little didn't I know that I would discover significant historical places in some major cities and villages in this part of Kurdistan connected to relevant events of the faith that I believe in and the lives of the prophets in the Bible and the Quran.

These three handsome gentlemen in the photo are from three different cities in northern Kurdistan. Each of them represents a very relevant town in the life story ever taken place since the existence of humankind and in history itself. Not every day do you get so lucky to encounter an incident that could take you back to where some of the most significant happenings occurred.

VAN: "The Garden of Eden"

One of the guys in the group photo is a good friend of mine. Zeki Anter is from Van (Wan) but has lived and worked in Mersin from three decades ago to this day. He has been a great help to me during my journey to northern Kurdistan by guiding me throughout my trip through his assistance and connections. I'm genuinely grateful for people like him who gave importance to supporting the purpose of my travel. I would not have accomplished things without the trust and confidence of people who believe in me.

Did it ever occur to your mind where the "Garden of Eden" is located? Well, honestly, it never crossed my mind, either. But I read in an article a few years ago that it is in the mountainous area close to the Euphrates, where the longest and one of the most historically significant rivers of Western Asia is found. “Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia. Originating in Turkey, the Euphrates flows through Syria and Iraq to join the Tigris in the Shatt al-Arab, which empties into the Persian Gulf.”

Let me share a little adventure that led me to know about some studies and research that link to proving this seemingly convincing speculation. No one knows where the exact location of the Garden of Eden. The book Insight on the Scriptures says, “its location is lost to man except for the divine record of its existence.”

But it’s interesting to know some scholars wrote, “The traditional location for the garden of Eden has long been suggested to have been a mountainous area some 225 km (140 mi) Southwest of Mount Ararat and a few kilometers south of Lake Van, in the eastern part of modern Turkey.”

So why is this location suggested? This time, let's review the book of Genesis, where the scripture in the Old Testament gives a clue. In the book of Genesis 2:11 – “Now there was a river flowing out of Eden to water the garden, and from there, it divided into four rivers. “ This one sentence suggests a clue. The Tigris and Euphrates river sources come from this region. Since these two rivers originate near Lake Van, this could be it. The location of the other two rivers mentioned in the verses, Pishon and Gihon, is unknown. This is probably due to changes in landscape because of the great flood. Other research studies have found the location of the Garden of Eden, and so far, they have all come up close to this finding. For this, it is believed to be the closest site.

Again, there is no certainty that this was the authentic Garden of Eden, but many scholars strongly believe it could be. No further studies have refuted these findings so far. As for me, I just want to share a little sightseeing nugget in my adventure to eastern Turkey, known as northern Kurdistan, that is hardly mentioned and written by men.

URFA: Abraham’s Birthplace

The other young guy in the photo with a long white shirt on the right is Mûsa from Urfa, also called Riha in Kurdish. I was pleased to meet him while my friend and I waited for some guests to join us for the evening event. About 180 kilometers west of Kiziltepe, Northern Kurdistan, lies the venerably old town of Urfa. According to both the Bible and Quran, it is the birthplace of Abraham before he migrates to Canaan, now Palestine. Local Muslim legend differs from the other great monotheistic faiths through the intervention of one vicious and cruel King Nimrod, who had Abraham launched from a catapult from the city's citadel to fall into a pile of burning wood. God was pleased with Abraham as an obedient and faithful believer; he intervened and turned the fire to water and the faggots to fish. Today, visitors to the town can visit the mosque complex surrounding Abraham's Cave and “The Pool of Sacred Fish” around it.

"Urfa is an Anatolian city that has figured in all the religions of the Book. Old Testament prophets such as Jethro (Hz. Şûeyb), Job (Hz. Eyûp), Elijah (Hz. Elyas), and Abraham (Hz. Îbrahîm) lived in this city which in ancient times was known as Edessa. Also, Moses (Hz. Mûsa) also lived in the region for seven years, working as a shepherd before returning to Egypt with his staff. It was in Urfa that early Christians were first permitted to worship freely and where the first churches were constructed openly. Pagan temples were converted to synagogues, synagogues to churches, and churches to mosques, resulting in a uniquely eclectic architecture.” To this present time, it has become a tourist destination.

ŞIRNAK: The Home of Noah’s Ark

The third guy in the photo with me is Tarik Yağan. We stumbled upon each other in Alanya while he was on duty during an evening walk to the beach resort to watch a live concert. He was amazed to hear me greet him in Kurdish-Kurmanji and was so kind to offer a coffee from his workplace. His origin is from Şirnak (Şirnex) and Cizre (Cizîrê). Şirnak is also popularly known as Nuh, the Kurdish for Noah, where the biblical prophet and hero built a giant ark to save the animals during the great flood. “The settlement was originally called Şehr-i Nuh (City of Noah) since it was near Cudi Mountain where Noah's Ark finally believed to have landed after the Flood.”

The very famous Bible story from our childhood that each one enjoyed listening to from our folks, which we also learned from religion class and loved to hear repeatedly, has become a part of us. It has inspired many filmmakers and movie directors to create great movies based on the biblical plot. Who would ever say I could travel this far to see this place one day? The story I love becomes so alive and realistic to me to see Şirnak and spend two days exploring the area. “Noah, the Ark, and the Early Flood” are basically about what the Old Testament in the book of Genesis said about Noah and the Great Flood. Aside from this tourist destination, Bazebde Ruins is also located on the border of the Cizre district in Şirnak province and is a historical place before Christ. At least we learned interesting stories about Şirnak and the area’s rich culture.

This beautiful encounter crossed my mind as I sat aboard inside the bus going to Tampere from Helsinki. As I write this article, a dear friend, Salome Mjema, came to my thoughts. Before my flight to Turkey, she told me, “Have faith and be courageous, for God will bring you to places you’ve never been. This will help you accomplish writing your book, and your journey in search of the Kurds will touch many people.” It was prophetic lines from her that came true to me. I’m glad to share it with much gratitude.

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